The Most Beautiful Wedding Of The Year—Richard Egan & Patricia Hardy
It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helpmeet for him.—Genesis II, 18
And so they were married, on June 7, 1958, Richard Egan at the age of 36, Patricia Hardy at the age of 26, in the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, San Francisco. Church law requires that the knot be tied in the home parish of the bride and, if not the bride’s, the groom’s. Pat’s parish is Blessed Sacrament, in Hollywood; Rich’s is in St. Martin of Tours, in Brentwood. But Rich wanted more than anything else in the world to have his beloved brother perform the ceremony. It took months, because the Church deliberates lengthily before it permits any of its age-old Laws to be broken. And permission was finally granted. . . .
I had known Rich from his beginnings in Hollywood, when he got his first break in Wicked Woman. A few weeks before the wedding I had the honor of hosting the wedding announcement party for the couple. Then I had to leave the next day for a quick jaunt through Europe—to look in on Hollywood’s overseas production in these cities and to write some stories. I had to take an eighteen-hour flight over the Pole from London to Los Angeles to get back for the wedding. I was weary but I wouldn’t have missed this wedding for all the sleep from here to the Land of Nod. This was one story that couldn’t wait!
Pat was staying at the Olympia Hotel in San Francisco before the ceremony. She was so ‘shook up’ that she had absentmindedly brushed her teeth with the soap powder she had brought along to wash out her stockings, instead of with her tooth powder. And Rich, half-way across town, at the Fairmont Hotel, had reached for a cough drop, thinking it was a cigarette, and tried to light it! As for myself, I had forgotten to bring my wedding invitation.
But I managed to fight my way into the church anyway, through the crowd of 2,000 friends and fans. One thing I never forget is my press card. It turned the trick. I got in.
It had rained for days before the wedding. The sun came smiling through on the morning of the wedding, for one of the loveliest spring days San Francisco has known in years. And yet the next morning after the wedding, Sunday, the rain came pouring down again! Happy the bride, they say, that the sun shines on.
Happy the bride, indeed—from that first night, three years ago, at Ciro’s, when their eyes met across the crowded nightclub while the orchestra was playing Hey, There (you with the stars in your eyes). * Richard was with a group that included Beverly Michaels, his co-star in Wicked Woman.
“Who is that pretty girl?” he asked Beverly.
“The one with the beautiful smile and the dimples and the stars in her eyes.”
“She’s Pat Hardy. Cute, huh?”
“That’s an understatement, Beverly. What does she do?”
“She’s an actress. From New York. Wanna meet her?”
“My gosh, Bev—you know that angel?”
“Sure. Come on, I’ll introduce you.”
And so they met, and so the courtship began, and Rich asked the orchestra to play a few more choruses of Hey, There while they danced. . . .
Dissolve, again, to International Airport, Los Angeles, the day before the wedding. Jane Russell and I are taking the same United Airlines flight to San Francisco.
JANE: Why are you going up so early?
CONNOLLY: I’m tossing a bachelor party for Rich at the Palace Hotel tonight.
JANE: Poor Rich. The guy’s been working so hard, and tonight they’ll be rehearsing for the wedding, and tomorrow morning they’ve got to get up bright and early for the wedding Mass—what are you trying to do to the poor guy, kill him?
CONNOLLY: It wasn’t my idea. They’ve had three bridal showers for Pat and nothing for Rich, so somebody said tonight’s the night for Rich—his last night on earth as a free soul.
JANE: But a stag party—how dull!. Hey, I just got an idea—
CONNOLLY: Don’t you dare—Jane, if you do—
JANE: Do what? I’ll be doing him a favor, that’s what! You guys will keep him up half the night, but if I bust in on it. . . .
So anyway, here we are in San Francisco. It’s Friday evening, the night before the wedding. Rich checked in at the Fairmont yesterday, Thursday. Pat and the entire bridal party arrived at the Olympic today. They include May Wynn, Pat’s maid of honor, and her husband, Jack Kelly; the bridesmaids—Maureen Lennon and Kathleen Davidson, Pat’s sisters, and Leslie White, Richard’s cousin; Kathleen Lennon, the seven-year-old flower girl, Pat’s niece and daughter of Maureen; Pat’s mother, Mary, and the stepfather of the bride-to-be, William Washington, both out from New York for the wedding. (Pat’s own father died years ago.)
I checked into my suite at the Palace. I grabbed a quick dinner and took a cab to Star-of-the-Sea for the wedding rehearsal.
Everyone at the church was nervous and tired from all the pre-wedding preparation.
I ran into Stan Musgrove, Rich’s press agent.
“Where’s Rich?” I asked.
“I dunno,” grinned Stan. “I think he just took a slow boat to Hong Kong!”
I finally found Rich in the darkness of the church. In the tradition of all grooms-to-be, he had left all the details to the last minute. But, tired as he was, he managed a smile. “Got an aspirin?” he asked.
