Welcome to Vintage Paparazzi.

My Man MacDonald Carey

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day I first met him. Talk about Fate arranging things!

At the time I was an aspiring actress. The “theater” was all I thought about. One day Joan Tetzel, a friend of mine, asked me to go along with her to Benno Schneider’s rehearsal hall in New York. For the benefit of those who are uninformed about Mr. Schneider, he had a place where Equity actors could come and rehearse their parts and get his criticism if they so desired. It was crowded that day, but I saw only one person—a tall, sort-of-blond sort-of-brunette fellow who was really impressive. I was definitely not unhappy when Mr. Schneider unexpectedly picked this gentleman out of the crowd and told him to work with me. For our study, he gave us scenes from “Love from a Stranger” to do. And that’s how I met Mr. MacDonald Carey.

After we read for a while together, I was even more impressed with him. I thought he had one of the most terrific voices I’d ever heard. And when I got a glimpse of his eyelashes, I really went overboard. They were so long they’d put a smudge on his glasses when he wore them.

After the session at the hall, Mac seemed rather interested in me. At least, he suggested that he come to my place the next afternoon and rehearse the scenes with me. I certainly wasn’t going to play coy at that point and say, “This is so sudden!” I’d fallen for him fast, and I wasn’t in the least unhappy about seeing him again.

He arrived the next day with a snowball of white carnations for me in one hand and a “growler” of beer in the other. Now that “growler” of beer business threw me at first until Mac explained that it was a term handed down from workers in the mines. Seems the men would bring their lunch in the pail. finish their food, and then fill the pail with beer. And so Mac and I drank it out of the can—and that led eventually to the first kiss, unromantic though it sounds.

Somehow, we didn’t get much work done on the scenes. Instead, Mac proposed to me right then and there. He definitely knew what he wanted. Everything was clear in his mind. I liked the idea of becoming Mrs. MacDonald Carey and every instinct I had said to say, “Yes,” but I told him I thought we ought to wait for a while. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t acting on any impulse. Besides, I had a lot of beaus at the time and I had the typical feminine cockiness in not wanting to get myself tied down too soon. I had that natural young girl’s dread of being tied down too soon. So, against my wishes, I told Mac to wait.

For the next year and a half, Mac proposed—and I kept on fighting to say, “No.” After all, I decided, when a woman is being courted is the only time in her life when she can lead the man around. After she marries, she’sled—and usually likes it. During this time. Mac was doing daytime soap operas on radio—and so was I. but we seldom ran into each other ar the radio studios.

It was while Mac was rehearsing for his first big Broadway break, “Lady in the Dark.” with Gertrude Lawrence, that we decided to announce our engagement. Then came the discussions of the wedding. My family wanted a big wedding Mae didn’t much approve of that but as it turned out, we had a very large Philadelphia main-line social affair with all the trimmings—and plenty of loot, I might add. Mac kept saying it was too much fuss, but since it meant so much to my parents, I told him he might as well make the best of it. The payoff was that Mac had so much fun at the reception that I almost had to drag him away to catch our train to New York in time.

We were married on Sunday, May 4, out of pure necessity—in a way. “Lady in the Dark” was running and Mac couldn’t get any time off from the show except on Sunday to marry me. As it was, we got on the train at ten at night the day we were married and arrived in New York at midnight. The next morning at nine, Mac had to do a radio show and that evening there was a performance of “Lady in the Dark” to do, so we had no honeymoon. Three weeks later, however, we were remarried in the Catholic Church. I didn’t happen to be a Catholic, so when I was converted I had to be baptized. And here is the funny part of the story. I had no friends who were of that religion and none of Mac’s close friends was around, so we called Victor Mature, who was in the show with Mac, at six one morning and asked him to come down and be my godfather at the christening.

I might add that with my marriage, any career ideas I may have had abruptly disappeared. Mac put his foot down from the first.

Mac’s success in “Lady in the Dark” got him a contract with Paramount, so in the latter part of June we left New York and drove out to Hollywood in my Buick. I still think Mac married me to get my car and a trip to Hollywood. Anyway, we took ten days driving out, had ourselves a honeymoon.

The first few months in Hollywood were very tough on my ambitious husband. Mac is a person who can‘t stand being idle. It drives him crazy. He was excited about going into pictures, but the interminable time between pictures was almost more than he could take. There wasn’t much I could do for him then. It would have been silly to sympathize with him because that would not have helped him in the least. Fortunately, Mac is the kind of person who makes up things to keep him busy.

After he had three pictures wrapped up for himself, he decided he had to enlist in the Marines. I wanted him to do two more films to help him build up his name more, but all he could think of was enlisting. I did respect him for that determination, so I said no more about it. He went down to the Marine recruiting offices to enlist but failed to pass the physical because he was color blind. That didn’t stop him, however. He heard of the Bates system, a new approach to the correction of eye weaknesses, and immediately. started on an intensive course to correct this fault. He took all of the required exercises very seriously, but I could hardly keep from laughing as I watched him go through the strangest routines—such as holding a pencil in front of him and staring at it as he slowly drew it closer and closer to his eyes. At the end of two months, he had worked so hard that he had completely cured himself of his color blindness—and the Marines took him.

