The 5-Sided Triangle Or One Guy Has To Go!
The news of the craziest love tangle Hollywood has seen in many a paper moon broke just before Christmas from two widely separated locales—Munich, Germany, and Palm Springs, California. It was—and is—the news of a five-sided triangle with a east that turned every producer in Hollywood emerald with envy. It stars ex-Queen Soraya of Iran and Susan Kohner. And two such lovely leading ladies need dashing leading men. They have them—the only trouble is they have three, not two, vying for the honor. George Hamilton, Hugh O’Brian and Montgomery Clift. Now any fool knows that’s one man too many.
Everybody thought—until that flash from Munich plus that smash from Palm Springs—that Susan Kohner’s heart belonged to George Hamilton. Ever since 1958 when the smooth Mr. H., then age nineteen, came riding into Hollywood in his Rolls-Royce, he has been the sparker who put the love light in Susan’s dark eyes. Susan was twenty-two in 1958.
And that year has another significance for this story—that was the year the Shah of Iran divorced the beautiful green-eyed Soraya because she couldn’t bear him children. The daughter of a German countess and an Iranian Ambassador, Soraya was then eleven years Susan’s elder and fourteen years older than George Hamilton. İn 1958 she was thirty-three. The Shah was as generous as only an Oriental potentate can be, and he dismissed his wife with alimony and jewels as fabulous as her flawless face.
With a broken heart and all that wealth, Soraya did what almost any millionairess would do: First she went to Paris and got trunks of clothes and then she went to the French Riviera on a love hunt. So after a year or so of a few false starts and stops, whom did Soraya find down there in the balmy breezes?
Hugh (Wyatt Earp) O’Brian, as artful a marriage dodger as ever rode the range west of the Pecos. Ladies like Hugh very much; Hugh likes ladies very much. So as a matter of fact, if you checked back in his history you would find that he broke into Hollywood by going to live at a residence known as The House of the Seven Garbos.
There were seven beautiful ambitious girls, duly chaperoned by a housekeeper, living in that one house. Among them were such lovelies as Ruth Roman and Linda Christian. (You can see that Hugh was a man of taste way back when!) And there he was—surrounded by women who had everything—except ready cash. They needed a handy man around the place, someone to fix the plumbing or the electricity and even fill in when one of them needed an escort. They couldn’t pay any wages but they could provide board and lodging. It was a perfect set-up for Hugh O’Brian, then Hugh Krampe. He’d been a gardener, he’d been a soda jerk, he’d been a clothes salesman. He wanted to be an actor. He had enough of a sense of humor to grin when the seven Garbos brought him bits of steak or a half a prime rib from an elegant dinner some other guy had bought them—little tidbits they said they were “taking home for the dog.”
But enough of that. Hugh wanted to become a star and he did. What he never has done, though, despite hundreds of excellent opportunities and thousands of wonderful dates, is marry. Yet when he met Soraya it looked as though he might be snared. They were the sensation of the 1960 Riviera sea- son, this TV gunslinger in a dinner jacket, this ex-Queen in a Dior bathing suit. They were together, Soraya and Hugh, in all the Riviera smart spots. And when Hugh had to return to his career, there was Soraya in New York, in Las Vegas, in Hollywood, and everywhere Hugh was. They were both the same age, thirty-five.
And, of course, there was no chance whatsoever of escaping reporters, whether they were in Rome or Paris or Vegas or Hollywood. The question was always the same: When were the Princess and the cowboy going to get married?
Hugh’s reply, early in 1961, is a classic. “This is a delicate moment in our lives,” he said. An answer like that, as every reporter knows, can mean anything or nothing. Some people whispered that maybe the delay was the Shah’s fault. Perhaps he wouldn’t like Soraya, a Moslem, marrying a non-Moslem.
Soraya was more direct about marriage to Hugh. Last spring, when she was the house guest of Brigadier General and Mrs. Joseph Battley in Washington, she said to the reporters, “Perhaps late this spring . . .” She let the sentence hang in mid-air. But poor beauty, she really had to say something. After all, Hugh was a house guest there at the very same time! But not a single wedding bell did clang.
But let’s get on with our story. Just at about that time last spring, George Hamilton went to Florence, Italy to play in “The Light in the Piazza.” And Susan Kohner signed to go to Munich to play Mrs. Sigmund Freud. Mr. Sigmund Freud is played by Montgomery Clift, which brings him into our five-sided triangle.
Monty, who is somewhere in his mid-thirties, has never married. A romantic, yes. A fine actor, definitely. A real charmer, distinctly. But up until now, not the marrying kind.
Way back in 1950, of course, when Elizabeth Taylor was recovering from her marriage to Nicky Hilton, Hollywood was certain that she and Monty were in love. They were making “A Place in the Sun” together then.
No one believed them then when they said they were “just good friends.” Though when Liz married Mike Wilding, and Mike Todd and Eddie Fisher, and Monty continued to be Liz’ closest pal, it did begin to look as if they had told the truth. And when he and Liz were making their second picture together, “Raintree County” in 1956, Monty was linked seriously with Lib- by Holman. But like Hugh O’Brian with Soraya, it added up to nowheresville when it came to walking down that center aisle to the strains of Lohengrin.
