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The Girl Behind The Headlines

“Liz Taylor really in love with Michael Wilding.”

“Liz and Nicky stage romantic idyll.”

“Liz Taylor and Clift wooing here.”

These newspaper headlines appeared recently within the same month—long on sensation and short on truth, Liz Taylor is not a little tramp.

Elizabeth returned from England to laugh at the Wilding rumors. “I had no flirtations at all in England,” she told me. “Between Michael Wilding and me there was no romance, I promise you.”

I believe Elizabeth. She is not Michael Wilding’s type. He likes more mature, sophisticated ladies, such as Marlene Dietrich for whom his devotion was long apparent.

“I worked hard in England,” Liz went on, “I had to be at the studio early in the morning. It took a long time to make up and dress as Rebecca for “Ivanhoe.” But when my schedule permitted it I went out; danced a little. I like to dance One weekend I spent with Lord and Lady Mountbatten. I thought the young Englishmen who came to the party the Mountbattens gave for me quite attractive. But they did not seem to care for me. . .”

It seems incredible that any young man should not care for Elizabeth, unquestionably one of the great beauties of our time. Besides, she is gentle, with an innate modesty, not remotely a flaunting star. If she was not received enthusiastically by the young Englishmen she met at the Mount- battens’ it must have been because of her past publicity, her short-lived marriage.

She was disturbed by the young English- men’s attitude. It was this, I think, that influenced her to go with Nicky to her Uncle Harold Young’s house in Connecticut to meet her mother. Nicky and Elizabeth’s mother have, through the past year, remained good friends. Elizabeth and her mother and father have been estranged.

Nicky Hilton is, in my book, a horribly spoiled young man. But about mothers he is sentimental. f believe it was to talk to Elizabeth about her mother that he came to see her in New York.

If Nicky brought Elizabeth and her family together so that Elizabeth might be with Sara and Francis Taylor when, a few days later, they celebrated their silver anniversary, he did her a good turn. Elizabeth, always sheltered, proved—before she sailed for England—that she cannot cope with the Hollywood razzle-dazzle.

Her mother worried about her. “Stop fretting,” a friend of mine told Sara Taylor. “Going to England is the best thing that could happen to Elizabeth. She’s come through a stormy year. Her short-lived marriage in itself must have been horribly shocking to her. However, she’s still your daughter. She still knows all the things you and her father have taught her. She still has all the standards you ingrained in her. In England she’ll go back to her roots. In England she’ll find herself—you’ll see.”

Never were truer words spoken.

I understand that Mrs. Taylor would favor a reconciliation between Elizabeth and Nicky. But I doubt there will be one. And if there is one, take my word, it never will last. It would be impossible for Elizabeth to forget or forgive his treatment of her on their honeymoon. He was rude to her beyond words. And he neglected her shamefully for the gambling houses.

“What in Christendom does that young Hilton want?” everyone asked. “Most young men married to such a charming, beautiful girl would never leave her side.”

It was, I think, Elizabeth’s career that caused Nicky’s attitude. She did not want to have a family for a few years at least. Nicky, I understand, felt differently. And when a young husband’s authority is questioned and a young husband’s ego is affronted he turns resentful. Whereupon, to salve his wounded pride, he seeks escape. Where many men would have turned to another woman, Nicky turned to gambling. It is, I believe, just that simple.

Were Nicky Hilton an analytical young man he would run from another beauty with movie ambitions, Betsy von Furstenberg, for instance. But it could be that Betsy who, with her beautiful countess mother, has spent her life in an impoverished castle in Germany and a walk-up flat in New York, has known enough insecurity to settle for the Hilton millions and let stardom go hang. Elizabeth, with reason, values her career. Even when she was on her honeymoon she got made up and costumed to work as an extra in “Quo Vadis,” then shooting in Rome.

Elizabeth has been working for her career ever since she was seven years old when her father, deciding that war was closing in on Europe, sent her and her mother and brother to her maternal grandfather’s home in Pasadena. That same year Elizabeth signed with Universal. But Universal soon dropped her. After that, she auditioned for Metro who that first time said “No, thank you.”

Elizabeth’s career, so really brilliant after “A Place in the Sun,” was not as easily or miraculously come by as many believe. Furthermore, the critics, who have dismissed many of her performances by talking of her appeal or beauty or charm, have devilled her. “I wish,” she more than once has wailed, “they would say I was good!”

Well, they’re saying she is “good” now. With reason. Not since “National Velvet” has Elizabeth turned in such an acting job She made “A Place in the Sun,” remember, before she married. It was, in fact, while the company was on location at Lake Arrowhead that Nicky Hilton, coming up to visit with young Frank Freeman, met Elizabeth for the first time. Elizabeth, I am sure, sensed the hit she had in this movie—and wanted to follow it up with other hits, rather than with babies.

All of which brings us to the Monty Clift rumors. Liz and Monty did date while she was in New York. But facts deny any serious romance. When a Paramount publicity man told Monty that Elizabeth was coming in he called her, to promise, casually, ‘ I’ll catch up with you while you’re here.” Also, asked to go to Washington on a Movietime, U.S.A. tour, Monty declined, although Elizabeth was going. “I’ve appeared for Movietime in New York and Dallas,” he explained. “I don’t want to overdo it.”

Moreover, when Elizabeth checked into the Hotel Plaza,’ with her twenty-two pieces of luggage, she found her suite filled with flowers. From Paramount, for whom she made “A Place in the Sun” and from Metro, to whom she is under contract—not from Monty, or Nicky, or Michael Wilding.

“First thing I want,” she said, kicking off her shoes, “is a cup of coffee with real cream, flapjacks and crisp bacon. Then I want to go to bed and sleep. For days! Nobody in Paris ever sleeps. You go back to your hotel only to change your clothes and go out again. It’s a twenty-four-hour town.”

When someone asked her why she had not shipped some of her luggage to avoid the heavy freight she had had to pay—more than her passage, actually—she looked horrified. “I couldn’t! I had to have everything right away.” Which is typical of her.

“I had hoped,” she said, “that ‘A Place in the Sun’ would premiere while I was in England. I would have liked to be there. Maybe I’ll fly back—if I’m not in production—and they really put on a big do . . .”

It is, unless I’m very mistaken, Elizabeth’s career that occupies her heart today. And this is a good thing. She needs time to find herself. She is, above all, a nice girl, the nice fruit of her nice family tree. Had she been a tough, sophisticated miss who knew her way around, she would have handled her life far more expertly. And she would not be so hurt at what happened to her.

“Liz Taylor really in love with Michael Wilding.”

“Liz and Nicky stage romantic idyll.”

“Liz Taylor and Clift wooing here.”

Don’t you believe any of it. I don’t!




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