Welcome to Vintage Paparazzi.

Louella Parsons’ Good News

When Esther Williams was alerted that she had won for two years running the dubious title of “the year’s most uncooperative actress” from the Hollywood Women’s Press Club, she glanced at her brand new baby daughter asleep in her bassinetie.

“Anyway,” she cracked, “I’m cooperative with my husband!”

But make no mistake—Esther is deeply hurt.

I must say, myself, I am a bit puzzled by Esther’s getting the raspberry in 1953. I am sure the press girls have their good reasons for voting the way they did—Roy Rogers and Dale Evans as the “Most Cooperative,”—Dale Robertson and Esther as the booby-prizers.

But I took a little time out to investigate and here is the Swim Queen’s record for 1953:

For two months she was out of the state making Easy To Love in Florida.

She was pregnant when she returned and went on automatic suspension from MGM—which means off-salary during which time studios are prohibited from calling stars for publicity.

Nevertheless, during the time she was pregnant, Esther granted eight interviews.

After the birth of her baby daughter, as soon as she was able to be up and around, she gave nine interviews to newspaper and magazine writers.

It’s an unwritten rule that publicity departments do not ask. stars to pose with new babies until the infants are three months old. Esther posed with her daughter when the baby was two months old.

And I doubt if you would get the men in the various branches of the service, stationed near Hollywood, to vote her uncooperative.

At the invitation of the Navy, Esther officiated at the launching of the newest sea plane in San Diego.

She has also appeared twice in shows at the Veterans Hospital in Long Beach.

Not a bad record for “Miss Non-Cooperation of 1953,” I would say, not bad at all.

The loot was terrific this year. The Hollywood wives and sweethearts opened Christmas gifts more like booty from the Arabian Nights tales, and this is supposed to have been an off year for many stars.

Ray Milland’s combination Christmas-and-reconciliation present to his lovely Mal was a huge square-cut diamond ring.

Tony Curtis did no economizing on his gift to Janet: an antique silver cigarette case from London encrusted with diamonds.

Janet gave Tony a 35-mm imported German camera with all attachments and a hand-tooled leather carrying case.

On the romantic side, Pat Nerney commissioned artist Paul Clemens to paint an oil of Janie Powell.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz gave each other a week’s vacation trip to Honolulu, with Lucy wearing a beautiful new diamond link necklace with her cocktail gowns.

Even the sunglasses went snazzy. Debra Paget gave her ever-present mama, Margaret Griffin, a pair framed in pearls and rhinestones.

Didn’t sound too much like the Michael Rennies are separating, either: he wrapped up a Black Mist mink coat and sent it to her in London.

Jeff Hunter surprised Barbara Rush with two complete outfits, including accessories—one for daytime, one for formal evenings.

Jane Wyman and Freddie Karger separated (for a week) while I was in New York and as they were still apart on my return, I called Janie on the phone.

“Come on over here and tell mama all your troubles,” I said to my girl friend. “Don’t you know you’re almost like a daughter to me and I’m not going to have you unhappy?”

Jane arrived about five in the afternoon. For the next two hours we sat talking, or rather, she was talking and I was a’listenin.’

When she had finally poured out all her woes, she looked at me for my reaction. I promised her I wouldn’t reveal what she said. But I didn’t promise I wouldn’t tell what I said:

“Honey,” I told my favorite star-child, “you’ve been making mountains out of molehills. None of this is really important. I can’t think that Freddie has done anything terrible, and if you stop to think it over, I’m sure you’ll agree.”

Just at this moment the doorbell rang and who should walk in but Freddie? Now how in the world did he just happen by at this particular time? I couldn’t have been less surprised.

For about five minutes there was a bit of a strain. Then suddenly we all broke out laughing. “Mother,” chided Jane, “you planned this.”

“How could you ever think such a thing,” I protested as modestly as I could under the circumstances.

