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Marriage, Anybody?—Piper Laurie

PIPER LAURIE: Well, I’ll tell you, it’s getting to be like this in the family. I’ll say to my mother, “Mom, I’ve got something to tell you,” and she’ll drop everything to turn to me instantly. “Yes? Yes?” she’ll urge, and her reaction is unmistakable; always the one-track mind, if you know mothers . . . mothers of daughters, that is.

She thinks I’m about to tell her that I’ve met someone—the one—and it looks like marriage is in the air. But all I’ve got to tell her usually is some such piece of news as just being put into a new picture or having to leave on some trip. And when I do her face falls and she says, “Oh, that.”

“Yes, mom, that.”

“Oh, well,” she says (meaning “you call that news”) and, “that’s nice” (meaning “hurry back and let’s get down to the real business of your life”).

You see, my mother would expect to know soon, very soon, after I made up my mind. We’re a family kind of family, I’m a family girl, perhaps even more so than a career girl, I suppose. I don’t think I’ve ever gone out with a boy who hasn’t been to my home and whom mother hasn’t met. So she feels she would know the boy all right. All I have to do is identify him.

The thing is, if we talk boys, why, mother can take them up with me one by one. And, of course, like all mothers, she has her own point of view. Sometimes we. agree about a boy, sometimes we don’t. I say she judges them by the way they eat. She says I judge them by the way they tie their necktie (if they wear one). As you can tell, so far all three of us haven’t agreed—I mean mother, me and a boy!

It’s not that mother is always pushing me. Not that at all. But I feel she thinks I’m getting to the stage where I should sort of concentrate on this prob . . . well, this issue. If you know what I mean. I mean she is concentrating.

For instance, when I told her about going to Korea again to entertain the GI’s she dropped her head on her hand and closed her eyes like she does when she is doing a lot of thinking. I knew just what was going through her head: “Piper is 21 now, here she is off on another trip, when she gets back she’ll be busy on another picture, and all this time will be time she won’t be able to meet anyone new.” So I wasn’t surprised when she raised her head and said something that, at first, didn’t seem to have anything to do with what we were talking about.

“You know, I’ve been thinking I’d like you to go see the doctor,” she said. “You “haven’t been looking too good lately.”

She can’t fool me. Being a modern mother she has learned not to take a direct stand on anything like forbidding me to do this or that. Yet, she would rather I didn’t go to Korea this time, and maybe, if I see the doctor, he might say I should stick around. You see, Mother not only wants me to concentrate, she wants me to be where the concentrating can do some good. (P.S. I saw the doctor. He always finds something, but not enough to stop the trip.)

MRS. CHARLOTTE JACOBS (Piper’s mother): Piper likes to kid about the family putting pressure on her to get married. It’s not so really, of course. I know Piper has to find her own happiness in her own way. Naturally, as a mother, I think about it a lot. But I hardly ever say anything, honestly. Once in a while, maybe, like a mother will, I might forget myself and Piper might get the idea I’m hinting. Nothing serious. Sometimes I just happen to say, “You know what I’d like to do, Piper? I’d like to go to a wedding.”

PIPER: It’s not as if it were my fault. I mean, it might be my fault but there are other things to consider. Every time I meet someone who, well, might mean something, I’m off on the road again, or else retakes have to be shot and I’m busy on the set all day and rehearsing most of the night. Somehow it always seems to get worse right after I get to know a man whom I’d like to go on knowing. But it stops right there. My friends think it’s quite a joke. Every time they see me they ask, “Well, Piper, whom are you leaving now?”

Just lately I met a young man and we’ve been dating quite a few times. I might as well identify him partially, as an actor, but since we’re not going to be able to see each other for a long time, for reasons which I will give below, there is no point to my naming him. He is very handsome, unusually intelligent and I enjoyed myself very much when we were out. He is not only a fine performer but quite literate and a conversation with him is not just a time-passing exercise but a rewarding experience.

I’ve been spending most of my time these past few weeks with him, but it’s all over now . . . for a while anyway. Soon I’ll leave for Korea. When I get back he is due to go to Europe for a picture. Just about the time he returns I’ll be taking off for South Africa. So nice to have met you!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course we can’t talk for Piper but we can supply some facts for the benefit of any readers who might be wondering about the identity of the actor mentioned here. Following the premiere of Call Me Madam Piper attended a party at Romanoff’s and was introduced to Carlos Thompson the Argentinian importation. Both were members of different groups, neither had a partner, and almost immediately they paired off. They sat and danced together for the rest of the evening. When Piper went to the Academy Awards she was escorted by Carlos. He also took her to the big party at Chasens afterwards. They were seen together again not long afterwards attending an amateur performance of Iolanthe at the Westlake School in Bel-Air, and they topped off that night by dining and dancing at the Macayo in Santa Monica. Carlos, though from Buenos Aires, speaks perfect English. He is sharply handsome, and he is certainly “literate” since he is the author of a book printed in Argentina entitled, “All Is God.” And, just to tie things in a little closer, it happens that he is leaving soon for Europe on a picture, and he is reported to have used rich, romantic words in describing Piper. Yes, the man could very well be Carlos. And if it is he will be the first Latin in her life.

PIPER: My sister Sherrye, who is two years older than I, was married at 17. This doesn’t make me a lady of very much distinction around the house socially. Sherrye has made her mark as a woman while I’m still aiming.

Until last year Sherrye used to talk to me a lot about boys and how to convert boys generally into the boy specifically which, she implies, is the main business of girlhood. She made a big effort to sort of give me the proper viewpoint about this process. And I think she was satisfied with my progress last year because she told me confidently, “Well, by this time next year you are sure to be married.”

Well . . . here we are . . . this year . . . and Piper is still unattached. And Sherrye has nothing more to say to me. She just sits kind of baffled and studies me till I think she is seeing me 20 years from now . . . a squeaky old maid, dry and withered.

