How To Cure A Broken Heart—Vince Edwards
This is the story of three women in a man’s life. They are not all the women in his life. There have been others—there may be more. From the first of these three women, he learned how to get a broken heart. From the second, he learned to keep a heart from getting hurt. The third women—the women who may become his wife—taught him the most important lesson of all. She taught him how to cure a broken heart. The man who learned is Vince Edwards.
Vincent sat sipping his coffee, staring at the noisy and artificially jubilant swarm of hopeful young actors and actresses as they milled about in the warm confusion of Schwab’s Drug Store in Hollywood. Snatches of conversations followed the coffee-and-pie-carrying waitresses and gathered around Edwards’ bowed head like small, hovering clouds of words.
“So I said to the producer, whaddya mean raise my skirt higher? I thought this was an aspirin commercial.” “Never let ’em know you don’t dig Shakespeare—just say Hamlet or Macbeth—they’re impressed.” “Can you imagine her auditioning as stand-in for Liz Taylor?” “Naturally, they want to groom me for at least a year before they star me in the picture.” “I told him I’d do anything to get the part. That was my first mistake. Married, schmarried, they all think they’re attractive bachelors.” “So Brando says, ‘No dame is ever gonna take me!’ ”
Edwards fingered the handle of the half-filled coffee cup.
“Maybe it just doesn’t make sense,” he said to himself. “Why be an actor anyhow?” There were a thousand other things he could do. Why give everything you had, your heart and soul and mind and energy and hopes to a business that had no need for you. He tightened his full, sensuous mouth and inhaled deeply and wished to hell he had the money for a piece of that cherry pie.
He was about to leave when the girl, young, wide-eyed and beautiful, pushed open the heavy plate glass door and stood at the entrance, peering through the smoke and heavy odors. She saw Vincent almost instantly and smiled. Their glances clicked like a key and a lock.
She moved easily through the chattering crowd toward the rear of the restaurant where Edwards was sitting. Her face and figure auditioned successfully for two or three young actors who murmured sexy “Hello, there’s” at her. She gave them thin, quick, polite smiles, but barely took her eyes off Edwards. She sat down at his table. They both began a moment of silence. Then she said. “I was worried. You didn’t call.”
“I’m sorry,” Edwards said softly. “I should have.” He leaned back in his seat, and stared at her with a curious expression mixed with love and despair. He reached over and took her hand in his.
“We’re kidding ourselves,” he said. “You know that, don’t you? I’m not going to make it. I’ve been around too long. Why get hooked up with a has-been who never was?” He shook his head. “We’re crazy to even think about it.”
Desperate determination came to the girl’s lovely face. “Dammit, Vin, I don’t care. Don’t you understand? None of this had anything to do with our loving each other. You make it or I make it. One of us is enough.”
“Not for me it isn’t,” Edwards said. “Eve earned three hundred dollars as an actor in the last four months after six years in this town. I’ve been sitting here thinking about it. I must have lost my brain, but I’ve found it again.”
He rubbed her hand fondly. “Honey,” he said, “go home. Go back to your apartment and get some sleep. You’ve got an audition with a good director tomorrow. You should look fresh and lovely.” He looked into her eyes. “You are fresh and lovely—so please stay the way you are.”
“I won’t go, Vince,” she said. “I just won’t unless you come with me.”
“You don’t want that,” he said quickly, “and you know I don’t want that.”
The honorable intention
She stared at his words. Some of the warmth and want that had been in her face a few seconds before was gone now. The impact of rejection had struck one of her delicate feminine nerves and anguish and anger slipped into her voice.
Her words, though whispered, went straight at Edwards. “I knew it,” she said almost inaudibly. “You don’t want me, you don’t love me. You know I would do anything for you and you don’t want any of it. I gave you my time. Have you any idea how many men I’ve ignored in the last months. What a fool I’ve been! I’ll show you, Vince. I’ll show you how easy it is for me to get what I want.”
She stood up quickly. She let the look from her eyes run from his waist to the top of his head. “You know,” she said haughtily, “I don’t think I ever really wanted you at all.”
She turned and walked half-way out of the restaurant. Without warning she stopped and sat down with a young man who had just smiled at her. She sat with her back towards Edwards. Slowly he finished his cup of coffee. He had discovered something in those few minutes.
