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Kim Novak’s Gay Adventures In Europe

April 14: ANCHORS AWEIGH: Kim and I got no sleep last night. Who could sleep? Both of us too excited. 3 in the morning: Kim decides to have a last minute review of her French verbs. “Je vais. Nous allons. Vous allez.” Fine. (I think.) 4 a.m.: Kim remembers some items we forgot to pack. Spend next hour looking for them. 5 a.m.: Time to bathe and dress if we want to arrive at the dock early. 8 a.m.: Up the ramp and on to our stateroom on the Ile de France. This is our stateroom??? It appears to be a combination Stork Club, greenhouse and day nursery.

There’s a surprise Champagne Bon Voyage party. All her good friends attend and there are roses on the tables, violets on the chairs, lilacs on top of the trunks, camellias floating in the bathtub, and baskets on the beds. (Do we sleep in a spare life-boat tonight???) 2 in the afternoon: When our guests leave, Kim and I make our way to the promenade deck for our last look for nearly two whole months at America. We become homesick. Decide to return to the cabin to unpack. Find invitations to join the Officers of the Bridge later in the evening. Kim thrilled—but sleepy. Napped from 3 to 7. Awoke. Wanted some soup before dressing to meet Officers of the Bridge. Fell asleep again before finishing soup. It’s now 11 p.m. and no sign of life from the adjoining room. Haven’t the heart to wake Kim. Know she’ll hate to disappoint the Officers of the Bridge . . . but . . . . . !

April 15: We got our sea legs today. Attended Mass in the morning. Kim spent most of the day exploring the ship and posing for pictures with and for our fellow passengers. In evening she was guest of honor at a private dinner party given by Ship Commander Roger Lombard, Through some top secret and mysterious manner the Commander had found out that three was Kim’s lucky number. So he arranged to have all the courses served in threes, with the waiters each coming around three times. There were three salads, three entrees, three desserts, three bottles of champagne (ooh-la-la), etc. After the hors d’oeuvres Kim whispered to me, “What shall I do, I’ll never make it?” She needn’t have worried. For whenever she put down her fork for a moment to say something to one of the guests at our table, a gallant (though slightly over-anxious) waiter whisked away her plate. Didn’t matter whether she had even tasted the food or not. This wasn’t too upsetting until dessert time came along. The chief chef had whipped up a most fabulous strawberry soufflé. When Kim tasted it her eyes widened with pure delight. Then the Commander asked Kim something. And that was that. Wish I had our camera with me to snap the stricken expression on Kim’s face when she finished answering and discovered her fabulous soufflé had been replaced by glacé vanille. (Translation: plain vanilla ice-cream.)

After dinner, the gala in the ship’s ballroom. To Kim it was all very much like a prom—but on a magnificent scale. And the girl who had never been to a prom of any kind in her whole life was now Queen of the Ball. The Commander, who is as French as French can be, led her to the center of the floor for the first waltz and all the other couples retired to the side of the room. For ten minutes Kim and the Captain were the sole dancers in the huge ballroom. It was like something out of an old Viennese operetta and I could see by the look in Kim’s eyes that she was relishing every moment of it. Because the Commander wanted to avoid a mutiny, he eventually, if reluctantly, stepped aside to allow the other officers and gentlemen of the Ile de France. to have their turn. Kim’s theme song tonight might well have been “I Could Have Danced All Night.” She did. The sun was peeping through on the starboard side, when she turned in, still talking dreamily about proms and gallant Frenchmen and . . . long lost strawberry soufflés.

April 17: Rough angry seas. Neither strawberry soufflés nor any other delight could have enticed our gal today. I woke at noon. Heard moaning coming from Kim’s room. Hurried next door and found I now had one pea-green traveling companion.

“Muriel, I’m awfully wailed.

“You’re just a rotten sailor,” I answered, refusing to admit that the heaving and tossing of the ship were making me feel a little squeamish too.

“Can’t help it. I’m awfully sick.” And back went her head underneath the pillow.

Consulted my handbook for advice on the Care and Coddling of Sea-Sick Sirens.