Anyway, the important thing is that when they left, the Kargers walked out hand-in-hand and the next day I broke the story that the Kargers were back together again.

I’m not saying that Janie and Freddie are completely out of the woods, maritally speaking, yet.

But, if they just use a little common sense, sprinkled with some good, old-fashioned give-and-take, they can save their marriage.

If they don’t—it will break up again, and I would feel as bad as they. I love Janie and I have grown fond of Freddie, too.

Jane Powell is trying to play it cozy with her new romance, Pat Nerney. “I don’t want to fall in love again,” says the little blonde singer who got her fingers burned in l’affaire Gene Nelson.

But, from the looks of Jane and Pat when they are together, maybe she can’t help herself.

There’s no doubt that the Janie of these days is a disillusioned girl. She doesn’t want to be hurt again—but I repeat, there’s a warm, warm gleam in her eyes when she looks into Pat’s.


Esther Williams: “I will have many more children. I have them so easily. Ben (Gage) and I are the best baby-making factory I know.”

Robert Mitchum (after speeding away from a traffic cop giving him a ticket): “Sorry, Dad. I thought you might be a bandit.”

Arthur Godfrey anent Julius La Rosa: “He’s lost his humility.” What a cloud of dust that blew up!

Dolores Donlon, new starlet: “My husband owns a medical building he could fill with just psychiatrists—they are so busy taking care of Hollywood people crazy for fame!”

Jane Powell about her break-up with Gene Nelson: “I suppose I high-pressured him too much, forcing him to make decisions he didn’t want to make.”

Ava Gardner after her estrangement from Frank Sinatra: “I wish he had left me with a baby to remember him by.”

Errol Flynn, describing his co-star Gina Lollobrigida: “What a department store! Something desirable on every floor!”

I CRIED SO HARD at The Glenn Miller Story premiere that it’s a good thing I looked around before the picture started to see who was there. I was too busy sniffling and wiping my eyes when it was over.

Jeff Chandler and Marilyn Maxwell sat behind me, holding hands.

“What happened to your engagement to Jerry Davis?” I asked Marilyn, not too tactfully as I look back.

Jeff looked real pleased when she shrugged, “It didn’t work out.” 

All the way inside the theatre you could hear the fans screaming and yelling as Jimmy Stewart and his lovely Gloria arrived. In fact, Jimmy was pushed so many ways by radio announcers, autograph hounds, photographers and press agents that he got separated from Gloria.

“My wife, fellas,” yelled Jimmy, “Let me get my wife!”

Of all things, Donald O’Connor, with Sheila Connolly, forgot his tickets! “Just wait till the house fills up,” he told the usher philosophically, “and just put us where there’s a gap for two!”

Whoops! Was Shelley Winters in a low-cut gown? She was half in and half out of a startling gown of salmon and gold. Cute old Charlie Coburn’s monocle almost fell out of his eye as he stood up to let Shell get to her seat.

Debbie Reynolds was surprisingly subdued (for her) with Richard Anderson.

And what’s all this steady dating with Rock Hudson and Julia Adams? This is beginning to look very serious.

I thought Janet Leigh looked beautiful but much too thin. Tony’s on the thin side, too.

After the delightful musical was over I kept thinking how sad it was that little June Allyson, who is so wonderful as Mrs. Miller and who gives her best screen performance, had to miss the premiere. She was in the hospital following an appendectomy.

Bravo, Junie and Jimmy! You are both great.

Terry Moore looked cute as a button when she dropped by to tell me goodbye before taking off for her Christmas show in Korea.

She was wearing a white jacket trimmed with white fox collar and cuffs, a white skirt with red and green Christmas trees of sequins, red and green jewelry and a tiny white hat.

“Terry, I accused her, “did you ask to go to Korea because B. Johnson is stationed there? And are you going to marry him?”

“Maybe,” Terry dimpled, “if he asks me.”

