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Susan Hayward’s Story

Through the confusing examination and cross-examination, through the cold ritual of the courts, a clear picture of Susan Hayward and Jess Barker’s marriage and unhappy separation unfolded. This was a typical Hollywood plot—the romance of Jess, a promising young star, and Susan, an obscure leading lady of the B-pictures—except for one ironic twist of fate. Barker was dubious about a marriage that might hamper his career, but Susan, who wanted a home and children, willingly signed an agreement before the wedding, waiving any claim to half of Jess’ fortune (which otherwise would be hers under California community property law). Now, almost ten years later, Susan and Jess come to the divorce court—but the situation is reversed. Jess has been “between pictures” for several years; Susan is a big star; and it is Jess who wants to write off the premarital agreement!

Both Susan and Jess want to do what’s best for their nine-year-old twins, but they don’t agree at all on what’s best. They seem to have been good parents. It was significant that their only complaints about each other’s parental behavior were their fears that the children would be prejudiced and confused by their parents’ rivalry for their loyalty.

If Susan and Jess are sincere in their wishes to protect their children—and apparently they are—they have chosen a remarkable way to do it. It’s too late now to save their sons from unspeakable humiliation.

It’s clear that Gregory and Timothy have been friendly and close to both of their parents, but that’s all over now. What they’ve read and what they’ve overheard between their parents and about them has hurt them and filled them with mistrust and embarrassment.

Last July their home slid out from under them and their family became a public spectacle. If their elders can’t handle the situation with dignity, how can a couple of nine-year-olds handle it?

After the lawyer who had drawn up the agreement had testified, the Plaintiff, Susan Hayward, took the stand to describe the fight in which she got her famous black eye. The case was heard by Judge Herbert Y. Waiker. Miss. Hayward’s attorneys: Martin Lang and Milton A. Rudin; Mr. Barker’s: S. S. Hahn.

(The testimony here is taken directly from the transcript of the Superior Court. Omissions are indicated by three dots; breaks in continuity by three asterisks.)

Q: What time of the day or night was it?

A: Well, it was late at night, because my husband had gone out to get the late editions of the newspapers; it was on his return.

Q: Who was at home on that night, July 16, 1953?

A: My husband and myself and my house guest.

Q: Where were the boys?

A: And my children were upstairs.

Q: All right. And it was after dinner then, late at night, about eleven or twelve at night?

A: Yes. We had been talking before this.

Q: What were you doing on that occasion?

A: I had been studying, and Mr. Barker had been watching television.

Q: Studying what?

A: My script, or a script. I can’t remember right now whether I was working on something at the time or preparing.

Q: When Mr. Barker went out for the late editions of the newspapers, where were you at the time he came back?

A: In the living room.

Q: Can you describe what happened on that occasion?

A: Yes. As I said before, we started to argue. We argued about:most of the things we’ve argued about in the past. I remember one thing; that I asked Mr. Barker for a divorce, because I said to him, under the circumstances, that I felt a divorce might be the only solution to these problems. He said I would never get a divorce.

Q: Did you discuss the question of employment, or his not working?

A: Yes; this was part of our argument.

Q: And the effect on the children?

A: Yes.

Q: Give the conversation, please.

A: As well as I can remember, it wound up in the fact that he said to me I’d never get a divorce. And I said, “If you don’t love me, and don’t want to do what I consider right, why do you want to hang on? And he said, “Well, you’re a good meal ticket.”

Well, when he said that, I didn’t understand, and I looked at him, and I said, “I don’t understand you. I think you’re very queer.”

Q: What did he do?

A: And he walked over to where I was sitting and he slapped me.

Q: In the face, Mrs. Barker?

A: Yes.

Q: Go ahead; proceed.

A: I was frightened. I said, “Don’t.” So he slapped me again. I tried for him not to hit me. He threw me on the floor, and pulled off my robe, and proceeded to beat me.

* * *

Well, when my husband was beating me, I tried to get loose from him, first of all, because it hurt; secondly, because there were children in the house, and Martha Little, who is not well. I didn’t want to disturb them. But when he beat me, it hurt, and I was crying.

