Enchanted Evenings, Please: Are you as fed up with realistic drama and the sweat-shirt school of acting as I am? There are so many personal griefs and major disasters in real life that when I go to the movies I don’t want to see the decadence of the deep South, or the cravings of a dope addict, or the sadistic cruelty of juvenile delinquents. It isn’t that I want to close my eyes to the very serious emotional problems of today. I am fully aware of them. But when I go to a film, I want to enter a world of escape—where Cinderella is dressed by Helen Rose, and Prince Charming wears a white dinner jacket and carries Cinderella off in his golden Jaguar!
Unfortunately, some studios don’t feel the way I do, judging by some of the recent properties they have bought. For example, 20th Century-Fox has assigned Jerry Wald to produce the best-selling novel “Peyton Place,” a highly censor-able story about the goings-on in a small town in New England. Darryl Zanuck recently announced that he has commissioned Meyer Levin to write the screen adaptation of his best-seller “Compulsion,” a harrowing true account of two degenerates, Leopold and Loeb, who committed one of the most revolting crimes in our generation. Just in case we haven’t had enough exposure to the dope problem in “The Man with the Golden Arm,” Fox has also bought “A Hatful of Rain,” in which Eva Marie Saint will be the long-suffering wife of a drug addict. Won’t someone please buy “My Fair Lady,” quick?
Rig Role Lost: Memo to you young people just getting a start in your careers: If ever you are disappointed in losing out on a role or a job, take heart from Helen Hayes. The first lady of the theatre, who returned to the screen to co-star with Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brynner in “Anastasia,” read the script of Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical play, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” More than any part since “Victoria Regina,” the tragic role of the playwright’s mother appealed to Helen. But when the producers signed Fredric March to play the elder O’Neill, Helen knew that she didn’t stand a chance, because Fred would understandably want his own wife, Florence Eldridge, to star opposite him. So Helen not only lost out on this plum role, but she also missed the thrill of playing in her own theatre. Ironically enough, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” opened at the Helen Hayes!
March of Time: Ingrid Bergman in “Anastasia,” Burgess Meredith in “Major Barbara” and Elia Kazan, director of “Baby Doll,” all have their names in lights on Broadway within a radius of a few blocks from each other. Sixteen years ago, this trio appeared together in Vinton Freedley’s revival of “Liliom.” It was Ingrid’s Broadway debut, but she didn’t get star billing. Neither did Meredith, but he did get a fatter pay check than Ingrid. Kazan, who played a supporting role, drew the large sum of $150 a week! The play ran fifty-six performances. . . . Certainly a lot of water flows under the bridge in the march of time. Turn back the clock just a year or so to Christmas of 1955, when Linda Christian and Edmund Purdom had already broken up two homes because of their love for each other. At Christmas, 1956, Edmund couldn’t even send Linda a word of greeting because he had no idea where she was. As it happened, she was in St. Moritz, looking for a millionaire to support her in the style to which she has grown accustomed, thanks to Tyrone Power— and which Edmund could never afford. . . . It was also in 1956 that Zsa Zsa Gabor announced she would marry Hal Hayes; that Kim Novak was supposed to change her name to Kim Krim; and that Lisa Ferraday and Brod Crawford’s romance made every Cupid’s column. I don’t think that anyone was really too surprised—do you?—that these duets no longer are “woosome twosomes.”
Author, Author!: My European correspondent reports that French critics were cautious, but quite kind, about Jean Pierre Aumont’s play, “The Very Happy Angel,” which he authored on the French Riviera. The plot’s about a man who awakens after having slept for thirty-eight years. After a tour of the provinces, it opened in Paris just about the time Aumont and Marisa Pavan arrived from Hollywood. Marisa and Jean Pierre are installed in his Malmaison villa, “Rochers” (where Grace Kelly spent many days during her long-ago idyll with Aumont), with Marisa knitting clothes for her expectant baby and Jean Pierre appearing on the French stage in Jean Giraudoux’ “Amphitryon 38.” His own play holds forth a few blocks away. . . . Yul Brynner was in absolute ecstasy during the few weeks he spent in Paris, a city he knows and loves, as he lived there during his youth. Yul admits that it was like coming home again. Yul went to see the Anatole Litvaks, with whom he spent most of his time. Since they have only a tiny apartment, Yul stayed at the exclusive Saint Regis Hotel, known only to Paris regulars. Yul attracted a lot of attention in Paris by his bald head, but he is unknown in France—“The King and I” not having been released at the time of his visit. Yul revisited the night club he used to manage, looked up old friends and haunted the picturesque little “bistros” that only Paris regulars know.
