Honeymoon On The Heavenly Side—Pier Angeli & Victor Damone
Pier Angeli Damone, one of last year’s most beautiful brides and one of this year’s loveliest and happiest young matrons, curled up comfortably on the couch. “Of course, every day is important to a husband and wife,” she was saying. “But I still often think of our first few weeks together. They were so very special. For it was then that we set the pattern for our marriage.”
She smiled as the memories, only a few months old, returned. For a moment, she was in Las Vegas again and the desk clerk at the Sands Hotel was saying, “Your suite is ready, Mrs. Damone.”
Upstairs on the door hung a pink and white sign. It read, “Bridal Suite.” The management of the Sands had outdone itself. Inside, the rooms were of plush and delicate decor and could easily have been the setting for a fairy tale. For the newlyweds, it was to be a home for several weeks.
Soon it was. Before long, stuffed animals and dolls, large and small, were lounging everywhere, feeling perfectly at ease. A golf bag stood in the corner. And there was a note pinned to the curtain. It began, “I love you. Anna.” It ended with an answering postscript. “I love you, too. Vic.”
“Our honeymoon,” said Pier, returning from her dream, “was the happiest time in my whole life.
“Cloud Number Seven?” grinned Pier. “We were waltzing on it. But we also knew that we should be sensible and that this was a time to adapt ourselves to realities . . . to the problems we would be facing, problems a couple should learn to solve with thoughtfulness and consideration and understanding.”
Mrs. Vic Damone leaned back upon the couch and spoke reflectively. “I remember,” she said, “as I was walking down the aisle. I felt faint. There had been so much to do. So much excitement.
“The lilies of the valley that I carried were shaking. And all of the faces. They were blurred to me, but everyone seemed to be crying. I saw Debbie Reynolds and there were tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Then I heard someone sniffle and whisper, ‘She’s still such a child.’
“I suppose everyone believes that of a bride on her wedding day,” laughed Pier. “But I said to myself, ‘I am not a child. I am a woman marrying the man she loves.’
“In my heart there was no doubt.”
Pier Angeli went into marriage with an open heart and an open mind as well. And with a wisdom far from childlike. “My mind has been pretty clear on marriage since I was fourteen or fifteen years old,” she says today. “I grew up so fast inside. I didn’t necessarily speak a lot, but I observed what was going on. I learned as I watched the marriages of others. I saw what a lack of consideration and understanding could do to a marriage. I saw a lot of people ruining what they had together by becoming overly possessive and jealous. I learned that a sense of humor could save many a situation that seemed impossible. And I knew that the moment I became a wife, I should never forget to recall these things.”
If the honeymoon was hectic, the Damones could take it in their stride. And they could build a good marriage.
As a matter of fact, the honeymoon began with fairly long strides—up a hill. When Pier and Vic slipped away from their wedding reception at the Bel Air Hotel, they climbed into their car to drive to their hilltop home. “You’ve been so calm today,” Pier was marveling. “It is amazing.”
Then the car began to sputter. And finally it came to a dead stop. “What could it be?” she asked.
“Your cool, calm and collected husband forgot to fill the gas tank,” grinned Vic.
It took the pair fifteen minutes to trudge the hill. “We were loaded down,” Pier remembers. “We had my jewelry and furs and many of Vic’s belongings that we didn’t want to leave in the car in the middle of a lonely road.”
When they reached their house, they called the hotel to see if one of the guests might come to their rescue. “They’ve all gone,” said the manager. “However, we’ll see if we can’t locate someone.”
Before a half an hour had passed, five cars had arrived with cans of gasoline. “You’d have thought we were opening a filling station,” laughs Pier today. “It was quite a beginning for a marriage!”
Pier and Vic spent the first night at their new home and drove to Las Vegas the following day. Vic was scheduled to open at the Sands Hotel as the star of the show there. “We had our moments of tension. Both of us,” says Pier. “Vic was very nervous about this personal appearance. He hadn’t done a show like this since he came back from the Army. And he wondered about the reception he would receive from the audience. Before he went on, he wanted to relax.
“I had been out and when I returned, I didn’t know that he was trying to sleep.”
Pier began knocking playfully at the door. “I must have knocked ten times at least,” she recalls.
“Go into the other room,” Vic called out.
“All right,” replied Pier. “I am sorry. I didn’t know.”
The last thing in the world she wanted to do was to disturb him at this time. “I go to my mother’s room,” she said, feeling very badly.
