How A Dream Of Love Turns Into A Nightmare
It was June when everything, little and big, came to a head. Ty Hardin had gone to Indianapolis alone, to watch the 500-mile speed race. And there, with the shrill ring of a hotel telephone, the dream of a perfect marriage turned into a nightmare.
At first, when Ty learned it was Andra calling him long-distance, he was hopeful. Perhaps this little separation had been what they both needed. And then, with no warning, he heard her familiar voice telling him that hope was over. She had filed for divorce, she told him, in Los Angeles Superior Court charging him with mental cruelty and requesting custody of and support for the twins. Ty tried desperately, on the phone, to change her mind, but for once his voice and his words had no effect on Andra.
He flew back to Hollywood, hurrying home straight from the airport. Until the moment he opened the front door, he still insisted to himself that Andra’s phone call had been a terrible mistake, something he could clear up as soon as he could talk to her face to face. But Andra wasn’t there. And neatly piled up in the hall were all his personal belongings, with his shining black boots and his cowboy hat at the top of the heap. From their Mexican nurse-housekeeper, he learned that Andra was at the studio, working on a TV show for the “Bourbon Street Beat” series.
Ty moved in with a friend, and that night he telephoned Andra. This time she was even more insistent than she’d been when she’d called him in Indianapolis. Her mind was made up; she was going through with the divorce. She wanted only one dollar token alimony for herself and, of course, he could see the boys. But that was as far as she would go.
They had ended the way they’d started—in misunderstanding. It was a miracle that two people, who clashed so violently from the beginning, ever got started at all. Yet the miracle had happened. For two years, there had been love, and Ty couldn’t believe that now it was over.
Ty got off on the wrong foot the first second Andra ever saw him. It was a “blind date.” It was “arranged” that they go together to the premiere of “Teacher’s Pet.” Andra didn’t know Ty and Ty didn’t know Andra, but the studio told them the appearance at the premiere would help both of them, so reluctantly they agreed.
What would Mom and Dad say?
Andra had dressed ever-so-carefully for the date. She’d brushed and brushed her reddish-brown hair until it glistened. She’d spent an entire afternoon, three days before, shopping for that extra-special gown that would make her first Hollywood premiere just perfect. Now, as the bell rang, she walked to the door, smiling with excitement and anticipation, and opened it.
The smile froze on her face. “Oh, no! He’s not for real,” she thought. “He just can’t be true.” But he was true and he was for real, all six-foot-two inches of him: from his ten-gallon hat dripping with rain, to his finely tailored tuxedo that set off his broad, broad shoulders, down to his black, highly-polished cowboy boots.
She started toward the hall closet to get a raincoat. “No need of that, Ma’am,” he drawled, “I got just the thing out here on your porch to keep us all dry.” She let herself be dragged along, and the next thing she knew he’d draped some smelly oilskins over their heads and had lifted her into his arms.
She didn’t kick, she didn’t protest; she just laughed hysterically and wondered what her mom and dad back on the farm near Rockford, Illinois, would say if they could see her now. The next moment, he deposited her down in the seat of his open sports car, kerplunk. Of course, his car wouldn’t have a top, but he stretched the oilskin over her head, fastening it somehow to the front windshield and the back of the seat. The odor of the oilskin almost made her sick, but when she protested in a ladylike fashion to being smothered, saying something about it “being unfair for me to be protected from the rain while you’re getting all wet,” he told her that his hat kept the rain off him. “Besides,” he told her, “rain makes me grow.”
So she scrounged up in the corner, not caring about wrinkling her dress, not able to see his face above the oilskins, feeling like a defenseless deer that had been trapped in a cave by a mad bear. Rain began to drip through a hole in the oilskin right on her hair that she had taken such pains with. But she didn’t move, she didn’t care. She fixed her eyes on his bright shiny boots, as he accelerated and braked the car. Those crazy, impossible boots on this impossible, crazy character.