Ingrid Victorious: Ingrid Bergman has finished knitting the dark gray sweater she is making for husband Roberto; it was done entirely on stage in “Tea and Sympathy.” In the play she has a five-minute scene when she has to knit while Tom sings. Ingrid had said at the play’s opening, “Oh. if it only lasts long enough for me to finish the sweater.” Ingrid is looking around Paris for an apartment to buy, as she and Rossellini would like to live six months of the year in Paris, dividing their time between the French Capital and Rome. Ingrid’s love for the city (she appreciates especially the freedom of movement she has here—she can stroll around without anyone bothering her) is returned by the French. Next to Lollobrigida, she is their favorite foreign actress. Ingrid has never been known to refuse a request for a charity appearance since her arrival in Paris. For an appearance at a charity gala for unemployed actors, she had to learn all about magic, as she had to put on a magic act. She prepared herself thoroughly for it by taking lessons from French magician Jean Weber. Ingrid further endeared herself to the French by putting her tremendous Italian car in the garage and using a tiny-horsepower French utilitarian car during these days of the gas shortage. As Hollywood’s Oscar time approached a friend of hers said to her, “If you should get the Oscar, what a beautiful revenge you’d have.” “Revenge?” asked Ingrid, absolutely astonished. “One seeks revenge after a defeat. I’ve had no defeats; I have won.” And Ingrid listed her victories: her husband, her adorable children, “Anastasia” and “Tea and Sympathy.” Also it could be added that she doesn’t know the meaning of the word “revenge.”
Purely Personal: Douglas and Mary Lee Fairbanks’ two youngest daughters, Victoria and Melinda, never knew that their father was once married to Joan Crawford until they read about it in a fan magazine. . . . Lauren Bacall has earned the admiration and respect of everyone in Hollywood by her amazing courage in never letting Bogie know that she was going through a thousand deaths herself, watching him suffer during his protracted and painful illness. . . . Raymond Massey is writing his autobiography, with no help from any ghost writer. I’ love the title: “Charcoaled on the Outside.” . . . I know it’s supposed to be the kiss of death to call any pair an “ideal married couple,” but I’m going out on a limb because I sincerely believe that Veronique Passani and Greg Peck will prove the exception, for one very simple reason: Veronique isn’t competing with Greg in any area of his career. all she wants to be is his wife, mother to their son Anthony, and stepmother to Greg’s three growing boys —and she’s doing a wonderful job in every department. . . . My personal nomination for the girl most likely to succeed in Hollywood this year: Kay Kendall, the British star who will make her American film debut in “Les Girls” for M-G-M. . . . Judy Garland doesn’t like diamonds, but she was thrilled when Sid Luft gifted her with a diamond bracelet because it was such a beautiful design and so simple—if diamonds can ever be simple! Incidentally, Judy confides that she has her heart set on playing Laurette Taylor in Margaret Taylor’s biography of her famous stage mother. And she also is dying to do a Broadway musical. . . . Leslie Caron and Pat Neal will both have their babies in London. Pat, now married to author Roald Dahl, is hoping for a baby brother for two-year-old Olivia. Leslie, whose second groom is Peter Hall, brilliant young English stage director, is expecting her first in May. Recently she hopped over to Paris from London to see her family. buy antiques and stock up maternity clothes at Givenchy’s…. Wonder if Mike Wilding, after the front-page publicity he has received in connection with Monty Clift’s auto smash-up, Liz Taylor’s separation and the Marie McDonald “Body” snatching, doesn’t long for the days when he was married to Kay Young. And when the only publicity he received was as England’s top box-office screen hero.
Written in the Stars: I was having late after-theatre supper with Anne and Kirk Douglas at the Little Club, and we were discussing Kirk’s chances of winning the Academy Award for his “best performance of the year” in “Lust for Life.” “I’m not pinning my hopes too high,” Kirk told me. “I did that once before with ‘Detective Story.’ I thought I had given my best screen performance to date, and everyone said I was a cinch to be included in the Oscar sweepstakes. So what happened? I didn’t even get a nomination!” A week following this conversation. Kirk not only was nominated but won the New York Film Critics’ Award for his superb characterization of Vincent Van Gogh. Now the suspense is mounting high, awaiting the verdict of Hollywood’s vote, come Oscar time, on the 27th of March.
