The Lover Who Out-Loved Himself!—Glenn Ford
The girl in his heart is Yvette Mimieux, who at this moment will not even accept his phone calls. The girl in his heart a year ago and his friend ever since, Connie Stevens, won’t answer his phone calls either. And Linda Christian, who made headlines a month ago as his bride-to-be, just clobbered a London newspaper reporter who asked for her recipe for Wiener schnitzel—the dish she fed her “intended” when he “proposed.” And a lady who has often been rumored to be his next wife, Hope Lange, doesn’t seem to see him very much any more.
If it sounds like a comedy of errors, it is a tragedy of errors as well; for this man is a sensitive man, an intelligent man, with a good deal of dignity. He is also a man seeking emotional security, a man with emotional warmth and conviviality, a charming lover on-screen and an even more ardent one off-screen. A man who has everything and nothing. A lonely man.
And if you don’t think it possible for a top movie star to be lonely, you should visit some of these beautiful people in their beautiful houses. Picture this: a mature man who has romanced many women but a man whom love has always eluded; a man who is supposedly in love with twenty-one-year-old, talented, bright Yvette Mimieux. Yvette who is, of course, married, has been since she was seventeen, and who, to date, has made no motion to change her marital status. Nor, furthermore, does she have any notion of becoming Mrs. Glenn Ford.
Yvette’s faceless wonder
I doubt if Glenn has ever met Evan Harland Engber who married Yvette on December 19, 1959. Very few people in Hollywood have. To the press, he is a faceless wonder never photographed, and to whom Yvette has never admitted being married, although I understand it was a radiant girl who said her vows to the Reverend Stephen V. Frichtman, Unitarian minister in Glendale. Yvette has mentioned Evan’s name only once—shortly before her marriage she did an interview with Louella Parsons. When Louella inferred that she was so very, very young and had probably never been in love, Yvette said, “Oh, I have a boy friend.” After some coaxing she named him, explaining, “He’s a student at USC. I like him so much because he’s studying psychology which I’m interested in and he’s brilliant. He always talks sense, not the silly chatter most young men talk today.” He was in the graduate dental school and fellow students who knew him then agree that he was brilliant and charming.
But that was the end of public knowledge of Evan. She married him and started her climb to stardom in films with a publicity campaign based on silence. “I don’t want to sound mystical, hut you have to reserve a part of yourself. Otherwise, you give too much of yourself away and what’s left is just surface. One door leads to another, and you have to decide where you’re going to close doors. Open too many and there’s nothing left behind where you can hide, where you can live.”
However, it has become increasingly apparent to Hollywood that the door to the little clapboard house she rents in Beverly Hills is less and less frequented by her phantom husband. Glenn spent one Saturday helping her paint the place. Glenn, Charles Boyer and Lee Cobb have all been known to drop by for a game of chess, and Yvette’s appearances about town are either solo or in the company of married friends. A divorce has been rumored, but it was assumed that if and when that occurred it would be veiled in the same silence and anonymity as the marriage. But the recent rash of publicity as Glenn’s inamorata would make this considerably more difficult. Understandably, the headlines have angered the pale beauty no little.
How can a dignified man with Glenn’s know-how get himself in such a romantic mess? Well, it was comparatively easy. . . .
Friends brought Linda Christian to a gala party at Glenn’s house, after which he had four dates with her—dates interspersed, of course, with Glenn’s usual round of social activities. He was seeing a great deal of Hope Lange, took Rita Hayworth to the preview of “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” recently enjoyed the Caribbean in the frequent company of much divorced Rhonda Fleming, has parties at his own home and everyone comes—from Angie Dickinson and Barbara Stanwyck to former wife Eleanor Powell who has become Glenn’s close and dear friend. At any rate, five dates later, Linda suggested he come to dinner at her house and he did. They had cocktails, then dined on a dish made by the lady’s own hands.
That was the night Linda called columnist Harrison Carroll and announced the engagement, then handed the phone to her prospective “bridegroom” and let him chat with Harrison. Glenn now insists the whole thing was just a little gag.
