“I Love You, Darling”
Rock Hudson and Marilyn Maxwell keep on saying, “We’re just good friends.” But their actions speak louder than their own words. And that’s why their friends are asking, “Who are they kidding?”. . . “Why are they stalling and what are they scared of?”. . . and ‘‘When are they going to take the plunge?” Well, first questions first. Who are they kidding? We’d say nobody— because we think the gentleman does protest too much. Remember, Rock is the same guy who, when he was about to buy a three-carat engagement ring and a diamond wedding band to slip on Phyllis Gates’ finger, was telling the press: “Everybody thinks Phyllis and I are getting married. This is a crazy town. If you go out with a girl more than once, continued they say you’re headed for the altar. If you date a girl only one time, they say you’ve split up. Believe me, this is no big, red hot romance.” And so they were married—then.
Now Marilyn, when asked about her relation- ship with Rock, says, “All the gossip is spoiling a beautiful friendship.”
That’s what they say—sometimes—but it’s how they act all the time that really counts. Put together the column items that appeared during Marilyn’s recent serious illness, place them on one of those foot-of-the-bed charts you find in “Ben Casey” hospital rooms, and you’ll see the dramatic record of a brave woman’s fight against disease. But in addition to this up-and-down graphing of illness, you’ll also discover a constant line that runs clear across the chart: a man’s concern for a woman.
Chart entry #1, made by columnist Dorothy Manners: “Rock Hudson has stepped up his long-distance calls to Marilyn Maxwell in Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., to three a day. That’s how worried he is over Marilyn’s condition. Marilyn had been told she would be in for four or five days. Now it has been stretched to two weeks or more. But, as Rock keeps telling me when he calls from the set of ‘A Gathering Of Eagles,’ the main thing is for her to receive proper treatment and care for the intestinal dis- order which hospitalized her.’’
Chart entry #2, made by columnist Louella Parsons: “Shocking word received by Rock Hudson about Marilyn Maxwell’s condition at a Mt. Kisco hospital following surgery. She has been put on the ‘gravely ill’ list. Still tied up in his picture, Rock is putting in long-distance calls to her bedside every few hours.”
Chart entry #3, made by columnist Sheilah Graham: “Rock Hudson gave me good news of Marilyn Maxwell. ‘She’s very much better,’ Rock told me happily. Marilyn has had a bad stretch of illness in the last month or so.”
Chart entry #4, made by columnist Sheilah Graham: “Marilyn Maxwell, recuperating at the home of her brother in Armonk, N.Y., is receiving constant bouquets of flowers from Rock Hudson. ‘I’m getting well, and the florist is getting wealthier,’ pens Marilyn.”
Chart entry #5, made by columnist Louella Parsons: “Rock Hudson heads directly to Armonk, N.Y., and Marilyn Maxwell when he finishes his final scene in ‘A Gathering Of Eagles,’ in Omaha. ‘Marilyn is much better and much happier since she’s been joined by her five-year-old son Matthew,’ Rock tells me. ‘In fact, she’s entered the youngster in kindergarten there.’ ”
Chart entry #6, made by columnist Hedda Hopper: “Rock Hudson’s best girl, Marilyn Maxwell, is getting a bit restless in Armonk, but her doctors insist she hang around for another month until she is well.”
A rising-falling chart of illness; a constant graph of love!
An unfair diagnosis? Just a nice guy’s normal, sympathetic reaction to the plight of a friend in trouble? Well, let’s focus on two other related scenes, then, involving the two.
Scene 1—just before Marilyn was to fly from California to New York to open at the Latin Quarter. Here’s what happened, in Marilyn’s own words: “When I was leaving Los Angeles to come east, Rock was the last one I talked to on the phone. I knew he had to attend the preview of his latest picture, ‘The Spiral Road,’ that day and would be too busy to see me off. I asked him to call me at the airport, if he found time, to let me know what the critics said about the film, if they liked it.
“About five minutes before my plane was to leave, I was called to the phone over the public address system. It was Rock.
“I almost fainted when he told me he was downstairs at the airport. He had rushed all the way out after the screening to see me off. I was so touched, I felt like crying.”
Scene 2—Marilyn’s Latin Quarter opening. Even with her rush-rush, last-minute preparations for her night club comeback, Marilyn was miserable without Rock. “When I got to New York I was so lonely for him,” she confesses, “I spent the first night in a Broadway movie theater watching his current film, ‘Lover Come Back,’ for the fourth time.”
