“Stop Telling Lies About Us”—Dale Robertson
For a long time now, Twentieth Century-Fox’s big he-man from Oklahoma, Dale Robertson, has been the subject of talk and gossip items hardly calculated to advance his popularity with moviegoers.
Dale had changed completely with his stardom, reports said, and success had gone to his head in a big way. . .
Dale was spending more and more time away from home, they said—golfing, hunting, riding, even night-clubbing—leaving his wife Jackie to cry her heart out alone with baby Rochelle. . .
Dale and Jackie had reached the parting of the way, gossips claimed, and he was seeing an incendiary blonde young actress recently married; others said he was beauing a top-drawer movie queen who had just shed her third husband. . .
Jackie’s reaction to all this has been one of mounting indignation. “They’re not being fair to Dale!” she’d exclaim. And close friends have said that if the Robertson marriage is shaky, it is just these items of gossip that are to blame; no household could ignore them completely.
Dale himself, however, has said not a word throughout the entire barrage, partly out of a stubborn conviction that he was answerable for his behavior only to his own conscience. But now with the situation showing signs of getting out of hand, he has finally decided to speak out in his own interest and in no uncertain terms.
“From start to finish, the stuff the columnists have been dishing out on me is pure, unadulterated hogwash,” Dale says flatly, his eyes tightening noticeably at the corners. “Where they’ve been getting their alleged information, I wouldn’t know, but it hasn’t come from either Jackie or me—that’s for sure. Up until now, we’ve never made any statement about our marriage, and anything that’s been written was either random speculation or loose gossip. Why don’t they stop telling lies about us?
“Regarding this latest item in the papers, to the effect that Jackie and I are ready to call our marriage quits,” Dale continues, buckling down to cases, “nothing could be farther from the truth. Actually, we’re happier than we’ve ever been! And as for any so-called ‘reconciliation,’ we were never separated in the first place and there hasn’t been any question of a divorce—at least, not on my part!
“There was a time not so long ago when I was under a lot of emotional pressure and Jackie and I, like countless other couples in and out of the picture business, had some serious thinking to do. I thought we could do it better by being alone for a few days, but I never did leave home. I said I’d be back and I was. After all, deep down I’m a thorough-going family man and on top of that I’m crazy in love with this Jacqueline of mine.
“As for this business of my having acquired new feminine interests, of all the items that have been printed this one takes the prize for being the most ridiculous! The only blonde-haired, recently-married actress I know is a girl I worked on a picture with a while back. She’s a brand-new bride who happens to be very much in love with her husband and whom I haven’t seen twice outside the studio. And as regards the movie queen I was supposed to be beauing around, I did run into the lady in question on Hollywood Boulevard and stopped to chat with her for a second. But that’s all there was to that, and the romantic build-up it got from the columnists was sheer poppycock.
“The same goes for the numerous published reports that Jackie was being made a number of varieties of widow—golf, hunting, fishing, and horse. And while these reports have a theoretical basis of truth, in that I’ve been extremely fond of outdoor life from the time I was a kid and still am, they have no foundation in actual fact.
“I’ve always been especially keen about hunting, but I’ve gone hunting only once since we’ve been here. I love to fish, but I’ve been out fishing exactly twice during the past five years. I like to play golf—and I used to play a good deal. But if I play at all now, I do it on Sunday mornings while Jackie’s asleep. I get up at five o’clock and I’m home by the time she wakes up so that we can be together for the rest of the day. And I haven’t even done that since the baby came.”
Regarding the printed allegation that for a while he had whooped things up in regular playboy style among the glittering boites along the Sunset Strip while Jackie sat languishing alone at home with the new baby, Dale declares emphatically that it just isn’t so.
“My so-called playboy romp among the bright lights was confined to a single visit to Ciro’s when my mother and uncle came to visit from Oklahoma. But neither then nor at any other time has Jacqueline been left to sit at home by herself. When I’m working on a picture at the studio, I’m home every evening. And if I’ve had to be away on location or for personal appearances, I’ve made sure before I left that somebody was going to be there to stay with her during my absence.”
Dale is equally vehement in labelling as a base canard the intimation that he and Jackie are roughing it in the modest but nevertheless exceedingly pleasant home which they live in, in Roseda.
“From the way the columns have described it, you’d think our home was a primitive, one-room, log-cabin affair! Actually, it’s an attractive, modern, brown stucco and fieldstone, three-bedroom job. And it’s decorated in cocoa, chartreuse and flamingo—with modern furniture to match,” he remarks, jaw jutting out. “Sure, it’s nothing fancy, but it’s comfortable and it’s more than adequate for now. Later, when we can afford it, we’ll build something better.”
While Dale has been understandably resentful of the malicious misstatements that have appeared in the press, his ever-loving Jackie is burned to a crisp at the whole theme of “The Cowboy and the Lady” . . . and at the attempts many writers have made to draw a sharp line between her background and Dale’s by painting her as a well-bred, ultra-refined lady educated in Switzerland, and her spouse as a rough, moody cowpoke wafted to Hollywood direct from a remote Oklahoma ranch.
