Welcome to Vintage Paparazzi.

He’s Bob Hutton!

Bob Hutton walked into the casting office at Warners the other day to be introduced to his loving son. He had a big, glad smile on his face, just like any twenty four-year-old fellow about to meet his first-born. Happy, even though the offspring was already three years old, and would be his to love and pamper only for the duration of a few retakes for the highly romantic “Too Young To Know.”

He opened the office door, beamed on the handsome tyke waiting therein, said a gladsome “Hello, Sonny”—and Sonny walked right over and kicked him on the shin.

“Must have seen my last picture,” Bob muttered.

This will give you a good idea of the Hutton modesty but not of any fatal charm. Charm, however, he most certainly has, though it’s more on the beguiling than the fatal side.

The average person talking to this Warner white hope is apt to do a litUe wondering. Wonder why people are so convinced Bob is “shy”—and if so, how come he’s so articulate and friendly and well-mannered? Wonder, too, how those Hutton divorce rumors started rampaging around? And how did the Hutton stork rumors get started?

If you feel you must know the answer to any of these, don’t ask Bob. He’s busy right now wondering where one goes to find out “how a guy gets lucky enough to all of a sudden be a movie actor, anyhow—” As for the rest of the weird and wonderful phenomena of Hollywood, don’t stop Bob for information. Truth is, Hutton’s a stranger here, himself. . . .

It wasn’t much more than two years ago, he says, that he was spending a short vacation in Hollywood, considering himself fortunate to get a pass to Warners and other lots. He remembers standing on the sets watching Ann Rutherford and others do a scene, and thinking “Holy gee!”

Today, gatemen pass him in on no more credentials than his face, signed with his own grin. He’s still standing on sets, but with a director telling the crew to “Throw more light on Hutton—” and the payroll department keeping busy throwing more figures on Hutton’s checks. Evenings he and his cute wife Natalie go partying, very often with the young David Mays, the feminine half of which is Ann Rutherford—and he still looks around him and says “Holy gee!”

“No fooling,” he says seriously, “I’ve been here long enough to have that ‘nothing to it’ feeling, and sometimes I do. Then again, on the set or at a dinner party. I’m suddenly back in Kingston, New York, standing on the Woodstock Playhouse stage and merely seeing myself out here. . . .”

He hadn’t left a Hollywood career entirely to imagination, of course. He’d been working toward it from about sixteen to twenty-two, through high school dramatics to stock roles in the company of such efficient thespians as Sinclair Lewis, Elissa Landi, Claire Luce and others. (This is the part of any “sudden” success story which should be read twice by all young hopefuls who look at gilded youths such as Bob now is, and think, “I’m as good-looking as he is—it’s a cinch!”) Even with a wellfounded training, however, he couldn’t quite believe it when a talent scout caught a Woodstock performance and offered him a contract.

“All my life I’ll remember the day I stepped on the train to head West again. I can still smell the train smoke in the shed and see the crowds. I kept feeling the folded contract in my pocket and thinking I was the only one of all those travelers carrying just that kind of ‘ticket.’ Then I’d remind myself that maybe I, too, was just going on an excursion. I kept that ‘excursion’ feeling for the whole six months until my option was taken up—in fact. I’ve still got it.”

Sincerity—a tendency for not overrating himself—an anxiety to please—all these have built up a rapid legend about Hutton’s “shyness.” Hollywood hasn’t had a nice “shy” character since Gary Cooper learned to talk at Bond Rallies and for interviews, and since Stewart and Fonda quit gangling and went off to earn distinguished war records.

Sharing the heart-warming qualities of all these three, Bob has none of the lacks which the wholesale adjective also implies. A youth of inescapable polish, he has an easy smile and a willing hand-shake, and not a gangle in his whole six-foot-two. You’ll never hear the Hutton voice ringing out above all others in a mob scene, but give him a few people at a time, old friends or newly met, and he’s a fellow of well-formulated opinions and an unconfused flow of language with which to express them.

Tweeds or tails behave without a wrinkle or bump on his well-handled frame, and he is not only a sociable guy but also one of the most socially-sought young men in town.

The one thing Bob has a real fear of is being an individualist—the one person alone, among many. Give him a sudden shove toward a public microphone and he turns tongue-tied. Make him the center of attention at any gathering, public or private, and he’s truly miserable. Ostentation is, to him, in very bad taste—a showoff is something he doesn’t want to even slightly resemble. His very real panic when forced into any sort of personal exhibitionism, goes deeper and farther back than that.

