Welcome to Vintage Paparazzi.

How Safe Is Dinah Shore’s Now?

In the eyes of the world, Dinah Shore’s marriage to George Montgomery looked as solid as American Tel and Tel. The Downtown Business Men’s Association of Los Angeles even named them “Hollywood’s Ideal Couple.” And the title stuck—until recently. One day, only shortly after their seventeenth wedding anniversary, Dinah and George were face to face with a crisis. A crisis that began in a city ironically labeled as the center of intrigue, romance and danger.

It was nearly one o’clock as George Montgomery headed for the dining room of Hong Kong’s busiest hotel. The room was crowded and his arms were weighed down with photographs. Fortunately he had a reservation and was seated while he waited for his luncheon date—the luscious Israeli actress, Ziva Rodann.

While waiting, George thumbed through the stack of pictures he had brought. His eye caught the stills of a love scene between him and Ziva in “Samar,” the picture he was also producing and directing. The shots were good—sharp and very realistic.

When Ziva parted the bamboo drapes and stepped into the room her radiance, her low-cut dress, her alluring figure attracted the eye of every man in the room. As she sat talking to George and smiling, two elderly Chinese became so absorbed that their chopsticks missed the mark. A bowl of rice spilled on their table.

George ordered an American lunch—steak sandwiches—and then they huddled over the pictures.

Suddenly there was a great commotion at the door. A loud voice blared. “There—there, she is.” A man, his face burning with anger, pushed by the maitre de and strode furiously toward the engrossed couple.

“So this is what lias been going on!” he bellowed. Everything came to a standstill in the room. All eyes focused on what was now a trio—Ziva and George—and Prince Raimondo Orsini. The super-wealthy Italian playboy, once the love of former Queen Soraya of Iran, had become infatuated with Ziva in Rome. He dated her nightly, showered her with flowers and expensive presents. He had flown to Hong Kong only to see her. And where did he find her, he demanded in fury. Not at the plane where she was supposed to meet him, but here—with another man!

Ziva tried to explain—she thought the plane was landing later that afternoon. Orsini wouldn’t listen. George tried to get in a word. It was useless—the tirade poured out in Italian and broken English.

A duel!

Suddenly the Prince looked at George with fiery eyes and said so loudly that everyone in the room heard, “I challenge you to a duel. Pistols will be the weapon. You will hear from me later.” He stormed off. Ziva stood dumbfounded, then quickly followed him. George was left alone to the stares of the silent patrons. He broke the silence by asking for the check. As if at a signal, the voices chatted again. This time about the American and the beautiful woman who, from all appearances, had been caught in a clandestine meeting by either her husband or her fiancé. Just like in the movies.

George quickly paid the check and left. Outside in the hotel lobby stood Ziva and the Prince. This time he wasn’t yelling and she wasn’t frowning. She spotted George and motioned for him to come over. George frowned. It was silly but if. after all, he had to fight a duel over a young and beautiful woman—what would Dinah think?

“Mr. Montgomery,” he heard the Prince say. Then there was a pause, and surprised, George thought he saw a look of embarrassment on Orsini’s face. “I want to apologize,” Orsini began again. “Ziva has explained everything. Please—have dinner with us.”

Almost reluctantly, George accepted the apology. He had been very angry and embarrassed. But there wasn’t time to hold a grudge. He had a picture to make.

The episode went by the boards,

Who was the girl who had caused it all to explode in the first place? Besides a stunning figure, she had an interesting background. She was born in Haifa, where her father taught mathematics at the University, and she had served the required stint in the Israeli Army. She had married and divorced an Israeli government official. Visiting the United States a few years ago for the Wine Industry of Israel, she was dining with a friend in Danny’s Hideaway in New York when producer Sam Spiegel spotted her. The result was a contract at U-I and a small role.

Talk of the bachelor set

It wasn’t long before the sultry actress was the talk of the eligible bachelor set in Hollywood. Among others on her list of admirers, at times, was Cary Grant. Their rendezvous in small, out-of-the-way restaurants led many to believe she might be the next Mrs. Cary Grant, if or when he divorced his estranged wife, Betsy Drake. Mac Krim, the one-time best beau of Kim Novak, also found Ziva fascinating. She freely admits a woman should be exciting to men. (“That’s what she’s for.”) Her idiosyncrasies—like champagne and oranges for breakfast—her nonconformity, made her the talk of many other females in the movie capital. Her revealing dresses in “Samar” had eyes popping.

Once, while running through shallow water for a scene, she tripped and fell. She submerged and then quickly emerged. When she regained her footing there was something missing. Even hardened crew members turned away, their faces flushed. Ziva had lost the top of her bathing suit. It must have snagged on a rock and been ripped off.

