Glamour Gab Of Hollywood
With all the current excitement about Jayne Mansfield, even Hollywood seems to have forgotten that she was under contract to Warner Brothers a mere two years ago. Nobody noticed her much then. She was given bit roles to do and sent on press junkets such as the “Underwater!” preview in Florida. Having been on that trip, I can testify that Jayne rated hardly a glance.
How the girl has learned in the meantime! Since starring in “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” on Broadway, Jayne has mastered the art of publicity. In today’s Hollywood, even if she is only going to the grocery store, you see her togged out in a mink coat to her heels, over a dress that fits her tighter than her skin. She is never alone, either. But what a picture she presents, with her little daughter held tight by one hand and the big, dark, muscular former Mr. America, Mike Hargitay, held tight with the other. They stop conversation everywhere.
Stars in Hollywood are continually “redoing” their houses. June Allyson is the latest to be smitten with this virus, but so far not a stick of the Allyson-Powell furniture is up for sale. June is just moving stuff around in their house—“and that includes me,” says Dick Powell, her doting husband.
June has moved Dick out of his den because, of all things, she has taken a liking to Elizabethan furniture. This style is very heavy, very dark and very powerful, and why little June has an immense crush on it nobody can explain, including herself. But right now she adores it, so to make room for the Tudor chests, chairs and cupboards, Dick has had to give up his den, which was a hobby room, full of guns and fishing poles.
My personal nomination for the most unspoiled girl in the celebrity world is Doris Day. She went home to Cincinnati recently for the preview of her excellent new picture, “Julie,” and she didn’t forget one name. She still sends out fruit cakes, which she bakes herself, as Christmas presents to her friends. She keeps right up with her sandlot baseball playing with her son, Terry, and she’s the only star I know who’ll call you up, apropos of nothing, and say, “Hi! This is Dodo. Let’s have a cheap lunch.” Then you find out her idea of a cheap lunch is Romanoff’s, where if two get out for ten dollars it’s because one of you was dieting.
If everybody in the film colony went to all the parties that are given, there would never be one inch of pictures made. But when an affair like the testimonial dinner for David Rose comes along, it’s so heartwarming there is no resisting it.
Certainly you know David Rose, composer of “Holiday for Strings” and many another lovely tune. But the Dave Rose Hollywood loves is the all-around fine musician and flawless friend. Thus, the whole town came out for his party, with Howard Keel singing for Dave, Red Skelton clowning, and Don DeFore putting on a skit which killed the people. But the best moment came when David himself sat down at the piano and began playing, whereupon Dan Dailey jumped up on the speaker’s table, pushed the dishes aside and did a dance routine to the music.
You need a private plane to keep up with your Hollywood pals these days. all in one mail, this month, I got a letter from Alan Ladd in Greece, from Mel Ferrer in Paris, from Phyllis Kirk in London and from Helmut Dantine in Rome. Said Alan, among other things, “Susie and I flew over to Paris this weekend for the party they gave Gary Cooper and ‘Love in the Afternoon’. ” Said Phyllis, “I have always loved London and love it even more this trip. In spite of that and the fact that I think half of California must be here (Joan Crawford, Arlene Dahl, Fernando Lamas and others), I find myself missing Beverly Hills. Anita Ekberg and I are both staying at the same hotel here and we blink rapidly forty times a day, trying to adjust ourselves to being with one another in London and not in the middle of a jungle set on the RKO lot making ‘Back from Eternity,’ as we were a short while ago.”
Touching is the news coming to Hollywood from the East that Edna Best, the heroine of one of the most unusual and greatest of love stories, has been desperately ill.
It’s possible you do not even remember her name, yet at the time when she was starring on Broadway and on film with Herbert Marshall, she was distinctly the June Allyson of her day. She was married to Marshall, and she loved him so completely that when pictures sought her out before they sought him she ran away from the film she was making, too homesick for her husband to stay in Hollywood without him.
Then they parted. This was after she and Bart had come back to Hollywood together, and he had scored such a very big hit. There were so many beautiful ladies in Hollywood, and Bart was so gallant.
At that time Bart’s best friend, and also his agent, was Nat Wolfe. Nat, in fact, represented practically the whole English colony in films, glamour folk like Ronald Colman and such. Nat wasn’t in the class of handsomeness with his clients—what agent is?—but he had a great heart.
So he fell in love with Edna Best, while he kept on being her ex-husband’s agent. They married and Bart married, and it was all very, very “civilized,” as the current saying is.
Except that Edna Best is now so ill, and so is Bart Marshall, and neither of their careers has amounted to a hill of beans since their parting. “Boots” Marshall, who used to be married to Bill Cagney, looks after Bart with the most complete devotion. Nothing could match it—except Nat Wolfe’s loving care of Edna Best.
