Ah to be in Europe—now that Hollywood’s here! If the accent in “Exclusively Yours” is slightly Continental this month, it’s because after seeing “Around The World in Eighty Days,” “Boy on a Dolphin,” “Island in the Sun” and all the other recent films glorifying far-off locales, I decided to write my own scenery! The backgrounds in London, Paris, Munich, San Tropez, Rome and Athens are different, but you’d be amazed at how many familiar Hollywood faces are in the foregrounds!
To name only a few: Anthony Quinn for “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Tony’s also made “A Woman Obsessed” in Hollywood with Anna Magnani), award-winning director George Stevens in Belgium making “The Diary of Anne Frank;” Don Murray in Italy at work on his pet project to make Displaced Persons self-supporting, and the Cary Grants in London.
For the Love of Mike: When six-year-old Michael and four-year-old Christopher Wilding arrived in London with their mother, Liz Taylor, and their stepfather, Mike Todd, they looked around the elaborate suite at the Dorchester Hotel and promptly asked “Where’s the swimming pool?”
It was Mike Wilding who told me this rather terrifying story, so typical of children brought up in Hollywood. “I know it makes them seem like pretentious, spoiled brats, when actually, they are sweet darling babes,” defended Mike. “But from the time they were born, Liz and I have always had a house with a pool, and when little Mike and Chris came to the South of France with Liz and Mike Todd their villa at Cap Ferrat had a pool, too. So, according to their childish logic, they assume a pool automatically goes with their surroundings!”
It was wonderful to see Mike back in his natural surroundings again, his native London, with no pool, not even a house—just an unpretentious bachelor flat. But he’s happier than he has been since his split-up with Liz, because after fourteen years, he is acting on the London stage again, playing the lead in Noel Coward’s new comedy hit, “Nude With Violin.”
I was lucky enough to have caught his performance, and I was enchanted by it. Here was all the effortless charm and comedy talent that had lain dormant in Hollywood for so long, because Hollywood never gave Mike a chance to exercise it. Now that he’s returned to his own shores, it has been like a shot in the arm to his career—and to Michael himself. Noel is hoping that when Mike winds up his limited five-month engagement here, he’ll replace him in the Broadway production. But Mike, who never likes to cross a bridge until he comes to it, has no immediate plans for the future. He doesn’t seem to be downhearted about Marie McDonald’s reconciliation with Harry Karl. He’s content, playing the field—and since there aren’t many charm boys like Mike still around loose, he’s not lacking for company!
Flitting with the Fairbanks: Ever since Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Princess Margaret and the Duchess of Kent mingled with 300 other guests at her debut party, Daphne Fairbanks, seventeen-year-old daughter of Mary Lee and Doug Junior, is now known around these parts as “Debutante of the Year.” Daphne is now a freshman at Briarcliff Junior College, Briarcliff, N. Y. Before she sailed back to her native land for the first time in five years, dined with Daphne at an informal family gathering at “The Boltons,” lovely Fairbanks home in Kensington. Having known this eldest daughter of three since she was just a twinkle in her parents’ eyes, was anxious to hear how she felt about returning to the United States, after her school life in England and abroad and her “royal” welcome to top drawer Mayfair society.
“I am longing to go home!” Daphne answered, her dark eyes dancing with excitement at the very thought of it. “There’s such a wide gap between the ages of twelve and seventeen that it will be like discovering a new world. I’m afraid though, I’ll have to limit my ‘exploring’ in the New York shops and other forms of entertainment, because Mummy and Daddy are putting me on a very limited budget. Until now, my allowance was just for ‘incidentals’ but at Briarcliff, ‘incidentals’ will also include laundry, wardrobe, commutation tickets to New York, meals and theatres.”
“Well, with your Granny Whiting and Aunt Gladys in New York, plus your Mummy and Daddy’s wide circle of friends, I think you might scare up a few invitations to help curtail the expense account!” I laughingly assured her. “And, of course, there should be lots of beaus waiting on the stag line for a popular debutante.”
“But I don’t know many American boys; only the few that I have met in London,” Daphne demurred. “Besides I won’t be a debutante in New York. The only official deb appearance I’ll make will be during the Christmas holidays at the Cotillion Ball, and at Wendy Vanderbilt’s coming-out party. The rest of the time I’ll be just an ordinary, hard-working freshman, plugging away at a secretarial course.” Daphne is a charming, warm, adaptable girl who can, I know, look forward to many happy new friendships back in her homeland.
With Anne and Betsy: At the Associated British studios in Elstree, I found Anne Baxter in the midst of a big dramatic scene for a suspense film called “Chase Across A Shadow,” Doug Fairbanks Jr.’s first independent film for Warner Brothers release. “This is the finest performance of Anne’s career,” Doug whispered to me from the sidelines.
“I simply adore working here,” Anne enthused during the tea break. So did Betsy Drake, when I lunched with her and her co-star, Ken More, at the Shepperton Studios in Middlesex. Ken, one of England’s top male stars, is garnering a large American public, too, through his wonderful comedy performances in “Genevieve,” the “Doctor In The House” series, “The Admirable Crichton” and his prize-winning dramatic characterization of war hero, Douglas Bader, in “Reach For The Sky.” Betsy, who knows a good actor when she sees one (she gets a lot of homework looking at Cary Grant!) considers herself very lucky to be playing opposite Ken for her British screen bow in “Next To No Time.” Betsy also recognizes a good script when she reads one, because, although it isn’t generally known, she’s a writer herself. You can guess how highly she regards this film when I tell you most of the action takes place aboard the Queen Elizabeth! After Betsy’s frightening experience as one of the passengers on the ill-fated Andrea Doria, you’d think she could never face a luxury liner again!
“I couldn’t have a few months ago,” Betsy confessed, “but now that the nightmarish memories are receding, I could even write about it—and I shall, as soon as I get back to my typewriter in Palm Springs.” However, with the resumption of her screen career (“Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” is the film that lured her out of retirement), I suspect Betsy will be in such studio demand, that her acting will take precedence over her pen.
Chic Chat: Cary Grant joined Betsy in London just when his other “Affair to Remember”—Deborah Kerr—left for Paris. But, I hasten to assure you, this was by accident, not design. Deborah had to leave for a week of fittings for the beautiful Givenchy wardrobe created by the famous French designer for her next film, “Bonjour Tristesse.” She just hated missing one of her favorite leading men. (The other is Bill Holden.) But she did manage to arrive back in London in time to see him, before she had to take off again for location exteriors in Paris and San Tropez, while Bill stayed on in London for another assignment not hard to take: Playing opposite the sextacular Sophia Loren in “Stella.” All this and a salary too! . . . I flew from New York, via TWA’s new non-stop Jet Streamer, especially for the West End premiere of “The Prince and the Showgirl,” and having been to the Radio City Music Hall premiere, too, it was fascinating to see that the audience reaction in New York and London was precisely the same. Everybody thought that costarring two such opposite personalities as Olivier and Monroe was a provocative combination. How sad that after this triumph, Marilyn suffered such a blow in the loss of her expected baby. But happily, doctors have assured her that she can have children in the future.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 1957