Louella Parsons’ Good News
What the world doesn’t know about the blowup between Shelley Winters and Vittorio Gassman in Italy is that it did not originate in Rome as advertised via headlines, but right here in Hollywood as far back as October.
It was on October 17, 1953, that Shelley, sporting a black eye, walked into Jerry Geisler’s offices and asked her lawyer to draw up divorce papers.
He advised her to wait. Vittorio was going to return to Italy anyway and their battle might subside during the weeks in which she had to make a movie at U-I.
I guess Geisler knew his client, our gal Shell.
The absence from Vittorio certainly made Shelley’s heart grow fonder. She nearly broke her neck and wore out the cast and crew of Play Girl working overtime so she could fly to Rome to try to make up with Vittorio. She really loved that guy!
The first shock came when he failed to meet her plane in Rome after she had cabled him the hour. Of course he was on tour with Hamlet, but those things can be arranged.
When Shelley finally caught up with the company she was so hurt and mad she completely blew her top, not, believe me, over Gassman’s acting in Hamlet but over his “acting up” with his eighteen-year-old leading lady, Anna Maria Ferraro.
Reports about Anna Maria had reached Shelley’s ears in Hollywood but she didn’t believe them.
She returned to Rome and cried her heart out on the shoulder of her old pal, Farley Granger, before she finally couldn’t stand it any longer and shouted her heartbreak to the housetops, not to mention the wire services:
“He’ll have to give me $95,000 to support our baby and he’ll have to marry that Ferraro girl! . . . I don’t want our baby to know her father or learn to love him . . . he’d just break her heart by neglecting her. . . . How dare he put me in this unglamorous position because of an eighteen-year-old girl!”—and so on and on.
Vittorio, too, had plenty to say. The parting shot was, “She’s a liar.”
Certainly it can be said on Shelley’s side that she did everything in the world to put Vittorio over in Hollywood, even to paying for his first trip here before he got an MGM contract.
Maybe Shelley is loud. But she’s honest and loyal—even to trying hard to protect Gassman when everyone in Hollywood knew how he was neglecting her.
As the old year died out and the New Year rang in, Fred MacMurray and June Haver were wrapped in a clinch, whispering sweet somethings to each other and completely oblivious of about 200 other guests dancing around them at a “private” party.
These two are the hottest romance in town and seldom have I seen such ardor as they staged, seemingly unable to stay more than two inches apart the entire evening.
June looked like a pretty doll in a very décolleté pink satin gown with her blonde hair in short ringlets all over her head.
I must say that everyone seems very much in favor of this new love story between two people who have had such tragedies in their lives. They were two lonely people before they met at the Gay ’90’s holiday party given for John Wayne by Ned Marin.
Fred had come alone. Junie’s escort was A. C. Blumenthal. But just as it happened in the song, “the strangers saw each other across a crowded room,” and it was nothing but enchantment for them from there on.
The handsome Fred took Junie home from the party and they have been an every night date since.
Such stars in their eyes!
In addition to the almost visible physical attraction between them, another close bond will be Junie’s love of children. Fred is devoted to his motherless youngsters.
In fact, right after he kissed Junie “Happy New Year,” he went to the telephone and held a long conversation with his little brood, and June was right beside him.
Although Mel Ferrer and his wife separated frequently and spasmodically made up, they seemed to stall on an actual divorce until Mel fell head over heels for charmer Audrey Hepburn.
Then, Mrs. Ferrer took herself to Mexico and obtained a divorce so quietly that nothing was printed about it for ten days.
Since then Mel and Audrey are practically an every night date around New York, chaperoned by her mother!
(Incidentally, for your information, all the time Audrey was supposed to be having torrid romances with Gregory Peck and a couple of other attractive gentlemen in Europe last summer, Mama was also very much in evidence, keeping an eye on her talented daughter.)
Getting back to the Mel Ferrer divorce, I heard an amusing story about ten-year-old Mark Ferrer’s reaction (if the remarks of these children of divorce can ever be said to be amusing).
The morning after his mother returned from Mexico, a free woman, young Mark greeted her at breakfast with, “Well, good morning, Miss Pilchard”—her maiden name.
Dale Robertson and Jackie haven’t been hitting it off for some time. Even so, he was completely taken by surprise when, as Dale lunched in the commissary at 20th Century-Fox one rainy afternoon, a process server up and put Jacqueline’s intention-to-divorce papers in his hand.
Jackie isn’t being too secret about why their marriage went on the rocks. Her side of it is that Dale took his stardom big, believed everything the fans and his press agents wrote, and was generally a little potentate around the house.
So far, Dale has had nothing to say except that he is sorry they couldn’t make a go of it, particularly for the sake of their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
You’d be surprised if you knew who was making a pitch for Dale the minute his wife’s divorce plans became known.
About Marilyn and Joe: He calls her “Baby,” but because he doesn’t like to be called by smooch names, she calls him Joe . . . He’s the boss . . . Every move of her suspension was dictated by Joe, an old hand at bringing baseball teams around to his terms, financially. He used to go into hiding every time his Yankee contract came up for renewal and he always came up with more moola . . . She likes nightclubs and cafes . . . He doesn’t . . . So they compromise by eating in popular cafes in off-hours like steak dinners at three o’clock in the afternoon . . . One of their favorite hangouts is the Hollywood Brown Derby. They like having breakfast in the bar around two in the afternoon . . . He likes women in black . . . They got a kick out of the fact that while reporters, cameramen and 20th’s press agents were staked out in front of her swank apartment, waiting their arrival on their honeymoon, they were secretly ensconced on the secluded Idyllwild estate of Marilyn’s lawyer, Lloyd Wright. Only the caretaker knew they were there. . . . Her wedding gift to him was a new Cadillac . . . He gave her a new home on the Peninsula in San Francisco . . . She’s beginning to love his home-
town as much as Joe does . . . They registered at the motel in Paso Robles as “Mr. and Mrs. Joe DiMaggio, San Francisco” . . . When they argue (and they do) Joe gets very excited and waves his arms and talks . . . Baby just gets quieter and quieter and hardly opens her mouth until the battle is over and they kiss and make up . . . Then they both beam and laugh and talk and swear they’ll never fight again. Which they do—even as you and I.