Returned stocked with dramamine and various and sundry other types of pills invented for just such emergencies. My patient consumed them all without protest, and fell off to sleep again.

Decided to write some letters plus a note to the Officers of the Bridge expressing regrets—but we would be unable to join them for dinner. Shipboard version of rock and roll got steadily worse. Decided to lie down myself. Suddenly heard a tremendous crash. Sounded as if the ship had struck an iceberg. (Are there icebergs in this part of the Atlantic?) Scrambled out of bed and dashed into Kim’s room. Found her cowered in the top left hand corner of her bed, her green complexion now a chalky white. The poor thing was scared to death and I needed no explanation why. The reason was obvious. Kim’s five foot trunk, unable to hold ground due to the ship’s violent motion, had toppled over, strewing Kim’s clothes all around the room. The trunk itself Was now occupying a greater portion of Kim’s bed. Fortunately she had awakened in time to see it coming and had been able to pull herself out of its direct path. Spent the next hour getting clothes and trunk back into order, then returned to my room. Pow, crash, bang. It happened again. Called the steward, who in turn called the porters, who in turn made a great to-do with Operation Securing-Trunk-To-Wall. Kim remained hidden under bed-covers throughout this fascinating engineering feat. When the trunk was finally lashed down and the stateroom cleared, Kim popped her head out, muttering. “Not my day, just not my day. Not my day at all.”

Corny joke from me: “Guess, Kim, this was one of those days when you should NOT have stood in bed.” Kim was not amused. Threw a pillow at me. Missed. Fell asleep again.

April 18: Choppy seas. Kim as good as new. Accepted invitation to run the “horse-racing” game in the main salon. The other passengers were delighted. When she ran the “horses” everyone won. Which isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Just before the bank was broken the steward intervened. Didn’t “wish to tire Miss Novak with so much activity,” he said! Kim decided to try her luck at the game. We are now $30 poorer.

April 19: Ship pitching like cork. My former patient can’t understand why so many of the other passengers are confined to their cabins. Ran around in slacks all day and, because we didn’t feel like dressing for dinner, sneaked down for the early sitting. Kim became very excited when she heard the Liberté was passing us, and rushed over to the port-hole to see it. (I remained put to keep an eye on our dinner.) Kim returned horribly disappointed. “It’s so small,” she protested. “I’m awfully glad we’re on this one.” The waiters all had giggling fits. Later found out why. Kim was duped by the oldest shipboard gag of all: To pass off small passing freighters as the elegant rival sister ships. This is funny????


April 20: Huge sense of excitement is growing in us. Awoke early this morning with the knowledge that we’d be sighting land within a few hours. At 2:30 p.m. we docked at Plymouth to allow the English passengers to disembark. Kim and I were absolutely awed by the beauty of the rolling hills and lush greenery of the English country side. Only sheer will-power kept us from getting off the boat right there.

But we didn’t. We couldn’t break our cocktail date with the Officers of the Bridge again. (Amen.)

We decided to go to sleep early. We have to be awake at 4 a.m. to go through French immigration.

April 21: We were up at 4am. Thought that would give us plenty of time in which to get ready. That’s what we thought! The French immigration officers will remember Miss Kim Novak as a sleepy-eyed blonde, completely draped in a lavender blanket! Left a better impression on Customs, since we managed to be dressed to the teeth for the grand exit from the ship. Stayed elegant only until we reached Normandy, where we hastily changed to slacks. Wanted to wash off our make-up too. No soap. Reminder: Keep small bar, of soap in purse at all times.

In Europe less than twenty-four hours and already we both have fallen madly in love with a dashing Latin whose sense of humor is utterly divine: Our sixty-four-year-old chauffeur, Guido. A dream walking. And our own private guide for our entire stay on the Continent.

Drove from Normandy to Rouen where Kim had a yearning to see the fabulous Cathedral. Guido wouldn’t think of our leaving the city, however, until he took us through the tower in which Joan of Arc was imprisoned and the market place where she was burned. Fascinating.

