Brave Girl: When M-G-M’s “Designing Woman” was previewed in the studio projection room, Gregory Peck himself came to call for me and personally chauffeured me to Culver City—with his off-stage bride, Veronique Passani, as chaperone. Lauren Bacall came to the screening too—her first public appearance since the tragic death of Bogie. It was a painful experience for her, because ali through the shooting of this gay comedy her heart was heavy with the terrible secret of Bogie’s fatal illness, which she had to keep from him at all costs. She had desperately hoped that he would live long enough to see her in it. In one scene, where Lauren and Greg are seen romancing on a boat in Balboa harbor, Bogie’s own boat, the “Santana,” was anchored in the background, and Bogie, feeling strong enough at that time to join them on location, was sitting on the sundeck, out of range of the camera. At the preview Lauren’s eyes fought back the tears at this scene, as Kate Hepburn, who sat next to her, pressed her hand comfortingly. Facing a lot of people again was also difficult. Lauren later confessed to me that she was so nervous that she would have to see the picture again to really appraise her performance. But you never would have suspected it from the gallant way she carried it off.
Incidentally, Kate’s unexpected appearance at this press screening was a tribute to her great friendship for Lauren. Ordinarily, Kate shuns the press like the plague and has never been known to show up at one of her own screenings. But she felt that Lauren needed her. Their friendship began when Kate made “The African Queen” with Bogie and it has grown with the years. Kate and Spence Tracy were the last visitors Bogie saw before his final curtain.
The Great Lady: Who’s going to be the one to lure Garbo back to acting again? Ever since her retirement more than two decades ago, George Cukor. Rouben Mamoulian, Otto Preminger, Walter Wanger and other persuasive gentlemen with tempting propositions to offer have used their blandishments to no avail. Now along comes Blevins Davis, whose millions have sponsored many an artistic enterprise, including the Monte Carlo Ballet and the international tour of “Porgy and Bess.” He is even more hopeful than all the others. His optimism is based on the fact that he owns the screen rights to the famous Max Reinhardt spectacle, “The Miracle,” and he feels the role of the nun is so eminently suited to Garbo that she can’t possibly refuse. Much as I would love to agree with Blevins, I’m afraid this is just wishful thinking on his part. Garbo’s fear about resuming her career stems from a genuine pathological age complex, and she is determined to stay forever young in the memory of her legion of fans who worshipped her in those wonderful early years. Actually, Garbo’s fear is groundless. Her classic beauty and indefinable glamour remain undimmed. I often see her striding down Fifth Avenue in her inevitable get-up, a black cloth coat and flat-heeled shoes, with her face half concealed by a wide-brimmed black hat, and I stop to stare at her unabashedly, as does everyone of my generation to whom she is still incomparable. Fortunately, her early films are now being revived on TV, so that you new generation of fans, to whom she is only a legend, can now see for yourselves why this “Swedish Sphinx” created such a furor back in the Roaring Twenties. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Blevins Davis or anyone will ever accomplish the miracle of uprooting her from her self-imposed retirement.
Towering Rock: Before Rock Hudson planed out to Rome to co-star with Jennifer Jones in “A Farewell to Arms,” he made a tour of several key cities to help publicize his film, “Battle Hymn.” In Pittsburgh, where be made a personal appearance at one of the big department stores, the crowd had to be held back behind a roped-off area or he would have been killed in the stampede. But one intrepid youngster broke through the lines and sighed, “I think I’m going to faint!” And she did—right in Rock’s arms! On his arrival in New York, I caught up with Rock over cocktails at Hampshire House and we reminisced about the time we met at the Venice Film Festival, four summers ago. None of Rock’s big pictures had been released in Europe at that time, and so he was given poor seats at all the screenings and pretty much ignored at the Festival functions, while more important guests were given the red velvet carpet treatment. To top it all, when he checked out of the hotel, he was presented with a bill. But what a difference a few years make! Now that his “Magnificent Obsession,” “Giant,” “Written on the Wind” and “Battle Hymn” have skyrocketed Rock into an international star, bis return visit to Italy has the impact of a conquering hero’s triumphant homecoming, even though it’s just a location picture-making trip.
Jayne Hidden?: In Jayne Mansfield’s next picture, she plays the role of a bubble dam er, who finds herself trapped on a “Wayward Bus” with fellow passengers Dan Dailey, Rick Jason, Joan Collins and Betty Lou Keim. Jayne’s entire wardrobe consists of a pink leather raincoat. The rest of the company, including the crew, are making bets among themselves that even Jayne can’t find one scene in the picture where she has a legitimate excuse for removing this cover-up of the manifold Mansfield charms. Wanna bet?