The registrar at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla looked up, smiled, and handed the young man standing on the other side of the desk an admittance blank.
“Just fill in your name and address now,” the nurse said, “and we’ll get the rest of the information later.”
When the patient handed back the paper after complying, the nurse gurgled, “Oh, yes, Mr. Lanza. Just go to your room, please, it’s 204. Someone will be with you immediately.”
When the “someone” went to the room, 204, he took a look around and walked right back to the desk.
“There’s no one there,” he reported.
And you know what—there was no one there!
It developed that Mario checked into the famed clinic for a complete overhauling, walked into the room assigned him and then walked out the back door and drove away.
They haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since.
One report came that he had gone to Las Vegas, where they also give you a “going over” but not of the type endorsed by Scripps Clinic.
Mario’s completely unfathomable behavior would be slightly amusing if it weren’t so basically tragic.
My, heart salutes beautiful, brown-eyed Suzan Ball, one of the most courageous girls I have ever known.
As I write this, it is only a few hours after the amputation of her leg. Her doctor just called me to say that Suzan is doing as well as can be expected. Dick Long, who was with her during the surgery, has gone home to get a little rest.
He says, “I am going to marry Suzan the day she leaves that hospital!”
The thing that hurts so deeply is that Suzan had believed right up to the time that the doctor was forced to tell her the bitter truth—that her leg was cancerous—that her faith would cure the malignancy.
And it was this same wonderful faith that gave her the courage to tell them to go ahead with the operation. At the same time she requested that an artificial limb be ordered right away, “so I can get used to wearing it as soon as possible.”
The real reason why Suzan broke her engagement to Dick a few months back can be told now, too. She said, “I didn’t want him to be saddled with a cripple. I love him too much.”
So she told Dick that the doctors had told her that her leg was cured and that she didn’t want to get married because she wanted to concentrate on her career and make up for the time she had been forced to lose.
Suzan did such a wonderful acting job that Dick believed her—but not for long. The minute he read she was back in a hospital, he rushed to her side and said, “Honey, you wonderful liar. But don’t you ever tell another one to me. You aren’t going to lose me for the rest of your life.”
Just before the operation Suzan said to a close friend. “Please never feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself.
“There are still many roles I can play on the screen. I have the love of a wonderful boy. And my studio has assumed all financial burdens and is continuing to pay my salary for life.
“I still have many wonderful things in my life and I am deeply grateful for my blessings!”
God bless you, Susie, and your beautiful, fine spirit.
The real reason back of the breakup of Arlene Dahl and Fernando Lamas is that the Senor is not of a marrying frame of mind and Arlene is of a mind to have no more of it—or him.
I had a hunch that all was not well with this romance long before it came out in the open. Arlene had called to tell me goodbye when she was off to New York.
“How can you bear to leave Fernando?” I asked this redhead, who had really been off her rocker about the guy.
“Oh, that isn’t hard,” she flipped, “all men are a pain in the neck!” When a lady says that—she usually has one particular man in mind!
Asked the real cause of trouble between himself and Leslie Caron, Geordie Hormel said with admirable honesty:
“I haven’t accomplished anything in the last eighteen months to win her respect. My career in music has not kept pace with Leslie’s career in films and the ballet.
“But she is a changed girl, not like the sweetheart I married. She doesn’t want to be married any longer.”
I hear there is another big problem between Leslie and her husband. Money.
When the petite French danseuse married the scion of the famed meat-packing family, it was believed that the bridegroom was loaded. Most of the Hormels are.
But as their marriage went on, a friend of Leslie tells me, Leslie was carrying more and more of the financial burden—toward the last, practically all of it.
Geordie didn’t give up without a struggle. He went to New York to meet Leslie’s boat and morosely announced later, “She granted me a ten-minute interview. Since then she hasn’t spoken to me. I guess it’s all over.”
I guess it is.
The Letter Box: To many of you who have written asking me to give you the “confidential diet that keeps the stars thin,” I’m obliged to say there ain’t such a thing. All the stars who diet sensibly do so under the care of their personal physicians and their diets are made up for their particular dietary needs. You kids get your parents to take you to a good doctor if you want to lose weight. There’s no magic formula.
Lisa, St. Louis, writes that she’s giving up Frank and Ava, “because they can’t give each other happiness or give each other up. How juvenile can two adults be?”
Eleanore Malone, Ottawa, says I never write of Mel Ferrer in this column. Oh, yes I do, Eleanore—this month.
More weight-conscious readers (and writers) this month. Anna Stamonova of Brooklyn wants to know the most I ever heard of any star’s weighing at his or her heaviest. Mario Lanza, I believe, who once hit the scales at 235. For a glamour girl, Joan Crawford, who weighed 164 many years ago when she first came to Hollywood.
Mrs. Fred McNamara hears: “Ava Gardner is supposed to be furious because Cyd Charisse has cut her hair like hers (Ava’s) and looks so much like her these days. True or false?’ This rumor is, at most, only partly true. Ava isn’t too pleased over the resemblance but I doubt that she is “furious.” Certainly, she has not “ordered” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to “order” Cyd to “look different.”
That’s all this month. See you next month.
—BY LOUELLA PARSONS
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE APRIL 1954