We are now spending the night at Vichy—the city steeped in a tradition of high adventure, mineral water and the most divine beds with six-foot-high feather mattresses. Kim wonders if she could ship one back home. Reminder: Find out about shipping two feather beds home. Sampled much mineral water. But no high adventure tonight. We’re confined to the Inn. It’s raining.

A bike race

April 22: At the rate we’re progressing, the Festival may be over before we ever reach Cannes. We’re cruising along Le Route Des Alpes this a.m. and found ourselves plunk in the middle of the famous Freneh motor-bike races. Something had to go! It was us. One hundred miles out of our way. Kim horribly excited by the beauty of the Alps and thought it most obliging of the weatherman to stage a private snowstorm just for our benefit. Headed east for a stop-over at a small French village. Special mission. Kim’s French teacher at home had arranged for her to meet one of the most famous heroines of the former French underground. Even though the war has been over more than eleven years, this woman’s identity must still remain a mystery and she sees very few people from the outside world. Guido parked the car on the main road and Kim walked the one-quarter mile remaining to the woman’s cottage. There she remained most of the afternoon. Talking, seeing the secret passages and trap-doors through which many young men of the French Resistance escaped and the monuments erected in the little back yard behind the house in memory of those less fortunate. Kim said little after she returned to the car. Even Guido’s bright conversation failed to penetrate her mood. She had been very impressed and extremely moved by her visit with this remarkable sixty-year-old woman. A quiet dinner at the Pularde Bressaire Napoleon in Castellane. Have a hunch this will be our last quiet dinner for some time.

April 23: Today has been absolutely fabulous, fascinating, unbelievable, hectic, exciting, too much, etc., etc., etc. A kaleidescope of people, places and things.

9 am.: Arrived in Grasse—perfume manufacturing capital of the world. Kim wanted to pick up a bottle of lavender scent. Was recognized by the managers and bottlers of the perfumery. Big fuss. A dozen workers followed us back to the car—spraying essence of lavender all the way. Then they proceeded to spray the entire inside of the car with lavender. Too much of a good thing is too much! So overpowered by the fragrance we couldn’t breathe. Kept our heads popped out of the car windows for the next half-hour. Wonder if Kim will still be fond of lavender after this!

10:30 am.: Our car whizzed around a bend and suddenly before our eyes was the Cote D’Azure, which, according to our travel folder, is the place “Where the Sky is Always Blue.” Blue? Seemed foggy and gray to me. Kim so excited about finally arriving here she couldn’t have cared less about the weather.

Something big going on

11:15 a.m.: We approached the entrance of our hotel—The Carlton in Cannes. Guido brought the car to an abrupt halt. From 1,000 to 1,500 people were blocking our way. “Oh, Muriel,” said Kim, “something big must be going on. We can’t go through the front door looking and smelling like this.” (Slacks, windblown hair, too much lavender scent.) Guido had an idea.

1 p.m.: It took us nearly two hours to drive through the crowds and traffic in order to reach the back entrance of the hotel. When we finally got to our suite, Kim asked the manager what all the excitement out front was. Flabbergasted when he told her it was the natives and tourists waiting for her arrival!

First step on my agenda was to delavenderize myself. Retreated to my bathroom where I noticed the shower curtains were drawn tight. Pulled them back and found seven photographers hiding in my bathtub!!! We stared speechlessly at one another for a good five minutes. Then one of the boys spoke up. He was obviously quite disappointed. “Oh, a thousand pardons, Madame,” said he. “But ees theese not la salle de bain de Mademoiselle Keeem Novak?”

“It is not,” I replied indignantly.

“Well then, Madame, would you be so kind as to show us the door of la salle de bain de Mademoiselle Keem Novak?”

I showed them the door. Period! Seven photographers in my bathtub indeed! Is this a forecast of things to come????

8 p.m.: I just don’t know how the girl does it. Despite the procession of photographers, reporters, neighbors, messengers, studio representatives, etc., etc., etc., marching in and out all day, Kim managed to get bathed and dressed on time for the evening’s activities. She tried on four different dresses especially designed for her by Jean Louis of Columbia Pictures before she decided what to wear. The red chiffon, the lavender (definitely out), the black lace and the black beaded job with the halter neckline? Chose the black beaded dress. A happy choice. She left the hotel looking like—a gorgeous mermaid.