Yet this didn’t faze her. She calmly stooped down. In one quick motion she located the garment and clutched it against her, until a wardrobe woman could hastily repair the snap. Then she announced to the embarrassed faces that she was ready to go back to work.

This was Ziva, who for weeks had been working together so closely with George. And then—the incident of the duel.

True, it was soon forgotten in Hong Kong—but not in Hollywood. One report was that, whatever George said, Ziva’s relationship with him was more than just business. Another report said that the Prince actually encountered George and Ziva in the middle of a love scene, as he made an unexpected visit to the set.

Hollywood buzzed with the rumors. Had George fallen in love? Was Ziva in love with a married man? And, most of all they wondered: What did Dinah think? What would she do about it?

Photoplay talked to one of the players who had been on that overseas location.

“I never actually saw anything that would indicate an affair,” the actor, who preferred to remain unidentified, told us. “But it wouldn’t surprise me. Ziva represents sex with a capital S.”

Ziva Rodann and George Montgomery returned to Hollywood a few days apart.

What really happened

“All of these rumors are ridiculous,” Ziva insisted, on her first day back. “This is what really happened. Raimondo tends to be very jealous. He was furious when I didn’t meet him at the airport. He thought I had stood him up for another date. He was burning with anger. He challenged George to a duel, but later he apologized instead.”

She also said, “My relationship with George Montgomery was strictly on a business basis. He’s a married man—and happily married to Dinah Shore.”

One of George Montgomery’s friends agreed. “George and Dinah occasionally have misunderstandings like any married couple,” the friend said, “but they are too much in love to toss away their marriage just because of rumors. I think Dinah would trust George even if he were shipwrecked on a desert island with the most beautiful woman in the world.”

Dinah was in Palm Springs with the two children when George returned. He immediately joined her. Neither would discuss the rumors publicly. Neither thought it was necessary, their representative said.

Yet we learned later from another source that Dinah was concerned. She had heard the rumors, of course. And Ziva Rodann certainly would be a temptation to almost any man. Besides, any woman would wonder, at a time like this, about her man and her marriage. If the duel had gone ahead, if a pistol shot had been fired, innocent or guilty, the scandal would have rocked Dinah’s world. There was another case in Hollywood years ago, when an angry husband fired a bullet at a man he thought was having an affair with his actress-wife. They’re still talking about it.

But it must have been extra hard for Dinah to know that everyone was asking. “How safe is Dinah’s marriage?” Because in December they will have their eighteenth anniversary, and there had never been so much as a whisper, before. In fact, they’ve been famous as one of Hollywood’s happiest couples. And you would have to know her life before George came into it to understand how much it means to Dinah to have and to keep his love.

When they were married, on December 5, 1943. some know-it-alls gave them six weeks to last. Some others said no, on their way back from the honeymoon on George’s sister’s Montana ranch, they’ll stop in Reno and get the divorce. They wondered aloud how she’d ever gotten him away from Hedy Lamarr, to whom he was rumored engaged. They couldn’t see a lasting union between a big, handsome, successful bachelor for whom beautiful girls fell hard, and a girl like Dinah with talent but absolutely no glamour.

George gave her glamour

Dinah freely admits that George put all the glamour into her and her life—and all the security. She had been a skinny, homely little girl who limped until her teens from polio in her babyhood. She hail a strong-willed mother and a brilliant older sister to overshadow her. And until her family earned respect and position in (he small Tennessee town where they came to live, she quivered under the cruel anti-Semitism of other children. Her answer to all of this was to work and struggle until buck-toothed little Fanny Shore became Dinah Shore.

Even then, until she met George at the Stage Door Canteen, her life had been without romance and love. She said of herself later, “I had to be loved, I had to win everybody’s affection.” And George said. “What attracted me to Dinah was the same quality I saw in my mother. She was so generous.”

The marriage thrived. Missy was born in 1948 and Jody was adopted six years later. Both Montgomerys prospered career-wise. but Dinah got the bigger share of fame and name. Though she would never let a day go by without driving home for dinner with her family before going back to (be studio, they still bad to share her with a week-and-a-half work week.

“My biggest fear,” she has confessed, “is that with my work I’m taking something away from George and the children.” Add to that the travels and separations, and you can see where the fear can carry over.

No one will ever know what Dinah thinks of it. She has always gone by what her mother taught her. “You don’t wash your linen in public” and “A girl’s reputation is like a white satin dress.”

No one knows for sure what went on between Dinah and George when, finally, he came home from Hong Kong. They seemed to resume their life together as if nothing had happened. Yet something had happened. A question had been raised: How safe is Dinah’s marriage? Maybe asked unfairly—but still asked.



Dinah’s on “The Chevy Show,” Sundays, NBC-TV, at 9 P.M. EDT and George is in “Samar” and “The Steel Claw,” Warners.



No Comments
Leave a Comment