Terry Moore And Her Gang
One night, when our daughter, now Terry Moore, but then Helen Luella Koford, was fifteen and a leading light in Glendale High’s banana-split and juke-box crowd, my husband and I returned from an hour of grocery shopping, to find our driveway and the street blocked with motor scooters, Model A Fords, assorted jalopies, bicycles and cut-down hotrods.
To put it mildly, Terry’s long-suffering father was more than a little annoyed. “When will this invasion end?” he groaned as we parked with difficulty a half block away and toted armfuls of rolls, hot dogs, potato chips, pickles, popcorn, peanuts, quarts of milk and soda pop into the house.
“Lamar,” I told him, remembering I was a teenager’s mother, “this is only a phase. It will pass just as all the others did.”
So, what happens? Today our driveway and the street are blocked with regulation cars, a sprinkling of Cadillacs, Jaguars, M. G.’s, and other sleek jobs. And Daddy and I are still filling the house with the same party food.
From all this, you may gather that our daughter Terry is a gregarious girl who surrounds herself with dozens of friends. And you’re so right. “All Alone By the Telephone” has never been one of Terry’s favorite songs. She’s vivacious, curious, interested in people, in acting, music, scores of sports and she has enough energy to run a power plant. As one of her closest studio friends remarked, “That Terry gives vitamins to vitamins!”
As for me, I love it. And it’s given me a couple of interesting hobbies of my own: Keeping up Terry’s scrapbooks and taking pictures of her and her gang. One of the hots I’m proudest of is that, Bob Wagner and the red apple.
At our house anything can happen—and almost always does. The other morning Terry rushed in breathless, as usual, to slip out of her dancing-class costume and into sports dress for a golf date with Bob Wagner. At the door, she tossed back the intelligence that Susan Zanuck could make the most divine chop suey. So, instead of the barbecue they’d planned for that night, the gang was going to prepare a Chinese dinner on the patio. That’s my Terry. She doesn’t enjoy cooking (though she can do it) and so she’d organized a party in which the guests would do the cooking. Luckily we have a large, completely furnished patio with an electric barbecue and roaster.
Later, I went out to see if they needed anything. My daughter, as usual, was talking a blue streak. Terry, a great little manager, was doing the organizing; young Steve Rowland was setting the table. Lori Nelson and Merry Anders were mixing a weird assortment of ingredients—vinegar, pineapple and molasses—to make a basting sauce for the ribs; Johnnie Ray was accompanying himself on the record player, Nicky Hilton informed Steve that the forks and knives were placed all wrong.
Bob Wagner, resisting Terry’s invitation to baste the ribs, said firmly, “Sorry, good-by! Just remembered a fascinating dentist appointment.” Just then chief-cook Susan Zanuck recruited him to taste the chop suey. He made a wry face and he accepted the steaming spoon.
“Did you follow the recipe? he asked, his face contorted as he gulped down the sample. “Sure,” said Susan. “Was it in the original Chinese?” he kidded.
But, just the same, it must have been good. Because later the pot was empty and, again under Terry’s direction, they were washing dishes and clearing up.
“Now popcorn for dessert,” Terry called.
“You can’t have popcorn with a Chinese dinner,” Bob scoffed, then switching into a veddy, veddy correct British accent, “Why it’s as shockingly bad taste as not dressing for dinner on safari—unforgivable, quite, y’know. The dinner we’ve just enjoyed-and I use the word advisedly—calls for almond cakes and preserved kumquats and fortune cakes.”
“We’ve got those, too, Buster,” Terry assured him, matter-of-factly, “but who can live without popcorn?”
Terry already had the electric corn-popper going. Popcorn is a passion with her and her gang—has been for years. Sometimes I think the bowl must have an invisible hole in it since the contents vanish as if spirited away by a magician. But I’m always delighted to keep bringing in more and more refills.
Always our house has been a center of activity. A wedding announcement or the news that a friend—in pictures, or not—is expecting a baby inevitably calls for an appropriate celebration. “Come on over tonight,” Terry will say and soon the walls rock, and the patio floor jumps and the spinet piano shakes. We have two telephones with two different numbers—we need them both—and it’s a sight to see Terry run back and forth holding two simultaneous conversations.
