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Sometimes She Could Murder Me!—Rory Calhoun

If Mrs. Rory Calhoun weren’t so in love with her tall, dark and very handsome husband—she’d probably strangle him! Mind you, this homicidal urge doesn’t consume her every day in the year. Not even on odd Sundays, either. It just creeps up on occasions, very special occasions like the time, recently, when her charm chap invited the Ricardo Montalbans for dinner.

Now, lovely Lita adores Ricardo and his Georgianna and having been holed up for weeks with a cold, she was starving for social activity. All this Rory included in his mental musings as he drove along to the studio.

It was the last day of shooting on “Powder River,” so he could sleep late in the morning. Months had slipped by since the Montalbans and Calhouns had seen each other, and it was worth a try. Perhaps they all might have dinner together this very night! Rory pulled up in front of a drug store, went inside to a phone booth and called them.

The Montalbans happened to be free, they were delighted to accept the dinner invitation, and pleased as punch with his ingenuity, Rory made his happy way to the studio.

“There was just one tiny little thing I forgot!” He’s a bit abashed when he admits it, but those heavy-lashed blue-green eyes for which he was nicknamed “Smoky,” still gleam with amusement.

“I forgot to call up Lita and tell her we were having guests for dinner!”

The Calhouns were just coming out the front door on the way to a drive-in and an early movie, when the Montalbans drove up.

“What a wonderful surprise!” exclaimed Lita, “But why didn’t you call us first to make sure we’d be home. One more minute and you would have missed us!”

Ricardo and Georgianna fixed a beady eye on Rory. When Lita looked up and saw the expression on his face, she knew the inevitable had happened. Being a fiery Mexican, she started screaming.

“It was a riot!” recalls Rory and then he breaks himself up just thinking about it. “You see, I really was upset because I wouldn’t intentionally offend anyone. When I forget things Lita gets furious. But she’s so tiny and cute, the madder she gets the funnier she looks. Then when I start to laugh, she wants to keel me!”

Of course, they took the Montalbans out for dinner. Both Rory and Lita receive an allowance of $25 a week from their business manager, but most of it had been spent already. So they had to borrow from the $40 weekly budget allotted them from household expenses. It was a gay, charming evening for everyone—even if Lita didn’t speak to Rory for hours after!

“Just to think is a strain on me,” kids Rory, “so you can imagine what it’s like when I have something important to. remember! You know, as a kid I used to dream a lot. I wasn’t aware of it until I got a good smack on the seat of my pants. Then, young villain that I was, I began using day-dreaming as a handy excuse and it finally became a habit. I guess it sort of caught up with me, because at times it turns me into a real character.”

One of those times was the day he was supposed to pick up visiting friends he’d met while making “Way Of A Gaucho” in the Argentine.

“The plan was for me to pick them up at the Beverly Hills Hotel at noon,” rues Rory. “Then I was to return them to the house, pick up Lita and proceed on to lunch. Suddenly, I looked at my watch and discovered it was five minutes after twelve. So I dashed over to the hotel, but on the way I had a brainstorm. I remembered it was Lita’s birthday!

“I had to buy a present for my wife, I told my friends. So it seemed better to eat our lunch right there, then I’d do my shopping and come back for them later. Yes, we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch, then I went on about my business. Finally, in an exclusive shop I found just the watch I was sure Lita would love. Delighted with my purchase, I drove right home with it—completely forgetting about my friends waiting back at the hotel!

“The house was quiet when I came in, so I thought Lita had gone out. As I was in the kitchen having a cup of coffee the door flew open. There stood you know who, and with sparks flying out of her eyes, Lita thanked me acidly for NOT taking her to lunch! Then she blew her top! Finally, as she slammed the door she reminded me a man had been waiting for me for hours, insisting he had an appointment. I was stunned for a second. Then of course I remembered it was someone wanting to borrow $100 to pay his rent. When Lita heard this—she blew her top all over again!”

