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Good For Each Other—Fernando Lamas & Arlene Dahl

The picturesque California coastal town of Carmel is such a popular honeymoon spot that the citizens are especially considerate of newlyweds. They are friendly and courteous and they leave them to their blissful ways.

When Arlene Dahl and Fernando Lamas strolled into a Carmel curio shop recently, the saleswoman retired discreetly into the background.

She had recognized the movie stars immediately. Only the night before she had read of their elopement to Las Vegas. And it seemed perfectly natural that they, too, should choose to honeymoon in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

“Darling,” Arlene murmured as she glanced around the curio shop. “This place is jammed with treasures. We can get simply wonderful things for our livingroom shelves.”

“Why not buy books?” Fernando asked with masculine logic.

Arlene shot her husband a wifely look. She prowled and poked among the curios, examining and pricing every object. Some minutes later she found a black and gold musical cigarette box. She carried it to Fernando.

“When you open it,” she explained, “it plays two tunes— ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ and ‘Two Cigarettes In The Dark.’ ”

“I like it, Lamas announced. Arlene noticed that he, too, had made a purchase.

“What did you buy?” she asked nonchalantly, thinking she was hiding her curiosity.

Fernando shook his handsome head. “Not until we’re home.”

Arlene tried but no amount of teasing or pleading could make him divulge his secret. “Honestly,” she said, looking as though she might stamp her foot a little. “I think you’re terrible.” They both smiled.

The morning after Mr. and Mrs. Lamas officially moved into their small Dutch colonial house in Bel Air—they had been furnishing it secretly two months before their wedding—Fernando unwrapped his mystery purchase and hung it on the wall outside the master bedroom.

At the sound of the hammering Arlene stopped unpacking and began investigating. Her eyes fell on a brightly painted wooden disc about the size of a ten-inch pie plate. The disc had one clock hand, and around its outer edges were painted such adjectives as “tender, sullen, hungry, passionate, tired.”

“It’s called a marriage barometer,” Fernando explained. “Especially designed to help a new wife anticipate her husband’s moods.”

At that Arlene burst out laughing and collapsed weakly against her husband’s chest. “Of all the crazy things,” she began. And then she was off on another wave of laughter. “I promise,” she announced between giggles, “to check it every morning, noon and night.”

Although Fernando planned the barometer as a gag, it has its semi-serious aspects as well. Of all the recent Hollywood marriages, none might use a barometer quite so well as the Lamas-Dahl union. This was one love affair most of the movie colony’s observers did not expect to see grow into a marriage.

These two people are completely opposite in background and temperament.

Arlene ancestors are pure Scandinavian from away back. Born and reared in Minneapolis in a neighborhood that is still a section of transplanted Denmark, Arlene was taught to be reserved, poised, composed and always in control of her emotions.

Fernando, on the other. hand, suffered a disruptive childhood in Buenos Aires where he was brought up by his grandmothers. He fought and struggled for everything he ever won. Emotionally, he has a low threshold, sizzles suddenly and boils over quickly.

A great athlete, he loves all outdoor sports, riding, hunting, swimming. Arlene does not. Her hobbies run to painting, cooking and sewing.

“And yet despite our differences,” Fernando says, “we are becoming more alike all the time. I am not sure of the reason for this. Is it because we are very much in love or is it because we are only now discovering the fundamental ways in which we are truly the same?”

Arlene agrees that she and Fernando are growing together but this is because in every marriage someone has to make adjustments. “And most of them,” the tall redhead adds good- naturedly, “have been mine.

“For example, Fernando happens to like women with straight hair. I don’t know why. So I’ve changed my hairstyle to a loose page boy cut.

“Fernando: likes to sing at parties, so I’ve started practicing on the piano again so I can accompany him. His favorite colors for me happen to be black and green so I now find myself buying only black outfits. And I had our friend an interior decorator Larrie Mako, change the color scheme of my bedroom from pink to green.

“Then there are Fernando’s eating habits. He comes from Argentina where dinner is served at ten P.M. As a result we eat late. Not that I wait until ten, but sometimes I can last until nine.

