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Is Sandra Really Goin Kookie?—Sandra Dee & Edd Byrnes

perfectly beautiful day, I thought as I ran down to the water, without even stopping to take off my sweater. The sun was hot—but not too hot—and the sand felt good and scrunchy under my feet. I dipped one toe in the water . . . Brr! It was still too cold for me, and then I heard a voice behind me.

“It can’t be that cold,” it said.

I jumped. “Edd Byrnes!” I said. “Don’t creep up on people like that.”

Laughing, he tousled my hair, the hair I’d just spent hours fixing just right. “Sorry I’m late,” he said. “Or can it be that you’re early?” 

I blushed. I was early. Long before my alarm had rung that morning, I was up, pulling on dresses and throwing them off again. Nothing seemed right for the way I wanted to look. Finally, Mom came in and looked over the havoc I’d created.

“Where do you think you’re going, Sandra?” she asked. “To an Academy Award event?”

To an Academy Award event. . . . I used to dream about things like that back in New York, when I was just going to school. I’d dream about sailing into a party in white mink and diamonds and saying: “Hello, Cary. Hi, there, Clark . . . Oh, Greg—how are you?” And, believe it or not, I’ve never met any of them, even to call them mister, since coming to Hollywood. But I have met Edd Byrnes.

“No,” I told my mother, “I’ve got to meet Edd at the beach and I haven’t a thing to wear . . .”

“You have a million things to wear, and you’d better hang them all up again, before you leave, too,’ she answered. “Why don’t you wear those new white shorts and your shaggy, striped sweater?”

“Mom! You’re an angel!”

And that’s what Id put on. But even after trying on everything else first, I’d still arrived at the beach early.

“Come on,” Edd said, “stick your whole foot in the water. Look, it doesn’t hurt a bit.”

“No,” I protested, but when he took my hand and led me nearer the water, I did. I plunged my whole foot in and nearly fell in all the way.

He saved me. “Hey!” he said. “We can’t have you sopping wet, now, can we?” But next he looked into my face intently. Then, with his eyes very close to mine, he said, “No, I think you’d be pretty that way, too.”

Too . . . I could have hugged him for saying that.

“Now, let’s be dancing shadows,” I suggested, taking both his hands and pulling him away from the water.

“Dancing shadows?” he started to say, and then Edd looked where I pointed.

There were two foreshortened shadows in the sand, holding hands, looking as though they were waiting—poised—to whirl off in a fandango. “What a kookie idea!” Edd laughed.

Then, all courtly gentleman, he circled one arm around my neck, his biggest smile. “Miss Dee,” he said, “will you conga with me?”

“I will,” I said, and right away we fell into a short conga-line, with me behind. “Oh, look!” I cried, pointing down to the sand. “We look like a couple of Koala bears—a mommy with a baby on her back!”

And we did! My shaggy sweater looked and smiled all furry in the sandy shadow. We did a fast conga all over the beach, till my heart got out of rhythm. cha-cha-cha, and I guess Edd’s did, too, because he said, “Let’s flop down on the beach-mattress a while, and I’ll tell you what the stars have in store for you.’

Even the mattress was toasty-warm when we plumped down on it. It felt good just to lie there and relax, with Edd’s arm across my back, and with the surf lapping gently against the shore. Edd began my fortune with: “Miss Dee, I see a tall dark man in your future—no, wait—he’s in your present!”

Then Rog Marshutz said, “Okay, kids, I got it,” and he put down the camera. He’d been taking fun-pictures of us all the while, for Photoplay.

Sitting up, I shaded my eyes with one hand and looked over at Edd. In one bound, he was standing up. “Wait,” he said, “we haven’t even played ball.”

He picked up a huge, multi-colored beach ball and began batting it around. “Come on, Sandra,” he called.

I jumped up and ran over to him, and, for a while, we raced all around the beach, tossing the beach ball back and forth. Then it was time to go. But, just before I was ready to take off in my T-Bird, he said: “By the way, Sandra, don’t be surprised if you see a story I did for a magazine, listing you as one of the ten most fascinating women in Hollywood.”

“Me!” I shrieked. Then, having recovered my poise, I said, “I won’t,” and hoped I sounded nonchalant. But, when I got the car around the corner, I practically went off the road . . . One of the ten most fascinating women. . . Then he had noticed me before!

The first time I saw Edd—in person—was last February. Friday the thirteenth, to be exact. I remember thinking, maybe today will be lucky for me, or maybe something awful will happen.

It turned out to be lucky. Marcia Borie was giving a party for Evelyn Pain, the editor of Photoplay, and she asked me to come.

“Don’t bother dressing up,” she said. “We’ll all be in slacks and pedal pushers. Just run a comb through your hair and come on over after you get off from the studio.”

She also said it was stag or date, whatever I wanted, and, since I hadn’t any plans for that night, I decided to go alone. But at lunch that day I was talking to Susie Kohner, and she asked if I were going to the party. I said yes, and she said she was, too. Then we said at the same time, “Are you going alone?” When we discovered that neither of us had made dates, we decided to go together.