French lesson

One important item: At the hotel while getting dressed, Kim had decided that this was the perfect time in which to practice her French. Not to say one word in English, at all. Everything went well until she asked for a radio for her room.

In her best French, she asked the concierge to bring her a radio.

Quel dimension?” (What size?) he asked politely. “Grande ou petite?” (Large or small?)

N’importe” (It doesn’t matter), Kim, somewhat puzzled.

Kim was told to be patient.

Within ten minutes the concierge returned, carting a giant bucket of ice water.

Five hours later, we are still trying to figure out where that translation came from.

5 am.: We just returned to our suite. Kim is, indeed, the reigning queen here. At the Festival each of the thirty stars present were introduced to the audience. The event went off as planned until Kim came on stage. Her appearance was greeted with such wild enthusiasm that someone in the wings insisted she walk back across the stage a second time . . . and gave her a gentle push in that direction. Another wild ovation. I think this would have gone on all night if Kim, now thoroughly embarrassed, hadn’t scurried back to her seat. Big party after the screening. Kim danced continuously until 4 a.m. with representatives of every country in the world. Don’t ask me how she managed. Particularly with the Latin contingent cutting in every other minute. Those Latins dug her the most! “Kim demandez” is a chant used by vendors in Cannes to sell an ice cream of that name. It has now been adopted by nearly the entire male population here. I think they have a different dish in mind!

April 24: During her entire twenty-three years, Kim had never had a birthday, dinner or any other kind of party given especially for her. Tonight the main banquet Casino of Cannes was taken over for a surprise midnight supper in Kim’s honor. And as a special touch, everything had a lavender (can’t escape it) motif. Lavender flowers (with a perfect spray of lilacs sent by Elsa Maxwell from her private gardens), lavender candles, lavender table decorations—well just everything. Kim’s arrival at the stroke of midnight was heralded by a special orchestral arrangement of “Ain’t She Sweet,” with all of the forty guests joining in on the chorus. Kim just stood at the entrance, wide-eyed and bewildered, unable to believe all of this was just for her. Because her lavender formal had mysteriously (with the help of me, who knew about the decorations and thought Kim should dress in contrast to them) been misplaced, her gown this evening was the red chiffon. Lush strapless number with draped bodice, and two streamers floating down the back. Overheard one gentleman say, “Mademoiselle, you are like an American Beauty Rose in a garden of orchids.” And she was. Kim was in a daze most of the evening—but that didn’t stop her from dancing her head off. Returned to the hotel at 6 a.m.

April 26: I am now traveling with nobility. Kim’s new title: “My Lady of the Old Mill.” Explanation: The Old Mill is an old and very unique restaurant just outside of Cannes. On special occasions they “knight” either distinguished or favored patrons. Tonight the honor was Kim’s.

The “knighting” took place with much pomp and circumstance. Two women in armour came over to Kim and without explanation of any kind, whisked her to a lone table in the center of the room. A few moments later the proprietor entered bearing a heavy silver medallion. Very solemnly he placed it around Kim’s neck. He kissed her on each cheek, after which Kim was escorted back to her table. Of course, she was thrilled.

Earlier in the evening Kim ate dinner at the famous Chateau Madrid. Kim wasn’t sure which intrigued her the most: the grape-stamping routine of a native dancer—or the tremendous black hat he wore. “Oh, if only I had a hat like that,” she whispered. “I’d be contented to return home without buying another thing.” The dancer evidently overheard her, for as soon as his routine was finished he came directly to her table. “Mademoiselle,”he implored, “Will you do me the honor of accepting this as a souvenir of your visit to our city?” And he wouldn’t take no for an answer! You should see that hat!!!!! Too much!

April 27: Rested all day.