So finally I got loose and ran out of the house intg the back garden. I just wanted to get away. Mr. Barker caught up with me; he forced me back into the house. I was struggling with him, and he hit me again.

Q: Where did he hit you, do you remember? I know it’s tough, but we’ve got to do it.

A: I don’t remember where he hit me; he hit me wherever he could.

Q: What were you wearing, by the way, Mrs. Barker?

A: I was wearing a terry-cloth bathrobe.

Q: And what underneath that?

A: Nothing. I sleep in the raw.

Q: All right. Then he was dragging you back in the house. Continue the story.

A: When he continued to beat me, I had to get help. I ran to the telephone. I was going to dial the operator, call the police, or anything I could.

Q: What happened?

A: He came after me and knocked the telephone out of my hand, and he said, “I’ll cool you off,” whereupon he yanked me by the arm, and dragged me out again, back through the garden and up the steps to the swimming pool.

Q: And what did he do then?

A: He threw me in.

Q: And will you relate what happened after he threw you in?

A: Well, as I said, I was wearing this terry-cloth robe, and it’s pretty full. It’s a big, pink, voluminous thing, and when I hit the water, the water soaked it up, and I went down. It’s hard to get up because there are many folds in a garment. I got up to the top, and I started screaming again, because I was afraid, whereupon he pushed my head under the water.

Q: Were you in fear of your life?

A: Of course I was.

Q: And what did you do after he held your head under the water—pushed it under?

A: I suddenly realized that I was not dealing with a person who was quite themselves. I knew that he was so highly enraged that he wasn’t responsible for his actions that night.

Q: So what did you do?

A: So when I came up the second time, I kept my mouth shut, and didn’t make any noise. He said, “Now get back into the house.” So I went quietly.

Q: What happened to the terry-cloth bathrobe?

A: That was soaking wet; and as I said, it was very heavy. It was left by the pool side.

Q: And you therefore had to go into the house without any clothes on at all?

A: Yes.

Q: What happened then? Proceed. You walked in with Mr. Barker behind you?

A: Yes. I walked in the house with Mr. Barker. He pushed me into the bedroom, and he said, “Now stay there.” Naturally, by this time I was pretty scared, and I knew I had to get out and get help somehow, because I didn’t want to stay in the same house with him. So I went to the closet and threw on whatever clothes I could find. . . . There’s a little door that leads out of the bedroom, a side door, so I didn’t have to go out around again through the den where I thought he might be. I opened the door quietly and walked through the garden, and then, as I remember it, around by the kitchen door, because that leads out into the driveway, and freedom. I got as far as the kitchen door, and it was suddenly—I hate to tell these things.

Mr. Gang: I don’t know what else we can do.

* * *

A: It was suddenly opened by Mr. Barker. He said, ‘‘Where do you think you’re going? Get back in there.”’ At least I think that’s what he said; it’s hard to remember. . . .

THE COURT: You can’t remember exactly. The Court wouldn’t believe you if you gave me the exact wording. Give it as near as you can recollect.

THE WITNESS: He grabbed me and threw me into the kitchen ahead of him, and that was lucky, because he threw me with such momentum that I could race to the front door. You go through the kitchen and the dining room and the hallway to the front door. And I opened it, and I ran out, and I ran down the driveway, and he caught up with me, and started to hit me again. He said, “You’re not going anywhere.”

* * *

Q: Proceed.

A: At this point, of course, again I was screaming for help. I was screaming the man’s name next door. It was dark outside, and I was screaming for help. from the man across the street, anybody.

The next thing I remember, he tried to get me into the house, and I refused to go, and I was struggling with him, and he threw me over the hedge and I was down on the ground, and he still kept beating me. And that’s all I can remember until Martha came out the front door, and she yelled, “What’s going on?” because—

Q: “Martha” was Martha Little, your house guest?

