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    Rock Hudson & Marilyn Maxwell

    Right now, five will get you ten in Hollywood that Rock Hudson and Marilyn Maxwell are about to get married • Right now, three will get you five that they will elope within the next six weeks Right now, everything about them is a bet—but what a delightful bet . . . and what a strange romance it is To understand the relationship, what they mean to each other and why they keep everything so secret, a little background is necessary It’s background that makes for fascinating reading Late in November of 1960, Marilyn Maxwell, a beautiful girl with a figure that makes all men yearn, went into court and got her third divorce She felt pretty low Nobody likes to be a three-time loser, particularly at love. And this marriage had been distinguished from Marilyn’s other marriages by the fact that she had borne a child, a handsome little boy named Paul. He was four years old that November.



    Marilyn was quiet that fail and winter. But by nature she’s a gay, happy person. She always has been, even way back when she was three, the year she started her career as a child ballet dancer. She loves to sing—even if she sings for a living. She loves to dance, which she does superbly. She loves to talk and eat and clown around. She positively has a compulsion not to take herself seriously. And when it comes to laughing at the other fellow’s jokes, she is practically a genius. She laughs and laughs. and means every giggle of it.



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    However, in November of 1960, divorced and alone, with little Paul to support, she couldn’t think of a single thing to laugh about. Her fame. which had once been so brilliant, had faded. In 1942 she had been proclaimed “the big new star of tomorrow.” Now her career was nearly non-existent. She needed work. She needed clothes. But most of all, she needed something to live for . . . a new love . . . a new romance.

    And just when she had reached her lowest ebb, the telephone rang. “Hi, Marilyn,” the voice said, “this is Rock Hudson.”



    The years had changed them

    Eleven years had passed since she and Rock had met. Circumstances were different then, a great deal different. In those days Marilyn, all torso and tinsel, was working with Bing Crosby on radio, entertaining at military bases with Bob Hope, making records and rushing from picture to picture as fast as her beautiful legs would carry her. She was a big star then, and Rock was just a handsome nobody. They met quite casually one day at M-G-M, and Rock liked her at first sight. But then all men liked Marilyn at first sight. She was the sort of sight a man dreams about, with her flawless figure, her golden hair and her laughing face. Rock never has been a fast man with a buck, and he wasn’t then either. In fact, in 1949 his dollars were few and far between. But he made a date with Marilyn anyway, and spent a small fortune. They had a wonderful time, but nothing came of it. Marilyn was not only very busy being a big star, she was also in love! The other man’s name was Andy McIntyre—a Hollywood restaurateur, and Marilyn married him the second day of 1950. And quite soon divorced him. Amicably, as the saying goes.



    Rock was too busy to notice her divorce. Universal-International had discovered what a potential talent he was, and, after the fashion of studios in that state of mind, they had their star’s life all planned. They cast him in pictures that demanded long work days, they gave him diction lessons, acting lessons, dancing lessons and anything else they could think of to improve him. It worked—they made him a star . . . but they took up his every waking minute doing it.



    That was Rock Hudson in the early 1950’s, making a swift stride toward top stardom, but suffering both from fatigue and from the pursuit by too many women with one object: matrimony. Until that day—the day he walked into his agent’s office and saw his agent’s secretary, Phyllis Gates.

    Why Rock fell in love with Phyllis Gates and not some fifty other beauties with whom he was linked in the headlines is a puzzle that still remains unsolved. Certainly, no one in Hollywood could give you the answer, and today Rock probably couldn’t give you the answer himself.



    Two marriages—two divorces

    And perhaps Marilyn Maxwell couldn’t tell you why she fell in love with a writer named Jerry Davis at just about that same time. Rock married Phyllis Gates and Marilyn married Jerry Davis. Rock’s marriage lasted a little more than two years. technically, though he wanted out of it long before he went into the divorce court. Marilyn, probably because of her baby, stuck hers out longer—almost six years to the day. Neither of those divorces was amicable, not remotely.