Kim and Aly Khan

April 29: Sunday: Au revoir to Cannes. We have been up all night. Aly Khan hosted a fabulous party for forty. Kim attended with Ruppert Allen. Naturally, she danced several times with the Prince. Somehow I have a strange, unexplainable, psychic premonition that we are going to be hearing a great deal about a “deathless” romance that began last night. Reminder: Prepare yourself for a barrage of questions and rumors about forementioned “great romance.” Try to convince friends back home and local press that there is no truth to them. (There isn’t!) Kim thought the Prince was a charming man, a gracious host and divine dancer. Period. Regret of the evening: We had to leave by 3:30 a.m. in order to get packed and ready for our jaunt to Italy tomorrow—ooops—this morning. Got back to the hotel to find five photographers parked outside our door. Asked them to go away. This was no hour for pictures. They refused to go away. Kept ringing the bell like mad. I kept telling them that this was no hour for taking pictures. Three finally gave up and went home. At 5 a.m. we sent down for coffee. Opened the door to admit the waiters and found two exhausted but determined photographers sprawled across the carpet. Kim impressed by such perseverance, invited the boys in for coffee, ran a comb through her hair, dabbed on some lipstick and posed. At 5:40 am. yet! They left at 6:30. We finished packing and dressing. Kim’s traveling outfit for trip to Italy: Slacks, dark glasses, sweater, and her precious big black hat. She looks just like . . . Kim Novak. Here we go again!!!!!

May 1: Arrived in Rome last night after a delightful drive through the Italian country-side. Guido is really in his element. We have been chock-filled with information about every point of interest from Ventimiglia (on the Franco-Italian border) to Rome. After we had checked into the Excelsior, Kim said, “Muriel, let’s not make any appointments for tomorrow. No schedules. We’ll just leave the hotel as early as possible and be real tourists.” Thought this was a grand idea. This morning we were out of bed and dressed by 8 am., loaded with energy and ready for our forthcoming assault on the Colosseum, Caesar’s Palace and the Forum. At 9 the phone rang. It was one of Rome’s foremost hairdressers. Kim had completely forgotten she had arranged an appointment with him. “Oh, it will take less than an hour,” she rationalized. “Just need a lavender (again!) rinse and set. We’ll still have plenty of time to see the city.” The coiffeur and equipment arrived at 9:30. Kim had brought a whole carton of her lavender rinse to Europe with her, but the hairdresser was horrified to learn that the rinse lasts only between washings and then has to be reapplied again. Now—he just happened to have a lavender tint that remained on for months. No amounts of washing could remove it. The lure of this time-saving concoction proved too much for Kim. She told him to proceed. I returned to my unpacking. One hour later, I heard a loud horrified shriek coming from Kim’s room. Rushed in to find our fair lavender-haired girl now a charcoal brunette.

Jean Louis implored Kim not to worry. Merely an unexpected chemical reaction which would be easily rectified.

Two hours later, the unexpected chemical reaction was rectified. Kim was no longer a brunette. Her hair was now the color of wilted wheat!

Five hours and three other unique colors later, her crowning glory was finally back to the shade it was before this whole thing began. It was now time for the good old USA lavender rinse. It was also time for dinner. So ended our first day in Rome. Of course there was still some time to see the Colosseum by moonlight. Only tonight there’s no moon. Better luck tomorrow—I hope.

Guido and Rome

May 2: We made it. Never has there been a Roman holiday like the one Guido took us on today. Our own private Gregory Peck, he was. We visited the Colosseum (by sunlight), the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, Caesar’s Palace, the Forum and, of course, the Fountain of Trevi. Everyone must know by now that if you throw a coin into that fountain, you are absolutely, unconditionally guaranteed a return trip to Rome—or your money refunded. Carried away by the movie—we each threw in three coins. And came very close to joining our loot at the bottom of the fountain. For Kim was recognized and the crowds started pressing in. Even traffic stopped until Guido came to the rescue and spirited us safely back to the car. Next stop: The Spanish Steps. Guido drove us to the top, came around to pick us up at the bottom of this flower-bedecked stairs. Which saved a lot of wear and tear on the energy. No self-respecting tourist can be in Rome without stopping for a moment at Doney’s sidewalk cafe. So we stopped. For one minute—took a photograph to prove it—and then had to leave because of the gathering crowds.

