If You Don’t Believe In God, Read About Pier Angeli’s Joy
“I couldn’t sleep. It was Christmas, and I was alone. I was restless, a little depressed. I missed Vic terribly. I was sitting on the edge of the bed, feeling so blue, when suddenly the phone rings.” It was Vic Damone, calling his wife Pier Angeli. “ ‘How are you, darling,’ he asks me from three thousand miles away. I feel so relieved. I ask him, ‘How did you know I was missing you at this moment?’ And Vic said, ‘I have not been able to sleep, thinking of you.’
The telephone calls between Vic and Pier occur in strange places and strange times . . . a farmhouse in France where Pier is making a picture, on the stage of the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles on Vic’s opening night . . . on their first anniversary, Christmas Eve, the night Pier was rushed to the hospital too late to save their expected child.
As Vic’s voice caressed her, held her, enveloped her with his love, Pier whispered “Thank you, God, for all I have. I have so much more than most women.”
Not many girls would consider themselves so lucky if they were in Pier’s place. If, for instance, you could see your husband only a few months out of the year; if you never knew when your work would separate you for month after month from your husband and your baby; if you spent night after night alone at home waiting for the telephone to bring only your husband’s voice to you . . . would you consider yourself the happiest wife in the world?
And if you had spent months of pain and fear in a hospital to have your first baby, and had lost the second without your husband by your side, would you consider yourself the luckiest of women?
Her eyes light up and her face breaks into a sparkling smile as she considers what life has offered her.
“Such joy as we have,” she says, “it is unbelievable. We tell ourselves, Vic and I, all the time, ‘How good God has been to us.’ ”
It is their heart-felt faith in God’s will, no matter what has happened, that has been the bulwark of Pier’s and Vic’s marriage.
“Everything,” says Pier, “everything happens for the best. This we know from our experience. Something that seems like a disaster may turn into a blessing if you believe it is all part of God’s plan. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but the power of faith.”
When Pier married Vic, many who knew the problems they would have to face were frightened for them.
What kind of a marriage could it be, when two people would be separated from each other more often than they could be together? Vic is primarily a night-club singer and recording artist, and his work takes him on tours all over the country. Pier, because of her European background, is an actress very much in demand for pictures made abroad.
Some of her friends thought pityingly of the great loneliness Pier would feel when Vic was away from her. They remembered how Pier had always lived at home with her mother before she was married because, as she would explain, “I hate to come home to a house alone.” How would she feel coming home to a lonely house now, when she wore a wedding ring on her finger?
“I’m not afraid of separations,” Pier told Vic.
“I wouldn’t want you to give up your work,” said Vic. “Acting is part of you.”
Recently, sitting in the soft blue den of her colonial house high on a hill in Bel-Air, Pier said, “Though Vic and I have had more separations than most people, we have also had more honeymoons. Each reunion has been like a honeymoon for us. There is never dullness for us.”
Pier settled back against the pillows of the blue and white sofa. And even while she talked about the two things dearest to her heart, her marriage and motherhood, she still looked like a little girl—wearing no make-up but pink lipstick, and her hair pulled back simply. There is about Pier a wisdom coupled with a charming innocence peculiar to herself. Pier smiles happily remembering, “There was our ‘honeymoon’ in Europe. . . .”
Pier was making The Vintage for MGM in France, living in Paris and working in the sleepy village of St. Tropez overlooking the blue Mediterranean.
Originally Pier was to spend only twenty-two days in Europe, so she decided it would be better for the baby to leave him with his nurse and with her mother.
The twenty-two days stretched into months: the weather turned bad in France, delaying the picture. Vic was in New York in the middle of a TV series and a night-club engagement.
The days were speeding by and suddenly it was the baby’s birthday—and Pier was still in Europe, frantic.
So Vic made elaborate preparations to fly to Hollywood for his son’s birthday—and back again to New York within days.
Pier stayed up all night to get a call through so that she could hear Vic’s and the baby’s voices together.
Six thousand miles apart, but now Pier and Vic were together again.
“And what is the baby doing?” she asked eagerly.
“He’s punching a hole in the cake,” Vic said.
“And what now?”
“He’s putting his thumb in his mouth.”
“Ah,” squealed Pier ecstatically, “how wonderful!”
A honeymoon in Paris
Vic flew back to New York . . . and then on to Paris! He had to give up a TV show and several night-club dates, but it was time to see his Pier again.
She looked more radiant than ever as she met him in a black wool dress with bright red roses, and Pier had had the dress made especially to welcome him in. It was a honeymoon, all over again.
Back in her apartment at the Parisian hotel, there was a gay Welcome Home sign on the door. Red roses greeted Vic in the hall, and clouds of yellow and pink roses in the living room and bedroom. Recordings of his album “That Towering Feeling” filled the room with his voice.
They sat and dined by candlelight that night, looking through the living room’s large, old-fashioned windows at magic Paris spread below. Pier believes in creating romance—in candlelight, music and flowers—so that her marriage is a perpetual honeymoon.