The Hutton childhood was filled with such wholly desirable things as a summer home in the Catskills, a swimming pool, a pony—everything a little boy would be glad to call his own. Everything, that is, except a brother or sister for sharing and squabbling—someone of his own kind to take him for granted and give him that easy camaraderie large families carry out into the world with them.

Probe Bob for his preferences—ask him the sound, or the music, that moves him most, and he’ll reach back into that solitary past for it:

“I guess it’s a sound I used to listen to when I was a kid,” he’ll say, after a moment of thought, “—the wind blowing up through the mountains. You know, being an only child is a pretty lonesome deal. I used to lie in bed and listen to the wind and trees ‘talk’ to each other. You know how kids are—I’d imagine what they were saying—and I guess I even joined ’em in the conversation once in a while—”

Among his best-remembered experiences is his first day at school: “I wanted to do what the other kids did, but I was afraid to attract attention to myself by doing it. We had a drinking fountain just outside the door of the classroom—you had to hold up your hand to get permission to go to it, and some of the kids drank more than they needed just to make the trip. To be one of the boys, it seemed to me absolutely necessary to go to the cooler now and then—but do you know it was days before I could get up the courage to even hold up my hand? Afraid I couldn’t manage the proper swagger past the other kids’ desks, I guess. What’s more, thinking about it all the time made me thirstier and thirstier—boy, I really suffered—”

An only child, even grown up, never quite loses that feeling of being a new arrival into a crowd which already had much in common. It is not a shying away from people, but a deep-rooted desire to “belong.” No matter how gay or popular or gifted a young man Bob may be, he doesn’t take himself for granted—and it’s hard for him to believe anyone else will. Being liked is more important to him than to the average fellow—it makes him a “worrier” about what he’s said, and an “explainer” of what he does. What delights him most are gestures of acceptance from people he admires:

“Working in ‘Mildred Pearce’ with Joan Crawford was wonderful,” he’ll say. “She always made you feel so free to talk with her, never acted like you were just taking up her time. And at night when she’d be driving out the studio gate she’d always blow her horn and wave—gee, I thought that was great—”

“Hollywood Canteen” was fun to make because it had that “big, happy family feeling—everybody working right along together to make it a good picture.” His favorite role, however, is his first one, the youngest of the destroyer crew in “Destination Tokyo.” It was the start of his friendship with Cary Grant, who is about tops in human beings—and there was something else, too: Bob has a kind of sun-blindness which keeps him out of service, and being a part of it all, even in a picture, affected him strongly.

“That appendicitis operation really got me, because it was something that actually happened to a couple of other fellows. It wasn’t me on that table, but the couple of guys who had to actually stretch themselves out on a rolling, pitching ship—and lie there with their intestines held back by bent spoons—trusting God and a swell ship’s officer to help them see daylight again. I was so conscious of being those other guys, I sort of found myself praying I’d pull through—”

The kind of person who makes him un-comfortable is the one who “knows all the answers,” and especially that kind of female. He rather suspects his wife Natalie knows quite a few, but she’s smart enough to let him feel he knows more of them. Except in gin rummy—“She beat the ego out of me by winning consistently for a whole year.” What he admires most is her poise.

“I remember dropping off at a cocktail party one afternoon on our way to an early dinner date. The cocktail crowd was strictly informal—sport coats, open-necked shirts, some of them in swim-trunks still dripping from the pool. Nat and I had to make a grand entrance, in dinner clothes, across a long stretch of lawn. I felt so conspicuous, like a ‘dress extra’ taking his cue—I wanted to come on doing dialogue right and left, explaining what we were doing dressed up like sore thumbs. Not Nat—she just sailed across that lawn, cool and smooth, totally unconscious that the whole crowd was staring. Gosh, she’s wonderful—”

The last sentence is a kind of thumbnail description of the Hutton marital mood. Bob doesn’t care to do a lot of declaiming against those “divorce” rumors; or who started them, or why. “There’s been too much talk about it now,” he says, “and we feel a lot of discussion on our part would only keep the conversation going—”

Says Bob with great earnestness, “I could never love anybody, or anything, the way I love Natalie. She’s my idea of what every fellow should be lucky enough to run into—a person you can have fun with, going out, or just sitting home spending the evening reading and talking—”

“Of course we have arguments—lots of them. That’s part of the fun—each having your own opinions and standing up for them. I wouldn’t give you two cents for a marriage with someone who cared so little for me she wouldn’t tell me when she thought I was wrong—and I wouldn’t be worth her time and trouble if I didn’t tell her why I thought I was right—”

