Exclusive Interviews With Miss Stevens & Mr. Clarke
25 Ocak 2022
“Our engagement is over! Our wedding is indefinitely postponed. I love Gary Clarke very much and probably will for years and years. But only time will work out some kind of answer. Yes, I still wear my engagement ring—Gary won’t take it back right now. I’m wearing it on my right hand though—and I am not engaged. It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make—but I’m beginning to feel happy for the first time since we were engaged. Gary and I get along fine now—the way we used to before we were engaged and started battling. He came over the other night—we had a beautiful time.
“It’s possible that what happened to us was just an overdose of pressure and we broke under the strain of it. Now we’ve both backed off to try analyzing what really did happen and just why it did.
“I really can’t pinpoint the trouble. I think back, trying to remember and can’t. All I can remember is an argument that began on Christmas Day. I’m not quite sure what the argument was about, but we had a terrible Christmas. What happened, I’m sure, is that we were both under a great deal of strain. Gary’s working very hard on ‘The Virginian,’ he has problems. I was in the middle of a hassle with the studio. I hadn’t worked for twelve weeks and I’d run into all those legal complications when I tried to work in Australia. Every day some new aspect of business pressure was added and Gary and I just naturally took it out on each other. It was as if I couldn’t yell at anyone but Gary, and he couldn’t yell at anyone but me. It was awful.
“Here it was Christmas and I had my lovely ring and we should have been on Cloud Nine. The nicest part of the day was that we spent it with Gary’s three little boys—it was lovely—we enjoyed it thoroughly. It was the one part of the day we weren’t fighting. But after that it was like ‘Whose relatives are we going to see first?’ and ‘You mean you forgot Uncle Charley’s present?’ Ridiculous things that kept snowballing until we were in so deep we couldn’t get out. I finally suggested that we call it a day..
“We didn’t talk for three days. And just then, the news of our engagement (which up till then had been strictly a family secret) leaked out. It was in print that we were about to marry—and there we were—not even speaking to one another.
“Well, everyone wanted wedding stories. One reporter told Gary, ‘Listen, I have a deadline.’ Gary told him off. Oh, he’s a quiet boy but when he say s something; watch out! ‘Look,’ he said to the reporter, ‘we aren’t getting married to meet any deadline!’ Oh, I was so proud of him!
“But how can I tell you what this time was like? We were constantly on the phone, the thing never stopped ringing. Everyone knew I had my wedding dress and wanted pictures. The pressure was on and Gary and I, who needed more than anything in the world to sit down and talk quietly, never got to talk at all. There was a new problem every minute before we could solve the basic problem—ourselves.
“That weekend we decided we’d go away—separately—and think things out. We did. We both had horrible weekends. My cousin Carol and I went to Palm Springs and froze. Gary went hunting with a couple of friends and the fog was awful.
“We came back as confused as ever. Our life was at stake. I think I got scared. I talked to so many people, I became a composite of everybody, so did Gary. We just weren’t ourselves and every time we were together it was like two sticks rubbing. We’re both the same temperament and we fly. Once we do, there’s no way of getting back to the level of talking. We break the sound barrier!
“But, we had the sense lo take a step backwards and say, ‘Gee, if this is going on now, what’s going to happen later?’
“We broke our engagement.
“Don’t think it was easy! It wasn’t. I lost twelve pounds doing it. What I’ve always wanted more than anything in the world is a woman’s life and it was almost mine. The one boy on earth with whom I’ve felt totally in time is Gary. But something has gone out of it, all the youthful enthusiasm and fun. I have always said, and I’m a great believer in this—if it’s to be, it’s going to be. If it’s not, it’s not.
“My first womanly reaction was it’s over . . . not another minute will I spend on this boy and this relationship. Since then I’ve had quite a few surprises.
“Several columnists suggested that the reason for our break-up was a religious problem. This floored me. Gary and I are of the same faith, we had planned a beautiful church wedding, a religious difference is the last thing we’d have. Someone even suggested Gary had never even been divorced! That’s just ridiculous. Maybe it was one of the most prolonged divorces on record (filed March 25, 1957—finalized August 31, 1960)—but it was finalized and his first wife has remarried. Someone else suggested Gary’s financial status had something to do with it. From my point of view Gary’s financial setup is just fine. But worst of all were the rumors that my returning to the studio was the cause. Someone went so far as to remark, ‘Is it coincidence that Connie’s romance with Gary blows cold just as her romance with Warners blows hot?’ That really got to me.
