Report From London: They’re Talking About The Powers
Mr. Charles D. Saxon,
Editor, Modern Screen,
261 Fifth Avenue,
New York, 16, N. Y.
Dear Mr. Saxon:
Everybody is talking about the future of the Power marriage, but I can’t do a story on it because there just aren’t any solid facts. All I can tell you is what “they’re” saying, what I’ve noticed about Ty and Linda as people, and what has been going on publicly. You’ll have to draw your own conclusions . . . like everyone else . . . and then wait and see.
On the face of it, the situation looks as though things were about over for the Powers. If seeing is believing, Mrs. Tyrone Power is not devoting her full time to her dashing movie-hero husband. And if those intimate reports from close friends are accurate, Mr. Power isn’t exactly as dashing around the house as on the screen. His half-Mexican, half-Dutch wife is disappointed in the dream she had of married life when she was a bride two years ago in Rome.
Linda Christian is seen everywhere, at theatrical parties and at the most exclusive London shindigs. She confines her charity appearances to the glossy functions where there may be a sprinkling of royal names. In other words, Mrs. Power is having a whale of a time in London town, and so far Mr. Power is not enjoying it with her. She doesn’t go alone, though. Attractive men, Montgomery Clift among them, have been escorting the elf-like redhead hither and yon.
It is possible that in the case of Clift this was merely business (not difficult to take, you might say), when he and Linda appeared together at the recent command performance of The Mudlark.
People here are still wondering about that command performance date. Linda Christian is not a star in her own right. Why was it necessary for her to appear at all, much less be provided officially with an escort? Or, take it the other way around. Clift is a star big enough to warrant his being there, but wouldn’t he have gone stag if he’d wanted to do so? Furthermore, if it were absolutely vital that he appear with someone, why not an eligible lovely?
The explanation may be that Montgomery Clift is leery of publicity romances, and prefers to play it safe from the rumor-mills. Probably no one would think much of Clift’s escorting just any married woman to The Mudlark,but few women are as provocative as Linda. And as for Linda, this-was not the first time, or the second either, that she was seen partying without her husband.
It is common knowledge, in London, not mere rumor or gossip, that Linda Christian Power is seeing the town with other men. Furthermore, the gossips are specific in saying that there is one man in particular who interests her very much. He is not a famous name but-a private citizen who is either a Mexican, lives in Mexico, or has recently traveled there.
But where is Ty while all this is going on? Six evenings a week he stars in Mr. Roberts, in the part Henry Fonda made famous on Broadway.
Ty’s playing Mr. Roberts may well be the reason for the situation. It is possible that Linda’s escorts are handpicked by Ty himself to keep his vivacious little wife entertained while he is busy each evening playing to packed houses.
This is not the only possible explanation. The other is a matter of tradition and goes very deep. To understand it, you must also understand an old Continental custom that arose from Europe’s perennial oversupply of women.
Things were different in American when it was young. The early settlers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries needed wives and mothers to build up families in the Colonies, and European countries were ready and willing to fill market orders for brides. Marriageable women were so much in demand that even widows were snatched out of their mourning before their tears were dry.
It is easy to see how America developed a tradition whereby wives do not go out freely with other men. On the other hand, Europe has developed the opposite idea. If her husband does not enjoy social festivities, it is perfectly acceptable for a wife go to balls or the theater with another man. But do not be misled by this, for while a wife usually chooses her escorts, it is all in perfect order with her husband. The situation parallels a father sending his daughter out to a party saying, “Have a good time,” and telling the young man when to bring her home.
It may be like this with the Powers since both of them definitely have outlooks that are more Continental than American.
Essentially, Linda is European. Although she belongs to the generation of teenagers whose life was restricted by war, by 1939 she had seen enough of the world to know it as well as anyone of 14 or 15 could know it. Her father, a Hollander, had taken her everywhere as he traveled in his oil business. Like most true cosmopolitans she speaks many languages . . . even Arabic.
As you know, although Christian is her real name, Linda is not. It is actually Bianca, a tip-off to her Mexican maternal heritage. Her warm olive skin indicates this Latin strain and complements her Dutch-like light hair. She is one of those lucky children from two widely different ancestries who combines the handsomest qualities of each.
Tyrone, too, is a contradiction. He could scarcely look more All-American. But his solemn behavior and decorous attitude are the essence of the European type who lives with silence and dignity. This may come as a blow if you think that the Continental is forever sipping wine in a sidewalk cafe and paying outrageous compliments to each lady he meets. Characters like that are to be found only in novels and (Heaven help us!) in the movies. Ty’s reserve, staunch personal dignity, and his two marriages, first to French Annabella, now to Latin Linda, plus his preference for Europe as a home are greatly revealing. They all indicate that Tyrone Power, in temperament, is a Continental, too.
So we can grant the Powers some benefit of the doubt, considering that Linda’s going about with other men is what a European wife might do if her husband were busy or would rather stay at home.
However, if something really is wrong, and if you enjoy reading profound meanings into things, you can say that the loss of Linda’s baby, born dead almost a year ago, hurt them both so deeply that a strain started between them. Others have said so, Who knows? There may be something to it, but it seems unlikely for a healthy young woman and her understanding husband.
To judge her fairly, it is important to realize that Linda, besides having sophistication and genuine glamor, also has elemental earthiness and simplicity.
Back in 1945, for example, when the Hollywood Athletic Club was still concentrating on sports, the swimming coach conducted the marathon swim that was the custom each winter. There was a large map of the world on the wall on which were stuck many pins, each with a little flag bearing the name of a competitor. In order to move his pin out of Los Angeles, a contestant was required to swim a certain number of lengths which corresponded to the distance to the next port. The goal was to swim “around the world” in this fashion, or as far as you could in the few months of the contest.
As you might imagine, such a game would appeal to eager youngsters, determined housewives, and health-conscious old men. Glamor girls were hardly expected to be interested. So, when golden-brown Linda appeared, wearing a Bikini bathing-suit that looked better in reality than it did in sketch-books, she caused quite a stir when she set out for Honolulu.
As she was then under contract with MGM, her effort was expected to last only as long as it took to take publicity pictures. However, no photographer showed up. To everyone’s added surprise, through the winter the pin marked “L. Christian” kept pushing along over oceans and around continents, and in April finally hove into Los Angeles harbor just behind the one marked “J. Weissmuller.”
By the end of the race, a month later, only a fifteen-year-old boy had “finished”; everyone else was declared “drowned” and received a “nice try” medal. Linda carried home a waist high trophy for her victory. “Pretty good for a soft glamor-girl,’ everyone agreed.
No one quite knows why she is as well known by the name Linda Christian as by Mrs. Tyrone Power. She wasn’t that ell known in pictures. When she declared she would give up her career for marriage, more than a few people asked “What career?” Evidently she meant that she would give up her efforts at a career in pictures for her new ambition to settle down and have many, many babies.
Part of this plan was blasted when, unfortunately, she lost her first baby. But was this responsible for her not settling down? Or has she changed her mind about being the best of wives? Have Linda and Tyrone Power a friendly little agreement continental-style?
Are they still happy together and are their so-called intimates shedding silly tears when they weep, “How can she do this to Ty? He’s so wonderful!”
I don’t know. But that’s the way things stand on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe could tell us. What do you think?
Giselle La Falaise
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 1951