Hours later, she stood again in her own hallway and listened to his boots clattering down the steps and along the walk to his car. Then she ran upstairs, threw herself face down on the bed, and sobbed into the pillow. She remembered how embarrassed she’d felt when they’d pulled up in front of the theater and Ty had pulled her out, wet and bedraggled, to face the glare of the premiere spotlights and the stares of the milling crowd. She’d escaped into the ladies’ room where she did her best to repair the damage that the rain had done to her hair and gown. When she came out into the lobby again, looking and feeling a little better, she saw immediately that he hadn’t changed: the same huge hat (wouldn’t he ever take it off?), the same outlandish boots. Even as she sat next to him in the dark theater, she felt her face turn crimson with shame. He finally had taken off his hat, and stuffed it in the little wire rack under the seat; and every time she looked down, and she couldn’t help looking down, the little program light at the bottom of the seat shone on the brim of his hat, and on those ludicrous, impossible cowboy boots.
A promise is a promise
In the morning, the sun was shining brightly and, suddenly, for Andra Martin the memory of the night before was like some vague nightmare that fades in daylight. Once, during her day at the studio, she saw a cowboy pass by her table in the commissary and automatically she gazed down at his boots. But they weren’t black and they weren’t shiny, and she laughed in relief.
That night she was exhausted. All she wanted was to take a nice warm bath and go to sleep. She was just slipping off her shoes when the phone rang. It was him, Ty Hardin, but somehow the voice on the phone didn’t seem to go with a ten-gallon hat and crazy black boots. It was a gentle voice, a deep, mature voice, and the words that poured into her ear were sane words, understanding words, winning words. And suddenly she saw him—rather, saw his eyes—as if he were there standing right next to her. They were blue eyes, steel blue, even bluer than her own. She was so startled she almost cried out. She hadn’t realized she’d even noticed his eyes, but here they were. He was at the other end of the phone, but part of him, his striking eyes and his compelling voice, were in the same room with her. Hypnotized, she heard him ask her if she’d go on an all-day outing with him the next day and she heard herself answering “Yes.”
After they’d hung up, she felt like calling him back to say “No.” But a promise was a promise, and she decided to make the best of it.
With visions in her mind of a day at the beach or by the side of a pool, she greeted him at the door in her most alluring bathing suit. Again, her smile froze on her face. He was wearing the same ten-gallon hat. Her eyes automatically went to his feet. No boots. But something even worse: baseball shoes with cleats that left scratches on her hall floor. No tuxedo, but a baseball uniform!
Again she was propelled out to his car and lifted into the front seat. (Didn’t this man believe in opening doors?) Away they sped to a baseball field. He plunked her down on a hard-slatted bench, and then went out to join his teammates on the diamond. It seemed he was the pitcher for Jerry Lewis’s baseball team that was playing against another team of actors, and he just took it for granted that she’d be fascinated watching him play.
And to tell the truth, she was fascinated. She didn’t know a home run from a foul ball, but she did know a crazy character when she saw one. And Ty Hardin was crazy. He kept his cowboy hat on while he next to her. They were blue eyes, steel pitched, while he batted, and while he was in the dugout. He only took it off once, and that was to use it as a bucket to bring her over a hatful of shaved ice that he had snitched from an ice truck nearby. He stood there watching as she let the cold ice melt in her mouth, and she noticed, for the first time, that his hair was a rich brown color.
“Like it?” he asked, pointing to the ice in his hat.
“M-m-m-m-m,” she answered.
“Having fun?” he said.
She looked at his deep blue eyes, smiled, and nodded her head yes. And she meant it.
Jerry called Ty from the field, and Ty put the hat, ice and all, back on his head. “Feels good,” he said, “nice and cool,” and she laughed with him.