A: That’s right. She came out the front door, and she ran over and said, “Stop it; stop it.” Well, when she said that to him, he stopped momentarily, and I ran back into the house Beat grabbed the telephone, because I was going to call the police. He ran back in after me, and again knocked it out of my hand. And then suddenly, was a commotion outside, and out, a police were there. I said, “Would you please call me a taxi?” I told the policeman—

Q: By the way, do you know who called the police?

A: No, I don’t; I never reached them.

Q: Proceed. What happened?

A: So, when I asked the policeman to call me a taxi, I must have looked a mess. I said I wanted to go to my mother’s house. So they called me a taxi. They offered to drive me in their squad car, but I said that wasn’t necessary. So they called a cab, and I got in it, and Miss Little came with me, and We went over to my mother’s house . . .

Q: You spent the night at your mother’s house?

A: Yes. And then I tried to reach your office in the morning, and I wasn’t successful, so I called Mr. Wood, my business manager, at his home, and asked him would he go back to the house with me, and ask Mr. Barker please to leave. Also, my brother came with me.

Q: And you went back to the house the next morning?

A: Yes.

Q: With Mr. Wood and your brother?

A: Yes, and Miss Little.

Q: And Mr. Barker left the house that day?

A: Yes he left the house that day.

Q: It was after that that you filed your Complaint for Divorce, and asked for a restraining order?

A: As soon as I could reach your office, one of your attorneys came to my home; I explained to him what happened.

* * *

Q: And did you secure medical treatment for your injuries?

A: Yes. I was X-rayed, and taken care of.

Q: And can you describe what your injuries consisted of as a result of what had happened the night before?

A: You want a description of how I looked?

Q: Yes. What were your bruises, contusions?

A: Well, I had a black eye, I guess you call it; bruises on the left side of my face, on the temple, the jaw, the nose. I thought my jaw was broken. The eyeball was injured—it was all bloody. My body was covered with bruises, mostly on my “fanny” (indicating), and my feet and legs were scratched and bleeding.

Q: What was that from?

A: From being dragged up the steps and down the steps, and being knocked against things.

Q: And how long a period of time did it take before the visible evidences of your injuries cleared up?

A: Well, that black eye lasted quite a while.

THE COURT: That still doesn’t answer the question about how long.

Q: By Mr. Gang: About how long?

A: I don’t know; I didn’t keep count of it.

Q: About a week, or two weeks?

A: Two weeks.

Q: Now, Mr. Barker did not live at the home from that time on, did he?

A: He did not.

Q: Did he come to take the children with him on occasion?

A: Yes, he did.

Q: Would you, on those occasions, see him?

A: Yes, sometimes I would.

Q: And he would not stay at the house, however?

A: No.

Q: Just come and get the children, and bring them back?

A: That’s right. Or if he wanted to pick up any of his clothes, or things like that.

* * *

That’s most of what Susan Hayward remembered in court about the fight on July 16-17. But this is the way Jess Barker remembered the same evening.

Q: . . . Let’s begin with the fact that you were out, and then you came home about a certain hour, and let us start from there . . . What happened?

A: . . . We went home, had our usual drinks before dinner—never less than two . . .

* * *

After dinner I was sitting in front of the television set for a while,.and the programs were dull, and I left it. Mrs. Barker wasn’t studying a script, because she wasn’t working at the time, and there were no scripts, to my knowledge, that had been sent to her. She had just finished a picture . . .

Q: You know about scripts?

A: I should know; I have worked with them enough.

Q: You studied the scripts with her?

A: Always.

Q: And you advised her?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: And what else do you do helping prepare for the work as a star?

A: To give her every bit of knowledge I have had in the years in the theater, and what I have had in the motion picture business.

Q: Did you attend interviews with her?

A: I was frequently present in interviews with magazines and newspaper people. Quite frequently Mrs. Barker would ask me to join, as she termed it the “light touch.”

Q: Did you have to advise her about costumes at the studios?

A: I was with Mrs. Barker on practically every picture she started on the costumes, and I saw the tests made, suggested camera angles, anything connected with her work.

