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Is Debbie Reynolds Planning To Call Off Her Wedding Now?

fter all, she never did say she’d marry Harry Karl—people drew their own conclusions . . . she wore his gifts, they looked at houses together, and he spent more time with her children than Eddie ever had. But Harry’s final divorce is nearing—only four weeks from now—and yet no wedding date has been set. Why? Did it have anything to do with Glenn Ford, who’ll be free himself three short weeks later? So instead of “When?” people were asking “Who?” And “Was Harry a cover-up for the real romance?”

Only one man knew the answer—Glenn Ford himself, He and Debbie had once been very close—and had this closeness ever really ended? So Photoplay sent Jane Ardmore to the source to ask a very direct question: “Glenn, Will You Marry Debbie?” Now, for the first time, we have his answer—as open and as frank as the question itself. In an exclusive interview Glenn admits, I want to get married again. “I want to give her my love, my time, everything I have.”

He has a houseboat waiting on the Seine. . . . He’s going to build a house here on the West Coast of wood, stone and shingles on his great sweep of beach at Trancas. “And a very masculine house it will be,” he says, “because a woman’s femininity is enhanced by masculine surroundings.” . . . They’ll also have an apartment in town so he won’t have the long drive and she won’t be so isolated while he’s working . . . They’ll travel the world together and have the joy of coming home . . . They’ll read . . . They’ll listen to music and lie on the beach watching the night sky . . . They’ll be totally relaxed and at ease together . . . close and free . . . Glenn and his new bride.

He has no intention of remaining a bachelor; he talked about it candidly. Everyone knows he’s dated a good deal in recent months, but the man-about-town routine holds no glamor for him. He longs to share his life.

“When I do,” he said, “I’ll give her everything—my time, my thought, my love, everything I have.”

A new Glenn Ford

If this sounds like a new Glenn Ford—it is. When I met him five years ago I liked him at once. As time passed, I’ve respected his intellect and his humor. But I always felt that he was not free, that imprisoned in him was a warm, vital man at odds with the stiff, rather formal reserve he wore like armor. He seemed often harassed, always tense, under wraps as it were. You had the feeling that someday there was going to be a mighty explosion.

Well, there has been. Today’s Glenn is far more at ease, he laughs and means it. The other evening, at George Cukor’s party for Vivien Leigh, he seemed totally relaxed and having a ball—highly unusual for Glenn who’s always avoided parties and been a recluse from the Hollywood social scene. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him dance. In fact, everyone knows he doesn’t dance—but he danced with Hope Lange at the Cukor party—danced very well and for at least three hours!

“Good heavens, Glenn,” exclaimed a friend who hadn’t seen him in some time. “You’ve broken the sound barrier!” And having broken it, he’s going to find a new life with a girl who is very feminine, very natural, and who “never ceases to be amazed.”

To Glenn, the spontaneous things are the most fun. He’s not one for giving a month’s notice to take you to dinner. And he spots, on the instant, the slightest phoniness. What he’s found, in the last six months, is that there are women with whom he can be totally relaxed, with whom he doesn’t have to be “on” all the time. He can say “Look, honey, we’re going to dinner but it’s been a rough day and if I don’t talk a lot. . . .” He expects understanding, he’s received it. Many a night you catch sight of his black Chrysler Imperial convertible parked inside his gates at Trancas. The gate has a new lock and you know that Glenn and his date are down on the beach and for the moment he’s with someone who understands him enough to let him be quiet. He needs this, he’s grateful for it. He could never be involved with the type of people who love night clubs and set out to have a good time if it kills them.

“Everyone crowding into little boxes trying to have fun in a trap,” he shudders “I love to start off and do whatever comes into our heads. And a feminine girl doesn’t have to run the show, she’ll follow your lead as she would on a dance floor.”

But for all her femininity, the girl for him must know how to be a good friend to a man. This capacity for friendship he prizes high on the list of qualities. And he told me a story to illustrate.

When he and Debbie went to Spain to film “It Started With a Kiss,” she was pretty beat up. She had been facing a tremendous barrage of publicity over the breakup of her marriage, she was heart-broken, keeping a life going for her children and returning to work in comedy—a triple strain. Spain was her first chance to let down, to breathe. She needed a friend badly and Glenn proved to be that friend. He let her talk or he let her not talk, as she needed at the moment. In working together, he kept the comedy bouncing—Debbie has told me that herself. She can never thank Glenn enough for his moral support.

“When it came to ‘Gazebo,’ the situation was reversed,” he said. “I was the one who needed the support, and Debbie was the friend. She has an incredible vitality, she’ s a clown and, depressed as I was, she got me up to her level of clowning. She’s stimulating, she’s a real trouper and a really gifted actress. We enjoyed ourselves hugely—and the script said we were in love. . . .”

Was it love?

Where does love begin and end in front of a camera? “You have to believe in a love story,” Glenn says. “Belief is the essential rule of acting. You accept a role because you believe in the character and the story. Could this happen with this person? Is it conceivable? Once you admit it is conceivable, then your job is to bring about reality, create truth.”