He had loved the girl. Openly and with every honest intention a man can have. But it was clear now, from her outburst that her intentions were not honorable. She didn’t want the kind of love he wanted. Her kind of love meant possession. She must own him, he must obey.
There had never been love on her side. In her eyes Edwards was simply an acre of masculinity. She had surveyed him carefully and was furious when she was not allowed to stake out her claim.
So at twenty-six years of age Vincent Edwards discovered a side of women he had never known before, a truth about them he would remember. A woman could break his heart! She was a woman who loved the man, not for himself, but for herself. She hadn’t ever wanted him at all.
He sighed, got up and left enough on the table for the coffee and a tip for the waitress. Then with a last quick glance at the cherry pie he walked out and did not even glance at the girl.
Time passes. Men hurt women. Women hurt men. Bat the tissues of the mind recover. Time heals. Time reassures. A hurt man cannot tolerate a hard heart in his chest. He cannot stay hurt long. He softens. And for all that he finds in them, for all he cannot find in them, they are female and he is male and life brings them together whether they like it or not.
She was very blonde and very depressed. Vince Edwards regarded her with masculine interest and then, touched by the sadness of her eyes, he smiled at her. She sat across from him as primly as her spectacular beauty would permit. They were two in a group of young actors and actresses who waited for interviews in an outer room of the casting office at 20th. Fed by the presence of them all patiently sweating out the call from the inner office, the atmosphere in the little room seemed charged with hope and anxiety.
The door to the inner office opened. A secretary appeared and said briskly, “That’s all for today.” With the weary expressions of those who have heard the line a hundred times before, the hopefuls arose with shrugs in their faces. The beautiful blonde dropped her head for a moment. Then she rose and with Edwards filed out behind the others. They walked down the corridor to the building entrance. “Rough day?” Edwards asked the blonde. He had seen her in casting offices at other times. He knew her name. She probably knew his. It was the way you meet people on your own level, of your own status, when you first start out in Hollywood.
She nodded at him and tried to smile. “I don’t know, Vince. They all think I’m dumb. It must be a rule with them—if she looks good she’s stupid.”
Vince laughed. “Cut it out.”
“Tell you what. I’ve got an interview with Hal Wallis at Paramount. Good part. And they’re looking for a beautiful girl for another role. C’mon over with me and see what happens.”
The blonde brightened. Hope jumped back into her eyes.
“Okay,” she smiled and took his arm.
Neither of them made it at Paramount. The picture was Come Back, Little Sheba. Other actors were chosen. But Vincent and the blonde got along fine together. No romance, not even the hint. They both liked it that way. He wasn’t going to let her break his heart. It kept them friends.
One afternoon a friend called.
“Vincent, I got a buddy in town. He’s very unhappy, just been divorced. We got to cheer him up. Can you get him a date?”
Vincent considered it for a moment. He thought of the blonde. “I think I can.”
Vince brought two dates to the dinner that night, his own and the spectacular blonde. The just-divorced buddy and the beauty hit it off from the start and before the evening was over you’d have thought they’d been friends all their lives.
Towards midnight the blonde leaned over and whispered to Vince, “He wants me to take a ride with him. I think he wants to be alone with me. But I like him. He’s nice.”
Vince laughed, “Sure,” he said. “Go ahead. Have a good time.”
The buddy and the blonde left.
Vincent Edwards never heard from them again. The “buddy” was Joe DiMaggio. The blonde was Marilyn Monroe.
The years stepped on each other as they hurried by. A famous baseball player married, and teas divorced by a spectacular blonde. The critics raved about “cameo” performances of a young, unknown actor in jour movies. His name, they recalled, was Vincent Edwards. Even in Hollywood he was regarded as an especially good performer, but the town was, as always, choked with especially good performers. He worked steadier than he had before. He lived moderately.
He met women and liked some more than others. But nothing lasted. Nothing until one afternoon.
The third woman
Sherry Nelson didn’t pay much attention to him as he walked up—but her mother did! Sherry was more concerned with her job at the moment. As one of the six models in the fashion show at the Southern California Club she felt she had an obligation to look nice. And he wasn’t the first good-looking man who had asked for her phone number. But there was something different about him.