Q: In addition to that, you bought the groceries for the house?

A: I bought the groceries for the house.

Q: And you bought the supplies, and maintenance for the home?

A: I did to the best of my ability.

Q: And raise the children?

A: That I did to the best of my ability.

Q: All right. Now, tell us what happened from there on. You say she was not working?

A: Mrs. Barker was sitting in front of the television set when I went to get the newspapers. . . .

* * *

Mrs. Barker . . . started reading . . . I had a newspaper . . .

Q: And what happened? What was done by you or her?

A: There was a discussion about families in general in Hollywood—not gossip—just in general, about this person, and that person, which is the way many of our conversations started out. During the course of the conversation, something was said where a remark about my mother was brought into the conversation. Why it was there, I don’t know.

Q: What remark did she make about your mother?

A: Well, it isn’t very pleasant. It was about an incident I told her about when I was a child. “Possibly,” she said, “that’s what’s wrong with you.” . . .

* * *

. . . after the mention of my mother, I sat in complete stunned silence; and Mrs. Barker gave me all of the bad things that she could think about me.

* * *

Q: What did you do then?

A: I sat on the couch. I stayed right there wondering why a woman that I had all the respect for in the world should say that to me, the father of her children. Mrs. Barker leaned across me to get a cigarette, and said right in my face, “Besides, I think you’re queer.” And with that, I think I said, “You’re not going to get away with that.” And I slapped her, and the struggle was on from then on.

* * *

She struggled back. I tried to quiet her down, and by this time Mrs. Barker got hold of me, and bit me very hard in the left arm, in the muscle . . .

* * *

Q: Then what happened? How did you get to the swimming pool?

A: Mrs. Barker ran outside; I brought her back inside. I let her back inside; and I gave Mrs. Barker a spanking . . .

* * *

I asked her to please keep quiet, the children were upstairs, and I picked her up, carried her and put her into bed, and covered her. And Mrs. Barker got up again, and ran outside, and I said, “If you don’t keep quiet I’m going to cool you off.”

Q: What did you do to cool her off?

A: I picked Mrs. Barker up, carried her to the pool, and dropped her in.

Q: Which side of the pool did you drop her in, the nine feet deep or the three feet deep?

A It’s approximately four feet deep . . . The robe, by the way, that she was wearing, slipped right oft.

* * *

And I said, “Now are you cooled off?” And Mrs. Barker was still screaming, and I helped her out of the pool, and took her back in the house. Mrs. Barker never entered the parkway area gate in the nude—never . . .

* * *

Q: Did you ever drag her?

A: I never dragged Mrs. Barker. Mrs. Barker fell on a couple of occasions pulling away from me, yes . . .

Q: You did not try to drown her as she says?

A: No, Mr. Hahn. I helped Mrs. Barker out of the pool . . .

* * *

Q: Then you went back in the house, and what happened then?

A: Mrs. Barker was in the room for quite some time, and I was in the den, and in the state I was in, I decided to take a walk in front of the home.

* * *

I was sitting outside by the driveway which has the drain, and Mrs. Barker came out fully dressed with a coat on; I mean fully dressed apparently to the eye, with a scarf over her head. She had the dog in her arm, and she was going down the street in the dark . . . I tried to get her back, and there was a struggle . . . I took her to the front door, and asked Mrs. Little to please put Mrs. Barker to bed, and she said, “I will.”

Q: That’s the first time you saw Mrs. Little that night?

A: That’s the first and only time I saw Mrs. Little until she left shortly after that with Mrs. Barker . . . Mrs. Little opened the door and was waiting.

Q: And then the police arrived?

A: I sat on the front doorstep, or stoop, and sat there until a gentleman walked up to me in uniform and said, “What’s the trouble here?” And the only word I spoke to the gentleman was, “Domestic.”

* * *

Q: Did you at any time throw her over a fence of some sort?

A: I did not.

Q: Did you at any time hear her scream loud and long, “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me?”

* * *

A: I don’t remember that.

Q: Did you try to kill her?