I don’t know who’s responsible for the toney la-de-da build-up I’ve been getting in the columns—and at Dale’s expense,” she exclaims with a toss of her pretty head, “but it’s high time it was nailed down for the pure piece of fiction that it is. And as for Dale, he’s certainly no cowboy. He’s never roped a cow, I’m sure, and I can’t imagine him bulldogging a calf. I doubt seriously that he’s even come within hailing distance of a team of mules, much less had experience handling them.
“Furthermore, no matter what the reports have been, he comes from a wonderful family and was raised in a lovely home that reflected the best of taste and an appreciation of the finer things. He went to college and he has a keen knowledge of art, music and literature—and he can quote poetry by the hour. A cowboy! What a notion! Why he actually studied the violin for ten years.”
Ask Dale point-blank whether it’s true, as the stories have alleged, that he’s changed completely with success and stardom and he smiles good-humoredly.
“About the changing part, a man isn’t the best judge of a thing like that, but I don’t think I’ve changed to any appreciable extent,” he says. “I still want the same things I came to Hollywood wanting. I still have the same interests and the same friends, and I still have the same attitude toward people, and I accept individuals for what they are.
“But as for stardom and success having gone to my head, nothing could be more absurd—and for two good reasons: In the first place, with me, making movies is strictly a business—one that I happened to select in preference, say, to being an oil man or a construction engineer. Having a businessman’s viewpoint toward my job, I entertain not the slightest feeling of glamour or personal prestige for any phase of it, including stardom.
“And secondly, even if I were the rank egotist some columnists make me out, I couldn’t possibly confuse my current status in pictures with even a reasonable facsimile of success when there are any number of people right in my own studio who have made fewer pictures than I have and are getting twice as much money every week. I’ll admit that I’ve done more thinking about success lately than I ever have before . . . because I’m trying to put something aside. I want to make sure that if anything should happen to me, Jacqueline and the baby would both be amply provided for.”
Speaking of the baby, Dale still smoulders at the item that appeared in one of the columns, to the effect that he was “keenly disappointed” that his first-born wasn’t a boy. “For sheer stupidity this item really takes the cake,” he says. “Actually, before the baby came, I vacillated. One day, I’d think I’d like a little boy and the next, I’d think a little girl would be awfully nice. And when the hospital phoned me out on the set where I was working to say that Jacqueline was all right and that we had a healthy baby girl with five tiny little toes on her feet and five fingers on her hands, I couldn’t have been happier.”
To appreciate how happy her father is and also how very proud, one has only to see Rochelle and her Dad together . . . to watch Dale playing with her and putting her to bed.
“I wouldn’t trade this little angel of ours for eighteen boys, in case anyone should ask,” Dale declares with a flush of paternal pride. “She weighs nineteen pounds now and she’s twenty-seven inches tall—which is better than average, according to the doctor. And on top of that, she looks exactly like her mother, which means she’s got more than her share of natural beauty.”
Jackie offers some additional details on the subject of Dale, the doting parent.
“Dale just can’t wait for Rochelle to grow up,” she says with a hearty chuckle, “and he even has his own ideas about the way she’ll wear her hair—long and waved softly. He can’t wait for her to get big enough to wear the beautiful little dresses he’s bought her, so that he can get her all decked out in her Sunday best and take her with him to the studio for the day.”
As for the reports that Jackie had left Dale in a huff to go trooping off to Oklahoma City for four weeks following their alleged separation—Jackie actually did make the trip, but not for the reasons indicated. She did so at the insistence of Dale’s mother, who didn’t want to go back home alone and prevailed upon Jackie to keep her company. And during the entire time she was away, she and Dale were separated only by the geographical miles between them. Almost every other night, Dale phoned to tell her what a dog’s life it was being a bachelor and how sorely she was being missed.
That hardly sounds like a man who doesn’t care about his wife!
Their four weeks apart, however, coming as they did on the heels of their recent misunderstanding, gave Dale and Jackie an opportunity to find out just how much their marriage meant to them. And as a consequence, there’s a new radiance—brighter than ever—in their daily lives.
“I suppose it was my old-fashioned notion of what a husband should be, as much as anything else,” Dale gallantly volunteers when you try to pin him down about the source of the misunderstanding. “I was raised to believe that a man was the head of the home and . . .”
“Even though we had our differences, we never really raised our voices at one another,” Jackie hurries to add. “We used to argue about little things, but there doesn’t seem to be anything at all to argue about any more.”
“We always talked, but not about the right things,” Dale chimes in again, grabbing the ball. “Sometimes women are a little hard to talk to, and at times it was hard for me to talk to Jackie. And it takes more than talk anyway. You can’t just talk yourselves into being happy. . . .
“But Jackie and I are definitely happy as of right now, all opinions in certain quarters to the contrary,” Dale comes back like a shot. “And furthermore we intend to remain that way come hell, high water, and the writing efforts of the entire breed of Hollywood columnists lumped together!”
And that, it would appear, is that.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JUNE 1953