We piled into my T-Bird right after work. Susie wore black slacks and I had on olive-green ones, with a pink turtlenecked sweater and a rather cool-looking black leather jacket I’d talked my mother into buying for me, after I saw someone wear one in a movie. At the party, everybody was dressed the same way. Even Evelyn Pain, who looked more like she’d just come from a college campus than a magazine office, was dressed in powder blue slacks and a matching sweater.

Everybody—but just everybody—was there. Susie and I sat down on the floor with Molly Bee and Nick Adams and Mark Damon. Then Tuesday Weld and Diane Baker came over to say hello, and then Will Hutchins almost stepped on me when he walked across the room, and— oh!—it was fun.

Marcia’s dog, Mr. Chips, came over then and wanted to be friends, so I pulled him into my lap and petted him. That’s what I was doing when Edd walked in—in a blue suit, tie, everything.

If he was embarrassed to be dressed differently from the rest of us, he sure didn’t let it show.

“That’s Edd Byrnes,” Marcia whispered to me, “he’s Kookie!”

I stared at her. Then I said, “He is not. He’s not a bit weird. He’s—well, he looks very nice!”

thought she raised her eyebrows a little, but there were so many people around that she just went on serving shrimp to everyone. It was Susie who had to tell me that Edd is Kookie, on screen, anyway, and that these days, when you call someone Kookie, it’s a compliment . . . I thought I’d wither away.

Pretty soon the kids began to mix and have fun. One girl started to play the piano, and we started singing. But when I looked up, I saw that Edd was all alone. He was sitting up straight in an overstuffed chair. Just sitting there, right across the room from me, not saying a word.

I do wish he’d come over and say hello to me, I thought. Then he suddenly looked up at me, and I felt myself begin to blush. He doesn’t have to stare, I thought. But he could come over and talk. It wouldn’t hurt him any. I mean, would it?

I buried my face in Mr. Chips’ fur, and then Marcia’s voice cut into my thoughts. “Edd,” she was saying, “I’d like you to say hello to someone awfully nice— Sandra Dee. Sandra, this is Edd Byrnes.”

Looking up, way up, I tried to smile at him. His smile was certainly warm enough—and it didn’t end with his lips either. He smiled with his eyes, too.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hello,” I said.

And then the party was over. Edd and I had said hello to each other and that was all, that was the end of it. Or so I thought.

Only, it wasn’t

Two days later I saw Edd again. He’d won the Photoplay Gold Medal award for being the most outstanding newcomer and so had I . . . I mean, he won for the boys and I won for the girls.

“What are you doing here?” I blurted out, before I knew what I was saying. “I mean, hello.”

“Hello to you, too,” Edd said, smiling. “And congratulations on your award!”

“I don’t really believe it yet,” I managed finally.

Looking around me at the enormous amount of activity in the NBC studios, at the people kind of milling around, and at all the lights, I began to feel worse and worse.

“You know, I’m scared,” I said.

Then the director, Nick Vanoff, pointed to Edd and me standing behind the curtains, and said, “Okay, you’re on!”

“Oh, no . . .” I whispered, and I could feel my knees beginning to shake. “Oh, no. . . .”

Edd looked at me. “What’s the matter?” he asked, looking puzzled.

“My knees,” I said, “they feel so weak—suddenly. I—” and blushing to the roots of my hair I said, “Please hold my hand, or I won’t be able to take one step.”

He took my hand in his big, strong one, and held it tight, and then we were on, and everything was all right. It was more than all right, because he held my hand.

When the program was over, Photoplay gave a party for everyone, but there were lots of people and cameras, and Edd and I only got to say a few words to each other. Then Mother and I left, and Edd went home by himself.

A few days later, I saw Edd at the beach that one time, and that was all, except he had said he’d told a magazine I was fascinating, a fascinating woman, so maybe, maybe . . . Just in case, I decided to keep my fingers crossed.

It worked! Two days later Edd called. I was concentrating on my textbook, so I was sort of half-hearted when I said hello. Then he said, “Hey, this is me, Edd Byrnes.”

The book fell to the floor and I sat up straight.

“Would you like to go to a party Wednesday?” he asked. “Unchaperoned by Photoplay this time.” He laughed.

“A party?” I felt kind of stunned. I had never really believed crossed fingers could work.

“Yes. Frank Sinatra’s giving a dinner at Puccini’s restaurant; then we’re all going on to a special showing of his new picture, ‘A Hole in the Head.’ Would you like to go with me?”

“You mean,” I began rather stupidly, “without Photoplay?”

Bursting out laughing, he said, “Yes, just with me.”

“I’d love to,” I told him, and flew down the stairs to tell Mom.

On the afternoon of the party, I didn’t have to go to the studio, but Mom said I spent more time “working” at home. Again, my room looked as if a cyclone had hit it. Mom just stood in the doorway, shaking her head.

