Prelude To A Lullaby
When Ann Blyth has her baby late in June, the event will be the perfect storybook sequel to a perfect storybook romance. Ann and Jim hope that the baby will be born on their first wedding anniversary, June 27. And with the neat way all the pieces of Ann’s life have of falling into place, nobody will be surprised if that’s the way it happens.
“They lived happily ever after” is a phrase that seems to have been invented just for Ann. “Everything she does is done so perfectly,” a close friend of hers once said, “that you have the feeling Ann is just following a celestial script that was written long before she was born.”
Ann is humble about all the good fortune that has befallen her. And, being Ann, she disclaims all credit. She feels that a force far greater than herself has shaped the pattern of her life. And she is devoutly grateful for this.
To one of her dearest friends, the operative word in Ann’s well-being is “Love.” “Ann has been surrounded by love all her life,” this friend put it, “and that’s no doubt because so much love emanates from her.
“She is simply incapable of disliking anyone. To Ann, all people are good. She will agree that some, perhaps, are misguided. But as far as she is concerned, no one is innately evil. You know the old saying—that it’s hard for anyone to frown in the face of a smile. That’s the way it is with Ann and love.”
It’s hard to believe it, but there was a time—before her marriage to Jim McNulty—that Ann was something of a problem child to Hollywood. She was lovely. She had talent to spare. She was successful. All the facets were shimmeringly complete except one: Where was the romance?
Because it seemed incredible, in a community where love, sometimes, is taken far too lightly, that Ann could remain heart-whole, a rash of gossip began to circulate. Was she carrying a secret torch? Was she afraid to fall in love?
If Ann heard those barbed questions—and she couldn’t have avoided it—the odds are that she was hurt rather than angry, for outrage is an emotion with which she’s unfamiliar. But she went serenely on in her own way, waiting for the real love that she knew had been pencilled into that perfect script for life that she was living.
Although her normal desire for a husband, a home and a family took precedence over everything else in her dreams, she couldn’t allow herself to be persuaded that she was in love when she was not.
And then, when the time was right, she met Doctor James McNulty.
Jim is an old-fashioned woman’s man—gentle, boyish, gallant. But he is a man’s man, too—and in the ways that count most to a woman. He is positive and assured, certain of himself, of his role in life, of his aspiration. And most of all, he is unshakable in the love he feels for his wife. He puts Ann on a pedestal—but not because she is Ann Blyth, beautiful and brilliant movie star. He worships her as a good and simple man worships his wife, knowing that her love is to him what his is to her—a blessing for all their lives.
When any woman falls in love, the effect is readily apparent. She glows; her eyes soften; she is surrounded by an unmistakable aura of happiness. With Ann, the effect of love was staggering. Added to her natural poise and graciousness, there was a dazzling radiance—a brilliant scintillating light that was irresistible.
Other stars fall in love with the wrong men—with a man who’s already married, whose religious beliefs conflict, who doesn’t return the love or is, for some reason, unacceptable to the family. It couldn’t happen to Ann. Her chosen love was a highly eligible bachelor of her own deep religious convictions. Aunt Cis and Uncle Pat Tobin, with whom she shared her life after the death of her mother, thought Jim was wonderful; from the beginning, he belonged. As for the innumerable McNultys, they took Ann into the bosom of the family with shouts of huge delight. There was not a single reason why these two shouldn’t be married and live happily ever after.
And so they were married, in a ceremony of solemn holy beauty that was just right. When the McNultys returned from their honeymoon to their Connecticut-style farmhouse, blase Hollywood was still talking dazedly about the breathtaking loveliness of the bride. There are those who are willing to swear that she didn’t walk down the aisle on the arm of her Uncle Pat, but that she floated instead on a private little cloud of her own.
They wanted a large family, Ann and Jim, and for once nobody muttered about the insecurity of movie marriages or the inadvisability of a young star taking the necessary sabbatical from film work. The whole town hoped with and for them that their first child would be soon in coming.
And now the prayers and the good wishes are to be answered. As twins run in both sides of the family, Ann’s hoping two babies will come their way, but whether it’s one girl, one boy, or a pair of either, neither she nor Jim care. It’s miracle enough that there will be a child. ‘‘Ann’s really in a state of wonder,” says Alice Krasiva, her stand-in and close friend of almost ten years. “She wakes up in the morning so happy that she wants to cry. And I think her happiness is what makes her feel so well. She hasn’t had a minute’s illness.”
If she should have, Ann will be more than well taken care of. She’ll receive the personal attention not only of a brilliant young obstetrician named Jim McNulty, but of all the other doctors who share his office. Jim is already reminding her to drink her milk, to eat properly, and he plans to spirit her off to Lake Arrowhead to rest on weekends whenever they can get away.
But energetic Ann has plans of her own. There’s the nursery to be designed and made ready by loving family hands. And so much else—the sewing and knitting that must be done for “our little one.” She’ll be very good at that, having made so many tiny things for the babies of her friends. A blanket she made kept Jane Withers’ infant snug; Jane Powell’s youngest sported a sweater and matching bootees knitted by Aunt Ann. Now the bread she tenderly cast upon the waters is being returned a hundredfold.
Alice Krasiva has been very busy for a long time. When Ann’s wedding gown, now a museum piece, was being made, Alice secured some of the lace being used from designer Helen Rose. Lovingly, she made a little satin pillow for the ring- bearer, using the lace and embroidering two entwined hearts and Ann’s name with tiny seed pearls. Then, unknown to Ann, she saved a wisp or two of that same lace . . . to put around the collar of a dress for Ann’s first child. That dress, she has since completed.
Everyone wants to do things for Ann; she’s that kind of girl. Studios are supposed to be large, impersonal organizations, but M-G-M has completely revised the shooting schedule of “The Student Prince” so that Ann can finish her scenes as soon as possible.
And Uncle Pat Tobin vows that he’s going to get into the act, too. He says he’s going to take a few knitting lessons , from “some church ladies who live down the street. Then Annie will come walking in one night, and here I’ll be sitting, knitting away!”
Being Uncle Pat, he probably will, too, and by the time his beloved niece has her fourth or fifth baby, he’ll be turning out sweaters along with the best of them. Ann will have those babies because that’s what she wants. And, because it’s her story, they’ll all live happily ever after.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MARCH 1954