A: No, sir, I did not.

Q: Did you try to do her any physical harm other than what you say you considered she deserved, a spanking?

A: I did nothing else, Mr. Hahn.

* * *

A: I left the home in the hopes that the home would be reunited and perpetuated . . . I was back on a Tuesday with flowers. This is the first occasion . . .

* * *

Q: You brought her flowers for your and her anniversary?

A: I did.

Q: She accepted them?

A: Yes.

Q: She appreciated them?

A: She thought they were lovely . . .

* * *

A third witness was called to describe the same incident. Her testimony came between Susan Hayward’s and Jess Barker’s. Her name is Dodee Hazel Swain and she had been a maid at the house next door to the Barkers’. And she had a room with a view.

Q: . . . you could see from your bedroom into rhea area in which the pool is located?

A: Yes.

Q: All right. Now, on the night of July 16-17 of 1953, did anything occur which you remember at this time?

* * *

A: In the early morning of July 17, I was awakened with a loud scream—a lady’s voice. 

* * *

And then I got up out of bed with the loud scream still on. Then I went back to my bathroom and I went straight to the back kitchen door, and I stood in the doorway looking and listening.

Q: At this time of the morning were there lights on in the yard of the Barker home?

A: There was two lights, big headlights, in the backway.

Q: And did you see anything at that time? . . .

* * *

A: I saw a lady run by out of the gateway, the back of the house, and she didn’t have on anything. If she did, it was very sheer to me.

* * *

A few minutes after she was in the house, I heard a loud scream, then they ran outside in the backway, direction of the pool, and I heard screaming real loudly, and she was screaming, “Don’t kill me; don’t kill me,” and “Somebody help me; somebody help me; please don’t kill me.” I heard a man mumbling, said, “You’re going to sign that deal.” She said, “No, no.” And I heard a big splash as if something bumped in the water, and she was screaming and struggling. And then I heard conversation out near the pool, but I couldn’t see, so I just heard the mumbling. I couldn’t understand what was saying otherwise . . .

Q: And did you go back to bed?

A: I stood there for a little while, and then I laid back down. And later, in the early morning, I heard a man in the backway, two men, talking. I didn’t even get up to see who it was.

Q: Now, did you recognize any distinctive part of the person you saw running—the lady; was her hair noticeable to you in the light?

A: It was kind of red—reddish-like . . .

* * *

Q: Was the person you saw Mrs. Barker?

A: I would say she was.

Mr. Gang: Thank you very much. You may cross examine.

Mr. Hahn: Did you notice that naked lady again?

* * *

A: . . . I saw her twice.

Q: All right. Now, after you saw her run into the door, when did you see her again?

A: When she ran out the back door next to where I am.

Q: Did you notice her for just about a second again?

A: It was running so fast I guess it was a second.

Q: And that lady was still naked?

A: Yes.

* * *

Q: Where did the naked lady run after she got to the driveway?

A: In the direction of the pool. I don’t know where she ran after that.

Q: That’s the last you saw of the naked lady?

A: That’s right.

* * *

Q: When did you hear somebody yell, “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me,” after she ran to the swimming pool, or when the naked lady ran through the door the first time?

A: When she ran back to the swimming pool.

Q: That’s the first time you heard a lady say, “Don’t kill me?”

A: No. She was just hollering when I was awake. I was awakened with a scream; that’s what I told you.

Q: Yes, and with screams, “Don’t kill me?”

A: Yes, when she ran back to the pool, and there was some slaps like that . . . Then I heard her hollering, “Don’t kill me . . . somebody help me . . .” Then I heard a man’s voice say, “You’re going to sign that deal,” and she said no, and splash, he throwed her in the pool, and there was a scrambling, and scrambling, and that’s the way it was . . .

Q: A scrambling over a deal?

A: In the water.

Q: Did you go over there and look?

A: No, I didn’t go over, because I didn’t want to interfere.

Q: Did you call the police?

A: I didn’t call the police, because I didn’t want to interfere . . .

