It Pays To Be Good
Just a few short years ago, Ann Blyth, Jane Powell, Liz Taylor, June Allyson, Jeanne Crain,. Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Shelley Winters and Marilyn Monroe were growing up, maturing in Hollywood. Today, Piper Laurie, Debbie Reynolds, Terry Moore, Grace Kelly and Elaine Stewart are in the same position the older stars once occupied. For some, stardom is an overnight miracle; for others, it has taken years of hard-work to achieve success. But no matter which way it comes, the one thing both youngsters and their older sisters-in-glamour have discovered is that it pays to be good!
Notoriety is not fame—this Jane Powell has now discovered. When a star breaks the rules of decent human behavior laid down by society, he or she pays for it, even as you and I. To the public, a little less than a year ago, Jane Powell was a symbol of the perfect wife, mother and star. Her home life, outwardly, was an example of what every marriage should be. Then came not only her infatuation for dancer Gene Nelson, with whom she worked in “Three Sailors and a Girl,” but her outward flaunting of propriety which caused her marriage to Geary Steffen to break into a million pieces. When Jane detoured from the straight and narrow, the people who loved her were disappointed, and disapproval was expressed at the box office. For Jane herself, there is the heartbreak of a broken home for her two young children, Geary and Suzanne, the rebuilding of her personal life and the rebuilding of her career. For those who dance to the piper must pay and pay and pay.
At all the glittering parties during recent months in Hollywood, where beauties were a dime a dozen, Lana Turner and Lex Barker: drew lots of admiring attention. Why? Lana with her brown hair was certainly a less flashy femme than in other days. But the very look in her eyes, the relaxed manner, the happiness spoke loudly of a woman who is loved, and, because she is loved, has an inner strength which cannot be denied. And everyone who admires her as a talented actress rejoiced with her. Her marriage to Lex Barker seems to have swung her successfully over to the side of convention.
Lana’s past amours once kept her in a most uncomfortable hot spot as top news. Lana’s present calm and the obvious adjustment of her life gives the lie to one of Hollywood’s tritest cracks that it doesn’t matter what they say or print about you, just as long as they spell your name right. Lana would be the first to say that when you play fast and loose with high standards in personal life, life has a way of slapping you down. Liz Taylor is another woman who has learned that the mistakes of youth can cost dearly. However, now that she is the wife of Michael Wilding and the mother of a son, Michael, Jr., she is able to look back and understand why some of the newcomers are making the same mistakes.
While Ava Gardner was going through two whirlwind marriages to Mickey Rooney and Artie Shaw, another girl of her generation was steadily climbing to star heights—that girl was Ann Blyth. Ann worked steadily at her job, cared for her mother with whom she lived, quietly dated the young swains who came to call. Just as quietly and demurely, as she matured into adulthood, she met and fell in love with Dr. Jim McNulty. There were no scenes played for the night-club set, no histrionics passionately revealing her love for the doctor. With dignity that befits a girl reaching maturity, Ann Blyth planned her wedding, worked out with the doctor the pattern of her life to be.
Contrast the picture of life which emerges from Ann Blyth’s actions with those who are tops in the sensational group right now—and you see a lot of unhappy persons, whose every move is reported, many times in distorted and depressing ways, part of the payment for making mistakes. The public battles of Shelley Winters and Vittorio Gassman are doing neither of them any good. Rita Hayworth’s tragically complex marriage to Dick Haymes is losing her any remaining shreds of public understanding—and may end by losing her her chance to resume her career, and, more importantly, to build a decent future for herself and her family. The dignity with which Gene Tierney handled her marriage to Oleg Cassini is lacking in her present international dates with Aly Khan. I would guess that the blush that must suffuse her face when she hears the gossip will also burn her heart in time.
Learning is growing up, and Jeanne Crain is the perfect example of a woman who used her head and was able to rectify an error. Jeanne’s tranquil home life with Paul Brinkman and her four children has always brought forth excellent comment. Recently, Jeanne cut her hair, dyed it flaming red and sought bad-girl roles—all of which might have been excellent for her career, but when it called for slightly scandalous remarks being made, Jeanne switched back—but fast. Jeanne’s a girl who’s watched others of her generation gain a name, and that’s certainly not what she wants out of life.
Grace Kelly, despite her dates around the Hollywood community, which have caused some rumors, comes from a family that frowns on scandal. Grace conducts herself, therefore, with quiet dignity.
Piper Laurie is a girl who has watched and learned by example. Her dates with Dick Contino were like those of any youngster in any community—gay, laughter-provoking, companionable. When she decided against going steady, she didn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, nor outrage sensibilities by dashing into the arms of every playboy in town. And Debbie Reynolds and her gang continue to be “just friends” with the fun of good, healthy relationships with neither headlines nor heartaches.
Elaine Stewart and Terry Moore are mature enough to handle their private affairs in private. Terry, in her good-natured effort to be co-operative, did lead a fairly mad pace with a series of dates in the night spots around Hollywood with men who were out to advance themselves rather than just friendly dates with a nice girl. This led to her name being linked with quite a few men. Just the other night she. told me, “It’ll frighten off the good men.” And Terry, like every decent girl in town, wants a healthy, normal marriage with the right man. Elaine has, without benefit of public prints, been steadily building friendships with many men. Scott Brady helps her through the times when she’s finding herself lonely for male companionship. Her romance with Curt Ray in St. Louis caused no fanfare because Elaine saw to it that there was no cause for idle gossip. His family accompanied them wherever they were. In Hollywood, Elaine has the same steady devotion to her career, to improving her status in her community that any girl has anywhere. As sexy as Ava Gardner, Elaine has learned from the mistake her glamour sister has made.
While the public may avidly read about the wild ones, sometimes the personal tragedy involved is almost overwhelming. When Marilyn Monroe discovered that the nude calendar pictures of her were being made into a Triple A Gossip Campaign, she was terrified. She asked her close friends for advice.
They asked the natural question. “Why did you ever pose for the picture in the first place?”
“I needed the money,” said Marilyn.
“Tell that to the reporters,” her advisers told her.
And she did, which turned the tide of unpleasant talk—at least to a degree. It still worries her, but the pleasantly normal trend of her life with Joe DiMaggio should soon sink the incident altogether.
The terrifying truth of the matter is that bad news travels the fastest and the farthest, that scandal is impossible to stop—once it starts to blaze. And the smartest stars are those who never let the fire get started.
It’s only by such strong, warmhearted people as June Allyson and Dick Powell, Alan and Sue Ladd, William and Brenda Holden that the off-beat scareheads can be licked—and the lesson learned that IT PAYS TO BE GOOD.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JULY 1954