“Well, I can’t think of anything else to suggest,” she said finally. “I just hope you think of something to wear before Edd gets here.”

At last, I did. I settled on a champagne satin dress with an empire waist. With that problem solved, I hopped into a luxurious bubble bath and tried to relax. Of course, it was useless. There were more bubbles inside of me than out.

Edd arrived promptly at seven-thirty and I thought I would be able to go right down, but then I smeared two nails and had to do them over again. Why is it something like that always happens? While I was waiting for my nails to dry, I could hear him talking with my mother. My, he has a nice voice!

When my nails were dry, I was almost afraid to go downstairs. I had waited so long, it seemed, that the bubbles started all over again.

And then it wasn’t bad at all. As soon as I saw him, looked up into his nice, warm eyes, everything was all right. I didn’t feel shy any more.

When we got to Puccini’s, I felt as if I were back in the middle of my dreams in New York—only now they were in technicolor. Everybody I’d ever dreamed of was there. I could hardly breathe, much less eat, just for looking around me at all the glamorous stars. Then I saw Frank Sinatra, and he was headed for our table.

I practically choked.

“Hi, Edd,” Frank said, “how are you?”

“Fine,” Edd said easily. “Sandra, I’d like you to meet Frank Sinatra. Frank, this is Sandra Dee.”

Just like that!

Dinner was soon over—much too soon, I thought—and we went to see Frank Sinatra’s new movie. Then we just drove around a while. It was a beautiful night. Each star seemed to be trying to outshine the others. And there was a crescent moon.

Neither of us said anything for some time, and then we both started talking at once.

“That party—the first one—” I began.

“The first time I saw you—” he began.

Then we both laughed. “You start,’ I said.

“No, you.”

We laughed again.

“Wouldn’t you ever have talked to me, if Marcia hadn’t introduced us?” Edd asked.

“Wouldn’t I—” I stopped, and began to laugh again. “Why, that’s exactly what I wanted to ask you. I don’t think you even saw me until she dragged you over to me.”

“I most certainly did!” he protested. “The first person I saw when I came into the room was a little blonde doll in a pink sweater with a white dog in her lap.”

“But that was me!”

“I know. And you just sat there on the floor, as if you wouldn’t give the time of day to anyone—much less me.”

“I did! What about you sitting up in that chair in that blue suit and tie, simply staring into space—so stuck-up that—”

“Me! But I wanted to talk to you, only—only you didn’t look very friendly.”

“Oh, Edd,” I said, not looking at him. “It’s just that—I’m a little shy, you see.”

He patted my hand. “That makes two of us, Sandra,” he told me.

Edd, shy? I didn’t have time to take this in fully, because he stopped in front of a record store in Beverly Hills.

We didn’t play any records in the store. The jackets were so beautiful that we spent all our time just looking at them. And then I spotted the album from “77 Sunset Strip.”

“Look, Edd,” I cried, “there’s one with your picture right on it!”

“I know,” he said. “Heard it yet?”

“No. I don’t know where I’ve been, but I didn’t even know it existed.”

He looked at his watch. “It’s getting late,” he said. “Guess we’d better go.” But he picked up that album and had the man wrap it up. Then when we got in the car, he gave it to me.

He drove me home slowly, as if he were as reluctant as I was for it all to end. The stars seemed brighter than ever, the moonlight was beautiful, and the radio was playing softly. Then, suddenly, I sat up straight.

That was Edd’s voice I heard on the radio: “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb. . . .”

He tried to switch it off, but I wouldn’t let him. “No, let me hear it,” I said. So he began to sing louder than the radio, trying to drown it out.

Then, just before we got home, the announcer said: “And now a word for. . . .” and he mentioned a suntan preparation for which Id done a commercial. The next thing I knew he was saying: “And here is Sandra Dee, the excitingly beautiful Universal-International star. . . .” and it was my turn to be embarrassed, to try to switch the station.

But Edd pushed my hand away. “You really are,” he said, “do you know that?”

I blushed and said nothing.

We were home by now. Edd led me up the steps and into the house. “It’s hard,” he said, “to realize you’re a glamorous star to millions of people, when you know you’ve only just graduated from school, and you’re still getting up in the morning with the same face, the same voice you’ve always had. I know,” he added, “because sometimes I find it hard to remember I’m Kookie.”

“Yes,” I said and smiled, remembering the girl at that first party, “you certainly are!”


I know it’s polite to let the lady have the last word but I’d like to add a postscript. Sandra is one of the loveliest girls I’ve ever met. She’s refreshing in a town where too many girls are blase. She’s a big star, but I’d have liked her and asked her out if she worked as a secretary or a schoolteacher. She’s fun to be with, an easy conversationalist, looks great in whatever she’s wearing, is a good sport, has a sense of humor and such enthusiasm for living that it’s catching. Wow, this is the longest speech I’ve made in quite some time I think my on-screen TV personality would have summed up the whole thing in one concise phrase: Sandra—man, she’s the ginchiest!”—EDD




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