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Facts About Debbie Reynolds’ Private Life

What is the truth about Debbie Reynolds’ private life today? Now, in a personal heart-to-heart talk with her long-time friend Louella Parsons, Debbie confides all: “I have never seen Glenn Ford away from the sets of the three pictures we have made together.” Debbie Reynolds told me, “and all this talk that I am in love with him—or he is in love with me—is just plain stupid.

I, better than anyone else, know what it means to have another woman break up a marriage.

“Do you for one minute think that I would be secretly seeing Glenn while he is having trouble with Eleanor Powell? I know him very well professionally and I know her scarcely at all. But even though Glenn and I are friends, my only contact with him has been as co-star of the movies we were making. I like Glenn very much. He is very pleasant to work with and a very good actor.

“But as for a hidden romance—well, that just isn’t my code of behavior.”

Enough men around

She went on, the words spilling out on top of each other in her indignation, “I won’t even see Harry Karl until he is divorced, although I did see him before he married Joan Cohn. There are enough men around without dating some other woman’s husband!”

I hadn’t interrupted Debbie during this hurling down of the gauntlet because it would have taken a combination of an earthquake and a baby typhoon to interrupt Debbie at this moment. She was angry and she was disgusted.

Debbie and I were lunching at Romanoff’s this particular Saturday—Saturday being a ‘day off’ for both of us. As usual these days, Debbie looked very chic in a bright blue suit she had bought in Spain, a tiny matching hat and veil. and shorty white gloves—the whole fashion bit! Believe me, this gal has come a long way from her pigtails and blue-denim days. But the subject of clothes was not on her mind.

Just that morning, before we met at noon, she had read a story in another fan magazine with the startling title. DEBBIE REYNOLDS WILL MARRY GLENN FORD. Wowie!

Even before we ordered, Debbie was off and running. She said, “The person who wrote it must have been out of his mind. The whole thing is sheer insanity. How dare they print such complete falsehoods!”

And then she went on to tell me heatedly the comments which lead off this story. In fact, she was in such a huff and a puff both the waiter and I wondered when she would give her order. And as so much emotion is hardly conducive to digestion, I suggested we get on with our diet meal—and change the topic, at least temporarily.

That wasn’t hard to do because Debbie had just signed a contract for a million dollars for a series of TV spectaculars and if it hadn’t been for that distressing fan Magazine story, she would have been jubilant. In fact, she was jubilant.

I couldn’t help wondering if the fact that Elizabeth Taylor had just made public that she is to receive a million dollars for making Cleopatra didn’t add to Debbie’s delight in grabbing off a million for herself?

Isn’t it the irony of fate that the two feminine angles of the most publicized Hollywood triangle in years are in line for a million dollars apiece—everybody but Eddie? Oh, well—he still has time. He’s never looked, or sung, better.

Now that she was in a financial mood Debbie told me, “I get $300,000 and five percent for each of my four TV shows. It’s the most money I’ve ever earned,” she smiled happily. “It means so much security for Carrie Frances and Todd,” she added.

“I’m really a completely happy woman now, she said with sincerity. “I have my children, and my work, and my health and I manage to have a good time, too.”

I laughed, “That I’ll not deny! How you’ve changed from that stay-at-home girl you used to be.”

Then she said something rather surprising. “Perhaps the change isn’t as deep as you think—except outwardly.”

And I knew what she meant. I think in the beginning, after the first blow, when Eddie Fisher came out and said he did not love her, that he loved Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie went all out to prove she wasn’t as badly hurt as all of us who love her knew her to be.

Laughter a little too forced

Perhaps, in her confusion and hurt, Debbie went overboard. One day when I went out to MGM to visit her on the set of It Started With A Kiss, I’ll admit I was a bit surprised at the way Debbie was clowning around.

Between rehearsals she was putting on the hat of director George Marshall and doing tap dance steps. She was kidding with everyone and cracking jokes. And her laughter seemed to be a little too loud and a little too forced.

Nor did she seem to mind the splash of publicity she rated when, on a visit to New York, Bob Neal gifted her with a diamond pin.

More recently she surprised her fans, including TV star Jack Paar and this viewer, by pulling Jack’s coat off, making him dance with her and generally staging something of a roughhouse.