Lunch in the country followed. This at the Palazzi, which was once the home of the late Mussolini’s girl friend. Gorgeous.

Busman’s Holiday Dept.: Kim wanted to meet Anna Magnani so we drove out to the studio where this great Italian star was working and an introduction was arranged. Miss Magnani to Kim: “You are very beautiful.” Kim blushed like a school-girl. Passed the Colosseum again before returning to the hotel. Still no moonlight.

May 4: We were veddy veddy swank today. Fontanna, Rome’s most exclusive fashion designer, invited us to a private showing. Very exclusive!!! Guest list: Miss Kim Novak and Miss Muriel Roberts. Kim acted very elegant-for about five whole minutes. Then she sat back and sipped bottled Cokes, while four stunning models paraded before us, displaying the creme of Italian high fashion for Autumn, 1956. Like a couple of kids in a candy store we wanted one of each. That’s what we wanted—but never underestimate the willpower of two girls on a clothes budget. Kim relaxed the will-power just a bit and ordered a sheath dress with matching duster, and two coats . . . both identical in style, but different in material and function. One’s for the evening, made up in black velvet with a white satin lining. The other, for sport-wear, is of beige wool, trimmed with darker beige jersey. Too much!!! Finally tore ourselves away.

Kim meets the Count

May 5: Madame Palacicini, the wife of a V.I.P. producer here, had invited Kim to a luncheon at her home today. Woke Kim at 10 a.m. “Oh, Muriel,” she moaned. “I’m so tired. I want to stay in bed all day. Can’t I get out of this somehow?” “You certainly cannot,” said I. “Start dressing, girl.” When Kim returned to the hotel later in the afternoon, she said, “Muriel, I had the most wonderful time. And I met the most thoroughly delightful person. His name is Count Mario Bandini. He’s just divine. I do hope I’ll run into him again.” She didn’t have to hope for long. At 5 p.m. the Count called, asking if she would be free to have dinner with him that night.

Kim was glowing all over when she got home from her dinner date. Not only did she have the most enjoyable time with the Count, but she also had acquired another priceless souvenir. She admired a head of Bacchus (god of wine) displayed in the restaurant and asked about its history. The owner told her the story of Bacchus—and to make sure she wouldn’t forget it insisted she accept the statue as a gift.

From Kim’s torrents of words about her evening, I’ve managed to sift the following pertinent information:

The Count’s appearance at the luncheon was no happy accident. He had heard she was going to be there, and pulled some strings to get himself invited too.

He is in his mid-thirties.

He is a genuine Count—but unlike most counts he is also an astute business man. With his father, he runs a huge and flourishing cannery. With his income from this business, he has also dabbled in motion picture production.

And from my own meeting with the Count this evening, I have come to the following conclusions: 

He looks a little like George Sanders.

He is divine.

May 6: Count Mario rang up at noon. He wanted to take us on a special tour of his Rome. First stop: the Catacombs. Kim was terribly disillusioned by their mildness. “They’re not at all the way I expected them to be,” she said. “What happened to all the bones of the martyrs?” The Padre, who escorted us, explained that this was as far down as the tourists were usually permitted to go. The Count and the Padre then exchanged a few private words and our tour continued, and Kim really saw the Catacombs.

The secret

Next stop: The Stone of Truth. Legend: If you place your hand in the gargoyle’s mouth, it will be chopped off if you tell a lie. Mario placed Kim’s hand in its mouth and asked her a question. She laughed—but replied. She refuses to tell me either the question or her answer. All I know is both her hands are still in very good condition!

