“Johnny Saxon Is Secretly Married!”
Night time in Paris, and the husky, square-jawed young man and the delicate-looking girl with flyaway, pixie bangs stood with their arms around each other, looking down on the waters of the Seine River.
The Seine—weaving through Paris—weaving romance—weaving dreams. Here, along the mysterious banks, men have held rendezvoux with love, rendezvoux with life and sometimes rendezvoux with death.
No thought of somberness, no thought of unhappiness floated in the air that night when the two young people in love stood with their arms entwined around each other.
“Paris—this is something I’ve dreamed about for a long time,” said the girl softly. “To be here together—to me that’s the perfect proof that dreams can come true.”
“You’re so right, Vicki,” said the boy gently. “Just to be in Paris would be wonderful. But to have you here with me—that makes it perfect.”
John Saxon was in Paris to make The Reluctant Debutante, and his girl, Vicki Thal, had just flown in from Hollywood about two weeks after he had arrived. Supposedly, Vicki had come to see the fascinating cities of the Old World, and also to visit old friends of her family.
Or was there another, more romantic reason? Many of their friends in Hollywood asked openly, “Did Vicki go to Paris for a secret honeymoon with John?”
Ever since John achieved his first great success in Hollywood—he has been pursued by most of the attractive young actresses in Hollywood. But except for an occasional publicity date, he has ignored all of them to devote himself exclusively to being with the girl who worked at a Beverly Hills ice cream parlor—Wil Wright’s—at night, and who went daytimes to a nearby university, UCLA.
Because her time was so much taken by her university studies and John’s time was in such great demand for interviews and acting roles, they couldn’t see each other nearly as often as they would have liked to. Still, whenever there was a cocktail party, a dinner at a friend’s home to which he was invited, or just a quiet evening when they could go for a late stroll after her work at the ice cream parlor was over, Vicki and John were together.
Sometimes John and the young actors, writers and grip men he knows would all gather together at Vicki’s home, and Vicki would put on percolator after percolator of coffee, so that they could all sit around and talk and dream and drink gallons of coffee.
Sometimes one of the crowd would get up and play bongo drums, or put on a favorite record, or Vicki would roll up the rug and they’d all dance the latest steps or the most sentimental steps to the music of a waltz. Like John, Vicki loves progressive jazz, but not exclusively. Rhythm was part of her life and still is—and somewhere along the road they fell madly in love with each other and reacted to the oldest and newest rhythm in the world—the rhythm of love as it courses through the blood of two handsome young people.
An unusual girl
They planned to wait until he was well-established in his career. By that time, they believed, Vicki would be through with her college courses, and the two of them could have a wonderful life together.
Everyone who ever saw them together was aware of the strange, beautiful, electric bond between them.
Once John brought her to visit his friends, Jess Kimmel, head of U-I’s talent school, and his lovely wife, Toni.
John and Vicki sat together beside the open fireplace in the Kimmel home, very close to each other. “Vicki,” says Toni, “hardly spoke a word. Vicki as usual, listened rather than talked—and yet there seemed to be a special bond of tenderness between them, the kind that one usually finds between two people who have been married for a long time.”
What was it that drew them together in the first place?
At the time John met Vicki at a party, he was still one of Hollywood’s youngest, most brooding rebels. He had fought hard to get somewhere in his career, and the fight had left him bitter and confused. He Was an introvert, wrapped up in his own emotions. He had gone to a psychiatrist to break down some of the walls he had built up to shield himself from a world he considered hostile.
A different kind of rebel
Into his rebellious young life walked this unusual young woman—Vicki. Although he recognized a fellow rebel in her, hers was a quiet, different kind of rebellion. Instead of being bitter, she was her happy, outgoing self. To the quiet, morose young man, she represented peace and understanding.
In her he found a combination of all the girls he had ever known and loved. She had the warmth and loyalty of his mother, the good companionship of his sisters.
Vicki accepted life, she accepted people, she accepted and trusted John. In the warmth of her tenderness his fears melted, and he began to accept himself as well as to love Vicki.
To his amazement and delight, Vicki’s father, a fine artist named Victor Thall (he added the extra ‘I’ to his name to Maintain his own individuality) also accepted him, and even started to give him painting lessons. Vicki’s father and mother saw that John and Vicki were falling in love.
They also saw the protectiveness of John; they saw him coming out of his shell, and growing more quietly radiant every day. And so Vicki’s mother and father were happy for them.
With their mutual interest in art, Vicki and John would sometimes spend hours together, each working at painting. When they were too busy to see each other during the week, weekends became very precious to them. Driving his MG, John would take his girl on trips to the beach. There they would sit in the sand, and John would talk of life and love and art.
“Binky,” he’d say, using his pet nickname for her, “if dreams could come true, do you know what I would dream right this moment?”
“No,” she’d laugh.
