Rendezvous with a Gentleman: While visiting Maurice Chevalier at his beautiful French country home, “La Coquette” (how appropriate for this ageless boulevardier), he told me that in returning to Hollywood for interior shots of “Les Parisiennes,” he is hoping that this generation of moviegoers will welcome the “new” sixty-nine-year-old Chevalier as warmly as they did the young Chevalier of “The Smiling Lieutenant” and other memorable pictures of Paramount importance.
Rock Remembers: At the Cinecitta Studios in Rome, there was quite a reunion in the commissary when Rock Hudson, filming “A Farewell to Arms,” and Jeff Chandler, shooting “Raw Wind in Eden,” caught up with each other. Their friendship dates back to the days when they first started on the Universal lot together. Both of them, and Tony Curtis, too, began their apprenticeship by studying with the company coach, Sophie Rosenstein. Sophie, who later married Gig Young, died tragically of cancer soon afterwards. How sad that she didn’t live to see the great success of her three young proteges. How proud she would have been! “To me, Sophie will never die,” Rock said to me, as we lunched together just before we left Rome. “People who have her capacity to live for other people never die.” Having had the privilege of knowing Sophie, too, I know what Rock means, and I also feel that wherever she is, she knows that Rock and Jeff and Tony and all the other young people she helped so unselfishly will always feel she is still with them, inspiring them always to bigger and better achievements.
Junior Set Film Debut: In Dinard, France, I watched with delight while the Kirk Douglas heir, Peter, and the Tony Curtis heiress, Kelly, made their film debuts. The call sheets had listed Peter Douglas, Kelly Curtis and their stand-ins, Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis, for four o’clock. By 3:30, both had proved “howling successes.” “This is no stunt,” the publicity man assured me, “This scene calls for two children, so it seemed logical to use the inherited talent around!” And inherited talent it proved to be! With director Williams behind the camera, and Anne Douglas coaching from the sidelines, Peter followed’ instructions to “take the toy away from Kelly”—and with one quick “take!” Before either child knew what was happening, they were grabbed up by two women and carried off into the fields to escape the invading Vikings. Kelly liked debut; Peter didn’t!
Talented Susan Strasberg, who recently completed the film “Stage Struck,” a remake of “Morning Glory,” which won Katharine Hepburn an Oscar, is all aglow as she prepares for Broadway’s opening of “Time Remembered,” a romantic comedy translated from the French. Especially so since Cecil Beaton is making her a divine wardrobe, and Richard Burton and Helen Hayes are to be her co-stars.
Stopping ’Em Dead in “Operation Mad Ball,” being released this fall by Columbia, is Mickey Rooney, as hilarious Sergeant Skibo, who’s in charge of supplies in a French port. . . . But his private life is anything but hilarious. Mickey and his fourth wife, Elaine Mahnken, after calling it quits, decided at the last minute to have another go at it. Is Mickey’s motto: If at first you don’t succeed, try three times again?!
Unhappy Ava, Happy Nancy: While Frankie was filming in the south of France, his two ex-wives, Nancy Sinatra and Ava Gardner, were in London. Fortunately, they were staying at different hotels and moved in different circles, so that their paths did not cross. But seeing them separately, as I did, made me believe more than ever in the law of averages. Ava, the glamorous movie star, the tinsel wearing off a bit around the tired eyes as she flitted from night club to night club, drinking and dancing the night away. Ava, fighting openly. in another jealous tiff with her equally hot-headed Italian beau, Walter Chiari, spending money with reckless extravagance on a Bentley car, a London town house, a Parisian wardrobe, and trying to delude herself that money can compensate her for the things she hasn’t—a home bought for her, not by her; the children she never had in her marriages.
She and Frankie almost destroyed each other. They might have destroyed Nancy, too. But they didn’t. For here was Nancy on her first visit to Europe, as thrilled and excited as Ava was bored. She wasn’t dissipating her time, energy and looks, staying up until dawn, trying to escape from herself in a crowded room of strange faces. She had to get up early to see the Changing of the Guards, the Tower of London, and Windsor Castle, like any other eager tourist. She has no husband or special beau to show her around, but she did have loving friends like Mary and Jack Benny, staying at the same hotel, who saw that she didn’t have a lonely moment to herself. And as she showed me the latest snapshots of seventeen-year-old Nancy, thirteen-year-old Frankie, Jr., and nine-year-old Tina, I couldn’t help but think back to the time when Nancy lost Frank to Ava. “Poor Nancy!” all her friends exclaimed. “Shell never get over this blow.” But with an inner reserve, strength, wisdom and religious devotion, she did. Today, anyone weighing Nancy’s life against Ava’s would exclaim, “Poor Ava!”