Rory managed to get her birthday gift into Lita’s hands without getting conked on the head with it. She didn’t speak to him for the rest of the day, but when she came down to dinner put her arms around him tenderly and looking up at him with all the adoration she genuinely feels, softly said:

“Thank you, daddy, very much.”

“Thank you for what?” he asked in a surprised voice. Exercising monumental self-control, Lita counted to ten in Spanish. Then she counted to twenty—in English. Throwing up her hands in a gesture of hopeless despair and resignation—she kissed her husband all over again!

Make no mistake and receive the wrong impression. The Calhouns are mad about each other. He adores her fiery temper and inimitable mad-cap personality. There isn’t one fraction of his six feet three inches that she would change, even if it were within her power. Exercising her feminine prerogative, however, she still screams her pretty head off every time his day dreams catch up with her. Being a mere male with a perverse sense of humor, Lita’s fury tickles the tar out of Rory and he secretly delights in needling her!

Last November 15th, the initial day of duck hunting season, Rory and Guy Madison decided to drive up to Lake Henshaw and bag the limit. Now Rory has been going off on hunting trips for years and his wife rarely accompanies him. This time, she suddenly decided she wanted to go along.

“That lake was really like something out of a horror picture. The wind blew fog in our faces leaving them soaking wet. The boat was shaky and Lita’s teeth chattered until they sounded like castanets. Explaining there were boats all around us in the fog, I cautioned the little woman to remain very quiet.

“Suddenly there was a fluttering sound overhead. The air was filled with the eerie, raspy cry of the wild duck. You could actually feel the tension for miles around and that was the moment my bride chose to stand up in the boat shrieking—‘Here they come!—Here they come!’ Well, I thought all the buckshot was going to be emptied on us. ‘Drown that woman!’ shouted every hunter on the lake. Poor Lita! Guy and I ribbed her unmercifully all the way home.”

With just and due credit to Lita, she knows when she’s licked—but it doesn’t necessarily follow that she has to remain this way. A few weeks later the Calhouns drove up to San Francisco where a group of Hollywood stars were scheduled to make a personal appearance. Rory was to be master of ceremonies.

As past history proves, it seems that something happens whenever he has to make introductions. For some unexplainable reason, at times like this Rory even forgets the names of his best friends—which is exactly what happened!

Standing out on the stage in his white tie and tails, Rory had every woman in the theatre almost hating her husband.

“And now,” he announced in his finest fashion, “I want you to meet one of the finest fellows I have ever known. We’ve been friends for years—he’s a great actor—a very popular man about town—everyone loves him and you will too when you meet—!”

Rory’s mind had gone completely blank! He stood there wishing the floor would open up and swallow him. It was seconds, it seemed like years and out from the wings marched the innocent victim, who leered at Rory, bowed sheepishly to the audience and said: “My name is—Cesar Romero!”

One last and final story about the ebullient Calhouns, who live and love together and get a kick out of every single second. Because Rory’s day-dreaming is constantly sneaking up on him, it’s a feather in his famous cap when he can get something on Lita. He had the opportunity last August, the month he was born. At the breakfast table when Lita didn’t mention his birthday, it gave him ideas.

“When I got home from the studio that night,” laughs Rory, “I decided to look real hurt. I built it up through dinner, acting cool and aloof. Lita finally couldn’t stand the suspense and demanded to know what was wrong. I told her nonchalantly that it was really nothing—after all a husband’s birthday wasn’t very important. So why should she remember it? Lita couldn’t have looked more sympathetic.

“ ‘You are so right Daddy,’ she deadpanned. ‘I don’t blame you a bit. I know if you didn’t remember my birthday I would be very hurt, too. However, you have made one little mistake. I didn’t forget your birthday—YOU did! It isn’t today—it’s a week from today! Which would you rather have, darling? A nice new calendar—or a daily date book?’ ”