I didn’t know until I met Irving Stone, brilliant author of “Lust for Life,” that only a quirk of fate got Douglas the big break of starring in the screen adaptation. You see, Mr. Stone sold his tragic story of the great Dutch artist to Metro all of ten years ago, and the studio bought it as a vehicle for Spencer Tracy! Then, because Hollywood moves in mysterious ways “Lust for Life” was shelved, and it remained shelved until four weeks before the ten-year option was to expire. Biographer Stone intended to buy it back and produce it himself, with Van Heflin as Van Gogh. Instead, he got some more gold from them thar Beverly Hills for an extension of his option. Now here’s where that long arm of Fate moves in. Vincente Minnelli, who had always loved the story, was browsing around M-G-M’s old manuscript files when he came across “Lust for Life” again, and brought it to the attention of producer John Houseman. An entirely new script was written. Minnelli and Houseman took it to Kirk Douglas. Now Kirk may win the Academy Award for it.
P.S. This past year has been a wonderful one for Kirk’s personal life, too. His marriage to Anne Buydens has brought him even more happiness with the arrival of their son Peter. And ex-wife Diane Douglas was recently remarried, which means that, after five years of paying her substantial alimony, Kirk is off that hook.
Overseas Intelligence: Rossano Brazzi and his wife, Lidia, were dining in a swank Paris restaurant one night while visiting the French Capital on their way back to Rome from Hollywood. A woman dining at a nearby table asked for an autograph. Rossano, all smiles, took out his pen. “Oh, it’s not your autograph I want, but Mrs. Brazzi’s,” the woman said. “I admire her so much.” . . . M-G-M was able to save some money and also accommodate Ava Gardner. Ava had asked them to send some empty trunks she had in London on to Hollywood, and character actor Leslie Phillips had a stack of suits that he wears in “Les Girls” to be sent from London. So the suits were put into Ava’s trunks, and everyone was happy. . . . Rod Steiger lost twenty pounds in three weeks. It wasn’t the English food Rod is eating in London, but his own determination. . . . French actress Martine Carol, back in Paris after making “Action of the Tiger” with Van Johnson in Spain and London, has been praising Van to the skies to one and all. “Never in my career have I worked with anyone as sweet and kind as Van,” says Martine. “Knowing that my English isn’t too good, he would come into my dressing room before a scene and coach me in proper pronunciation. Whenever a press photographer came on the set, he would go look for me, and during all the press photos he would push me ahead of him so I would be in front. The day I caught cold after a scene in the water, he brought me towels, his coat, and hot drinks. I shall always keep, as a good luck charm, the red sock in which he sent me a bottle of whiskey.”
Foreign Travel: Winter sports in Europe seem to have drawn quite a few Hollywoodians. Joan Crawford and her husband, Al Steele, have been in Gstaad, Switzerland, with two of the children. Joan has shed the black eye patch she was wearing for a while because of a bit of eye trouble. Being Joan, she had sewed sequins on the patch to give it a touch of glamour. . . . Linda Christian has been mingling with the international set (the Aristotle Onassises, Aly Khan and Bettina, etc.) at the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz, and Ty Power and Swedish actress Mai Zetterling have been frequenting the ski resorts near Mai’s native Stockholm. Incidentally, Ty must be in love, as it was Mai who convinced him to act in his first TV play. Before leaving for Sweden with Mai, Ty appeared opposite her in Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” for commercial British TV.
Stars Over Europe: Gina Lollobrigida’s husband, Dr. Skovic, may have directed her career well up to now, but his attitude toward the press is fast acquiring a lot of enemies for him. When he and Gina arrived at Paris’ Orly Field on their way to Brussels for a charity affair, they were greeted, of course, by the press. Gina, cooperative as usual, was chatting away with reporters when her husband, sulking darkly, grumbled to her, “If you continue to waste time like this, I’ll be getting along and I’ll see you in Rome.” Gina, completely dominated by Skovic, meekly followed him. Incidentally, Gina did not show up at the Paris premiere of her new French picture, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” in which she plays with Tony Quinn. The rumor for Gina’s failure to come from Brussels for the premiere is all in her favor. It seems that she had asked the producers to donate the premiere proceeds to the Hungarian refugee cause, and the producers didn’t follow her suggestion. So Gina stayed away. . . . A prediction: That American fans, especially the women, will be mad about Europe’s newest middle-aged (forty-one) romantic heartthrob, German actor Curt Jurgens, recently divorced husband of Eva Bartok. With two French films, “God Created Woman” and “Michael Strogoff,” Jurgens has risen from comparative obscurity (although he has been an actor for twenty years) to dazzling success. Hollywood is reported to be after him with many offers.