Les Sisters: Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor adore each other as sisters, but the professional rivalry between them is very funny to watch. Recently, when both were in Europe—Zsa Zsa filming “The’ Queen and Smith” in London, and Eva shooting “Gigi” in Paris—Eva flew to London for a reunion with Zsa Zsa. I met them for lunch—Zsa Zsa bedecked in rubies and Eva in diamonds (I was wearing my last year’s gold!). Eva bent my one ear, telling me how excited she was to have three great films in a row—“My Man Godfrey” for U-I, “Don’t Go Near the Water” and “Gigi” for M-G-M—and Zsa Zsa held my other ear, telling me that she had been offered “Gigi” first,and although it was a charming little part, she had to turn it down because of her co-starring role. Then, turning to Eva, she said with real sisterly concern, “Darlink, you look tired. And when you look tired, you really shouldn’t be seen in public, because it isn’t good for me! After all, everybody knows you’re my younger sister!”’ Amazingly enough, in spite of Zsa Zsa’s overwhelming preoccupation with herself, she is so gay and amusing that she is delightful company. She can be very thoughtful and generous, too. After our luncheon, she sent me beautiful roses, explaining that this was for no other reason than that she was so happy to see me in London. Of course, Eva interpreted it differently. “She just wants you to like her better than me,” she said. Say what you will, a day with the Gabors is never a Ga-bore!
Presley Patter: How would you Elvis Presley fans like to see your lover boy play a straight dramatic role, minus songs and guitar? Well, producer Hal Wallis, to whom Elvis is under contract, confided to me that he made a test of Elvis in a dramatic scene from a stage play, “Girls of Summer,” and Hal was so impressed with Elvis’ acting that he is now looking for a strong dramatic script for him. Incidentally, “Loving You” opened while I was in London, and the British press who came to razz Elvis remained to cheer.
Lamas Son-Rise: Since the first news that Arlene Dahl and Fernando Lamas were expecting their first child was “Exclusively Yours” in this column several issues ago, I thought you might like to know that both Arlene and Fernando are hoping it’s a boy. “I want a son as handsome as Fernando!” Arlene assured me, as she showed me the blue and yellow nursery she has furnished in their Murray Hill town house. “We are so dead set on a boy that we won’t even discuss a girl’s name. The “heiring” is scheduled for late January.
Minutes on Mineo: Sorry to have disappointing news for you Sal Mineo fans. I called him at his home in the Bronx to ask him when he’s coming back to the screen. “I’m afraid it won’t be until after the first of the year,” he said. “I have television and recording commitments that will keep me busy until then.” Sal was too modest to tell me himself, but I know that his first Epic record. “Start Moving,” has hit the million mark, and he can also rest on the royalties of his newest release, “Lasting Love.” And Sal won’t be lonesome in New York. Susan Kohner, who played opposite him in “Dino,” will be here too, making her Broadway stage debut in “The Young Stranger.”
Scooping Around: Marilyn Monroe likes the script of “The Jean Harlow Story” for the picture she owes 20th Century-Fox this year, but she’d like it even better if Marlon Brando would play opposite her! Paris, under ordinary circumstances, is the most beautiful city in the world, and when you’re in love, “c’est magnifique!” Ask Martha Hyer, who combined the business of filming the Bob Hope picture. “Holiday in Paris,” with the pleasure of falling in love with United Artists’ charming European chief, Francis Winikus . . . Add exciting newcomers: Earl Holliman in “Don’t Go Near the Water”; Carolyn Jones and Dean Jones, who aren’t related, but have great futures M-G-M financed a preproduction deal of the British stage hit, “The Reluctant Debutante,” for its Broadway bow, so their studio had first bid on the property as an ideal vehicle for Debbie Reynolds. So what happens? Now that they own it, Debbie doesn’t get the role, but seventeen-year-old Carol Lynley does!
—BY RADIE HARRIS
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE DECEMBER 1957