    And so it was, that reading in the papers about Marilyn’s divorce, Rock recalled how hurt he had been at the time of his and Phyllis’ splitup. He called Marilyn to tell her how sorry he was, he tried to cheer her and ended by asking her to dinner. She quickly accepted.

    That evening, the two of them had the best time they had known for months. Being a sensitive human being, Rock had been reluctant to admit, even to himself. that almost none of his friends had liked Phyllis. And she, in return, had made it very clear that she liked few of them. At his studio, she had made it plain as a pikestaff that she could get along without most of his business associates. And at home, she made it clear that she wanted to live much more luxuriously than they did.



    But Rock was a man of simple, quiet tastes. He still is. He will never belong to The Clan, you can be sure. He will never live with the high style of Tony and Janet Curtis or with the international flavor of Kirk and Anne Douglas or with the opulent simplicity of President and Mrs. Kennedy. He likes to listen to records. He likes to swim. He likes to sail his boat. And by deliberate choice, he associates with quiet, simple people. Right now, for example, he lives in the California beach town of Newport.



    Newport is so small that the houses are expensive there, but they couldn’t be simpler. Rock’s has a tiny patio behind a high wall that hides it from the Street. The living room is minute; so are the two bedrooms. And how, with his height, he gets into the kitchen is anybody’s guess! He does, though, because he likes to cook. He mingles with the townspeople, of whom he has become very fond, and they obviously have become very fond of him. About the only Hollywood people he sees much of are Claire Trevor, who has practically retired, and her husband, Milton Bren, who’s an agent.



    So, on the evening of his first post-divorce date with Marilyn, he was delighted that she was wearing her glasses and openly admitting that she couldn’t see her hand before her face without them. Rock’s getting a bit near-sighted, too, and he was wearing his glasses. He smiled as he saw her eat her dinner with hearty gusto. She made him feel more relaxed than he had since fame came to him. She was so openly glad at his great success and didn’t spoil his pleasure by indulging in any self-pity because she hadn’t attained a similar prominence. The career-tables were turned, but it didn’t matter.



    When they parted that first evening, it wasn’t until he had made a second date with her. Then she surprised him by asking him if he’d like to come to her apartment and meet her son. She was a good cook, she said.

    Rock found this to be entirely true. She was a great cook, but she made no prima donna fuss about it. And when he saw her with her son, he suddenly understood why she hadn’t remained a top star. She was too womanly for that, for the hard, unrelenting drive stardom necessitates. She was too unselfish for the self-centeredness and pushing it sometimes takes to remain at the top. She was too real.



    Marilyn is entirely feminine. She is so un-phony that she doesn’t make any bones about her age. She is a woman of maturity. A mother. And, frankly, a few years older than he.

    Rock, himself unspoiled by fame, responded to Marilyn’s honesty and simplicity as gratefully as earth responds to rain. He reacted, too, to her popularity wherever they went. People were always so glad to see her. She wasn’t like Phyllis.



    And another factor which neither of them particularly mentioned helped the romance to develop—the very fact that Marilyn was not free to marry. The pressure was off, at least in the beginning of their romance. They did not discuss their future plans. They simply and thoroughly enjoyed being with one another.

    There was nothing spectacular about the romance. Nothing to make headlines. They went to previews. They dined at Marilyn’s. They dined at Rock’s. Sometimes Marilyn prepared the meal, sometimes Rock did. They listened to records and they talked. That’s Rock’s way.



    Nevertheless, with the subtlety of a completely feminine woman, Marilyn was suddenly persuading Rock that, though the quiet evenings listening to records were perfect, it might just be fun to go out a bit. And if Rock indulgently saw through her wiles, he gave in to them, too. He had never seen comedian, Mort Sahl, but he had a riotous time with Marilyn the night they went. Other evenings he discovered he was enjoying the luxury restaurants of the film colony—Chasens, Perino’s, La Rue. Wherever they went. they were surrounded by laughter. Yet the wonderful part of it was that Marilyn was never “on.” She was never playing the star. She was the appreciator. She was the enchanted listener, and she did it with such sincerity that, around her, everyone became wittier, happier and kinder than usual.



