Louella Parsons’ Good News
Colorful, unpredictable Shelley Winters and Vittorio Gassman went and “dood” it—and Shell is now, ecstatically, Mrs. Vittorio Gassman.
Some wag said—if they abbreviate her last name as they do her first, she’ll now be Shell Gas (please excuse!).
Although Shelley’s romance with the fine Italian actor seems to have inspired a lot of kidding from the start, take it from me, they are very much in love.
No agent getting 10% of an actor’s salary could have plugged as hard as Shelley did to make Hollywood realize what a really great actor her “love” is.
He proved her point to perfection when he gave a series of readings at a little theatre in Hollywood and even the local critics did a swoon.
When he was tested, and later signed at MGM, the boss, Dore Schary himself, told me that Gassman’s talent is terrific.
They had expected to be married in the summer. But when Gassman was on the verge of departing for New York to make The Glass Wall, Shell made up her mind that they would marry before and not after that movie. And when Shell makes up her mind—wild horses can’t change it.
They flew to Juarez where they were temporarily delayed awaiting the arrival of Gassman’s final divorce papers from Rome.
The enchanted bride has even learned to cook spaghetti and all the other dishes in real Italian style just to keep her man happy.
I’ve never seen an audience take a star into its arms and hearts and seem to just hug her as the blase Hollywooders did Judy Garland at her hometown opening!
If Judy had any fears about coming home—it didn’t take a split second to change her mind. Yes, it was as big a night—or bigger—than her New York vaudeville debut.
It was a glowing Judy, dressed in red velvet, ermine wrap and with tiny red bows in her hair who walked into Romanoff’s after her performance to be greeted by the greatest gathering of stars I’ve seen in many a day.
Again, as Judy slipped into the big private dining room on the arm of Sid Luft, everyone stood and cheered her. Joan Crawford gave her a big hug, so did Esther Williams, June Allyson and countless others who were so glad that Judy is back looking so well—and feeling so wonderful again.
Jane Wyman, at our table, in white lace, danced and danced with Travis Kleefeld. What goes with these two? I’ve never seen two people more in love—broken engagement notwithstanding.
The Humphrey Bogarts were among the first on their feet to applaud Judy when she arrived. Also applauding were Gracie Allen and George Burns, Claire Trevor, Eleanor Parker and Bert Friedlob, Jean Simmons, and little Mona Freeman (I thought she looked very unhappy).
Previously, at the theatre, I had seen the big brass—Jack Warner, Frances and Sam Goldwyn and the Harry Cohns. Ethel Barrymore, who sat in back of me, cried when Judy sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
And when Judy said, so sincerely, “I’ve missed all of you—Oh, well—why go on?” It was just one great big dewy sentimental evening from start to finish.
I was the first to tell Joan Bennett long distance that Walter Wanger had been sentenced to four months in the Los Angeles Country jail for shooting Jennings Lang.
Joan’s first reaction (she was rehearsing on the stage in Chicago for Bell, Book And Candle) was a sharp gasp, of relief at the short sentence. Then she asked me if the term began immediately. When I replied that the sentence would not start until June 4th, she said:
“Thank heavens. Walter, then, will be free long enough to be with our little Stephanie who is in school there. By the time he has to go—away—she will be out of school and can come here with me.”
It’s typical of Joan, who is a mother before anything else, that her first thought would be for one of her children.
So completely friendly—not to say chummy—was the surprise separation of Mona Freeman and Pat Nearney that they drove to her press agent’s office together in Mona’s coupe and walked in hand-in-hand.
Pat stood with his arm around Mona as she said to Helen Ferguson, “Yes—tell Louella that it is true about us. Pat and I are divorcing.”
Frankly, I couldn’t have been more surprised that the story was true. I had checked with Helen Ferguson (Mona’s press agent) on the rumor of trouble between the Nearneys merely as a reflex motion. We columnists get many “tips” about Hollywood couples and I fully expected this to be another false alarm.
Mona and Pat always seemed so happy together. They adore their little four-year-old daughter. They were considered one of the best looking and most attractive couples in Hollywood.
Neither is talking other than Mona’s statement, “I am miserably sorry that Pat and I have not been able to solve our problems in private. A divorce is the only solution.”
Some of their friends say that they married too young—Mona was 19 and Pat 25.
Anyway, it must have been Mona who wanted her freedom because she is now looking for an apartment and Pat remains in their home.
P.S. After leaving Helen’s office—they left for home because “dinner is waiting” (!)
The first Hollywood actress to greet Queen Juliana was Lana Turner. Lana was exactly like a little girl when she slipped in, a bit late, to the luncheon MGM gave for the Queen on one of the big sound stages.
“Oh, I have just had the most wonderful experience,” Lana bent down to whisper in my ear as she passed our table, “The Queen wanted to freshen up—powder her nose, you know—and she used my dressing room. I was so thrilled I gave her all my flowers.” Lana had just started her new picture the day before and so her dressing room was filled with lovely flowers.
The Queen completely delighted us all with her charm and friendliness. Before she is a Queen, she is a fine and sincere human being.
My favorite story of Her Majesty’s visit took place at the only private party she and Prince Bernard attended during their three days in Los Angeles—a dinner at the home of the Louis B. Mayers.
Lorena Mayer presented Juliana with an evening bag which was wrapped up in beautiful papers and ribbons.
Very carefully, the Queen untied the gift without tearing the paper or cutting the ribbons. Just like many good housewives, she is a “paper saver.”