I remember one time when Terry and I were washing the dinner dishes and I began to reminisce about taffy-pulls in my Idaho small-town youth.
“That’s a wonderful idea,” Terry said quickly. “When the kids come over tonight we’ll have a taffy-pull.” Later the whole crowd, fingers dusted with flour, took over my kitchen. But it wasn’t the light tan taffy of my youth. For Terry decided they’d have theirs in Technicolor. She added food coloring and was enthusiastic over the poisonous looking blue and green and red results. And then the creativeness of actors came to the fore. Some made guns and lariats of the taffy and became badmen in Westerns; others fashioned handlebar moustaches and formed a quartet, singing, “She’s Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage,” and Jerome Courtland groaned and grunted while he lifted his rope of taffy high over his head, pretending he was Atlas, the strong man. I never cease being amazed—and amused—at the ease with which they do wonderful and hilarious imitations.
Some months ago we decided to move from Glendale. When the agent showed us our present house in Westwood, near the studio and UCLA (where Terry takes night courses), Dad and I were interested in its utilitarian features and price. But Terry, who loves cheerful surroundings, looked at the colorful walls, the unbelievable number of closets, the large patio, versatile den, huge living room and said, “This is it! Wonderful for parties.” And when the agent pointed out that music from a special system was piped to each room and the patio, Terry was overjoyed. She’s always loved music—in fact, the moment she enters the house, on goes the record player.
“This house was just made for entertaining,” burbled Terry happily. “Now I won’t have to carry my record player around with me from room to room. The only thing lacking is a swimming pool.” But Dad and I drew the line there. It probably won’t be long before Terry will marry and move to her own home, and our son, Wally, now a junior at Brigham Young University, will do the same. Then what will Dad and I do with a swimming pool?
So Terry and her crowd—almost all sports enthusiasts—do their swimming elsewhere. But the equipment for all her other sports activities is stored in every nook and cranny in the house. That includes golf clubs, tennis rackets, riding clothes, skiing equipment, surf board, goggles for underwater swimming, bowling shoes, badminton birds, ping-pong paddles—and I don’t know what else. “Mom, where are my ski socks?” or “What happened to my bowling shoes?” are frequent questions. The only thing I don’t have to worry about stumbling over is equipment for flying.
But I do worry about Terry’s piloting a plane, although I’m the only member of the family who’s gone up with Terry at the controls. She thinks nothing of flying to Palm Springs for brunch and coming right back for a tennis date; flying to Tiajuana for the bullfights or down to La Jolla to see a friend rehearse a play. I sort of wish she’d give up flying for solitaire or something safer. But it’s hardly likely.
When Terry was only four years old, she’d already given me the scare of my life. I’d taken her to a doctor for a whooping- cough shot, turned to talk to the nurse and when I looked around, Terry was outside the window teetering on a ledge six stories above the pavement. “Wait,” whispered the nurse. “Don’t scare her.” She tiptoed to the window and asked softly, “Honey, is there something interesting in the sky?” Terry peered up and my heart skipped a beat. Just then the nurse grabbed her. And that was only the beginning. The remarkable thing is that this madcap fireball who next tried to follow an attendant into a bear’s cage in Griffith Park Zoo, ever grew up in one piece at all.
Terry doesn’t just dabble at sports—she goes at them with all-out championship gusto. That’s why she learned tennis from Dick Seixas and Greg Bautzer; skiing from Jerome Courtland and golf from pro Al Besselink. Sunday afternoons Bob Wagner, other golf enthusiast friends and Terry meet in Griffith Park for their Pitch-and-Putt Club. Terry usually keeps some clubs in her car, so when she passes a driving range and has thirty minutes to spare she can stop off for practice.
She’s unusually co-operative by nature and will say “yes” to any studio demand on her free time or to her friends, when she thinks her presence at a function will be helpful. The other night, after a completely filled day she skipped dinner and drove with a group of young friends clear to Taft, a two-and-a-half-hour drive, to see Tab Hunter open in a new play. And she’ll give up anything to go off on a really important trip like the one to Korea last Christmas.