     

    His heart beat faster

    Rock came to the point where he would feel his heart beating a little faster late in the afternoons, because the setting sun meant he was closer to the evening when he would be seeing Marilyn again. But then the studio sent him to Dutch Guiana to a remote native village where they shot “The Spiral Road.” At first Rock liked the exotic little village. He liked the script and he certainly liked his work.

    But at the end of the first week, he discovered he was homesick. That’s what he called it. He had given Marilyn his convertible to drive occasionally so the battery wouldn’t run down. He hoped she was doing it. He wrote her a note, full of nothing, because he certainly wasn’t a writer. But the note made him feel better.



    Then her letters began arriving. They weren’t love letters, which might have made him a little tense, made him feel trapped. They were just small gossipy notes. He laughed over them and recalled with longing the laughter that they had shared on their dates.

    It wasn’t Marilyn who sent him the item from a gossip column that said she was driving a big, black, expensive car—Rock’s gift to her. That made him angry for a moment, and then he began to laugh. It was his own car the paper was talking about, and it only proved that Marilyn was doing what he’d asked her to do—keep the battery up!



    He wanted to protect her

    He realized then how vulnerable a beautiful woman is to gossip, and he found himself longing to be back home to protect Marilyn from the whispers and the insinuations. He thought of her son, and he knew that he wanted to protect him, too.

    Finally, the picture was finished. He was packing for home, eagerly and happily, when he got the letter that bubbled over with her happiness. She had a job on TV in “Bus Stop.” Oh, no, she wasn’t the star, she wrote. She really wasn’t important in the show, but it was a good role, a chance at a good characterization. And the very fact that she didn’t have to carry the show meant that she wouldn’t be a slave to her job. She’d still have time to live life for the sheer, wonderful fun of it.



    She was there to meet him when his plane touched ground. Officials from the studio were there, too. Before he could even get through customs, they were asking him if he would host a “Come September” party. He hated that kind of thing, really. He turned and looked at Marilyn. “Will you act as my hostess?” he asked.

    He wasn’t conscious that he was testing her until he heard her answer. “Sure, I’d love to,” she said simply. He had given her the chance to act possessive. He had given her the chance to be coy. She had been neither one. She was accepting the invitation to be his hostess, no more, no less. She’d love to. Of course she would. She loved life, and people, and dancing, and food and music. She lived life to the hilt.



    Rock enjoyed the “Come September” party more than any Hollywood party he had ever attended. He danced every dance. He stayed till the last guest had left. A week later there was a block party, dancing on the sidewalks of Sunset Boulevard, to promote the “Bulwinkle” show on TV. Marilyn’s TV producers said it would be nice publicity for “Bus Stop” if she’d go—and with Rock Hudson, maybe?

    “Gee, I don’t suppose . . .” Marilyn said to Rock.

    “Sure, I’d love to,” he said in an imitation of her voice. It broke them both up, the way he could mimic her.

    So he went to the block party and, as always, he had a wonderful time.

    Because Marilyn was with him.



    So five will get you ten in Hollywood that by the time you read this, Rock Hudson and Marilyn Maxwell will be husband and wife. Not that either one of them have said so at this writing. They’re trying to keep their love secret. They don’t talk about their feelings publicly. They’ve both been wrong before—this time they want to be sure they’re right.

    But they have that gleam in their eyes, and they walk in that kind of glow that only a singing happiness brings.

    RUTH WATERBURY

    Rock’s in “Come September” and “The Spiral Road,” U-I. Marilyn’s in “Bus Stop” on ABC-TV every Sunday at 9 P.M. EST.

     

    It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JANUARY 1962

     

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