* * *

Q: . . . When you saw the naked lady run in the house, and when you saw the naked lady run out of be house in the swimming pool, you didn’t see a man follow her?

A: Yes, there was a man following her, but I didn’t look at that second. He was sure following . . .

Q: Now, when the man’s voice said, “Sign the deal,” where was that?

A: That was outside.

Q: Outside, when she ran out the first time or second time?

A: The second time.

Q: Well, how soon after she ran out towards the swimming pool did you hear a man say, “You’ll have to sign this deal”?

A: It wasn’t long afterwards, because that’s when the most screaming was.

Q: About how long?

A: About a few seconds. I don’t know just how long it was, but it wasn’t very long.

Q: How long did this yelling, “Save me: don’t let him kill me,” go on?

A: It went on quite a while, because I don’t see why somebody in the neighborhood didn’t hear beside me . . .

* * *

Q: How long did they talk quietly in the swimming pool, in that direction, after the screaming stopped?

A: Quite a while, I guess, because I went and laid down.

* * *

The Barkers were the only witnesses who appeared to describe their next struggle. Their disagreement about what happened on Labor Day was greater than their disagreement on the other fight. Miss Hayward was examined first.

Q: What occurred on the Labor Day week end of 1953?

* * *

A: I had taken the children and gone to Hawaii, and we had sort of a vacation, and I hadn’t seen Mr. Barker, and he called and asked if he might take them out on Labor Day. And I said, “Of course.” And they came back, and they were happy together. They were all, you know, laughing stuff like that. I had guests, Mr. and Mrs. Dorsen.

We were up by the pool. I guess Jesse brought the children back about around six o’clock, and as is the custom in our home, we dine early, usually six-thirty, latest a quarter of seven, because of the children. The children always eat with me.

As Mr. Barker came in, he knew Mr. and Mrs Dorsen, and I felt it would be embarrassing for me not to ask him up at least to say hello, because the children would wander why I didn’t ask him. So I asked him would he come up and join us in cock tails. We had just started. He said he’d like to, and be came up by the pool side, and he poured himself a drink.

We discussed this and that, social conversation, and then he said he’d like to talk to me. I said, “All right.” Mr. and Mrs. Dorsen left, and went down into the house.

I said, “Please, Jesse, will you please be sort of quick about it, because dinner is almost ready and I don’t want any delay.” He started to talk about reconciliation. . . .

Q: What did you say?

AI said it was impossible, and I didn’t want a reconciliation. I felt it would be better for both of us to be apart. He is sort of insistent, and, well, to make a long story short, he didn’t want to leave. This caused delays in the kitchen, in my guests, and the children wondering why dinner wasn’t there, and why their mother wasn’t ready to sit down.

I asked him again and again to please leave—“Let’s talk about it some other time, not tonight.” It was a holiday; I had guests; it was time for dinner.

Mr. Barker said he would leave when he was good and ready to leave.

Q: Did the guests come in at any time?

A: Yes, they did. They came in to see what was wrong, and tried to persuade him to leave. They were unsuccessful.

Q: Then what happened?

A: Well, I was furious, because I tried to get him to leave peaceably, because I didn’t want there to be any disturbance The children were there, and I had guests, and besides, it’s not good. I was quite furious. He was sort of standing near me, and I had a cigarette in my hand; it was lit; and I have a temper, and I said, “I would like to push this cigarette right in your eye.”

Q: What did he say?

A: He said, “You haven’t got the guts.”

Q: What did you do?

A: Whereupon I proceeded to push it in his face. What did he do?

A: He put up his hand (indicating) and then smacked me.

Q: You did not succeed in getting the cigarette in his face?

A: This I can’t remember.

Q: But you remember—

A: I aimed.

Q: And did you get smacked?

A: Yes, I got smacked.

Q: What happened then?

A: Well, I yelled, and Thelma came running in.

Q: Who is Thelma?

A: She’s Mrs. Dorsen.

Q: All right: continue.