Mrs. Pierangeli had come to Las Vegas for the opening, and Pier went to her. A few moments later, the phone rang. It was Vic. “Honey, are you there? What are you doing?” he wanted to know.
In another moment, she was opening the door to find him standing in the hallway. She tried not to smile. He was still in his robe. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I sounded so abrupt. I didn’t mean . . .”
“I understand,” said Pier. “And I am not mad. I feel the same way when I am doing a scene. So I do understand. Honestly. And now,” she finished, “you go and rest.”
“You come with me.”
“I will come and sew in the living room while you rest.”
Vic’s opening was a real occasion. Pier prepared a surprise. She rushed down to his dressing room to be there before he arrived. And when he came in, he found that the lights had been turned off. He looked again. In one corner blazed a dozen sparklers.
“It is our seven-day anniversary,” Pier informed him of the fact he well knew. She was standing there, holding a cake. In the center were the words, “Vic and Anna, Love.”
“Would you mind staying backstage during the first show?” Vic had asked. “If you’re out front, I’ll be twice as nervous.” And he added, “And if there isn’t much applause, I wouldn’t want you to know.”
“It will be like thunder,” predicted Pier. And it was. She listened backstage and when she heard the audience roar its approval, she rushed to meet him in the dressing room. She hurried so fast that she tripped and fell and two stagehands had to help her into the room. Then she was aware of Vic’s voice outside. He was thanking his well-wishers and accepting congratulations. And he was saying, “The only person I want to see now is my wife.”
The words brought tears to her eyes. “Tears?” she smiles today. “To be honest, I was crying like a baby.”
Vie was beside her. “Hey, look, you’re supposed to make me feel good tonight. Didn’t you like the show?”
“I loved it,” she told him. And Mr. Damone tenderly dried Mrs. Damone’s tears.
The second show found Pier at a ringside table. And Vic singing to her, as he did upon each of the following evenings.
“Those tears of happiness were my only tears,” Pier told a friend while she was in Las Vegas. “When I was first thinking of marriage, I thought of my mother and sisters. Everything I had done for them and they for me. We were very close. I thought, ‘I’ll miss them so. I’m going to cry every day. I know it.’
“But I don’t. I have a man who loves me so much and gives me so much understanding, who does everything to make me happy.”
Each day there were little things. “I wrote him notes and pinned them to the curtains or slipped them under the telephone. Sometimes I even put them in the closet or in one of his coat pockets,” remembers Pier.
“And he gave me dolls because I have a collection.”
“Zip,” the monkey was the first. Pier had been tired and had gone upstairs to rest. After an hour, there was a polite rap on the door. “Who is it?” she called.
“The valet,” came the reply. “I have some roses for you.”
In a few minutes, there was another knock. It was Vic. He came into the room with a package. “You know, I missed you,” he told her. “It’s been an hour since I’ve seen you and I missed you all sixty minutes.”
Pe where have you been?” she asked him.
He looked sheepish. “I’ve been standing outside in the hall waiting for the flowers to be delivered. I thought they’d never get here!”
And he gave her “Zip.”
“I think if you do these things, it means you care for one another,” says Pier. “And we still do them—even after our honeymoon. I think we always will. And how I think about him—every minute. Even when I am with others.
“Yet, I am not and I shall never be possessive. I know in Italy, where I grew up, it is the man who is possessive. Often too much so. Here, often, it is the woman.
“On our honeymoon I would catch my- self thinking that life is so short; I wanted Vic to be with me all of the time. But I knew that although it is a good thought, in reality it is bad. So I think instead, ‘We have all our lives—so much time. And nothing is rushed.’
“I want to hold him close but with my arms open so he’ll be free.”
In Las Vegas, occasionally people would see Pier alone. “Where’s your husband?” they’d ask.
“Playing golf,” she’d smile.
“You’re still on your honeymoon and already Vic’s made you a golf widow?”
“The show has made him tense and golf relaxes him,” she’d say. “So of course I let him go.”
Vic gave Pier a set of clubs. “But I will not play with him just yet,” she says. “I am still taking lessons. I think perhaps in another month I will be good enough. And then we will go out together.”
They share many interests together. “My interests have become his interests and his have become mine. Yet, we know that we should not completely submerge our personalities. It is not right for a husband and wife to lose their individuality. To compromise, to make adjustments, yes. But the qualities about one another which we each fell in love with, these we keep.”