Before he left to go into service, I mentioned that I thought I would go back into radio. He reared up on his size elevens and said, “No wife of mine is going to associate with those unattached radio guys, while I’m away!” So Mrs. Carey forgot about radio and took herself back to Philadelphia and mama instead. All of the time Mac was away in service, I wasn’t idle either. I took up courses in typing and shorthand and in a short time was making the magnificent sum of $35 a week as a secretary at my alma mater, Bryn Mawr. Later I was raised to $40 a week. Mother didn’t mind my mooching off her, so I saved all of my salary plus the $100 a month allotment I got from Mac. I planned to bestow upon him all of this lucre when he came back home.

But it was to be a surprise. I wrote him that I was working and that I wanted to save money but that it was impossible since expenses were so high and because I had to buy clothes. He swallowed the story completely.

He came home to what he thought was a flat bank account, but I had managed to stow away $2300. I became very ingenious and thought of a great way of surprising him with the money. His favorite food is brussel sprouts so I cooked a big batch of them and put them in a jar. I then served them for our first dinner together. I slipped the check under a rubber band which I had put around the outside of the jar. I also added a note which read, “Darling, here’s your welcome home present. I love you.” He didn’t see the check—although I didn’t know that at the time—and he thought I was playing a gag on him. Brussel sprouts for a welcome home present! A fine thing! Very weakly, he thanked me, not wishing to appear rude. I was annoyed then because I thought his gratitude for a check of $2300 was pretty puny. Finally I said, “That’s a fine way to thank a lady for giving you such a check!” He looked at me oddly and asked, “What check?” Then I showed it to him. We had a lot of laughs about that.

But to get to more up-to-date facts. I’m very frankly a great fan of my husband’s. I think he’s a fine actor. Not that I go around tossing bouquets at him all of the time. In fact, he likes me to criticize his work. When he asks for my opinion about a picture he’s made, I tell him, but I never volunteer any remarks otherwise. Fortunately, Mac and I are relaxed enough with each other so that we can give frank opinions without getting into arguments.

When Mac goes into a picture, he brings home the script and we study it together. I’m as excited about scripts as he is. I play all of the parts except his and have a great time for myself. I’m especially pleased about “Now and Forever,” formerly “Abigail, Dear Heart.” We’ve both enjoyed working on the scenes. I guess there’s still a bit of ham left in me after all—but, thank heavens, I never pursued my career after my marriage.

Mac hasn’t changed too much. The only noticeable difference about him is that he is more gregarious than he used to be. He was the kind of a fellow before who stayed within himself. But I think that I’ve managed to bring him out of his self-imposed shell somewhat. He’s done some revamping on me, too. I was once what I like to call a chattering extrovert. I’m considerably more subdued these days. So I guess I brought Mac up and he brought me down.

Mac and I get the most fun out of just being together. Not that we put a sign on our door, “No people allowed.” We have been known to go night clubbing occasionally but not in the chi-chi way, and we have gone to parties. But here’s where we’re unique. We always leave such parties around midnight and then go out to have a bite to eat alone. We invariably wind up talking for hours and getting home around six in the morning. But that’s the way we are—we just enjoy each other.

Mac is as wonderful a father as he is a husband. He’s absolutely batty about our thirteen-months-old baby girl, Lynn. Since she was a week old, he’s had none of the typical fatherly fears of handling the child or taking care of her. He has an alert, colorful imagination which kids like, but you’ll never hear him talking “down” to them. There’s none of this “Where did you get those big brown eyes?” stuff with Mac.

He’s like all fathers in that he’s forever buying Lynn something. Recently he got her a large double swing, even though she won’t be able to use it for months. Last Christmas, I told him I’d bought Lynn a present from me and J asked him if he wanted me to buy something for her from him. “No,” he said, “think I’ll buy it myself.” A few days later, he came home, beaming. “Well, I got Lynn a Christmas present,” he said proudly. I asked him what he had bought and he said, “Oh, some records.” After telling him I thought that was wonderful idea, I asked, “What kind of records?” For a minute he didn’t answer and then very matter-of-factly he said, “Oh, an opera.” I was speechless. I finally managed to blurt out, “An opera! But she’s only thirteen months old!” To which Mac replied, “Well, she’ll get older, and she ought to have good music around her. Besides, it’s the new recording of “Hansel and Gretel.” I guess he had an argument there after all.

That’s pretty much Mac’s and my story. I think I’ve been a good wife to him. At least, I’d like to feel that if I should die and he married again, he’d miss me. And I honestly think I fit the bill as Mrs. MacDonald Carey better than anyone else. Mac says I do anyway Besides, since a man believes what you tell him to believe, why should I go around undermining myself?

Now don’t get the idea that I like being Mrs. Carey just because Mac is an actor. Being in the limelight isn’t all roses—keeping hold of your sense of values being the toughest job about our kind of lite. But it is nice in another way: with all the glamor girls Mac works with, his technique certainly should be improved when he comes home!





No Comments
Leave a Comment