Travelogue: Since I am the original “have evening dress, will travel” gal, and the sight of a plane, a train or boat has the same effect on me as diamonds have to Liz Taylor or Paulette Goddard, I went to the opening of the new Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia and then flew on to Hollywood for a three-week holiday whirl. Happily, I have a faculty for being in the right place at the right time, and again my good luck brought me to the Coast at the height of the social season. Some of the high spots— the gala premiere of “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison,” at Grauman’s Chinese, followed by Anita and Buddy Adler’s supper dance at Romanoff’s; Greer Garson’s dinner dance at the Club Seville, honoring Jayne Meadows and Steve Allen; a weekend at Palm Springs as the house guest of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. These were just a few of the events and places I covered on my non-stop social marathon. What a mad race.
Down Memory Lane: Reflecting back on these happy memories now, it is difficult to single out any one event as the most exciting. Hollywood was still discussing the Academy Awards. I don’t know whether you were satisfied with the results of this year’s elections, but at the parties I attended, the opinion seemed to be that Ingrid Bergman won the “best actress” award on a tidal wave of sentiment for her American comeback more than for her actual performance as Anastasia; that Yul Brynner didn’t rate an “Oscar” for his “King and I” portrayal, excellent as it was, because he was merely recreating a role he had played on the stage for two years and that Kirk Douglas should have won, because he brought such histrionic skill to his characterization of Vincent Van Gogh in “Lust for Life” that his own identity was completely submerged; that Jimmy Dean shouldn’t have been a nominee in the regular lineup but should have been given a special posthumous award; that the sweeping victory of “Around the World in 80 Days” won the unanimous approval of everyone—especially lovely Liz Taylor.
Queen Liz: Mrs. Todd couldn’t care less about her career now, but Mike, who saw a rough cut of “Raintree County,” has been predicting to everyone that Liz, who was overlooked in this year’s nominations, would definitely be in the running for an Oscar next year. Actually, this Metro film may well be Liz’ last screen appearance. She is expecting her heir or heiress in October. (With two Wilding sons, she’s hoping this “Act of Todd” will be a daughter.) In the meantime, while awaiting this blessed event, she, Mike and her Wilding offspring will spend the summer in the most beautiful and expensive villa at Cap Ferrat, on the French Riviera. This is the kind of indolent, luxurious life that Liz adores, and it won’t be easy for Metro, to whom she is still under contract for another two years, to lure her back to work. In her choice of a second “Mike,” she has obviously found the perfect husband—a man who can complement her laziness with his vitality, her youthful acquisitiveness with his adult experience, her extravagant desires with his generous pocketbook. Now, with a baby coming along to crown their delirious happiness, I only hope Liz comes through this childbirth without too much suffering. She still suffers pain from her operation for a misplaced disc and has to sit in upright hard chairs.
When Ladies Didn’t Meet: I talked to Anna Magnani who, pounds thinner than on her last visit, looked as glamor- ous as any Hollywood star, in a pearl-gray satin evening gown and chinchilla stole, and as she answered questions in her own halting English or through an interpreter, I couldn’t help but wonder what went on in her mind when she watched Ingrid Bergman accepting her award in a filmed interview from Paris. Here was the actress who had replaced Magnani in Roberto Rosselini’s affections and not only had she lost the man she loved to Ingrid, but also the man she considered—and still does—her finest director. What dramatic irony that eight years later they were both destined to participate in the same TV show, but how fortunate that Magnani, as last year’s award winner, was chosen to present this year’s Oscar to the “best actor”! Had it been to the “best actress” I strongly suspect that Signora Anna would have arrived in Hollywood the night after the presentation event!
Hats Off To Bacall: Lauren Bacall, to whom pain has been too familiar a sight this past year, isn’t wearing her sorrow on her sleeve, but is facing a future without Bogie as he would have wanted her to—with no self-pitying tears but with laughter among friends they once shared together. I lunched with Betty at Bogie’s favorite restaurant, Romanoff’s, and she spoke freely and candidly about her late husband and the children’s reaction to the loss of their father—but not for publication. “Anything I say, Radie, must remain. a confidence be- tween us as friends,” she warned me. “I have been offered fabulous sums from publications all over the world to write about my life with Bogie, especially during the last year of his fight with cancer, but I have turned them all down. I refuse to commercialize my memories. and my personal life. These are sacred to me, Bogie and our children.” To which I add “bravo!” There are too many stories being written now that sacrifice good taste in exposing the most intimate secrets of one’s private life for the sensationalism they arouse, and the film sale that inevitably follows.
A Ball With Lucy: “I Love Lucy.” No show could be more appropriately named for its star, for to know Lucille Ball is to love her. Lucille has never forgotten that I was on her bandwagon long before she and Desi Arnaz began to count their first million. Lucille can never do enough to express her appreciation. No sooner had I checked into the Beverly Hills Hotel, when her beautiful flowers of welcome arrived and she herself was on the phone. “Hey there, girl, when are you coming down to visit us in Palm Springs?” she greeted me. “We drive down every Thursday night after the show and stay until Monday, so you just name the date and the guest suite is yours.” Well, who am I to turn down an invitation like that? On my weekend visit, we had cocktails with Kay and Clark Gable in their private bungalow on the Grounds of the Tennis Club. It was wonderful catching up with the “King” and his beautiful “Queen” for an informal visit like this.. Clark, with his graying temples and bronzed body from his holiday in the sun, looked handsomer than ever, and it was obvious. that in his marriage to Kay he has, at long last, regained the happiness he once shared with Carole Lombard and never thought he’d find again.
Modest Greg: It was in Palm Springs, too, that I caught up again with Veronique and Greg Peck. I had gone to the screening of “Designing Woman” with them at M-G-M and had visited their Beverly Hills hilltop home for my first glimpse of six-months-old Anthony, their cherubic, blue-eyed baby son and now they were spending the weekend at La Quinta and had invited me to dine with them at The Beachcombers.
After gorging ourselves, we stopped by the Racquet Club for a nightcap. Greg, with his usual modesty, announced to the man at the door, “I’m not a member, but we’d just like to come in for a nightcap.” “Only members and their guests are admitted!” snapped back the officious receptionist. And only an actor like Greg, in return for this rebuff, wouldn’t toss his weight around. He just laughed, and turning to Veronique and myself cracked, “I guess I better start doing TV, so guys like this can recognize me in the future!”
More Happy Memories of the Hollywood Scene: Set-visiting at 20th-Fox, Metro, Warners’ and U-I, where I caught up with old chums like Deborah Kerr, Cary Grant, Jayne Mansfield, David Wayne, Joan Collins, Gene Kelly, David Niven, June Allyson, Fred Mac-Murray, John Ericson, Mervyn LeRoy, Andy Griffith, and met some new faces (to me) like Taina Elg, Rick Jason, Nick Adams and John Saxon . . . Meeting the singing idol, Tommy Sands . . . Admiring Clifton Webb’s beautiful new “Boy on a Dolphin” room in his Beverly Hills home, inspired by his recent visit to Greece . . . Luncheon at Romanoff’s with Bob Wagner, who assured me he is not marrying Natalie Wood or any of the girls with whom his name is linked.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JULY 1957