Why Connie’s mad
A few nights later, Connie Stevens had dinner at Glenn’s. It was a charming evening, a foursome. One of the four must have mentioned the occasion to someone who relayed it to someone else because that item broke in the columns, too, complete with the menu. Glenn was furious. He had always valued Connie’s reticence in his behalf when they were dating. Now it seemed that she had betrayed him, that he was being hounded from every corner when actually, he was marking time, waiting for the most important moment of his life.
The Welchman Ford lost his temper. He who dislikes personal publicity contacted Louella Parsons and told her the truth: (1) that nothing bugs him more than young ladies who accept his attentions and then run to the nearest columnist and (2) that he was really, seriously interested in someone but was not free to say whom. In two or three months, he’d have, he hoped, an announcement. . . .
When it ran in the paper it read, “Your eyebrows would fly off your face if you knew the blond actress Glenn Ford was really interested in, and I don’t mean his good friend Hope Lange.”
That started it! Her name sprang up in columns everywhere, putting the lovely Yvette in a most embarrassing situation. She chooses to have the door firmly closed on her personal life. She has not made a gesture toward divorcing Evan. The press assumed she’d be flying to Mexico for a quickie. Perhaps Glenn also assumed. And perhaps she will. But at the moment she won’t answer his phone calls. Without meaning to, Glenn had opened that door.
And Yvette, who looks as delicate as a fairy tale princess and as bland, is, in reality, a strong-willed girl, an ambitious girl who feels it her destiny to be a star. As a child she was aloof and self-conscious because she had to wear the same dress to school every day. “I locked doors on the world then,” she admits.
“I shouldn’t say I don’t believe in people, but let’s say there were so few things I believed in as a child. I was disillusioned, unillusioned, by the time I was in third grade. I was in a parochial school where the other children wore such nice clothes and for me this was impossible at the time. Then to make matters worse, I didn’t attend church or Sunday School. It was mentioned—by our teachers. I felt different, held up to criticism and ridicule. Maybe I felt it more than it was. I hated school and when I insisted I be sent to public school, I hated it, too. I never knew my classmates at Vine Street or Hollywood High. I was lonely and bitter and hurt. To compensate and get the right kind of attention, I invented lies, a whole network of fantastic stories, how I was going to be in the Christmas parade down Hollywood Boulevard, how I owned a red and white polka dot bikini—one I’d seen in a magazine on a girl whom all eyes turned to follow. The lies only isolated me more.”
But that didn’t keep her from knowing what she had to offer and a determination to offer it. Some fifteen-year-olds are too shy to try. Yvette’s self-consciousness took a different twist. She entered contests, got jobs modeling, became Miss Harbor Day, at fifteen, the Los Angeles Art Directors’ Queen and the L.A. Boat Show Queen at sixteen, National Electric Week Queen at seventeen.
When personal manager Jim Byron “discovered” her and suggested she try for a film career—she was fifteen then—she didn’t hesitate more than a moment, although her parents knew perfectly well the treacherous possibilities of film work, her dad, an emigree from France had knocked himself out in silent pictures and gotten nowhere. They had complete faith, however, in the fact that Yvette cannot be pressured. Pressured, she’ll withdraw, or worse, buck like a little mule. She knows what she wants and what she wants is to be her self. She is very direct.
She didn’t, for example, get along with famed director Vincente Minelli who directed “The Four Horsemen.” His shouting and impatience made her give a poor performance, she says. So, what she did was—she retreated from Minelli into her own world, giving him a perpetually blank look.
Glenn to Yvette’s rescue
“In Paris, Glenn was so good to me . . . he really knows the city . . . he walked us all over Paris, all the wonderful little out of the way places.” At a party one night for Jean and Dick Brooks, Brigitte Bardot’s ex-husband kept hovering over her. Yvette couldn’t escape and Glenn came to the rescue. “I want you to meet my wife,” he told Vadim. To which Vadim merely shrugged and addressing Yvette, said, “Fort have a very jealous husband.”
It was all a joke then. Yvette was nineteen. But so sexy in her own subtle, dainty way. And of course, she and Glenn became friends. Glenn has the capacity for friendship, fairly unusual in a business where egos conflict and players are jealous of their image, their billing, their best profile, and every close-up.
