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Marilyn Monroe In Agony Marriage Ending!

“I more than “like’’ Marilyn. I tell you this because I trust you, Madame. She is an enchanting child. And I won’t say that if I had been free I wouldn’t have fallen in love with her.

“But for eleven years I have been married to a wonderful, understanding woman. Simone and I have been very happy. There will be no divorce.”

The speaker was Yves Montand, the fascinating Frenchman with the overabundance of sex appeal, the man for whom “all” women fall with a more resounding crash than for any male since Rudolph Valentino held sway with his animal-masculinity.

But it was not about “all” the women falling for Yves that had brought him to my house at the early hour of eleven o’clock in the morning on a sunlit day of early September. It was the avalanche of gossip about “one woman” supposedly falling for him—Marilyn Monroe, who else?

But even at this unlikely coffee-break hour, the devastating M. Montand was the complete charmer, his correct grooming of a business suit and evidence of a fresh shave, failing to disguise his attractive all-male virility.

No wonder the women in his pictures fall for him, I thought—but enough of that.

It was of Marilyn, at this time lying ill in the Westside Hospital following a collapse that had suspended her movie The Misfits in Reno, that I wanted to talk about—Marilyn and Yves.

“You are aware that the gossip is rampant,” I said, referring to stories printed in this country and in France that Simone Signoret, last year’s Academy Award winner and wife of Montand, had reached the end of her long line of patience. Paris newspapers had flatly carried the headlines: SIGNORET TO DIVORCE MONTAND OVER MONROE. And ever since Marilyn’s illness, called “exhaustion,” had stopped her current production, the American press was having a field day of the wildest rumors.

“Yes”—he shrugged, smiled, spread his hands in a typically French gesture. “How could I not know?”

He hesitated long enough to say that he would enjoy a cup of coffee with me. But he seemed as eager as I to get to the heart of this situation involving four former friends, himself and Simone, Marilyn and Arthur Miller, her playwright husband.

“LET ME TELL YOU THE TRUTH as best I can,” Yves went on in his remarkably improved English, almost letter perfect since the last time I had talked with him.

“When I signed on for the co-starring role with Marilyn in Let’s Make Love, it was with many misgivings. It was to be my first American picture and naturally I hoped it would be successful.

“But on every hand I was warned about how difficult Marilyn was. I was told that she was always late on the set to the point of driving her co-workers crazy. That she was nervous. Jittery. Unsure of herself.

“Believe me, this did not add to my own peace of mind. Here I was a newcomer in a strange company, I spoke little English—let us admit—I barely spoke English at all—I had my own set of jitters to contend with and before we even start the picture I am confronted with such difficulties in my vis-a-vis. Ahhbhhhh,” he gave a long sigh.

“I thought to myself, I’ll take my machinegun—I wont put up with such nonsense.

“So what happens the first day I report to the studio? A nervous little girl shows up—no, it was not our first meeting as we knew one another socially—but this child-actress-woman is someone entirely new.

“Great star that she is—she was trembling, ill at ease, and consuming more coffee than I have ever seen go into anyone’s system. Always drinking coffee, cups and cups of coffee to steady her nerves.

“I am touched—who wouldn’t be? Instead of being angry and impatient my heart goes out to her. With all of her fame—how can she be so unsure of herself, so at the mercy of other people?

“I remember during one of our first conversations I kept reassuring her not to be afraid. ‘You can be on time if you want to,’ I told Marilyn. ‘But if you are late—don’t be afraid. And don’t keep drinking all that coffee to give you confidence.’

“As the picture progressed, I continued to feel protective toward Marilyn. In later conversations with my wife, I admitted I became fond of her. But is this falling in love?”

It had been a long uninterrupted discourse from my visitor and he looked at me now as if for a bit of understanding on my part.

Unknown to him until this moment, I had brought down from my office an interview printed in a newspaper other than my own quoting him as saying that if Marilyn had been more “sophisticated”—this embarrassing situation would never have happened. I handed it to Yves.

He took it, puzzled, read it. Then he put it down on the table between us.

“I am sorry this is printed this way,” he spoke slowly and in one of the few times his ingratiating smile left his face. “It will hurt Marilyn—this printing that she is not sophisticated. I want very much that she should not be hurt.”

“Have you tried to visit her since she entered the hospital?” I asked.

“No—I should like to. But what good could come of it? Just more talk, talk, talk,” he answered quietly. “I will send her a note.”

“IS IT TRUE that she came down from Reno to see you before her illness?” I pressed on. That fact had been printed in still another story.

“Yes,” he said, “but we did not meet”—and he did not amplify that statement.

I asked, “Yves—is there any one incident you think brought on this eruption of gossip?”

“Perhaps so,” he responded. “I think all the talk started when Marilyn came to see me off at the plane, bringing some chilled champagne, when I was returning to France the first time.

“We sat in the car and drank the champagne—and some reporters heard about it. That was all that was needed! It was printed in the French newspapers and naturally—it upset my wife very much.”

“Of course, I talked with her—explaining, trusting she would understand. She is a wise and seasoned woman, Simone. I felt if she knew the truth—even the gossip could not hurt her. I love my wife and did not want her to be distressed over a much magnified situation. I did not—and do not want a divorce!”