Her girl friend, Marty Dickerson, had brought him to the table. He was introduced as Vincent Edwards. Sherry nodded in acknowledgment. They small-talked for a few minutes, then Sherry was called to show the dress again.
She moved gracefully from table to table. She was tall, blonde and quietly beautiful. She turned easily to give the guests a full look at the dress and then returned to the table where Marty and her mother waited.
Edwards was gone.
Her mother smiled. “I think you’ll be hearing from that young man,” her mother said. “I gave him our phone number.”
“Why?” asked Sherry. But Sherry knew why. Three years had passed since her first husband had been killed in an auto accident, and Sherry had shown little interest in a second marriage. But her mother had. In her good-natured way she loved to play match-maker for Sherry.
“He’s nice, he’s a gentleman and there’s an interesting air of excitement hidden behind that calm exterior of his.” Sherry smiled. But Mom was right, he called the next day. Sherry accepted a dinner date. If her mother approved, well . . .
The next night Edwards arrived and came smiling through the door. In a more receptive mood Sherry realized her mother was right again. He was nice. You could tell from his eyes. He was a gentleman. There was something in his manner, an honest gentleness that was as much a part of him as his quiet strength.
Before the evening was over Sherry was convinced that she had finally met a man with whom she could be friends.
In the months that followed Sherry dated Vincent often. They laughed a lot. something she sensed he hadn’t done too much in his life. She liked the effect she had on him. And there was no doubt he liked it, too.
It was an ideal arrangement for both.
One night as they dined Vincent said, “Something came up today. It might be interesting. A producer I know wants me to do a TV series for him. It’s a new idea. I’ve read the scripts. I think I’ll try it.
“What’s it about?” Sherry asked, her eyes alive with excitement.
“About a doctor who works in a hospital,” Edwards replied. He smiled. “They got a strange name for him. They’re going to call him Dr. Ben Casey.”
And with Vincent she watched the first showing of the new program that night last October.
She thought Vincent was fine.
Sherry had never known anyone who had been an overnight success on television. It wasn’t until the next morning that she understood she had not only watched an hour-show, but she had viewed an explosion. Vincent Edwards had suddenly become an idol to millions of tube watchers.
At first she was excited with happiness for Edwards. Her girl friends swamped her with calls for introductions, personal I details and gossip about “this absolutely marvelous actor, how did you ever get to meet him, Sherry?”
Her dates with Vincent were not nearly as frequent as they had been. He worked hard, twelve to sixteen hours a day, trying desperately with the cast and crew, to get ahead of the schedule.
Little by little Sherry began to feel that Vincent would soon be gone. Their wonderful dates, the intimate laughter, the warm welcome she loved to see in his eyes.
They were even more treasured to her now. It was amazing, she thought, how tenderly you hold in your mind the things you love when you know you may lose them. But she understood. She was not engaged to Vincent. There had been no implied permanency in their relationship. No plans for the future or marriage or any of the dreams that go with love. Just a nice happy friendship. Vincent had made no promises. He was free.
And then one night not long ago: Vincent sat across the table from her.
“I know what you’ve been thinking these last months,” he said, “but it isn’t so.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Sherry responded politely.
“Maybe,” said Vince with a smile. “But I think you deserve to know what’s going to happen to us.
“The show isn’t going to change us,” he said. “We’ll have to save our times to be together. I want it to keep on. As we have been. You’re terribly important to me and I don’t want you to think that because I’ve been lucky with the show that what there is between us will taper off to nothing.
“In some ways I don’t have the right to ask, but—” Edwards hesitated, not sure of what he wanted to say next.
But by now it wasn’t necessary.
“I understand perfectly, Vince,” she said. “There’s no need for you to explain anything. You’ve said all I wanted to hear. I’m in no hurry for—well, for anything.”
“Those are the best words I’ve heard in weeks,” Vince said. “I just wanted to be sure. Sure that it’s all right with you.”
“It’s all right with me, Vince,” Sherry said. “Everything is all right with us, too.”
And that’s the way it is with Vincent Edwards and Sherry Nelson today. It’s the way they want it.
But wouldn’t it be funny and sad and sweet and ironic and surprising and happy if they were in love and didn’t know it?
Wouldn’t it be crazy?
—BY ALAN SOMERS
See Vince Edwards starring in ABC-TV’s “Ben Casey,” every Monday, 10 P.M. EDT.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1962