“Well, I’d dream that you and I were married, and that we were sitting like this side by side.”
But dared he marry her?
Reasons why not
When a young actor is going up because of his teenage fans, how will the fans react if he dares to marry? Many frightened young actors count the cost—and postpone the decision.
Certainly, if John turned to his agent Henry Willson, or to his studio, they would counsel him to remain single while his career was still in the stage where it was being built up. But John had always been a rebel. If this was the advice he received, we do not believe that it was the advice he followed.
What happened to the best of our knowledge is that these two young people agreed to a compromise. To please John’s studio, they would not marry openly—but secretly.
Whether they kept that promise only they know, but many people close to them believe that they did marry.
A boy who works at Wil Wright’s and knows both Vicki and John said, “I think they’re secretly married. I wouldn’t be surprised if she married him about a month ago. She’s a sweet kid and she wouldn’t go to Europe and see so much of him unless she was his wife, you can bet.
“Don’t ask me how I know, but I’m as sure as anyone can be that they’re married. About a month ago she took a night off from work. She told one of the girls here that something wonderful had happened in her life. I’m sure that she and John were married that night.”
One of our reporters reached Mona Thall, Vicki’s mother. Currently we couldn’t reach Victor, her father, for he was in an undisclosed town in Mexico.
We asked Mrs. Thall if Vicki and John were secretly married. Said Mona, “I can’t answer that, really. I’m not at liberty to talk. You know what I mean. I’m just not allowed to tell you whether they’re married or not. I’d love to co-operate but my hands are tied. My husband and I are crazy about John and we’re glad that Vicki and he are serious about each other. But I’m not saying a word about whether they’re married. I just can’t. She’s having a wonderful time in Paris, and she’s going to visit several old friends of ours there.”
Not once did Mrs. Thall come out and say, “Vicki and John are not married.” Her answer was evasive, as though she’d been warned not to talk. It makes the possibility of their marriage stronger.
Another boy who works at Wil Wright’s also thinks Vicki is secretly married to John.
“If they’re married, why doesn’t Vicki admit it to the world?” asked our reporter.
“Because,” said this boy, “she’d never want to do anything that might conceivably hurt John’s career. If John’s studio feels that his teenage fans might be alienated by his marriage at this time, Vicki would agree to postpone marriage, or to marry John secretly—whatever the two of them decided was best.
“Of course, I couldn’t take an oath to the effect that they’re married, but most of us here think she married the guy. So do most of her classmates at UCLA.”
Nevertheless, his studio still maintains that Vicki and John are not married. One of our reporters talked to a close studio contact of John’s.
She said, “They’re not married. The fact that they’re in Europe at the same time is just a coincidence. Vicki’s father and mother have many friends in Europe, and she’s been wanting to go there for a long time. In fact, her parents lived in Paris for two years, and her sister Mona was born in the south of France. For a long time Vicki’s had a yen to see the places her parents have talked about all these years.
“For years, Vicki has saved her pennies and dollars so that she could make this trip. As far as we know, it’s not a honeymoon trip. John had to go to Paris to make The Reluctant Debutante there, and Vicki’s staying in Paris for a while. Then she’ll take in some other cities. She didn’t go over with John. He went on ahead, and she met him there two weeks later.”
It is perfectly true that John and Vicki did not go to Paris together. But wasn’t this all part of an elaborate plan to convince us that he is not married? Some friends think that the coincidence of their being in Paris at the same time is a little too well-timed to be mere coincidence.
Why do many of the people who have observed them think they’re married?
These two are not just a passionate boy and girl. They are two people who know what love is in the deepest sense, who live to protect and help each other.
Why shouldn’t a boy and girl get married when they love each other as ardently as these two do, and when their love is deep enough and real enough to crave the reality of marriage—not the sham of a relationship that sometimes passes in Hollywood and elsewhere for love.
Only marriage can offer the kind of protection that every man offers his girl when he loves her to the deepest depths of his being.
And so we say: if you’re married, why keep it secret?
We believe that your fans love and understand you well enough, John, so that they won’t hold it against you that you’ve found the kind of love each of them is seeking. Perhaps there was a day when teenagers were so shallow and silly that they only ‘went’ for a star as long as he was single; when each of them visualized herself as some day becoming the wife of the actor on whom she had a crush.
Today’s teenagers are much more sensible, we believe. Admit, John, that Vicki is the girl you love, and that you chose to risk your career because you loved her so much that nothing short of marriage was good enough. We’ll bet you anything you can name that your fans will respect and love you for your choice, and that each of them will hope that some day she’ll meet a man just like the man. who married Vicki Thal.
John is in SUMMER LOVE for U-I and will soon appear in MGM’s THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE, U-I’s THIS HAPPY FEELING and U-I’s THE WONDERFUL YEAR.
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE JUNE 1958