A: Oh, I forgot when they came in before, they tried to calm down the argument, and said, “Well, have another drink, and then leave.” So Thelma went out into the kitchen to make this drink, and as she ran back into the room, when I screamed, she had the drink in her hand, and I grabbed the drink and threw the contents of the glass in Mr. Barker’s face.

Q: And where were the children?

A: They were in the dining room. Mr. Dorsen, as I understand it, was talking with them about various things, trying not to let them hear the com motion going on in the house; but it was pretty loud. Mr. Barker said that he didn’t hit me, and that I was a liar.

Q: In whose presence did he make that statement?

A: Mrs. Doesen, although other people could hear him, because he said it pretty loud. I just wanted him to get out of there; and I ran into the kitchen, and he ran after me; and I ran into the den, and he ran after me, and insisting I didn’t tell the truth, and that I was a liar.

Q: Did the children hear this?

A: Yes, of course; they must have heard it, al though they didn’t say anything to me about it. 

Q: All right: proceed.

A: Well, finally he was prevailed upon to leave. He left. That’s all.

Q: What happened after that?

A: I called you the next day. I said it was impossible, that I want a divorce, and I want it fast . . .

But Jess’s report is quite different.

Let’s go to the Labor Day incident. Tell us exactly what happened there, briefly, when you came over . . .

A: . . . I said. “Do you mind if I take the boys down to Studio City and see your picture, White Witch Doctor”because they had been promised to see it. And I said, “Would you join us?” Naturally, I was refused; however, I did take the boys to see their mother.

* * *

We returned home, afterward in a very happy frame of mind. The boys talked about the picture, and I felt that they liked it very much, which I was very proud that they had seen their mother and enjoyed her performance.

I was invited up to the pool, and Mr. and Mrs. Dorsen were present.

* * *

I asked Mrs. Barker if I could speak to her, and Mrs. Dorsen left the pool and we chatted quite a while; and Mrs. Barker informed me that: “How did it feel to know I’d he the recipient of $100,000 at the end of the week?” I thought it was a rather large amount. My remark was, “Is that all?” I didn’t know what she was talking about.

She told me she informed me she was going ahead and get a divorce..

At this point, Barker testified that he had been going to the marriage counselor under the impression that he was a psychiatrist and that their visits to him were for the purpose of working out a reconciliation.

We were going for a reconciliation, but Mrs. Barker told me since then that she was going merely for the children, which she said, about how the children should be handled.

Q: Go ahead and tell us the rest of it.

A: Well, we went into the home. I sat on a chair and Mrs. Harker sat on a small love seat, and we discussed at length about various things. And Mrs. Barker wanted a quick divorce-go to Nevada right away give a settlement.

So I continued talking about the home, and about the children, and our obligations to the children. Mrs. Barker walked away from me to the table, lit a cigarette, came back, and during the course of the conversation (I was standing beside her), looked at the end of the cigarette and said, “I ought to push this right in your eye.”

I said, “Well, I don’t think you’ve got the guts to do it.” I thought she was joking. With that, Mrs. Barker reached up and pushed the cigarette towards my face, and with my left hand I knocked the cigarette out of her hand, put my foot on it, and what turned me around was Mrs. Barker yelling, and screaming that she had been hit.

I grabbed Mrs. Barker by the shoulder, sat her on the couch and said, “What is the matter with you?” With this, Mr. and Mrs. Dorsen came in, and I said, “This girl claims she’s been hit. Would you please take a look and see if she has a mark on her? She’s got sensitive skin; it would show.” Mr. and Mrs. Dorsen answered me.

Q: Did you hit her?

A: I did not.

Q: Proceed. What happened next?

A: The next thing I know, I was getting a drink in my face.

Q: A drink of what, water or whiskey?

A: Well, the part that came down my face tasted: very much like whiskey.

Q: All right. What happened next?

A: I said to Mrs. Barker, “Will you please tell the truth?” Mrs. Barker kept yelling that, “You hit me, you hit me,” and started moving around. and I moved with her, and I said, “Please tell the truth. I’ll not leave the house until you tell the truth.”