When I spoke with her about this later Debbie was a bit sheepish. She said, “Oh, Jack told me not to be stuffy or straight-laced, to let myself go and clown it up a bit. I’m sorry if it was misunderstood.”

No one knows better than I that at heart Debbie is not an exhibitionist—it is not in her nature.

Actually she is a shy and retiring girl except when before the camera—or perhaps putting on a show when the Thalians whoop it up for her favorite charity (mentally disturbed children and the new clinic being built for their treatment at Mt. Sinai Hospital).

But when a girl is as bitterly hurt as Debbie was—it’s easy to understand how she would not want the world to know how deep the wound went and to keep up a big front.

Now that the big hurt is all gone—at least that is what the lady says, I doubt if we’ll get much more of this play acting (for that’s just what it is) from Debbie.

The men in her life

Getting back to the men in her life, I said, “Well, if Glenn isn’t the one—and I believe you—who is?”

Debbie sighed over her Sanka, then laughed. “We’ve been over this so often its beginning to sound like a record. You know better than anyone the way I feel. I don’t plan to marry anyone I know now. But I won’t say I’ll never marry. Being happy in marriage is the only completely happy life for a woman—and that goes for a movie star.”

I said, “I think Bob Neal, that rich young Texan, would marry you in a minute if you would say yes.” I looked at that famed diamond pin of his glittering on her lapel. “He showers you with gifts and whenever his sister and her husband come to town—you are the only girl he invites out.”

Debbie nodded. “I’ve said so many times how much I appreciate Bob’s friendship. He is one of the most thoughtful men I know. When I was in New York he went out of his way to get good tickets to shows I hadn’t seen. And when he drove me to the airport, just before I got on the plane—he put a jewelry box in my hand. Told me not to open it until I got on the plane. It was this beautiful pin. What girl wouldn’t be pleased with this kind of attention?”

If you ask me, as much as she likes Bob—I don’t think Debbie is one little bit in love with him. In Hollywood, it is never safe to venture a guess (look at all the ‘smart’ guys who would have bet their shirts that Bing Crosby and Kathy Grant would never marry) but I’m willing to bet my bankroll that Debbie and Bob will never marry.

I’ll make the same flat statement about wealthy Harry Karl, even if Debbie does start dating him again after he is divorced from Joan (Mrs. Harry) Cohn to whom he stayed married a brief twenty-five days! Both of these gentlemen, the younger Bob and the more mature Harry, come under the heading of playboys, whether they like the label or not. Another strike against them, they are not actually of Debbie’s world—show business.

It doesn’t take an oracle to predict that with her career at its very height, where she can command and get $1,000,000 for her services, her work will become more and more important to Debbie. And show people talk a language of their own.

When I had talked with her several months previous to our luncheon date Debbie had told me frankly, “Despite the way things turned out for us, Eddie and I shared years of real happiness and contentment. I was so proud of him when he began to soar to the top and was in such demand for TV and nightclubs.”

And, when and if, she marries again, my money says Debbie will be looking for exactly this kind of happiness. Someone of her own world, in her line of work, has the best chance of winning her hand.

“When I think of marriage again—it will be different from the first time,” she said seriously. “Then there was just Eddie and me. Now there are my children.

“Every man I am ever serious about again I shall judge by just one consideration: will he be patient auth loving and kind to my Carrie Frances—who is still so little, just going on three, and to Todd who hasn’t yet reached his second birthday.” She laughed, “It’s a case of—love me, love my kids.”

I had just one more question to pop to Missy Reynolds before we called for the check for our luncheon.

“Debbie,” I asked, “when and after Glenn is divorced and he is a free man would you accept some dates with him?”

She gave me a sharp little sidelong glance. “That’s not a fair question,” she laughed. “He can’t possibly be free for a year—California law, you know. Who knows what a year will bring?”

It will bring a lot of success and money to Debbie Reynolds, that’s for sure. Will it also bring a new love? That’s the question.


Debbie stars in THE GAZEBO, MGM, and THE RAT RACE, Paramount. Glenn also stars in THE GAZEBO, and CIMARRON, MGM.



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