Look Who’s Here—Keith Andes
KEITH ANDES, in a typical Hollywood switch, has only been seen on the screen in straight dramatic roles. The fine, romantic baritone voice which won him critical acclaim in such Broadway hits as “Kiss Me Kate” and “The Chocolate Soldier” is under wraps as far as movie audiences are concerned.
Keith recently totaled up his years in showbusiness and found them to be an amazing eighteen. His interest in music and the theatre began at such an early age that he was a polished singer and radio performer by: the time he was in high school.
But he wasn’t thinking of entertainment as a profession; he wanted to be a teacher. He attended Oxford University, received his degree from Temple—and enlisted in the Army Air Force before he ever had an opportunity to know whether he would have been a good teacher or not.
Keith is probably the only man in the world who looks upon pneumonia with a kindly eye. If he hadn’t been felled by the bug while in the Air Force, he would never have met a beautiful Army nurse named Jean Cotton. In another of those switches that occurs in the life of Andes, she was shipped overseas five days after they met and Keith was left to keep the home fires burning. Those five days convinced him that he was in love—not delirious with pneumonia. And Keith made up his mind that this was the girl he was bound to marry.
It was also while in the Air Force that he got his first big break—in “Winged Victory.” With that show the die was cast, and Keith Andes was in showbusiness for good. After his discharge from ‘service and a brief, un-successful attempt at picture-making, he went back to New York—to find himself a stage role, and to woo and win Lt. Jean Cotton, who was just then returning from overseas. He landed the male lead in “The Chocolate Soldier” and he married his girl on November 30, 1946.
When his hit performance in “Kiss Me Kate” won him a seven-year contract with RKO three years ago, Keith packed up Jean and their two sons, Mark and Matthew, and headed West. “It’s permanent,” he says. “Or, at least until the kids re old enough for college. Then, if they want to go to school in the East and things work out that way, we may move back. And, of course, I’ll be going back to do shows whenever I can, but this is home.”
Home is a three-acre ranch in Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley. Only one acre is under cultivation, and there’s a reason: “I want to work the soil myself,” says Keith. “I can take care of one acre fine, even with studio commitments, but once you tackle more than that, you’re in business.” He has also become interested in horse breeding.
Keith and “Slim,” as he calls Jean, and the boys live a quiet and deeply satisfactory life there in the Valley. “Gosh,” he says, “I’d have to think a long time to tell you what we do. Naturally, with two youngsters, we don’t get out a lot. Slim and I are both heavy readers—or we watch a little TV—or visit my folks in North Hollywood. And we have close friends who enjoy the same kind of living.”
They are up early of a morning—“like everybody else with kids and animals.” The boys attend a nearby public school where they get no special treatment because they’re the sons of a movie star, which is exactly the way Slim and Keith want it. “We have the pool, and the guy down the road has a baseball diamond, and that’s how we’re identified by the neighborhood kids. On a good hot day the pool is alive with them, all colors and kinds. I don’t know who they are, just that they go to school with the boys and live somewhere around.”
Keith doesn’t have to worry about his weight; his chores around the ranch keep him slim and muscular. Dubbed the “Golden Boy of RKO,” he has literally become so under the California sun; his hair and skin are almost exactly the same tawny color, making the blueness of his eyes and his wide, white smile even more attractive.
He, himself, has always had the idea that the way he looks wouldn’t do in Hollywood. “I just didn’t think I’d come off on the screen,” he admits. “Eyes too big, mouth too big—I just don’t look like a movie star. But the fans are kind. Nobody has run screaming into the street after seeing me, so I guess it’s all right.”
—BY CORINNE BAILEY
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1953