May 7: Our last day in Rome. This afternoon we visited the Italian Museum, the Vatican and St. Peter’s. Kim, absolutely overwhelmed by Michaelangelo’s Dome, couldn’t leave St. Peter’s for hours. But our greatest disappointment here is that we have to go before it is possible to have an audience with the Pope. Tonight, Count Mario took us out to dinner at the Hostaria del Orso. The most fabulous restaurant either of us has seen anywhere. There’s a floor for cocktails, one for dancing, one for dining. Kim was delighted that we were placed at table number three (her lucky number) at dinner. Methinks Mario had something to do with that. Aside from being attractive and dashing, he is also one of the most thoughtful and gracious men we’ve encountered in Europe. We didn’t get home until 6 a.m. This gave us just enough time to pack in order to be ready for our journey to Venice. Sleep??? What is sleep??

May 8: Venice: Arrived 10:45 at night. Our room faces the Grand Canal and from our window we can see the entire city shimmering with lights. But we are not tempted to go exploring now. Kim dead on her feet. Staggered in. And so to bed.

May 9: Something told me I shouldn’t have bought those pastries enroute here yesterday. Have been one step away from death all day. Mario arrived from Rome early this afternoon, and upon hearing about Kim’s dying companion hurried over to the hotel, bringing the contents of every apothecary in Venice with him. After I assured them that they were not really needed to witness my suffering and that I was convinced Mario’s pills would help me live through the night, Kim and Mario left for dinner and a gondola sail on the Grand Canal.

May 10: From now on, it’s Doctor Mario Bandini. I’m feeling great. So Kim and I took a launch to Torchello, a tiny island 20 minutes from Venice, for lunch. The owner asked if we’d care to see the upstairs rooms. I have a sneaking suspicion that he knew we’d be unable to resist them. And we couldn’t. They are something out of a fairy-tale and are furnished with those wonderful huge beds we fell in love with in Vichy. So we have decided to stay here for the next two days.

Mud and mire

May 12: Mario arrived at one and proclaimed it a wonderful day for a picnic. The hotel packed us a fantastic basket lunch, (huge ham sandwiches on thick Italian bread, sausage, pickled peppers, everything)! We hired a gondola for the day and sailed to San Francisco of the Desert; a heavenly isle, inhabited solely by Monks. Kim spent most of the afternoon sketching everything in sight. On our way back from picnic in the gondola, we were startled to see what at first glance looked like a boy walking on water. Mario explained the lad was on a sand-bar picking Scampia. “Why don’t you stand out there, Kim?” I suggested. “It would make a wonderful snapshot.” Kim was all for it. She removed her shoes and stepped out of the gondola into a pile of thick muck and mire. A mess. Kim made the rest of the trip back—half in, half out of the gondola—with her legs dangling over the side of the boat and into the water. And muttering: “Every day I come here. Every day I pick Scampia. I like the muck and the mire. Suuuuu-rrr-e I do! Everyday I come here . . .” And so on. It’s a miracle we didn’t turn the boat over laughing.

May 13: Goodbye to wonderful Venice.

May 14: Geneva: Kim is in bed nursing an egg-sized lump on her head—the result of an incredibly freakish accident. After leaving Venice yesterday, we drove to Milan and then to Como where we stopped off to do a bit of shopping. Loaded with packages, Kim stepped into the car, and inadvertently konked herself over the head with an umbrella she had bought for dear Guido. Shocked by that initial blow, she jumped up, and consequently banged her head again—this time on the inside roof of the car. The thud sounded like an earthquake. Kim was completely stunned. Guido burst into tears—and couldn’t stop crying until the doctor assured us there was no concussion or serious injury, and that the red lump would go down by the time we reached Paris. The ride from Como to Geneva through the Alps was lovely—but our hearts just weren’t in it.


May 16: Paris at last. Kim’s bump is almost gone, but her scalp’s still a little tender. First mission on our agenda was perfume shopping . . . on the Rue de Rivoli. Suddenly, in the middle of the afternoon, our reservoir of energy ran dry. We returned to the hotel early. The magic of Paris couldn’t tempt us tonight. We had dinner sent up to our suite and spent the rest of the evening listening to the Neopolitan records Kim had bought in Italy. Mario phoned—and sent flowers.

May 18: Our weather: Sunny and beautiful. Our condition: Still exhausted. Our activities: Remained in the hotel all day and answered mail. Mario phoned to say he’ll be in Paris tomorrow.