By this time I knew the children had heard it, and I wanted the children to know the truth too. And after several minutes of this I decided to leave, because I wasn’t getting any place, and might have made matters worse. And I left, and the divorce was filed the following day.

* * *

In spite of their concern for the welfare of their children, the testimony of both the Barkers implied that their only worry besides protecting them from the knowledge of their parents’ disagreements, was protecting themselves from each other in the eyes of their sons. In trying to get at the effect of the Barkers’ troubles on their children, Judge Walker ruled:

I think this: Of course, the Court has raised three children of his own, and been around a lot of other children, and they restrain themselves, and you can’t tell what they’re thinking about. I think evidence as to their activity along that line is admissible even though it may be hearsay . . .

The Court is only interested in the attitude of the children. It’s pretty hard to get it without knowing what they say, and in many instances, what they don’t say when they are questioned . . . many times children will shell up, and you can’t get anything out of them . . . I think the Court has a right to get the attitude, and he’s doing it the best way he can.

Miss Hayward told about the questioning of their children about the separation.

The Witness: They didn’t quite understand why their mother and father didn’t live together any more.

Q: What did they say, and what did you say?

A: Why don’t their daddy live here any more? And I said, “Sometimes when people grow up, and they can’t get along together in happiness, it’s better for them to live apart.”

Q: You started to say something about putting Gregory to bed one night. What did he say?

A: He said, “Wouldn’t you like it if daddy lived here?”

Q: All right Did you answer him?

A: Well—

Q: Or did you evade the answering?

A: I answered him.

Q: What did you say?

A: I said, “It’s too bad, but sometimes grownups can’t get along together.”

Then she described her relationship with her sons and recounted a scene in which she believed her husband tried to undermine her position with them.

Q: With reference to visitation rights, Mrs. Barker, will you relate to the Court the observations on the children when they leave for week ends, and when they come back?

A: Yes. During the week they’re pretty much relaxed, except for, well, boys will be boys, and once in a while they’ll get out of line. But they’re nice kids, normal, happy, and they have, well, the best way I could describe it is a rather relaxed and free relationship with me. I do notice when they come hack over the week end with me, they’re tense, and it takes a day or two for the tenseness to leave. I don’t know why. I’d like to be able to talk with Mr. Barker and discuss with him how we can work this thing out so that we can work together and not against each other.

* * *

I told him it was wrong for two people to be in conflict, and to try to outdo each other.

Q: What did Mr. Barker say?

A: May I give an incident that’s just come to my mind?

Q: Yes. Go ahead.

A: Mr. Barker came to the home after we came back from Hawaii And this kind of thing would occur, where we talked about the trip, and I said. “Tell Daddy how you were surfboard riding, and deep sea fishing, and so forth, and so on.” And Mr. Barker said, “Were they very good boys?” I said, “Yes, they were very good boys, but once in a while I’d have to give them a little crack on the behind.” So he looked at the children, and he said, “Oh, you’ve got a very bad mommy.”

Well, it wasn’t the kind of thing that you say in front of kids, because then, you know, they get confused.

* * *

And Jess Barker told the Court why he wanted to keep his wife from permitting her mother to live in the home with the children.

Q: You don’t want your mother in law to be in the house with you, your wife and your children?

A: I do not.

Q: Tell the court why.

A: The children told me, during the time I had them at Christmas, that they couldn’t understand something. I said, “What are you talking about?” They said, “Something that Grandma said right after you left home.” I said, “What do you mean?” The child said, “Grandma said she would kill you.” And the child said, “Grandma said to Mommy, ‘Get rid of Daddy.’ ”

There was more examination and cross-examination of Mr. and Mrs. Barker that day. And there’s more to come. But we’ve given you the gist of the testimony, and you can compare the stories for yourself.

It looks as though the divorce and custody hearings will be worse an ugly fight with no winners. Of the losers, Gregory and Timothy stand to lose the most.



(Susan Hayward is starring in 20th Century-For’s Garden Of Evil)



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