They were different
After that, there were many dates, each crazier than the last. When she was with him, she had fun and everything was fine. When she was alone without him, their relationship seemed absurd and impossible to her. They were just too different: He dressed bizarrely, to say the least, while she was always careful to wear just the right things. She’d come from a close-knit, happy, conservative Swedish-American farm family, while he was the child of a broken home. She’d never really been in love before (yes, she had to admit to herself, she was in love with this unpredictable galoot!) while he’d been married before, to his Texas childhood sweetheart, and was the father of two children, a boy and a girl. She’d wanted to be an actress as long as she could remember and had done everything to further her career, while Ty—who never knew what he really wanted to do, who’d worked as a helper in a bake shop, a filling station attendant, an optical lens grinder, a second lieutenant in the Army, a professional football player, and an engineer—had just stumbled into an acting career. While she’d worked and prayed to get her break, he’d just walked into Paramount, one day, to borrow a prop gun to wear with his cowboy suit to a costume party, and walked out again with a seven-year contract tucked in his pocket.
They waited patiently
Yes, they were just too different; in backgrounds, interests, habits, hopes and dreams they were miles apart. That’s what she thought until they were together. Then, the touch of his hand and the warm, tender expression in his blue eyes melted away all her logic and all her reason. When he finally asked her to marry him, she said “Yes.”
But their business agents almost hit the ceiling when they were told the news. Marriage would ruin their careers, they said; Andra and Ty were too impulsive; Andra and Ty were teenage idols; Andra and Ty should wait.
They postponed the wedding, but Andra told reporters, “Ty and I feel terrible. We love each other very much—and we will get married later when all this confusion is over.”
They waited patiently . . . for ten days. Then they refused to wait any longer. On August 30, 1958, in the Little Brown Church in the Valley, in North Hollywood, the Reverend John H. Wells joined Andra Martin and Ty Hardin in holy matrimony. The wedding got off auspiciously; Ty had left his ten-gallon hat and his shiny black boots at home. He was dressed in a conservative dark suit; his shoes were black but regular; he wore a light tie on a white shirt; he even sported a white handkerchief in his jacket pocket and the traditional white carnation in his buttonhole. As Andra’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Rehn (she’d grown up as Sandra Rehn), and Ty’s mother, Mrs. Gwen Hungerford (Ty had been christened Orison Hungerford, Jr.), joined in toasting the happy couple, the bride—glowing in her gown of white net and lace over pink taffeta, with a seed-pearl crown on her hair—knew that all her doubts had been silly, and was sure that they were going to live happily ever after.
And they were happy, ecstatically happy, for a while. There was one sentimental ritual that symbolized their happiness and their marriage to both of them: they always dined by candlelight. The light from the candles represented the glow and warmth they felt for each other. The soft yellow flickering of the candles established a special place of security, of closeness, of love for the hardboiled man from Texas and the pretty, little sensitive girl from Illinois.
The little things
Then little things, insignificant things, unimportant things began to cast their shadows on the romantic glow.
Ty couldn’t remember birthdays, anniversaries, days that they might have shared together. Andra tried not to let this hurt her. After all, she knew he was like this before he married her. Why, for a while he’d called her “Worthless” when they were going together because he had trouble remembering her name. But one day, on her birthday, she crossed her fingers and hoped against hope that he wouldn’t forget. But he did. He went off to the—without saying anything special to er.
Andra was convinced he just didn’t care. “To let him know how I felt,” she says, “I filled our apartment with red roses before he came home, baked myself a birthday cake, and bought two presents which I unwrapped just as he walked through the door.”
Ty didn’t apologize, but three weeks later he handed over to her all the expense money he’d saved from a long personal-appearance tour, money for her to spend in furnishing the new house he’d bought for her in the San Fernando Valley. What could you do or say to a fellow like this? Sure, he’d forget birthdays and anniversaries, but then he’d celebrate what he’d call a “No-day,” just any old day at all, just one of the 365 days in the year when he loved her most of all.
He also teased her mercilessly. And just when she thought he was serious, that the pecan pie she’d baked specially for him was a total loss, he’d break down and confess that it was the best pie he’d ever tasted. And, at that point, she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
In matters of dress she finally deferred to him. She liked sophisticated clothes; he obviously preferred casual cowboy duds; so she took to wearing blue jeans most of the time. But in the matter of speed in getting dressed, she never quite caught up with him. Ty would slip into his clothes in two minutes flat. Then he’d pace the floor impatiently, waiting for her to get ready. He never actually criticized her, but she took the hint and learned to get dressed in exactly seven minutes.