May 19: A big day. Went shopping on the Left Bank this morning and bought all kinds of quaint little things. Kim fell madly in love with a painting she saw on exhibit in an outdoor “art gallery,” but resisted. Visited the Flea market, Napoleon’s tomb and the Louvre. Kim duly impressed with the original Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Wingless Victory. But she lost her heart completely to a bronze statue of Joan of Arc which she saw on the street. She couldn’t tear herself away from it even though there was so much more to see, and so little time in which to see it. Thank heavens that statue wasn’t for sale. Mario arrived early and escorted us to dinner. Here we are in the mecca of French culinary art, yet we agreed upon sampling the wonders of a Russian restaurant. But White Russian!

May 20, Sunday. Morning: Mario picked Kim up early and took her for a long drive through les Jardins des Tuileries. (The Park.)

Afternoon: Off to the races! Kim’s first visit to the track and her first experience of any kind with the Sport of Kings. Of kings, maybe. Not of movie actresses. Losses for the day—$20.

Evening: Mario took Kim to a wonderful restaurant which features a private violinist for each couple there. For about ten minutes nary a musician showed up at her table. Then, as a special surprise just for her, all thirty came over en masse to serenade her.

May 23: Our last day in Paris! Another picnic. Only this time it was a huge affair arranged by the studio. While dining at Maxim’s tonight, Kim was thrilled to see the Duke and Duchess of Windsor at an adjoining table. Upon leaving the restaurant, Kim and Mario were ambushed by an eager reporter who insisted upon knowing what went with the two. Said Kim, mischievously: “Oh, you can say we’re engaged!”

They were both coy and didn’t answer. There were two enigmatic smiles instead.

Kim rushed back to the hotel to keep a 3 a.m. appointment with her hairdresser. Her spirit was willing but the rest of her rebelled. When she went into the bedroom to change into something more appropriate than a black dress, she collapsed on the bed and fell asleep. The coiffeur was very gallant about the whole thing.


May 31: Aboard the U.S.S. United States, Le Havre: In a few minutes two exhausted but happy wanderers will be going home. The past week in England was as hectic as the entire tour combined. Not a minute let-up. No sleep. The phone never stopped ringing. Everyone wanted to know about the “engagement.” Kim was kept busy every minute doing publicity on behalf of The Eddie Duchin Story. We didn’t think we’d ever get to see any of the sights, but the BBC aranged an efficient whirl-wind tour of the city for us, and in that way we managed to be whisked through Burlington Aracade, the Tower of London, Grosvenor Square, and Buckingham Palace, where we saw the Changing of the Guard. It was fun—but too frantic and too fast. Other highlights of our London visit: cocktails with Sir Laurence and Lady Olivier; a visit with Diana Dors, England’s top glamour girl; a drive past Windsor Castle while the Queen was in residency there. (Didn’t see the Queen.)

Tired, tired, tired

On May 29, we drove to Blackpool, where the World Premiére of The Eddy Duchin Story was being held. Kim’s reception was as sensational as the one she received at the Festival. A wonderful evening. After the post-premiere party, we hurriedly changed our clothes for the drive to Southampton. We were anxious to get on the boat early in order to have time to relax before sailing. So what happens? We got lost. The drive—which usually takes six hours, took us eleven. We arrived on the pier, within a few seconds of the All Aboard signal. Tired, tired, tired.

June 5: New York: Miss Kim Novak and Miss Muriel Roberts now consider themselves the world champions of Monopoly. For that’s about all we did all the way home. We played Monopoly in our cabins. And took long quiet walks along the deck at midnight when everyone else had retired. And slept. And slept. And slept. Mario called nightly via ship-to-shore-radio. He plans to come to Hollywood for a visit in October. This Saturday we leave for home. And peace. And quiet. Wouldn’t it be lovely? . . .

Oh no! A telegram just arrived. It contains our schedule for a one-month long cross-country tour of the United States to plug The Eddie Duchin Story. Here we go again!


Kim can currently be seen in Columbia’s The Eddie Duchin Story. She’ll soon be appearing in Columbia’s Pal Joey



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