“For Gary I was ready to quit chugging for a career. I was going to have ten babies. Yes, ten babies. We figured we’d have five of our own and adopt another five, children of different races. I was going to regear my whole life. But it sort of bounced back. And now my plans have changed—you know, you can’t just stop living.
“I called the girls back in New York and sent them some money so they wouldn’t get stuck paying for the wedding clothes. I told them the truth. we’d postponed it indefinitely. It was a relief to have that off my mind. I was so worried about them, they (and some of their husbands) were all wangling vacations to come here and I couldn’t just leave them up in the air.
“Two plastic bags . . .”
“Everybody goes on. It’s only been a week and a half since we reached a decision, although it seems like months, and everyone goes on.
“I’ve put my lovely dream dress in a plastic bag and the veil, all that lovely ivory tulle, in another. I’m saving that because eventually I’ll marry . . . somebody . . . someday I hope . . . before it gets to be too long. Unless I become one of those movie stars who never marry. But that will never happen, not to me! I’ve got too many names for children stored up in my heart. God forbid that I should ever become a sterile, celebrated, successful star without a woman’s life or a woman’s touch. I dread that more than anything. I work in this town, I’ve met some wonderful women who were lonely, who were also authoritative, almost masculine in handling their business problems. Sometimes I’ll go out of my way just to be sure I’m not guilty of the same thing. I’ll know exactly what’s to be done but I’ll hold back and wait rather than put myself in that spot of a dominating woman.
“Of course, with the career bit—it reminds me of when I was a kid and we used to climb up an escalator that’s going down. Have you ever tried it? I would say that next to climbing Mt. Blanc, this is the toughest thing of all the tough things in this world. Try it sometime. And the career business is just like it. You just get started and something comes along that takes you down again. You’re determined to get to the top, and down you go. But sooner or later you acquire a second wind. I guess that’s what I’ve acquired because I feel resigned and happy.
“Partly that’s because Gary and I are able to breathe, get together and talk about it. I honestly don’t know if we can work this out. A great deal of something awfully special would have to happen to replace the glamour and verve . . . the pace. If it’s meant to be, sooner or later, it will be. But perhaps this marriage is something that would be right for me and not for Gary. If that’s the way it is, good enough, I wouldn’t want to hurt him. I really believe that there are many people who love each other very much but aren’t meant to marry. This may be true of us.
“Gary’ll always be in my life in some way or another. Perhaps we’ll be lovers all our lives at a distance. It happens to some people. Anything is possible now because my life is an open book. For a while I was in a forest and kept running into the trees, but not now.
“Gary, of course, is more stable than I to begin with. Less emotional. I’ve always wished I could be like him. I’ve envied people like him. They sort of relax into things while with me it’s a mighty trauma. Yet at this moment, when I feel much better, people tell me Gary is moping around, very blue. I say, you’re kidding.
“Last week we heard the strangest thing. The house Gary’d bid for and couldn’t get, well, last week we heard the seller was willing to give it to us at our price. Not before, mind you, when we were ready to be married and had made our honeymoon reservations and all the rest. Then we couldn’t have it. But now, the owner was willing to come down after he’d read in the papers the wedding was postponed.
“So here we stand. You might say it’s like the status quo. Gary and I are very, very good friends. There’s the same amount of stimulation on both sides. It’s always been this way, as if we reacted to everything like one person. But if it’s not to be, well, I’m a big girl now. If I don’t marry this boy whom I certainly love, it’s good enough for me that we’ll have a fine relationship the rest of our lives. At least that’s the way I think about it.
Connie’s new film is Warners’ “Palm Springs Week-End.” Watch her on ABC-TV’s “Hawaiian Eye,” Tues. 8:30 EST.
“I want to marry Connie! There is certainly nobody else. I love her more than anything or anybody. I love her enough not to marry her now and risk putting her through what we could possibly go through later.” Breaking his silence about why he felt they should postpone their marriage (scheduled for February 9th), Gary went on to say, “There’s a great lack of communication and understanding between Connie and me. Why? That’s what we must find out. The whys. Until that’s settled, I just felt we shouldn’t marry, we should wait.