Right on schedule, just as he had promised at the airport when they’d said goodbye, Rock’s flowers and telegram arrived at the club on Marilyn’s opening night. He’d also said he would phone.
Therefore, as Marilyn confided to Louella Parsons, “I hurried back to my dressing room after the first show. Everyone was there, but no phone call. At the second show I heard several of the early birds squeal, ‘Oh, here’s Rock Hudson,’ and although I’m near-sighted I looked and couldn’t miss that tali, handsome character. It made my evening perfect.”
He looked right back at her, naturally. And what this “handsome character” saw through his bashful brown eyes was a tall, lithe blond beauty with refined features, expressive eyebrows, glistening teeth and lively eyes, her breath-taking figure encased excitingly in a white sequined gown with long fringes, her soft-soft hands and arms covered by long white gloves.
But to merely label that look they ex- changed (near-sighted or not) as “friendly” would be to make the understatement of the year. And to call the kiss he gave her after the show “friendly” would re- quire an immediate drastic alteration in the dictionary. Yet it was just after that look and that kiss that Rock informed a newspaperman, “We’re just friends.”
Okay, okay, you say, but opening nights and hospital stays are unusual and sometimes bring forth unusual actions. But how about their everyday behavior?
Rock Hudson hates gossip and does his darndest to keep his private life completely private. Yet, when the romance stories about him and Marilyn started, he didn’t flip and he didn’t hide. In fact, he didn’t seem to care. As Marilyn recalls it, “I said to Rock, ‘Do you mind?’ ‘Not if you don’t.’ he replied.”
Rock Hudson shies away from publicity hoopla and personal appearances. Yet, when he returned from making “The Spiral Road” in Dutch Guiana (he was homesick there and wrote to Marilyn regularly), he agreed to attend a “Come September” party if Marilyn would act as hostess. She said okay and he came to the affair and they both had a great time.
The following week Marilyn asked him to take her to a block party promoting the “Bullwinkle” show. She explained that he didn’t have to go unless he really felt like it, that it was okay with her if he said no. But Rock interrupted her with a definite “Sure.” They went together, danced on the sidewalk and had fun.
Rock Hudson tries his best not to involve his mother and step-father or his girl friends’ families in publicity. Yet, as columnist Earl Wilson of the N.Y. Post reported, “Rock Hudson and Marilyn Maxwell just made a secret visit to her home town, Fort Wayne, Ind.” N.Y. Journal-American columnist Dorothy Kilgallen added, “Soon after that, Rock introduced Marilyn to his folks in Winnetka.”
Rock Hudson can’t stand phoniness. Of Marilyn, he says, “She’s a real ball. Nothing phony about her.”
Marilyn’s un-phoniness was never better demonstrated than on the first date she had with Rock after her separation from husband Jerry Davis. Almost any other girl probably would have hidden her eye- glasses in her purse for the evening, but not Marilyn. She not only wore her glasses, but she frankly admitted to Rock that she couldn’t see her hand in front of her face without them. Rock just grinned and pointed to his own large curved glasses which he needs because he’s getting nearsighted (on-screen he sometimes wears contact lenses).
On their next date did they go to a swanky Hollywood luxury restaurant like Chasen’s or La Rue’s or Perino’s? They did not. He went up to her apartment where he met her five-year-old son, Matthew, and she cooked dinner.
Now for some answers to our second question: Why are they stalling and what are they scared of?
First, let’s get one thing straight for the record. Rock and Marilyn have been going together off and on for thirteen years, with time out for him to marry and divorce Phyllis Gates, and for Marilyn to marry and divorce Ander Mclntyre and then Jerry Davis. (Her first marriage, a war-time “quickie” romance with John Conte, barely lasted a year.)
The first time Rock and Marilyn dated was in 1949. That was when she was a famous radio star on the Bing Crosby show; a “must,” by popular GI demand. on Bob Hope’s entertainment junkets for the armed Services; a recording favorite and a film celebrity—and he was a handsome nobody. But he spent a small fortune (of borrowed money) to impress her.
Free to date
A couple of years ago, when both were free of their respective marital bonds, they went out together again, one night. Ever since they’ve been dating steadily.
But so far, no wedding announcement. For that matter, no engagement. Marilyn has said, “I love Rock dearly. We’ve been going together quite a lot, but that doesn’t mean we’re engaged.” On another occasion she parried Hedda Hopper’s question about whether she’ll marry Rock with the statement, “I’m waiting to see if he’ll ask me.”
They’ve both been burned
As for Rock, except for his variations on the “We’re just friends” theme, he’s not committing himself.