The rehearsal took no more than a half hour. Then the bride and groom and the bridal party took off in a fleet of cars—Rich for the Fairmont, Pat for the Olympic. “I’m beat,” Rich sighed. An usher grabbed his arm and joked as they walked down the steps of the-church, “You’ve still got time to get out of it, Rich!”
The boys all showed up for the bachelor party on schedule at 9:00.
Rich headed for the hors d’oeuvres table. He hadn’t eaten a thing all day. He’d been too busy and too harried. The champagne started popping. Rich and his usher wolfed down the hors d’oeuvres.
A very special guest arrived late—Lou Lurie, San Francisco’s top theatre owner and one of the richest men in town.
Rich went over to him and greeted him with, “Mr. Lurie, I used to work for you. I was an usher here in town at one of your theatres, the Alexandria.”
The party rolled on. It was mostly baseball talk: the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants.
And then, at 11:00 Jane Russell ‘busted in’ on us, as threatened. But we were all glad she came. She had Pat with her, and the rest of the girls in the wedding party.
The bride and groom aren’t supposed to see each other after the wedding rehearsal, until they meet at the foot of the altar for the marriage ceremony next day. But Pat and Rich aren’t superstitious.
The arrival of the girls broke up the party early, and high time. We were all pretty well beat.
The next morning I got to Rich’s hotel a few hours before the wedding. The photographer was already there.
Rich was smiling happily. Too happily, it seemed to me—after all, his last few hours as a free soul. . . . But he was also very nervous.
He reached for that cough drop I told you about, started to light it, realized his mistake and grinned sheepishly. “I’ll be all right,” he said. “Anybody got a straitjacket?”
“Had coffee?” he asked. “Go ahead, order some.”
He walked to the balcony of his suite and looked out over the city—the city where he was born.
“Golly,” he said, pointing, “there’s Alcatraz.” Sure enough, there was Alcatraz, forbidding, forlorn, in the bright morning sunlight. “The condemned man,” said Rich, “ate a hearty breakfast.” Then he laughed.
The waiter arrived with our coffee.
“Want a cup?” I asked. “Sure,” said Rich, “black!” I poured some for him. But Rich forgot to drink it. Wow, he was nervous!
“Oh.” He started putting on his shirt. “Do you like this suit? Pat wanted me to wear one of those fancy-pantsy cutaway outfits but I wouldn’t go for it. The ushers are all different sizes. I told her we’d look like a circus act. So here we go—blue worsted suit, white shirt, black shoes. Now about a tie—white or light blue?”
I thought the light blue went better with the suit and told him so. Rich put on the white tie. Fred Pratt, Richard’s cousin and best man, arrived at 10:00 on the button with the ring and the license, wearing the same kind of blue suit and shaking like a leaf. “I don’t like that tie,” said Rich. “Here, wear this one.” He handed over the light blue tie. Fred, dazed, took it without a word, shed his own tie and donned the blue one.
I left Rich’s suite at 10:30 and got to Star-of-the-Sea at 10:45. A cordon of police was holding back the crowd in front of the church. In the playground between the church and the school some youngsters were playing softball, as nonchalantly as though movie stars get married at Star-of-the-Sea every day in the week. It was Saturday, their day off, and they didn’t have to be there, but there they were. Richard had played there too, when he was a boy.
The fans outside the church were extremely well-behaved. The limousine carrying May Wynn arrived. The Matron of Honor was with her husband and the fans crowded in on them—but politely—for autographs. May and Jack Kelly obliged graciously, signing as many as they could.
Pat and Rich, arriving in separate cars, were supposed to have stopped at Penelli’s florist shop, a block away from the church, to pick up her bouquet and his boutonniere. No soap. The hour was drawing nigh. The florist brought the flowers to the church.
I walked through the church, down the main aisle. The church was almost filled now. Four urns of white stock and gladioli lined the aisles, and the altar and the rest of the church were decorated with bouquets of white carnations and more gladioli and stock—all white. The organ was playing softly.
In the Sacristy, back of the main altar, Father Willis was pacing up and down nervously. “Say, where’s Rich?” he demanded. “Will somebody tell him to get himself in here—it’s getting late.”
The bride wore—
The bride’s car was five minutes late. The police made the fans form a path. Pat walked through it, a vision of loveliness in a peau de soie gown embroidered with Chantilly lace, topped by a Swedish crown in pearls with a two-tiered illusion veil. She carried a Rosary from her aunt who had had it blessed by Pope Pius XII. She also carried a white Missal and the white Chantilly lace handkerchief that her great-grandmother had worn at another wedding many years ago. She carried a bouquet, too, of white gardenias and stephinotis, to match Rich’s boutonniere. She wore a gold cross around her neck. Rich had sent it to her a year ago, when he was on a tour. She has never taken it off.
Something old: Her great grandmother’s handkerchief.
Something new: Her wedding gown, from the Bride’s Shop in Beverly Hills.
Something borrowed: A pair of stockings, from Barbara Tobias.