Quiz Party: If I had my own quiz show, here are some of the questions I would ask: Why did that Los Angeles judge award Linda Christian custody of her two young daughters? When Linda returned from Europe recently to continue her search for a new millionaire husband in Mexico and Cuba, she left both children behind in Paris with their nurse, and refused to allow Tyrone Power to have them with him in London because she told him he would then forfeit his visiting rights to them this summer. . . . When Tyrone returns to Hollywood this summer to film “Witness for the Prosecution,” following his location trip to Mexico where he is filming “The Sun Also Rises” opposite Ava Gardner, will he remember the year B.C. (Before Christian), when he and Lana Turner were Hollywood’s most blazing romance? And now that he is an eligible bachelor again and Lana is Lexless, will the flame be rekindled? My prediction is no. . . . How does Edmund Purdom, Linda’s former heart interest, whom she now claims owes her $5,000 for helping to finance his trip to Europe last year, have the effrontery to announce his engagement to Alicia Darr, when his ex-wife, Tita, and their two youngsters have been evicted from their home and are living on the charity of others because Edmund refuses to support them? . . . Isn’t it true that Arlene Dahl and Fernando Lamas are heiring the nursery in their new New York town house on Murray Hill, in preparation for a baby “dahl”? . . . Why do Hollywood studios send stars like Anita Ekberg on good will junkets to foreign countries when ali they manage to do, it seems to some, is to create bad will? . . . How many of the new young faces in Hollywood today can you name who will still be stars twenty years hence, as are Clark Gable, Rita Hayworth, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor, James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Kate Hepburn, Loretta Young and Errol Flynn—just to name a few—all of whom are still working and still tops?
Talent Scout: Last summer, when I was attending the Berlin Film Festival, I saw at one of the many embassy parties an enchanting young girl who stood out in the crowded drawing room like a beautiful painting by a French master. I knew that if she weren’t already in films she should be, so I went over and introduced myself. In halting English, she told me she had appeared in several French movies. When I suggested she would be a wonderful find for Hollywood, she laughed and said, “Mais, my English it ees not good enough!” But since all Europeans seem to be born linguists I knew she would learn quickly, and I wrote back a glowing report on my “discovery” to Hollywood. Immediately, every studio became interested. It was Warner Brothers who were lucky enough to win this French baby doll, and you will soon be seeing her American screen debut in “Lafayette Escadrille,” in which she plays the love interest opposite Tab Hunter. Although her name sounds like a sneeze—Etchika Choureau—she would not let Warners change it, but I strongly suspect that she will register fewer objections when Tab, who makes no secret of his admiration for her, tries to persuade her that Hunter is much easier to pronounce!
Love Birds: When Yul Brynner’s wife, Virginia Gilmore, accompanied him to the Uruguay Film Festival, everyone who thought they had separated seemed so surprised—that is, everyone except Yul and Virginia. “We’ve been married thirteen years,” Yul told me. “And during those thirteen years, as regularly as a gong, there have been rumors of our splitting up. But we can afford to laugh them off. Here we are, still together, while those ‘ideal couples’ we are always reading about have taken off for Reno, Mexico and the other divorce mills!” . . . It will be exactly a year in June since Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor, Greg Bautzer, went out of circulation. Everyone is wondering what Greg can possibly give beautiful Dana Wynter as a first anniversary present. He has already gifted her with two homes, one in Bel Air and the other in Palm Springs, a Jaguar car, a mink coat lined with lame and a sable stole, to mention just a few things. Most important, he has given her the happiness that comes with the security of a deep love. As the lady Cupid to this alliance, I feel justified in taking a bow on the success of my aim!
New Generations: Metro bought the English stage success, “The Reluctant Debutante,” especially for Debbie Reynolds, and methinks they had better rush it into production soon—before Debbie again becomes an unreluctant mother. More than anything else, she and Eddie want a baby brother for sister Carrie. . . . Ed Wynn, known throughout his stage career as “The Perfect Fool,” is now in his late sixties carving a career for himself in serious drama, and no one is prouder of this new twist in Ed’s veteran experience than his only son, Keenan. Keenan’s grandfather on the maternal side, Frank Keenan, after whom he was named, w as also a famous actor, and it will be interesting to see whether Keenan’s two sons, Ned and Tracy, continue this theatrical heritage unto the fourth generation. As of now, there have been no signs of it.
Talented People: Ever since Bob Wagner did an impersonation of Jimmy Stewart on TV’s “What’s My Line?” he has been using his heretofore hidden talent for mimicry to fool his unsuspecting friends. The other day, he called Jane Russell and did such a perfect imitation of Clark Gable that Janie was completely taken in. . . . Eva Marie Saint and Don Murray struck up a close friendship while working together at 20th Century-Fox in “A Hatful of Rain.” Now Eva Marie and her director husband, Jeff Hayden, and Don and his actress wife, Hope Lange, are an inseparable foursome. Observing them together you are seeing the kind of young, normal married couples you’d find in any home-loving community, instead of in a scandal magazine. Unfortunately, nice people are considered too dull to get into print very often. . . . When Ginger Rogers was in New York recently to help exploit her new film, “Oh, Men! Oh, Women!”, she went on her usual shopping spree at Bergdorf-Goodman, where she ran into an old chum, Nancy Kelly. Nancy, eyeing Ginger’s divine figure, sighed, “Here I am, trying to squeeze into a size 14 because I’ve put on weight since the baby was born, and you take a size 7!” Whereupon Ginger retorted, rather wistfully, “Don’t complain, darling, I’d trade you any time. You have something that no figure can buy—your baby daughter!”
Love Stuff: Although Elvis Presley confesses that he considers Valerie Allen the most beautiful girl on the Paramount lot, he has never dated her. For one very good reason, Valerie’s heart has already been claimed by Mack Gray, and perhaps not even Elvis wants to cut in on a guy whose nickname is “Killer”!
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JUNE 1957