MRS. SHERRYE WADE (Piper’s sister): Of course all this talk about worrying over marriage is silly as far as Piper is concerned. She’s just 21. The thing is that as a little girl she, like a lot of youngsters, thought she would surely fall in love at 16. A girl of 21 seemed then to her like an elderly adult. And some of this kind of thinking still hangs on to Piper. But as far as that goes she could be married now if she wanted to drop her standards . . . which I’m quite sure she won’t. Young girls think of marriage like poets do; it’s something to sing about and you can’t sing until the music starts. You just have to keep listening for it.

PIPER: Any girl my age gets the “whens” . . . you know, when do I meet him, when will he say the word, whenwill we wed? (And if he doesn’t hurry up I’ll be so annoyed he’ll have a bitter girl on his hands!)

So I keep thinking of it all right. And when I don’t think of it things happen which bring it to mind. I have a cousin Joan, in Detroit, who is only 18. Somehow, in my mind, she is just a baby; in fact I used to baby her and give her advice like Sherrye gave me (I think sometimes I passed it on word for word, with a very wise look in my eyes). Well, Joan has just let the family know . . . she is being married in June!

As if this wasn’t enough, consider what happens with my old high school crowd. There were 25 of us who stayed pretty close; anything that happened to one was supposed to be passed on to the other 24. Well, eventually, after high school, marriage began happening, of course. The first one got married, then another, then soon there was a half-dozen who could say, “Call me Mrs.” But it didn’t stop there. In the past year and a half there has been a grand rush and the score is now 23 married, two single.

Not that it made me frantic or anything; after all I had my career, I was busy, I had little time to get around . . . I kept telling myself. And all the time I had one tiny consolation; I had company, I wasn’t the last, the 25th . . . yet. It was the idea of it, the thought of the other 24 girls saying, “Poor Piper! Can you imagine? Still single!” Allthat sympathy . . . a girl could drown in it.

Two days ago, two days before I wrote this, I dropped into Wil Wright’s for some ice cream and ran into a man I knew—the brother-in-law of the other remaining single girl. He came up to me and I saw that he was breaking into a faceful of news that he just had to tell me. “No! Not that!” I said to myself. But it was. She, Karlyn Glasser, the last girl between me and utter (if temporary, I hope!) ignominy, was engaged. She’ll be married this summer. This summer . . . when I’ll probably be on a train, or a plane, or very likely trying to fall asleep in a tent on the African veldt by counting antelopes or gnus or whatever they use out there for sheep.

“Isn’t that great news?” asked Karlyn’s brother-in-law.

“Wonderful!” I cried, but I didn’t blame him for looking at me in surprise. My voice did sound funny. I tried to tell myself I wasn’t upset, and I knew that deep within me I was happy for Karlyn’s sake. But what did it make me? When the ice cream came I took three spoonfulls and couldn’t taste a-thing, so I just left it there.

VIVIAN LEWIS (waitress at Wil Wright’s): I remember the night Piper came in. She always finished her ice cream. It was quite a blow to have her leave her dish practically untouched. We thought it was us.

BETTY MITCHELL (Studio publicist): Pooh! Don’t let Piper kid you. She’s young, beautiful and famous. Also happy.

ROSE DONOHUE (Betty’s assistant): Yes, but she wants to be young, beautiful, famous and in love. And she knows only that will bring a real happiness.

PIPER: Of course, there is my father who never talks much and has to be really drawn out on the subject of romance. I wonder how he feels and I am beginning to get a pretty good idea. When I was 16 or 17 and went out with a boy as much as twice he’d be sure to ask, sooner or later, “Say, isn’t this getting to be serious?” Nowadays? Well, now I can go out a half dozen or more times with the same boy and he doesn’t say a word! He only looks as if he might be quite willing to listen to some announcement.

MR. ALFRED JACOBS (Piper’s father): Hmm.

PIPER: If he has changed, if he is taking another view of things, like it’s time I made a move, well . . . I can only point out that mother was 22 before she married him.

MR. JACOBS: H’m’m’m.

MRS. JACOBS: We’ve been married 26 years and we are very happy. Piper will be too. From what I hear she has gotten a lot of proposals but she says the boys are kidding.

ROCK HUDSON: I proposed to Piper while we were doing retakes on The Golden Blade. I said, “Piper, after this picture is over let’s go to Mexico. Of course, we’ll have to be married.” I guess that wasn’t the way to frame a proposal properly. But anyway she said, “Thank you. And now let’s get back to work.” So we went back to work.

DICK LONG (currently in All American at Universal): Of course Piper and I have discussed marriage . . . theoretically. Since we first worked together in Universal’s dramatic school three years ago I guess we’ve yakked about everything under the sun at one time or another.

You learn a lot about people just yakking . . . especially when you’re working with them. Piper’s a good sport . . . concentrating on her career . . . (the hours we’ve spent talking show business) . . . but interested in other things and other people and their problems. Her mother and father are like that, too . . . warm, friendly and comfortable to be with.

A date with Piper is always fun—and sometimes unusual. For instance Christmas 1951. I was in the service then . . . enroute to Korea. Three days after I landed in Japan who should show up but Piper. There to do camp and hospital shows. Was I glad to see her!

PIPER: Everybody kids a girl about marrying. My Aunt Dorothy was visiting us and asked me if I was thinking of marriage. I said, “Sure.” She said, “Wonderful! I’d love to be able to attend the ceremonies while I’m still here.”

The grips on the set always ask me when I’m going to get married. The cameramen have a whole conspiracy. They keep pretending to be worried about a haunting look creeping into my expression. They say I really must do something about it . . . like going to my own wedding.

Marriage, anybody?




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