One reason why both balk at going to the altar is that they both have been burned badly by their marriages in the past. At the beginning of his marriage to Phyllis Gates, Rock said, “I like being married—especially in winter when the days are short, when it grows dark early and there are lights in the house and coffee on the stove and a fire in the fireplace and steps to walk up the hill.”
But at the end. after the lights of love had gone out and it was all over between them, a changed. embittered Rock said. “I can’t tell you how painful it is to be living with a person you used to he in love with, and then having both of you discover that, for whatever reason, you aren’t in love with each of her any more.”
“When I was younger—twenty-one—I married John Conte on a War Bond weekend,” Marilyn says. “My mom told me not to, but I was bound and determined to start out on my own. Well, that marriage was a bust.”
Next she married Ander Mclntyre, a prominent Hollywood restaurant man (she was in love with Ander when she first dated Rock in 1949). Today, looking back, she explains the failure of that marriage by saying, “I think I rushed into marriage because I wanted to get away from my mother. My mother was determined I would be in show business from the day I was horn. You live in enough hotels and out of enough suitcases, you begin to long for a home. I got sick of it. I got married.
“With Ander I discovered that marriage didn’t necessarily mean having a home.”
About her last marriage Marilyn says, “I met a guy named Jerry Davis on a blind date, flipped for him and we got married. I guess I was still home-hunting and trying to get away from mother. We stayed together seven years. I don’t know exactly why our marriage broke up. We had a lovely baby, Matt. He’s five now.”
The other reason why Rock and Marilyn are reluctant to tie the knot is that they’re hoth the products of broken families. They both want children. “l’d like a lot of kids to make up for being an only child,” Rock once said. “A boy first. after that it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a big family.” Yet each, as youngsters, had to helplessly watch their parents split up.
Marilyn’s experience is again almost a carbon copy of Rock’s. In discussing her seven-year marriage to Jerry Davis she says, “it wouldn’t have lasted that long if it weren’t for our son. Matthew. I come from a home with divorced parents, and I wanted to make every concession so that my child would have a home atmosphere to grow up in.” But it didn’t work.
Not against marriage
Yet there is a brighter side to this black picture. The mutual fears and failures that prevent Rock and Marilyn from taking the giant step to the altar are the very same elements that drew them together and keep them together now.
Marilyn, for instance, puts their “unhappy childhoods” background in a different perspective when she says, “Both of us come from broken homes, and we’re entitled to whatever happiness a great friendship may bring.”
Rock, echoing Marilyn, says about marriage, “I’m all for it. I can’t be soured on marriage, for as a way of living it has too much in its favor. Certainly in my own family I’ve had an example of a bad marriage followed by a good one. My own mother had two unfortunate experiences before she met and married Joseph Olson, to whom she’s married now. And the experiences she bad with Roy Scberer (my father) and Roy Fitzgerald (my stepfather) seem only to underline her current happiness. If mother and Joe can be so happy and have such good limes together, why should I rule out another try at having a good marriage?”
Marilyn, as if directly answering Rock’s question, says quietly (as if she were talking about someone she was not romantically involved with), “Knowing him as I do. I think he’ll get married again.”
He says he’s ready to get married again; she says he’s going to get married again; and according to one reporter, “They’re genuinely fond of each other, Rock is a fine pal to her son of a previous marriage, and their friends wouldn’t be at all displeased to see them wind up Mr. and Mrs.”; columnist Louella Parsons says, “I’d place a bet right now that Marilyn and Rock will get married.” And even Marilyn’s ex-husband, screen writer Jerry Davis, says—as recorded by Dorothy Kilgallen—that she will “waltz down the aisle with Rock Hudson.”
But the final question still remains: When are they going to take the plunge?
The inside scoop on this is provided by N.Y. Mirror columnist Sheilah Graham. “Rock Hudson has been pricing wedding rings for the third finger, left hand of Marilyn Maxwell,” she reveals, and goes on to say, “I never really believed these two would marry—it seemed more like a friendship of convenience. I’ve changed my mind.’’
Looks like wedding bells—and soon, doesn’t it? Perhaps even before this article gets from typewriter to printing press. Rock is the sort of fellow who takes a long time to make up his mind. but when he does (remember his no-announcement, no-advance-warning elopement with Phyllis Gates), wow!
See Rock in “A Gathering of Eagles,” then “Man’s Favorite Sport,” both U.I. Marilyn’s next is “Critic’s Choice,” Warners.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 1963