Despite his recent feminine fluctuations, Hope Lange continues to be his devoted friend, even though she dates other men than Glenn these days . . . Brigitte Bardot sends him a bottle of champagne every month . . . ex-wife Ellie still watches over him to be sure his shirts are done correctly and his kitchen is well stocked . . . and up until the present skirmish over column-tattling, Connie has been one of his most devoted admirers.
But Glenn is looking for neither admiration nor mothering. He’s had both. He’s looking for love.
He was a kid who fell in love first when he was in grade school and was elected to impersonate John Gilbert opposite his beloved’s Mae Murray at the school carnival. Only one rub—Glenn didn’t know how to dance, and after the first rehearsal was replaced by a freckle-faced rival.
He was a sensitive and self-conscious kid who wasn’t part of any gang in high school and wasn’t any social sensation, worked at a dozen odd jobs to earn a buck and dreamed of the theater hut always of character parts, old men, people so different that being them was living another life. He fell in love with the girl who played the lead opposite him in his first romantic part. “I had a tremendous foundation for first love—marvelous parents, a stable home life. And when you play a character in love, you must have conviction, you can’t drop the role after rehearsal. I’ve always had a bone to pick with actors who say they can throw it off. No good actor can.”
He doesn’t. That’s why he has such close ties to the ladies he’s worked with, why they have remained such friends. Mostly. He loves his work, hut it’s no fun unless there’s someone to share it with. He’s always looking . . . “I wasn’t meant to be a bachelor. I want a shared life, the kind of life any man wants, expects and hopes for.” He wants romance.
He was the kid M-G-M first turned down with a curt, “Well, you’re no pretty boy, are you?” And who, for his first movie test at Fox, was saddled with so much “corrective make-up,” he was too miserable to act. Even the agent who believed in him finally said, “I can’t do a thing for you. Try radio or the stage where looks don’t matter.” He’d been rejected by every studio in town. When he finally made a picture the Harvard Lampooncalled him “the newcomer least likely.”
Glenn, of all the stars in this business, probably worked the hardest to get started, hanging great plate glass windows, installing weather stripping, shingling roofs . . . and dreaming of “completely impossible success and travel, the National Geographic variety.” There was no Jim Byron swooping out of the sky in a helicopter to take over his destiny as he took over Yvette’s. Glenn did it the hard way, joining any show that came West for two weeks in San Francisco, two weeks in Los Angeles, starving on Broadway and finally surviving some of the worst B pictures ever made in a town called Hollywood.
Success and confusion
He wanted to be a fine actor. He is, today, one of the great stars in this business, a man equally facile at comedy and tragedy and yet not quite sure lie’s made it. He has grown better looking with the years, a handsome man who makes $300,000 a picture, and has his pick of pictures. The world he dreamed of traveling is his oyster. But emotionally, this is a confused man, a man reaching out for youth to prolong his own, a man who exploded from a pattern of life that was Loo staid, all-work-and-no-play and who hasn’t found a new pattern to replace it. He’s built a dream house, one of the most distinguished homes in Hollywood, he entertains beautifully, but it’s a house that’s lonely when you’re roaming it alone, and in his effort not to let any of life escape him, Glenn has overlooked the basic rule of the love game.
To thine own self be true.
Certainly you play the field searching. But once you’ve found, you play for keeps and you don’t keep on playing the field. If he cares for little Mimieux as he has professed to intimates, then why not wait for her? Why jump from Linda Christian to Ann Miller to Hope to Angie to Connie to Hope to Rhoda Fleming? Or if you want companionship, then keep it strictly that. To jeopardize love by playing at romance is adolescent sport and Glenn is infinitely superior to this.
As it is now, after years of the most decorous public relations, he’s at the prey of anyone seeking publicity. Linda says he betrayed her . . . friends of Yvette’s feel he betrayed her . . . the fact is he’s betrayed only one human being, the one he possesses and doesn’t entirely believe in—himself.
See Glenn in his M-G-M film, “The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father.” Yvette is in United Artists’ film, “Toys in the Attic.”
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE AUGUST 1963