Vic has long been known as one of the most thoughtful men in show business. And Pier was never more aware of it than on their honeymoon. “I felt so safe. So protected,” she says.
“If anyone would say something that Vic thought might embarrass me, he would speak up, ‘Please, my wife is here.’ ”
It was always, “Darling, are you sure you aren’t cold? Let me get you a sweater.” Or “You look tired, would you like to go upstairs and rest a while?”
The day their honeymoon began, Pier made a vow. “I vowed that I should never demand, ‘Where have you been? What have you been doing? Account for every minute and right now.’
“I promised myself that I would wait for him to tell me, if he wished,” smiles Pier. “And he always does!”
Although Pier has her career, she well knows that, emotionally, women are more dependent upon marriage than men. That although a husband and wife share the responsibility of marriage, a woman has the greater responsibility in making the marriage work. She is the one to set the example. “Some men don’t understand that,” says Pier. “But Vic does. I shall always try to live up to his belief in me.
“Naturally, we have had disagreements. But from the first, we have not fought. When I say something, he listens quietly. He may think I am wrong, but he does not simply and bluntly say so. We talk the matter over for an hour or longer. And we leave no upsetting thought to simmer inside our minds. If you spend time brooding ever after, it is no good.”
Wise resolution? They were resolved upon a honeymoon, which seemed over too soon. In Las Vegas, they faced the future . . . two weeks in Florida, two in Havana and then separation while Vic was to make personal appearances in Australia and Pier to begin a picture. “We knew we wouldn’t be together for at least two months and we knew it would be difficult. But we have our lifetime on our hilltop!” says Pier.
They’d searched for months to find the house. “The man had shown us at least a hundred of them—or so it seemed,” says Pier.
Then one day he called, “I’ve got it,” he said. “I think. The owner doesn’t want to rent it, but you might talk him into the idea if you like the place.”
They went to see. “We flipped,” says Pier. “We got there at six in the evening and stood out on the terrace and watched the lights below shine so brightly. We knew it was perfect.”
The owner agreed. “The house is much better for you two,” he told them. “I’m alone. And there should be two here.”
And he gave them an option to buy.
It’s modern—white and green. “It reminds me of a boat,” says Pier. “Everything is circular, you see, which makes it seem so much larger than it is.
“I decorated it all. Sometimes in person, sometimes by long distance. While we were honeymooning, I’d think of new additions and call my mother and ask her to see if she could find them for us.”
And who shall keep the house? “Since I was only a few years old,” says Pier, “my mother has taught me. I sew and clean house. I cook, too, only when I cook, I see all of the food for so long, I lose my appetite. Then I don’t eat!
“So Vic will be our chef. He’s much better than I am!
“We have a maid. While we were away, she stayed with my mother and learned Italian cooking. So when Vic doesn’t feel like cooking, we have someone who knows how. And she will also be able to help care for the family we want to have,” Pier adds.
“We want children. All that God will send us. And I hope that I will be able to give him a son. Vic says it doesn’t really matter, son or daughter, but he thinks perhaps he would like a baby girl!
“We have so much,” says Pier. “And the future to look forward to. . . .”
During their first courtship days, the future seemed dim to Vic. They’d met in Germany while he was in the Army. And they’d dated, always in the company of Mrs. Pierangeli, who loved Vic like a son from the beginning. “He asked me to marry him there,” says Pier. “But everything was so uncertain. And when I came back to the United States, we said goodbye—for all we knew, forever.
“Still, every so often I would think, ‘I wish he would come back.’ But I did not go to him.
“We both dated others. And for a time he went with my sister, Marisa. Although he came to our house, I didn’t see him often. I always seemed to be in my room studying a script or out.
“I had never noticed that he still wore the ring I had given him when we were in Germany. . . .”
Until they met again at M-G-M, that is. Then, as they danced in the small restaurant across the street from the studio, danced to “September Song,” their favorite, and sipped tiny glasses of champagne, she noticed. “I’ve always worn it,” he told her. “I always thought of you.”
“Our engagement, sudden?” asks Pier Damone today. “No. I believe that Vic was waiting. He’d never talked again about going out or about marriage when he returned because he knew I wasn’t ready. He knew his heart and he was waiting until we were both certain that I knew mine.”
Once upon a honeymoon, the story goes. And it’s a continued story—with a happy ending.
—BY BEVERLY OTT
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MARCH 1955