During their ‘honeymoon’ in Paris, Pier woke up at 5:30 each morning, worked all day, returned to the hotel at 8:30 for dinner with Vic. They’d open the windows wide, then sit with their arms entwined as they drank a toast in wine to their happiness. Their arms would still be ’round each other as they ate.
As they walked over the rough cobblestones of the city they agreed that it was the most beautiful place in the world. Of course, in their hearts they knew that every city is beautiful at the moment when two lovers discover it.
“There are many women who forget how much precious happiness they have, and dwell on what they are missing,” Pier says. It hadn’t been practical for Vic to bring little Perry. Pier, in particular, missed the baby terribly. But her heartache was partly forgotten by being together with Vic.
A brief reunion
Then came the wonderful day when she and Vic landed at the Inglewood airport in Los Angeles, Pier’s mother and the baby waiting for them.
“Will he remember me?” Pier thought uneasily. She sat stiffly on a little bench and waited, her heart beating like a triphammer. Out of her mother’s arms wriggled little Perry, rushing like a miniature hurricane into Pier’s arms.
“Mama,” he said, and Pier nearly died with happiness.
Even more drops were added to their cup of joy when they learned on their return that they could expect a baby brother or sister for Perry.
Vic had already signed a contract for a long engagement at the WALDORF-ASTORIA in New York during December. They decided to travel together, Pier, Perry and Vic, so that they could have a real family Christmas.
A few days before they were to leave, Pier slid into a chair weakly, feeling suddenly ill.
The doctor said, “Be a good girl, Pier, and go to bed.”
“But I can’t. The trip to New York! We want to leave together.”
He shook his head. “You can’t make that trip,” he said, as kindly as he could. “You’ll have to stay in bed.”
Vic was all for cancelling his contract and remaining with her.
“No, darling,” Pier had replied, always the trouper. “You can’t call off an engagement and disappoint everyone. You have to go.”
The doctor had tried to reassure Vic. “Don’t be afraid. I’ll watch her closely. You can go to New York knowing that she couldn’t be any better off if you stayed.”
The heartbreaking call
So, pushing down his qualms, Vic left.
And then came the heartbreaking call from the doctor. Pier lay in the hospital, pale and weeping, while Vic in New York learned they had just lost the baby they were expecting.
Pier hadn’t wanted Vic to know just yet. “I didn’t want to tell him,” she said. “He was opening that night at the WALDORF. I suffered inside but I said to myself, ‘This moment is not right to tell him. Why worry him about something he cannot do anything about?’ ”
But her doctor put through the call and told Vic, and suddenly there was Vic’s voice piercing the desolation of the hospital room, carrying strength and faith to her over thousands of miles.
“Pier, darling, we’ll have lots of children. Don’t cry, darling. It’s God’s will, and He alone knows the answers. Some day in the future, He’ll send us another—a boy like our Perry, or a darling girl who’ll look like you.”
“Just to hear each other’s voices helped us both,” said Pier. “The awful loneliness was gone. And Vic reminded me of something I myself believe: that we must go by God’s will, not our own.
“Vic said to me that everything has a reason. All the things that happened, that seemed like tragedies at the time, have brought us closer together. It was all meant to be. Suffering has made us appreciate all the more what we have today.”
The spirit of faith, not fear, walks with Pier.
Pier is a joyous girl because faith is so much stronger in her than fear. She is not afraid. She is not afraid to stay married, to have children—she expects to have more, with God’s blessing—or to be happy, even though there are many problems.
No fear of loneliness
When Vic is away from her, she is not afraid of loneliness.
“Even when we are not together, I feel I have part of him with me, because our home is us. This is where I belong,” she adds, looking around her at the beautiful den with its glass wall overlooking the mountains and the ocean beyond. “We talk to each other every night before I go to bed, and we are together. And of course, in the baby I have a miniature Vic. Both of us—Vic and I—take things as they come.
“Before we were married, we talked it over and decided we would often be separated. So this is no surprise to us, no unexpected problem. The separations that loom as such a big problem to others don’t bother us. We are never separated in spirit.
“We are so close that there is almost a kind of mental telepathy between us. At Christmas time, I couldn’t sleep. I had talked to Vic earlier that night, but this time I was restless, a little depressed. I missed him terribly, and suddenly the phone rings. It is Vic. ‘How are you, darling?’ he asks. I feel so relieved. ‘How did you know I was missing you at this moment?’ I ask him. And Vic says, ‘I felt something was not right. I have not been able to sleep, thinking of you.’
“And when we are together. . . .”
When they’re all at home, Vie gets up early, pads down the hall to Perry’s room and carries him into the bedroom where Pier is still asleep.
“Wake up, mommy, here’s our son,” says Vic.
Pier sits up, sleepy-eyed, and looks at both her men with the shining eyes of a woman looking at her whole world.
Vic plops Perry on the bed and Pier hugs the little boy.
Standing off, Vic studies the picture they make and nods his head.
“This,” he says, “is the way I like to see you.”
Pier’s heart is ready to burst.
“We are so lucky,” Vic says.
“The luckiest,” adds Pier.
—BY HELEN WELLER
Watch for Pier in MGM’s The Vintage.
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE APRIL 1957