Something blue: A garter, from her niece, Kathleen Lennon.
The bridesmaids wore bouffant gowns—pink dotted Swiss nylon—with sweetheart necklines—and pearl headpieces and necklaces. May Wynn and little Kathleen wore bouffant dresses too—green dotted Swiss nylon. May and the bridesmaids carried pink carnations and stephinotis. The little flower girl carried pink carnations and forget-me-nots.
The organ struck up The Wedding March. The procession started down the aisle. I could see Rich and his best man coming out of the Sacristy and approaching the foot of the altar, where
Rich would meet his bride. Pat was on the arm of her stepfather, her eyes glistening brightly.
The suspicious glistening in Pat’s eyes turned to real tears that rolled unchecked down her cheeks when she reached the foot of the altar and took Rich’s arm. They walked up the altar steps, past the altar rail, and knelt directly in front of the altar, on the two prie-dieus placed there.
Pat’s voice cracked when it came time for her to recite the solemn marriage vows after Father Willis: “I, Patricia Hardy, take you, Richard Egan, for my lawful wedded husband . . . to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” But she made it. She made it beautifully! Toward the end, as a matter of fact, she was practically singing the words.
Rich, repeating it all after Father Willis—“I, Richard Egan, take you, Patricia Hardy, etc.”—created quite a problem—because he and Father Willis sound almost exactly alike! Their voices have the same timbre, the same quality. I looked over at his parents, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen happier parents in my life: one son, a movie star, being married’ by another, a priest. A man of God and a man of the world, the worldliest of all worlds—show business. It was quite an occasion.
A special blessing
Father Willis pulled the biggest surprise of the day—a special Papal Blessing for the happy couple, cabled to them from Vatican City on their wedding day by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. Father Willis read the cable, which will be reproduced for the Egans on a special scroll:
HIS HOLINESS CORDIALLY IMPARTS TO RICHARD EGAN AND PATRICIA HARDY ON THE OCCASION OF THEIR WEDDING HIS PATERNAL AND APOSTOLIC BLESSING.
Father Willis spoke about true Christian marriage: “Like all the Sacraments, the primary purpose is the sanctification of the individual. It is intended to make holy the soul, to make you intimately united with Almighty God. Dedicate yourselves to each other. In becoming united with each other, you are becoming united with Almighty God.
“I call upon all present,” Father Willis continued, “to be witness to this holy union which I have now blessed. What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Fred Pratt handed over the ring. Father Willis said, “Now that you have been joined in Holy Matrimony, take this ring in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as a pledge of your fidelity.
“O Lord, watch over them,” he prayed. Then, to Pat and Rich, “May He unite your hearts in true love, and may you be blessed in your children and may the love you lavish upon them return to you a hundredfold. May the Lord grant you fullness of years so that you may reap the harvest of a rich life.”
Rich kissed the bride at the foot of the altar. The bridal procession started up the aisle. The fans outside the church cheered the happy couple. Flashbulbs popped, reporters pounced on the couple, autograph hunters shoved pieces of paper and. notebooks at Pat and Rich. Pat signed a few of them, as many as she could, Pat Egan.
On the way to the reception in Atherton, the car—a rented chauffered Cadillac— stalled. Some kind of mechanical trouble. “We’re sunk,” said Rich.
The chauffeur was fiddling with something under the hood.
“Wouldn’t it be funny,” Pat giggled, “if we had to hitchhike—me in my wedding gown—in the middle of the highway!”
“Good movie title,” said Hal, “ ‘The Bride Had to Hitchhike Home!’ ”
The chauffeur got the car started. Off they roared again.
“What’s your advice to prospective bridegrooms?” Hal asked Rich.
The groom kissed the bride, grinned happily, and said, “My advice to all prospective bridegrooms is, ‘Do it!’ ”
The garden of the French chateau-type home where the reception was held was filled now with guests. The reception committee, headed by Pat and Rich, their parents and the rest of the bridal party, lined up on the terrace, overlooking some huge oak trees under which more canopies and candy-stripe-umbrella’d tables and chairs were set. The guests were served champagne while Cerruti’s combo played softly.
After the reception, the party moved to the huge playhouse facing the swimming pool, in back to the main house.
Two large hearts made of gardenias floated in the pool. “Pat” was spelled out on one of the hearts, “Rich” on the other. Red, pink and yellow roses, carnations and lilies floated in the pool too.
And the honeymoon?
“I’ve got to report to Fox next Monday or my next picture, These Thousand Hills,” Rich said. “So we’ll just motor leisurely down to Los Angeles. Then to Durango, Colorado, for location shots.”
The wedding party, which started at 12:30 noon, broke up at 8:00. Pat and Rich had left long before that hour, and everyone’s good wishes went with them. And everyone agreed they’d had a wonderful time at the wedding of the year.
—BY MIKE CONNOLLY
Richard will be in 20th’s THE HUNTER and in U-I’s THE VOICE IN THE MIRROR.
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1958