These were the little things, but there were others more important. One problem, most significant, that confronted this young couple was money. When they were first married, Ty was making less than two hundred dollars a week and Andra then wasn’t even under contract to Warners. Two hundred dollars might seem like a lot, but it wasn’t very much in Hollywood, especially when two young people were trying to make their way in show business and had to dress and act as if they were millionaires, even when they hardly had enough to pay for hamburgers and Cokes. Then there was an added drain on their finances: Ty had to pay for the—of his two children by his former wife.
By the time the twins, Jeff Orison and John Richard, were born, their expenses had skyrocketed. Both of them were overjoyed at the birth of the boys. Ty drove through the streets of Hollywood, honking the horn of his car and yelling at the top of his voice, “They’re boys. Twin Boys!” But with their arrival came new bills, new responsibilities.
There were the mortgage payments on their home at Denny Avenue, in North Hollywood, for instance; and then, too, there were doctor bills, hospital bills, nurses’ bills, and all the other expenses that any parents have when a new child comes into the world—but in this case it was two new children.
By this time, Ty and Andra were both under contract to Warner Brothers. But with agents’ fees, taxes, payments on the house, the liquidation of old debts, and all their running expenses, they seemed to get deeper and deeper into a financial hole.
Their other major problem seemed to be the question of two careers. Ty had said publicly that the problem of two careers in one family “doesn’t bother us in the slightest. I’m proud of Andra’s talent and looks.” But deep down inside he must have felt that Andra’s place was staying home with the twins and his place was making money for the family. After his own mom and dad had split up, he’d seen how hard his mother had had to work to support the family. And back then he’d resolved that no wife of his would ever have to work. The irony of the whole thing, of course, and the trap from which he couldn’t quite extricate himself, was that they needed the money that Andra brought in.
Nevertheless, in his mind he thought of her as a wife and mother, not as an actress. When people on the “Bronco” set would ask him about his wife, he’d always answer, “Mama and the children are fine.”
It didn’t work out
The day after the news of the divorce startled Ty Hardin, Hollywood and fans everywhere, we talked to Andra Martin on Stage 16 at Warners. She was bent forward in a canvas-back chair, shadows of strain and tension in her blue eyes. As we approached, she managed a faint smile—but only with the corners of her mouth, not her eyes.
“It just didn’t work out,” she said, speaking more to herself than to anyone else. “I think it’s better to divorce now than to keep being unhappy.”
But what had happened to the marriage, the marriage that their friends had called “perfect”?
“Nothing really,” she answered, looking down at the floor. “I guess it was just a case of two people finding out that they no longer are happy together. I gave it careful thought, of course, before I filed, and it was the only alternative.”
Is there someone else you love?
“Two boys,” she said. “My two sons. But if you mean another man, no.”
Did Ty fall in love with someone else?
“I don’t think so,” she said, shaking her head. “You’ll have to ask Ty.”
We started to ask more questions, but she’d bent forward again and was staring at the floor as if we weren’t there. So we left her alone with her thoughts . . . and her memories.
We tried to call Ty, but he refused all calls. He was waiting for just one call, a call from Andra Martin, telling him that she wants to try again.
That’s all there is to the story—and yet we are reluctant to type “The End.” We hope and pray that Andra and Ty read this story, their story, and that now, when it’s almost over, they go back to the beginning, for a moment, and look at the picture they see there. A picture of two people in love. A picture of a father and a mother who have the most precious gift in the world, two lovely children they both adore.
It is our hope that in looking at that photograph and in reading this story, they may find, again, that which is stronger than petty differences and major disagreements—love.
TY HARDIN CAN BE SEEN EVERY OTHER TUES. ON ABC-TV IN “BRONCO” 7:30-8:30 P.M., EDT.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1960