I could not restrain a little smile of amusement. Yves took it so for granted that I would understand such a completely Continental-male point of view.

Although he did not say it, his manner implied that one understood that when a man (and this one is all male) worked in close proximity with beautiful women, a bit of romance and gallantry might be the outcome.

I remember Marilyn telling me about Yves when I interviewed her several months ago on the set of Let’s Make Love, a story recently printed in MODERN SCREEN.

She had said, perhaps you remember, “Yves will be the next sensational star of the screen. He is all male”—and she had laughed a little bit.

I wondered how many more of his lovely feminine co-stars had held this same thought? Most of them, I wager, with the exception of Gina Lollobrigida, whom I hear had not fallen in the slightest for Montand during the making of their European picture, Where the Hot Wind Blows. I’m not trying to imply that there was a feud—but just nothing romantic beyond the dictates of the script. His role was that of a gangster in Lollo’s movie. I didn’t mention this point.

Who is this man who, practically overnight in one delightfully charming performance, has achieved stardom on the Hollywood scene and who, with a burst of gossip, has become one of the biggest names in the entertainment field?

He was born in Italy Yves Levi, and has been every kind of a worker from a longshoreman to a song and dance man.

“When I was two years old my parents moved to France—so I really have more of a French than Italian background—and it is not surprising that I am more often referred to as French than Italian.”

DURING THE NAZI OCCUPATION, his real name, Levi, was a dangerous one for him. The Nazis were convinced I was Jewish even after I explained that if I had been changing my name for them I would have changed more than one letter. “It is not Levy—but Levi. It is the same name as the first Italian consul. They let me go—but I could go nowhere without my papers during those terrible times.”

His career as an entertainer did not begin to soar until after the war when as Yves Montand he began to completely charm Paris audiences and—I hear—such ladies as Edith Piaf, and became one of the ‘most ingratiating singers since the beloved Maurice Chevalier. He did a one-man act always wearing brown slacks but even in that garb he was a charmer.

Until his marriage to the talented Simone Signoret, his name was linked with first one attractive lady and then the other with whom he worked. To which Yves says, “You cannot be associated with beautiful women in your career, day and night, without feeling something. That has always been true—and still is.

“We were sad when Lets Make Love ended although it had been hard work. I have just completed Sanctuary at the same studio. I was sorry to say au revoir to Lee Remick”—and he added with amusing promptness—“and all the others on the picture.”

Within a few days he would be leaving for Europe to join Simone and get ready to start his next film, Time On My Hands (formerly Aimez-vous Brahms . . .) with Ingrid Bergman.

It had been widely circulated that Simone would be waiting for her husband in Paris—but just that day I had heard that she had taken off for the Venice Film Festival.

Yves nodded. “Yes, Simone was invited to attend and decided to accept as soon she will be busy on her new picture and she will be tied up with fittings and rehearsals. But, we shall meet in Paris.” The last remark was pointedly definite.

He told me he was looking forward to working with Ingrid, “a beautiful actress.”

“But a bride—and happily married,” I laughed, “so don’t fall in love with her.”

Yves laughed too. “My time will be crowded to overflowing. There are only twelve days from the time I leave Hollywood to the time I start the picture with Miss Bergman. I shall pack my script and take off to the mountains to study and rest. I am looking forward to the rest—and quiet.” This I didn’t doubt!

Did he plan to come back for more American pictures—and would he care to make another with Marilyn, the “enchanting child?”

“Of course. I enjoyed working with her very much—there is no one quite like her, kind, simple, without guile for all her world fame. I hope in speaking so frankly to you, I have said nothing that could reflect anything but admiration and fondness on my part for Marilyn,” he said with genuine sincerity.

On a less personal basis, Yves is also “optioned” to 20th Century-Fox, an organization he likes very much.

“As you know—and printed many times,” he said lightly, that fascinating smile returning, “there were many, many delays making Let’s Make Love including another illness of Marilyn’s—plus the actors’ strike at that time.

“I WAS BESIDE MYSELF because I had signed a contract to appear in Japan and if I did not keep it, the Japanese managers were threatening to sue. Mr. Buddy Adler was then head of the studio and because it was not my fault that I could not fulfill my engagement in Japan, he offered to make my loss good to the Japanese.

“At the time I did not feel I could accept it. But as the picture dragged on, and this very fine man became my friend and was so kind to me, I went to him and said I would give an option on my services in return for taking care of the Japanese cancellation.

“The last business talk that I had with him he said, ‘When we have something for you, Yves, that will be fine. But we do not want you to feel bound.’ His death is not only my loss—but all of Hollywood’s.”

To this I said a heartfelt “Amen.”

It was a working week day and our talk had extended well past the noon hour, longer than Yves or I had intended. My secretaries were holding important calls for the column upstairs and with his expected departure in twenty-four hours, there was much remaining for Yves to attend to.

I walked to the door with my charming caller to wish him godspeed. “Thank you for letting me explain,” he said, “I like you and I trust you and I know you are a good friend of Marilyn’s. The sooner the situation is clarified—the better for all. I should like very much to say goodbye to her but—” once again that expressive shrug. Then he was gone.


Marilyn stars next in United Artists’ THE MISFITS, and Yves’ new films are TIME ON HER HANDS, also U.A., and SANCTUARY, for 20th-Fox.



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