“We don’t have such lovely wrappings as these in Holland,” she explained. “I want to show my friends.”
Fernando Lamas told me, “Lana Turner and I are very much in love. We will be married as soon as we are both free!”
And, so endeth the idea which many people had that this romance was just a publicity build-up for The Merry Widow. No matter how it started, it has developed into the real thing.
Lamas also said, “The only thing holding up my divorce is that I am insisting on having my child with me a reasonable amount of time. My wife wishes to live in South America so it must be agreed that I may have the baby with me in Hollywood at least part of the time.”
As this is written, Lana still hasn’t reached a financial settlement with Bob Topping so she has a divorce delay, too.
The Post Office Department is back of Marilyn Maxwell’s punchy slogan, “While They’re Fighting—Are You Writing?”
How about YOU?
I have received a lot of mail from our boys in Korea expressing the keenest disappointment that some favorite star has not answered a request for a note or a photograph.
No person—star or not—is important enough to ignore mail from these homesick men who are giving so much for so little.
Who’s Wooing: Peter Lawford with the lady he most admires, Mrs. Gary Cooper, a frequent date around the nightclubs.
French Jean Pierre Aumont is plenty intrigued with German Hildegarde Neff, the gal with those wicked, smoky eyes.
Monica Lewis sings softly to Liam O’Brien when they’re at a cozy table for two—and she’s just the girl who can do it.
Vera-Ellen closes her eyes when she dances with musician Don Reid. So does Liz Taylor when she dances with Mike, the Magnificent.
Ann Miller never puts on make-up in public when she’s dating Bill O’Connor because he can’t stand it. But he doesn’t mind holding hands across the table.
When Carleton Carpenter’s with a honey too young to be served a cocktail, he drinks milk, too, which is darned thoughtful of him, and good for him.
Gary Cooper always sends flowers after he’s dated a belle thanking her for “the lovely evening.”
Debbie Reynolds kicks her shoes off after she’s seated in a cafe and always has to scuffle under the table for them when Bob Wagner, her steady escort, wants to dance.
Talk about friendly break-ups, Jane Wyman gave Travis Kleefeld black star sapphire cuff links and he gave her a huge black star sapphire ring AFTER they broke their engagement!
Rory Calhoun and Lita Baron are on the Stork’s calling list.
Maureen Reagan, daughter of Jane Wyman and Ronnie Reagan, is growing so fast. She’s five-feet-six-inches already and she’s only 12. When she gets some shape on those bones she’s going to be a beauty.
Marilyn Monroe carries around a book, “The Thinking Body,” which, presumably, she reads. When she was threatened with her second attack of appendicitis somebody pasted over the title, “The ACHING Body”!
Judy Garland had her “good luck” dress (the one she opened in at the Palace) copied in exactly the same color and material for her adored little Liza.
Hasn’t Doris Day become a little temperamental since she married Marty Melcher?
I just can’t believe that Bob Mitchum is serious talking about retiring. We all get tired and need a rest but that boy has acting in his bones.
Maybe it’s just kid stuff—but Debbie Reynolds and Bob Wagner have crossed their hearts and promised to wait for each other for two years. And then they’ll marry.
When I heard they were eloping I called Debbie and asked her if she is secretly engaged. “Oh, no, Miss Parsons,” she gasped. “We’ve got such a long way to go to get established in our careers. Bobby gets only $35 from his manager to live on!”
My money says that if the youngsters DO wait two years the marriage won’t come off. When you are their ages there are many romantic interludes along the way.
Maritia, the little Peruvian girl Joan Fontaine adopted last year, has become thoroughly Americanized except for one thing: She still sleeps on the floor propped up in a corner.
Believe me, she is one of the cutest and most lovable children I have ever met. Debbie, Joan’s own child, adores her.
Some of Clark Gable’s best friends think he has changed since he had so much trouble with his titled wife, the former Sylvia Ashley. There were days when Clark neither telephoned nor saw his friends, even those closest to him.
Before he finally telephoned me, I was beginning to think I was on the black list, too. Now that I’ve talked to him, I understand something of his feeling.
A lot of things had been printed that were annoying because they were not true. One was that he was planning to marry Natalie Thompson, socialite whom he had seen only four times. Another was that he was never going to make another picture, that he was leaving Hollywood for good.
Just before he took off for a six months stay abroad (he is making a picture in London and another in Africa) he told me frankly that he had been unhappy over his recent pictures.
“I want a good story with guts in it and a little romance on the side. And, say, Louella—I’m not going to marry anyone—ever. I’ve had enough.”
As of right now—I believe The King means it.
Gene Tierney and Van Johnson were completely broken up when a hen on the set of Plymouth Adventure laid an egg right in the middle of their big scene!
Well, you can’t please everybody.
The Letter Box: Sylvia Venettone says a pox on the fan who wrote he is sick and tired of reading about Liz Taylor. “Let him speak for himself” she snaps, “We love Liz.”
Carol Kasheinider writes, “You don’t give us enough news of Loretta Young and Irene Dunne.” I DON’T??? Heavens, they are my close friends.
Patricia Petree wants to write a column like “Good News” when she finishes high school and wants to know whether she should graduate before taking up classes in journalism. I graduated from high school, Patrice. but I never studied journalism. Getting a job on your local newspaper is the best experience, I think.
That’s all for now. See you next month.
—BY LOUELLA PARSONS
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE JULY 1952