So when the news broke in Munich that Susan Kohner and Monty Clift, playing man and wife on screen, were considering playing the same roles off screen, Hollywood was all shook up. That story made the morning editions, but the afternoon editions nearly over-shadowed it. Those were the extras that told how, in Palm Springs, George Hamilton and ex-Queen Soraya were living it up. Riding horseback at dawn, breakfasting, lunching, swimming and cocktailing through the day, doing The Twist come evening. Every day. Every evening.
Of course, just about as colorful romance items about George had been appearing in the papers since his arrival in Hollywood. Last year there was the news that he was seeing Zsa Zsa Gabor—and it was perfectly true. From Florence there was the word that he was not only going places with Yvette Mimieux, but he was also acting as delightful escort to a positive brood of Italian principessas and contessas, teenage variety. And all those stories were perfectly true, too.
Yet just as true, the day after the Soraya news broke (and that, we assure you, is utterly, absolutely true), George was saying. “I called Susan in Munich last night. She understands our situation. She knows it is perfectly harmless for either of us to go out with people we know. She’s working with Monty Clift. It’s perfectly natural that she should go out with him.
“Let me explain about Susan. She’s the most charming girl I’ve ever known, but her charm is intangible. She is so vital. She is so very deep. She’s fluent in six languages, to say nothing of her knowing art and music and books in a really fabulous way. But she’s really unexposed to the world. She is very quiet on the surface, but not quiet below it at all. Acting is only one small release with her. She’s a ‘growing’ person. Vivid as she is right now, she’ll be twice as vivid in another five years.
“Now to get back to Soraya,” he said. “The night I first met her I kept hearing people say, “Sora, Sora,” but it didn’t register with me. I didn’t recognize her from her photographs, and I still didn’t recognize her when I met her again early this past December in Palm Springs. We were at a friend’s house, and everyone was doing The Twist.
“I looked over, and there was Soraya watching the dancers. I suddenly realized she wanted to learn how to twist. Before anyone introduced us, I was attracted to her because her face showed that she had suffered. Then I saw that she was shy. She certainly has had access to a world that most of us never see. But there she was, outside that world. and probably lonely.
“I went over and asked if I might dance with her. We had a wonderful time. There is nothing phony about her. Next morning, with about ten others, we went horseback riding. Then we lunched and dined and danced. Soraya is delightful—but I’m simply not thinking of marrying at twenty-two, not her, not Susan, not anyone.” George paused for a moment, then grinned his rather wicked grin and said, “Too many girls act as though they couldn’t wait four days after meeting you to marry you. The smart girl learns to wait. Any girl can get any man if she will just wait. I like Susan better than any girl I’ve ever known. I flew over to visit her in Munich. But I am not engaged to her because when I do get engaged, it will be about a day before I marry. I’ve only been allowed to vote for one year. I’ve only been able to buy a drink for a year. I want to be more mature before I marry. Susan knows this.”
Susan probably does know it, but still it’s hard to wait . . . and wait. Susan’s parents aren’t too happy with the situation either. They like George immensely. They desire their daughter’s happiness. But they are simple people in contrast to George and his family’s glitter. They live a very scholarly private life, and their conservatism is shown by the fact that Susan still lives with them at home—and that home is the one she was born in. That’s unusual in restless Hollywood where many people move every few months. They don’t talk about it, but all their intimates know that they would like Susan married and settled down. They know Hollywood well enough to know that eligible men, for a girl of Susan’s refinement, are rare. George Hamilton is highly eligible. He is a gentleman as well as a sophisticate. He apparently is going to have an important career. He’d be a fine husband for Susan. Until now, she’s been patient.
But getting him to say the hard words while ex-Queens like Soraya, sweet girls like Maria Cooper or society girls like Wendy Vanderbilt and Daphne Fairbanks are around isn’t as simple as saying “pass the butter.” George has dated all these girls. Both young and less young. you notice, but all exciting. With his lively intelligence, his flair for living, his income, his name and his powerful maleness, he probably will date twice that many between now and the time he marries. He isn’t really a wolf. He’s just having a hail, a very glamorous ball.
Monty Clift on the other hand is a lonely artist. Susan is an artist, too. It just could be that they will seriously get together.
And what about Hugh—a man who mixed martinis and held doors open for an ex-Queen from New York to Hollywood to Rome? For one thing, he’s left Hollywood—but not with his head hung low. He opened in a Broadway show Christmas night. The title? “First Love.” And there are rumors going around that Soraya was front and center on opening night. Does that mean she’s his first love and only love? Could be. (That would have left George alone and lonely for the holidays.) But Soraya might just prefer George after all. Which would mean that Hugh is fifth man in this crazy geometry game. Then again, if Soraya decides she prefers an ex-Wyatt Earp to a junior playboy, there’s nothing to stop Susan from coming back to console George. In that case, Monty would be left out-out-out. Who knows? This is certain, though: One guy just has to go.
Susan and Monty are in U-I’s “Freud.” George is in “Light in the Piazza” and “Two Weeks in Another Town” for M-G-M.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MARCH 1962