Sometimes I ask her, “How can you make so many dates in a day? You’d have to be quintuplets to find time for everything you plan today?” “Mother, I’m never tired, really,” she explains. “You get tired only when you’re bored and I’m never bored. What really relaxes me is excitement and hard work. I’ll always have to be doing something and I’m never going to retire. I’ll be like Sophie Tucker.”
Though she keeps to a full schedule between films, she rarely goes out week nights when she’s making a picture—only when the studio asks her to attend a premiere, and then she comes home early. And though she dresses in a twinkle, she’s never slapdash like some busy girls, but always neat, clean and well-turned out. Cleanliness is a fetish with her. I remember when she was in school, she came home one day to announce that she had a terrific crush on one of the boys.
“What’s so super about him?” asked Wally, disdainfully.
“He wears the cleanest blue jeans of any boy at school,” answered Terry.
Always she’s been complimented for her taste in clothes. And she adores them. Nor has she outgrown the desire to put on a new dress the minute I’ve finished making it. Busy as she is, she always keeps her clothes in perfect order. Her dresser I drawers are a model of tidiness. That is a trait she didn’t inherit from her mother.
But she did inherit thriftiness and a love of clothes. Terry was reared as a Mormon and gives ten per cent of her earnings to the church as her tithe. She’s a faithful attendant at Mormon church services and because of her deep religious beliefs she doesn’t smoke, drink coffee, tea or any stimulating liquors. Nor has this abstinence lessened her popularity with boys.
In fact, the sheer number of her beaux created quite a problem during her teen years. It’s a phase other mothers know about. Every week there was a new boy. She’d introduce him to me, saying afterwards, “Mama, isn’t he positively the end—the most attractive man you’ve ever seen?” Serenely I’d answer, “Yes, indeed—this week, that is.” But that’s all in the past.
Now her indecisiveness concerns cars. Terry drives an old Chewy; has been talking about buying a new car. One day it’s to be a Packard convertible, next day she’s all set on a Ford, then she hears of a wonderful deal on a Cadillac. Just as she was about ready to settle on that, Bob Wagner told her the Austin-Healey, an English sports car is, in his words—“the most.” Now she’s all perplexed, and still drives the Chewy.
Terry had changed little throughout the years—still is friendly with Glendale High School pals, but she dates more boys in the profession than she did formerly. As she puts it, “When I go to a premiere with a boy who isn’t in pictures, he squirms and rushes me out when photographers come around, saying, ‘Let’s duck this.’ But when I go out with someone like Bob Wagner or Rock Hudson or Hugh O’Brian, he understands that being photographed and giving autographs is part of our work.”
Terry’s friends seem to me to be a wonderful group of young people—intelligent, natural, alert, outgoing, thoughtful of others. I remember one night when Terry was working late and I sat up sewing on a new formal for her. When I heard her drive up, I opened the door. Bob Wagner, in his own car, was following her home just to see that she arrived safely. He waved, gave her a warm smile and left. And his apartment is in the opposite direction.
Terry has always had the ability to make good friends. Before they married—Elizabeth Taylor, Ann Blyth, Jane Powell, Jane Withers, Wanda Hendrix, Diana Lynn—were part of Terry’s group, as were such young actors as Darryl Hickman, Dick Long, Lon McCallister, Jerome Courtland, Craig Hill and Roddy McDowall. More recently, Debbie Reynolds, Susan Zanuck, Merry Anders, Donald O’Connor, Hugh O’Brian, Jay Robinson, Bob Wagner, Tab Hunter, Steve Rowland, Rock Hudson have joined the group. Music there always is, with Eddie Samuels at the piano and, when they are in town—Johnny Ray, Vic Damone, Al Martino, or Champ Butler—to enchant the gang with their voices. And afterwards, Terry leads the way to the kitchen to whip up scrambled eggs.
All in all, it’s a great life. And neither Terry’s Dad nor I show any signs of weakening!
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MARCH 1954