MMM Monroe: At the Actors Studio gala after-theatre party, following the world premiere of “Baby Doll,” Marilyn Monroe made her first public appearance since her return from London and “The Prince and the Showgirl.” There were hundreds of celebrities on the dance floor in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria But as Marilyn glided by (as only she can, in a tight-fitting metallic sheath!) she was unaware of everyone else in the room. She had eyes only for the man holding her in his arms, Arthur Miller. It was the same kind of adoration she gave him when I saw them dancing together at the private party given in their honor by the Oliviers and Terence Rattigan in London. That was eight months ago—but it would seem that the honeymoon is definitely not over!
Marilyn and Arthur are now happily ensconced in a large apartment on East End Avenue, right opposite the address where Arthur wooed and won Marilyn last June. Marilyn returned from London exhausted from her long schedule on “The Prince” and all but emotionally spent from all the events which crowded her life this past year. I seriously doubt that she’ll make another film for at least a year. But if her greatest prayer is answered, she will be in production with a “production” of her own. More than anything else in the world, Marilyn wants to heir-condition the Miller nursery.
Love in Bloom: They say that in the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. But two of the hottest romances I know of this springtime do not involve young men at all. The men concerned are in their fifties, with past records of three wives each. I refer to Henry Fonda and Franchot Tone. Hank, who was married to Maggie Sullavan, the late Frances Brokaw and Susan Blanchard, is now very much smitten with an Italian baroness he met in Rome when he was making “War and Peace.” I first scented love in bloom when I saw them together in London, dancing cheek to cheek at the Cafe de Paris. Now that Hank is in New York filming “Stage Struck” with Susan Strasberg, I’ve collided with him and the baroness on the dance floor again—at the “Baby Doll” party and the New York City Center Ball, both at the Waldorf. Hank is ordinarily the most antisocial actor you could meet anywhere, so if Baroness Afdera Franchetti can reform him to this extent, it must be l-o-v-e!
As for Franchot, ex of Joan Crawford, Jean Wallace and Barbara Payton, he has always had an eye for fair ladies. His newest, Dolores Dorn Heft, is the fairest of them all—tall and blonde, with a classic beauty and a pencil-slim figure. She’s an actress. too, for whom Franchot very conveniently had a part in his independent screen production of “Uncle Vanya.” So you’ll soon have a chance to appraise her for yourself.
On the distaff side, Glynis Johns fell hard for Allen Reisner, when he directed her in “The Day They Gave Babies Away” at RKO. When Glynis left Hollywood to appear in the all-star revival (Charles Laughton, Eli Wallach, Burgess Meredith, Cornelia Otis Skinner) of “Major Barbara” on Broadway, Allen flew east for the opening. When I saw them together at the gay after-theatre celebration later, I asked Glynis if they had set a wedding date yet. “No, it depends upon how long the play runs,” Glynis replied. Well, “Major Barbara” is still running, but the wedding date has been tentatively set for June.
Paulette Goddard, who also trails romance wherever she goes, is back inside U.S.A., now, after her around-the-world travels these past five years. By a happy coincidence, her best beau, novelist Erich Remarque, is back, too. But Paulette is being noncommittal about whether or not they are secretly married.
Another welcome face in our wonderful town again is Merle Oberon. But her visit is just a temporary one before she heads back to London, where her new TV series, “Foreign Legion” (produced by Deborah Kerr’s husband, Tony Bartley) is the number one show on England’s commercial TV. over a luncheon gabfest at 21, Merle, one of the loveliest women I know, told me, “I hate to have to sell or even lease my lovely home in Bel Air. But now that TV is keeping me in London, I can’t afford the luxury of maintaining a large, unoccupied home over here.” “Where does romance enter your scheme of things?” I asked, remembering Lord Eric Dudley, who was with Merle when we were in Monte Carlo together last summer. “Everyone is still trying to marry me off to Eric, and they can’t understand why I don’t jump at the chance to annex a title,” Merle laughed in reply. “They seem to forget that I was a ‘Lady’ once, when I was married to Alex Korda—and I hope I’ve been a ‘lady’ before and since, too. Besides, being a film star gives one as much social prestige as a title, anywhere in the world.”