Prime subjects for differing opinions are Natalie’s hats and Bob’s ties. He doesn’t like Natalie’s hats, and what’s more he doesn’t like hats. He considers them a desecration to a beautiful head of hair. His wife’s hair is a tawny mass of brown, shaded to gold by the sun. With her gray eyes, he thinks it’s something special. Then, too, you know what women’s millinery is, these days—

“Nat has a new one—a sort of large straw basket of marigolds, or something, which ties in a big bow under her chin. I think it’s ridiculous—what kind of a husband would I be if I looked her straight in the eye and said it looked lovely? It’s always that way—we have a big discussion about her hat, and that’s all there is to it. She wears it—” he grins.

As for his ties, “Nat will be all dressed to go somewhere and I’ll still be trying to pick out a tie and shirt combination that looks right to me. The tie looks too loud with the shirt—I put on a different shirt—then I put on a different tie—then I’m more confused than I was to start. I don’t blame her for getting impatient, but it’s myidiosyncracy, so I go right on concentrating on it—”

It was a tie incident which no doubt built itself up into a gossip item one evening when pal Alan Curtis was to accompany them to an affair. Natalie was ready to go v/hen Alan called for them, and Bob wasn’t. When by all-round agreement Alan and Natalie went on ahead, and Bob arrived alone a little later, spectator’s eyebrows started rising.

An intimate friend makes an interesting comment on the Huttons:

“Bob and Natalie are very young young marrieds,” he says. “They’re very close companions—small things pertaining to each other are important to them, can become very big. I’ve seen them have a small, human argument—and, like two kids in love anywhere, ‘not speak’ for quite a while afterwards. Being miffed is just one way of being even more concerned, more conscious of each other. I’d hate to see a third party try to say something against one of them to the other—he’d get a quick reaction. Or get Bob out for an afternoon or evening and try getting his mind off his wrist watch. He’s looking at it every fifteen minutes, waiting for the time to phone, or see Natalie again—

The stork rumors, although of a happier nature, are also untrue as this is written. When they start on a family Bob has it all planned—two boys and a girl. If the ratio sounds a bit arbitrary, look at it this way—there’ll be a boy, who has both a brother and a sister. If they don’t run into trouble with priorities or something, that is.

What’s really most important to any child, he thinks, is “the sincere love of a wonderful mother—which I have never been without. Can you put something in about her?’’ he asks eagerly. “She’s very pretty, with lovely dark hair—I’m always so proud of her—”

It was his mother who wisely urged him into dramatic work at school. An actor is never “by himself”—there’s always the character he is playing, a fellow who doesn’t need to be self-conscious because he was written to be what he is. His mother, says Bob, gave him “every encouragement a son could have.”

“The biggest thrill of getting into pictures came when I went back home to Kingston, New York. It’s a small place, about 28,000, and they made quite a fuss over me. I appreciated it, not for myself, but for Mother—it sort of paid off on all that encouragement. Kids kept knocking at the door for autographs. She answered every knock and saw that I signed for anyone who wanted me to. She’s very much alive to all the requirements and possibilities of this movie-actor business—”

Also on his list of “wonderful gals” is Joan Leslie, who is “very real and unspoiled” and, moreover, is his leading lady in “Too Young To Know.” The picture (omitting kicks registered by Sonny) was a happy one, because he ages several years during it—also because of Director de Cordova.

“Freddie’s a friend of mine—” explains Bob, then quickly adds, “he’d have to be—to spend so much time on me—”

Someday, when such things are again available, he’ll have all the shirts he wants, “good fitting ones, with long enough sleeves and comfortable collars,” because that’s his idea of luxury. Also, plenty of steaks to season with garlic, which he and Natalie both love. And a camping trip now and then, mostly to smell bacon cooking over a campfire—his favorite perfume, because it’s such “a friendly smell.”

Someday, too, he may grow nonchalant about fame and movie-fortune, which he currently can’t quite believe has happened to him. Meantime, he’ll go on being Adonis in Wonderland. Wondering, when he gets a laugh with a neatly-placed quip, “if it was really funny.” Wondering, when asked to pose for a publicity picture at a piano, “if it would make any difference to people if they knew he couldn’t really sing?” Wondering “how he got so lucky, anyhow?” He may stop all this—but it’s doubtful.

Meantime, too, his friends and associates will go on wondering if there was ever a more sincere, more likable guy than this Hutton!





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