Love in Hollywood is really up against the most fantastic pressures. I give you herewith a classic example:
The case is that of Anne Baxter and Russell Birdwell, press agent-director. Anne Baxter is an extraordinary girl, a genuine highbrow, a lady of real culture and one of the finest actresses on screen, as you can see for yourself in “The Ten Commandments.” Offhand, wouldn’t you think a girl like that would manage her romantic life superbly? In Anne’s case, you’d be dead wrong.
The late John Hodiak was a generous, uncomplicated, fine-minded human being. When he fell in love with Anne, it was the sort of emotion that makes birds sing and flowers bloom. Nevertheless, he never was the right kind of a husband for a girl as subtle and complex as Anne. They came from entirely different worlds, she from the artistic, elegant world of a man like her grandfather, Frank Lloyd Wright. John’s folks were peasant farmers in Europe, hardworking miners in this country. Anne loved books, highbrow music. John doted on nights on the town, with a bunch of male pals, pub-crawling.
So, finally, after a gallant try on both sides, they divorced and Anne got the custody of their little girl. John, whose career in Hollywood never really bloomed, went to New York. Then last year he died. Meanwhile, Anne met Russ Birdwell.
Here was an ex-newspaperman who could talk books, art, music, movies. Anne became so infatuated with him that she threw over all her old friends. She dismissed her father, who had been her business manager. She dismissed her agent, who was also a very old friend. She insisted upon Birdwell as her director in films. She wouldn’t read a script unless he had read it first, and okayed it.
Maybe if the picture which they made together had been a smash, their love would have stayed intact. Or grown, even—though how Anne’s love could have been any greater than it was is hard to imagine. But the picture, “The Come-On,” was a flop, and now they have parted. Anne’s getting back to her old friends, and using her brains again.
Marriage to Eugene MacGrath has certainly made a changed woman of Terry Moore, and just might make her into the actress she showed promise of being in “Come Back, Little Sheba.” Gone are the gay shenanigans of ermine bathing suits and disappearing gowns that got her more headlines than acting roles. Thinner than ever since her recent illness, sparkling with fun and happiness, Terry is a wonderful combination of gay gamin and a lovely woman, and the coming year should again prove the truth of the old adage that “them as has, gets.” Now that her career is only secondary, it will probably be more successful than ever!
In the midst of incredible good fortune, Burt Lancaster’s year was shadowed by his feud with Ernest Borgnine, who sued Hecht-Lancaster for additional sums he said were due him from the picture “Marty,” the one that earned an Academy Award for Borgnine. Burt takes these things pretty philosophically, which is understandable. His brand-new home, his five children and his richly happy life with Norma enable him to regard the ups and downs of life in the film colony in their proper perspective, and with a grin.
Shades of the old glamour days! An eye-dazzler is Debra Paget’s new car, completely jewel-encrusted and upholstered in pale pink. It was Debbie’s present to herself after completing “The Ten Commandments” which, she hopes, will pave the way for more good parts. At least, she’s bound to get attention.
Remember when Errol Flynn was Hollywood’s headline-making bad boy? Well, you’d hardly recognize him these days, living quietly with his wife, Patrice Wymore, and his daughter, paying off his back alimony and other debts, and really paying attention to his career. He just made “The Big Boodle” for United Artists and has two more pictures scheduled, with all his wild oats finally sown. At least, for the time being.
This should be the most wonderful Christmas ever for Lita Baron and Rory Calhoun, whose first child is expected just about that time. This marriage has seen plenty of stormy weather emotionally and plenty of rough going when Rory thought his movie career was at an end. Those are the days that try men’s souls and the strength of a marriage. But this one came through with flying colors, despite the pessimists who kept saying it wouldn’t last. With the birth of their child, I’d say we can mark the Rory-Lita marriage down as one of those “till death do us part” items. After all, just how happy can you be? Surely no happier than these two!
The saddest little girl in the world, Margaret O’Brien, has grown up to be a trouble-haunted young woman. all her troubles are career troubles, it’s true, but this is serious enough for someone whose life has been as much a part of Hollywood as has Margaret’s. Last fall, she went to New York to study at the Actors’ Studio. But what she really needs is a part that will bring out her poignancy, instead of trying to make her over into a glamour girl. Let’s hope this year will bring Margaret her heart’s dearest wish—a part to put her back on the road to stardom.
Kim Novak can’t think of much to ask for that she hasn’t already got, but whatever she does ask for will undoubtedly be dropped into her lap, gladly, by either her studio or any one of her ardent admirers. And although Kim denies that Frank Sinatra comes under this heading, she was looking very, very misty-eyed as she sat in the audience at Las Vegas and listened to him croon his love songs. But Kim is smart enough to know that Frankie has sung those some love songs so many times that it’s probably difficult for him to know himself whether he means them any more. And while Ava Gardner keeps promising to come to Reno to pick up her divorce, the betting is still heavy that she won’t divorce Frankie until she’s ready to marry again—and there’s no sign of that on the immediate horizon. So Kim will probably keep right on dating good, reliable Mac Krim, since this particular doll is very sensible and levelheaded beneath that lavender hair.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JANUARY 1957