Cliff Talks Back: Cliff Robertson wants Cal York to know that it’s not true (as Cal said in February Photoplay) that he, Cliff, “pretends that success doesn’t matter.” “Of course success matters,” Cliff told me over a luncheon session at Sardi’s. “It matters very deeply to me, because I worked hard to attain my goal. I batted around for ten years, taking every kind of job from waiter in Schrafft’s to longshoreman, in order to survive until success came my way. I had no family to help me. I’m an orphan, and I was bolstered by only one thing—faith in myself and what I hoped to achieve. But success means many things to many people. To me, it means achievement in my career, to be able to study at the Actors Studio, to have the chance of working in the theatre with a great actress like Helen Hayes and a great director like Josh Logan, to have started my Hollywood phase with a wonderful guy like Bill Holden, and then to be jumped from the small role in ‘Picnic’ to play opposite Joan Crawford. What topped it off, of course, was having my performance in ‘Autumn Leaves’ get such good notices everywhere. And now I think it’s a wonderful break to play an entirely different part, a song and dance man with Jane Powell in ‘The Girl Most Likely’ for RKO. All this is what success means to me in my professional life.
“If it means the accoutrements that go with success—living in a swank apartment, having a large wardrobe, sporting an expensive car, being seen in the right places with the right people—then Cal York was right. That kind of success doesn’t matter to me. I live in a small apartment in Hollywood, the one Jimmy Dean had when he first came out. I still keep my cold-water flat in New York, because this was ‘home’ to me in my struggling days, and everyone in the neighborhood was my friend when the going was tough. I don’t see why I should move away now. I don’t pose for publicity shots with a lot of starlets because someday I hope to get married, and I don’t want my wife to think my bachelor days were a succession of bathing beauties.”
Incidentally, that wife may wind up being a bathing beauty herself, because the girl could be Lee Meriweather, Miss America of 1955. Cliff makes no secret of his admiration for Lee, and personally I think she’d be a very lucky gal to get such a clear-thinking, high-principled guy with a sane sense of values. I hope he’s won you over, too, Cal!
Sir Laurence’s Lady: Welcome news to me is that Vivien Leigh has been signed to co-star with Larry Olivier in “Separate Tables,” marking her first return to an American film since “A Streetcar Named Desire.” However, she won’t be filming in Hollywood, but on the French Riviera this summer. Vivien’s beauty is currently adding to the Hollywood decor, while Larry is filming a sequence in “The Devil’s Disciple” at Paramount. During Vivien’s five-year absence from American films, she has been very active at home in England. She appeared with Sir Laurence at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon, made a film version of “The Deep Blue Sea,” sang and danced at the Palladium for the Actors’ Orphanage’s “Night of 100 Stars,” and starred in Noel Coward’s “South Sea Bubble.”
Happily, I was in London to see her in these two last theatrical events. I was also there when she and Larry suffered the tragic loss of their expected baby. But there is no better medicine for grief than work, and that’s why I’m so pleased that Vivien and Larry will soon be together again in “Separate Tables.” Larry will be directing this Hecht-Lancaster film, a screen version of Terence Rattigan’s play that ran for two years in London and is now repeating its success on Broadway with the original co-stars, Margaret Leighton and Eric Portman. To give you a rough idea of what the producers think of this property, in addition to Vivien and Larry, they’re also hoping to snare Deborah Kerr and Shirley Booth. Wow!
More Doings Abroad: The story is that Ava Gardner will turn Catholic if she marries Walter Chiari. Anyway, Walter wants her to. Since her other marriages were civil ones, she would be eligible to become Catholic and to be married in a Catholic church. Walter wants them to be married in the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso, in the Swiss Alps. . . . The French customs—and the plane company—will remember Etchika Choureau’s arrival home in Paris from Hollywood, as she paid a tremendous amount of money in customs and excess baggage. Warners’ newest French star brought home six radios of all sizes and types, a typewriter, a portable vacuum cleaner, can openers and a selection of other gadgets, all as gifts for her friends. . . . There is talk that Mike Todd is going to pull an Onassis and anchor his new yacht in the waters of Monte Carlo, from where he will look after his European interests. If so, since he married Elizabeth Taylor, Liz will be one of Grace’s “subjects.”
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE APRIL 1957