This closeness established by an actor and actress working together has been responsible for many of Glenn’s dearest friendships. Rita Hayworth, Barbara Stanwyck, Maria Schell—with each of them, he created a rapport. But with Debbie it was more. First she, then he had to live through a personal crisis. Because Debbie had weathered hers first, she was able to give Glenn a great deal of understanding when his turn came. Glenn had cheered her up when she needed it, Debbie “retaliated” when he needed it.

They still lend each other strength. He feels that Debbie, of all people, understands that he didn’t seek a divorce, that he’s a sentimental man who treasures memories and wants never to hurt. She knows that he has a great fondness for Eleanor, he always will, and he loves his son Peter. All his things, even his wonderful first editions, are for Peter. Debbie understands that possessions mean nothing to Glenn, all that matters are human beings. In short, she understands him. But today, if they want to see each other, they have to find a secluded restaurant to avoid another batch of rumors. “Unfortunately,” Glenn mourns, “this town doesn’t permit normal relations. If you walk across the studio lot with a girl, you’re engaged. I only hope this phony publicity won’t destroy a good friendship. I wish you’d tell your readers that Debbie and I are good, dear friends and we’ve never been anything else. She’s gay and wonderful but there’s absolutely no romance going on between us.”

When he said he “knows just what he’s looking for,” I asked him to describe her.

“What she looks like, I haven’t even thought about,” he said. “People put such a premium on physical beauty but it doesn’t last, it’s nothing to base a marriage on. What matters about a woman is that she feels at home in the universe, that she loves sharing, that she accepts you with your faults and virtues both, that she doesn’t worry about superficial things and gives herself to the joy and wonder of living.

“Yes, she’ll have to understand the demands my business puts on a marriage. She can be an actress or not, but involved with me she’ll have to be. I want to share whatever I’m doing. What’s the fun of the whole thing if it isn’t for somebody? What’s the point of a good part if not for someone. The fun in life is to look at a sunset, go to the theater, hear music and sense the shared reaction.”

And one thing is sure, whoever she is, wherever she is, their time must be shared. “I don’t want to be a married bachelor,” is how Glenn puts it.

| My guess is she may not be an actress, not because Glenn hasn’t deep affection and admiration for a number of them, but because so many actresses, especially established ones, worry about how they look, who will see them. They have an intrinsic sense of being “on.” Even the clown quality that he loves in Debbie on screen could wear him down in true life. He likes a gentler, dreamier type of femininity. Too much verve would alienate him as much as the femme fatale or the aggressive woman.

A woman in love

So much for a romance between Debbie and Glenn. If it’s Harry after all, why does she hide her feelings? Why the silence on a wedding date? Why? Because Debbie keeps her own counsel. But just as surely as she never said she’d marry Harry Karl, so do her friends say she will. In January—not to tread too close on the heels of the final decree which, on November 6, makes him a free man again. They feel a wait will look better, and by January their dream house should be ready.

Yes, Debbie and Harry have been supervising plans for the four-bedroom home on a two-acre estate in Benedict Canyon. He originally bought the property, but when word leaked out that it would be their future home, Debbie immediately had the word spread that she owned the place. But it was Harry’s personal check that the real estate man picked up. And right now in Palm Springs Harry is having two extra bedrooms built on for Carrie and Todd.

Debbie’s friends try to explain away the secrecy—she doesn’t want her new marriage to start with all the ballyhoo of the Eddie Fisher-Debbie Reynolds production.

“She’s afraid it may be a jinx,” I was told. “She wants to be a normal housewife and nothing else. And Harry’s not in show business, he works an eight hour day and longer. He has a business to maintain and feels this glamor publicity may establish him as a playboy—which he’s certainly not.”

“She’s a woman in love,” said another friend, “so she’s out to protect her man. She feels that to tell the world her true a sat about Harry might embarrass him.”

People close to the couple believe the marriage will probably take place in Las Vegas. This would be ironic, as Eddie married Liz there. But a Las Vegas marriage can be kept secret from the press until after the ceremony, and this would suit a publicity-shy couple.

Debbie’s brother, Bill Reynolds, is very close to Harry and has been mentioned as the best man, with her father giving Debbie away and “only the family on hand.”

Friends have an idea that the rumors of a rift may have started when Debbie was up to her ears in work. She was filming her TV show, working day and night, and for a stretch she had little time to see anyone, not even Harry. People ran into him alone in LaRue’s restaurant and other places. A man in love, sitting at a table without his girl, can look pathetically lonesome.

What people didn’t know was that after his lonely dinner, Harry did manage to see Debbie—late at night at the studio. And these days in public, Harry is the picture of happiness. Usually a quiet, reserved man, he looks so jovial that people take it as a sign—he must have proposed very recently and he must have been definitely accepted.

As one well-wisher put it, “He looks like a man who is sure of his love.”


See Debbie in Par.’s “The Rat Race” and “Pleasure of His Company.” Don’t miss her Specials on ABC-TV. Hear her sing on Dot. And watch for her in “Pepe” for Columbia. See Glenn Ford in “Cimarron” for M-G-M and “Cry for Happy” for Col.



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