“Also he has a habit of falling in love with certain foods—French toast or breaded veal cutlets or Bologna sausage and crackers. When one of these spells hits him I dutifully accept my fate and serve his current specialty for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“I don’t have to share his enthusiasm, however, so I specialize in liver which the doctors tell me I should eat regularly.”

The Lamases’ good friend Larrie Mako says that she too, has noticed a growing of similar taste in Arlene and Fernando.

“Six months ago,” she says, “I would’ve agreed with everyone else that they are as different as night from day. But now that I’ve been working with them on getting their little house furnished, it’s surprising to learn that they do have a good deal in common.

“They both love movies, good wines, formal parties and surprises. They’re both ambitious and strong-willed and they both love to work. I don’t think there’s anything they can’t accomplish. They love to have their fingers in many pies.”

Arlene is busy these days designing a new line of lingerie for an eastern manufacturer. She also writes a beauty column twice a week, and she’s just finished A Woman’s World for Twentieth Century-Fox.

Fernando is rehearsing a nightclub act for Las Vegas in addition to starting an import-export business and reading half a dozen scripts.

Their friends expect that within a year Fernando and his bride will have organized a corporation to be called Lamas-Dahl Enterprises, Inc.

Between the time the false prophets predicted that Fernando would never marry Arlene and the wedding day, these two stars began to shop for a home. They searched together on Sundays and they hunted apart on weekdays. They wanted a smallish place that combined beauty with complete privacy. Ultimately they found their honeymoon home in one of the garden-like canyons of Bel Air.

Their house is Dutch colonial with two bedrooms, a den, and a charming garden. It nestles gently against a mountain slope so that the glass walls in the livingroom and patio are completely pro neighborly curiosity.

Fernando calls it “Happy House.”

Two months before they moved in, the couple began to work on the furnishings. Happy conspirators, they had great fun working together while many of the gossip writers insisted that it was all over between them.

“First off,” Arlene recalls, “we started decorating the livingroom. We decided to do it black, grey and gold, using old pieces that we owned, I took my four television chairs and had them covered in a grey and gold print. Fernando had his couch covered in grey.

“Practically the only new things we had to buy were a few lamps and a spinet piano for Fernando.”

The Lamas den was another joint operation. Fernando covered the floor with one big square of cotton shag carpeting, and Arlene installed a white plaid couch from her old house.

“This room,” Fernando likes to point out, “doubles as an office for our business affairs. We wanted it to be light and pleasant and I think it is.”

The diningroom and foyer were left untouched but upstairs Arlene turned the second bedroom into “Fernando’s Hideaway.”

“We kid about this room,” she explains, “with its sign on the door and everything. But the truth is that it is a nifty hideaway for Fernando. He answers fan mail here and watches television and studies his lines. It’s the perfect escape spot for a man.”

All the furniture in this room is simple. and utilitarian. The room has two walls of hanging space for Fernando’s rather extensive wardrobe.

When friends marvel at how quickly the Lamases got settled, the man of the house generously attributes the speedy success to Arlene. “We both work better under pressure,” he says, “so Arlene gave us a deadline of one month. ‘After one month,’ she said, ‘I want us to be ready for a housewarming.’ ”

And the Lamases were ready, even though Arlene had to sit up until two A.M. the night before finishing the curtains for Fernando’s Hideaway.

The housewarming party was memorable. It showed a lot of skeptics that the Dahl-Lamas marriage was well planned and carefully executed—not an impetuous thing.

A pair of white doves in a huge gilt cage hung above the door set the theme for the party. There was a buffet dinner for sixty-five, ten to a table. The tables were covered with red organdy and the centerpieces were gilt birdcages filled with red and white carnations.

“There were no place cards,” Fernando says, “because I don’t believe in place cards. What kind of thing is it to take friends who are enjoying cocktails and say, ‘Sorry, but you must separate now. You sit here and you sit there.’ I think guests should choose their own company. That’s why at our house, never place cards.”

The party was a huge success and it went on until the small hours of the morning, and after the last guest had departed, Fernando took his wife in his arms. “Tell me,” he said, “and you must be honest. If you had to do it all over again, would you still marry me?”

Arlene made a cute, pouty face at her husband.

“Ask me in the morning,” she said “after I’ve checked my barometer.”