If Terry does become Mrs. Johnson she’ll become a member of the fabulous Texas family which owns the even more fabulous King Ranch.

Frank Sinatra celebrated his birthday dinner with his three kids at home.

His thirteen-year-old glamour girl daughter, Nancy, Jr., baked him a cake, coconut, with six candles.

“What’s the six for?” asked her old man.

“Oh, it’s just a good round number,” replied the eldest Sinatra offspring.

Frankie groaned, “Isn’t it bad enough that your brother is another George Burns? Do you have to be Gracie Allen?”

All in all, it was a very festive occasion. After dinner, Nancy, Jr., and Frankie, age ten, played piano duets for Daddy—and very good, too.

Five-year-old Tina Sinatra sat on Frank’s knee during the recital and suddenly piped up with:

“I can’t play the piano. I can’t even tell time!”

P.S. All right, all right. I know what you’re wondering—where was Nancy Sinatra, Sr., while all this was going on? She was very much present and a charming behind-the-scenes hostess at the children’s party for their father.

Lana Turner and Lex Barker slipped back into Hollywood so secretly they had time to move into Lana’s house and get the phone number changed before friends and business associates realized they were here. Obviously, they didn’t want any welcoming “Hellos.”

Steve Crane, father of Lana’s little Cheryl, didn’t like that unlisted telephone number business. “Maybe they want to be alone,” he said, ‘but no one is going to keep me from being in touch with my little girl.”

Cheryl and her father became fast friends during the time Lana was making two movies in Europe.

Almost every night she was having an early dinner at his cafe, the Luau, with Steve and Lana’s mother.

As of this writing, Lana has taken her $200,000 home off the market. It was for sale during her absence, but apparently she’s changed her mind for a couple of good reasons:

First, no one came up with $200,000 even for the privilege of living in a glamour girl’s house.

Second, Lex is assuming the payments on the house—his Christmas gift to his bride.

WENT TO LAS VEGAS to see Marlene Dietrich in her nightclub debut, and believe me, no one can see more of Marlene than is on display in a gown that creates the impression of being completely nude on top. It isn’t—it’s net covered chiffon—but it might as well be.

It isn’t often that Hollywood people are too shocked about things, but Frances and Van Heflin and little Joan Evans and her handsome husband who sat with me at the Sahara, were—well, disappointed—that the fabulous Dietrich would resort to such burlesque-type costuming.

I covered all the Las Vegas spots before I returned home. Vic Damone was on the same bill with Jimmy McHugh and his singing stars at the Sands, and between shows I had a talk with Vic.

He told me there’s no real, serious romance in his life these days. He is devoted to Joanie Benny, Jack and Mary’s sweet daughter, “but, we’re just pals now,” is the way Vic puts it, “more like brother and sister than the engaged pair we’ve been rumored to be.”

THE LETTER BOX: Marie Priffer writes from New York to thank me for the two fine friends she has made, via letters to Korea, through names of service men I have printed from time to time in this department. And, thank you, Marie, for making it happier for two GI’s in the bitter loneliness of Korea.

In this season of assorted polls, I got a kick out of the letter from “ten grade schoolers” in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who sent me the results of a poll of the fifth, sixth and seventh grades as follows:

Favorite actor: Bob Wagner

Favorite Girl: Susan Hayward

Most Beautiful: Ava Gardner

Favorite Musical Girl: Betty Grable

Favorite Musical Boy: Donald O’Connor

Favorite husband and wife team: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Marge and Gower Champion, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, tied.

Amusing, in view of the above, that Mrs. Pia Szymkiewicz, Stoughton, Mass., writes: “Frankly, I’m sick to death of opening movie magazines and reading about Robert Wagner, Robert Wagner, Robert Wagner. What has he done on the screen to rate all this ballyhoo? He is just a fair actor—and just fairly good looking.”

Mrs. S., let me refer you to the winner of the grade school poll as to why Bob rates all the attention.





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