The Most Shocking Discovery A Bachelor Can Make—Rod Taylor & Mary Hilem
“There comes a time in every man’s life,” Rod Taylor said thoughtfully, “when he must decide what he wants from a woman—either short-term sex or a lifetime of love.”
He smiled. “A bachelor can have a great time with his women, but sooner or later he is going to have to make up his mind whether he is an out and out philanderer or a whole man, the kind who is willing and capable of assuming the responsibilities that he incurs when he takes the love of a woman. It isn’t as some people think, a question of morals.
“A man can indulge in all kinds of emotional and intimate experiences with women and yet in his own mind, and even in the opinion of others, not be immoral. The real pain comes when he makes the most shocking discovery of his life—and make it he certainly will.
“Because the man who knows too many women never learns what love is, only what it is not.
“And if that revelation comes to him too late, he might suffer a defeat from which he can never recover.”
And this was clearly the most shocking discovery that Rod had ever made. . . .
He wrinkled his forehead and considered his next words, then he spoke.
“I think I made my discovery for sure while I was making ‘The V.I.P.’s’ with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. I realized that one affair after the other was not the cup of tea this Australian boy wanted. I began to understand how easily a man can go from one woman to another yearning desperately for the truth of real love and never finding it.
“The man who kids himself into believing that he is experiencing love from nightly visits to a variety of sexy bedrooms is kidding the hell out of himself.
“Love can exist only in a man’s heart, never in his physique.
“Shortly after I finished making ‘A Gathering Of Eagles’ I went hack to Hollywood. It may sound a bit strange hut I was sick of dating a parade of girls whom I’d forget—and who’d forget me, too. I was at the point where I just couldn’t accept the impermanence of the quickie romances that couldn’t survive an hour after the passions of the moment.
“I wanted emotional security. I wanted love—warm and real.
“And then one evening I walked into that well-known crowded room and I knew I’d found the girl. She was all of the woman I had ever hoped for and she was staring back at me. From way over on the other side.”
Rod grinned. “I’ll never forget that moment,” he said, “hut Mary Hilem, the girl who started it, the woman I’ve married, can’t even remember it. Let me tell you, I wasn’t ready for that!”
Just in time
“But I got over it in time to marry her. Though we were both feeling cautious for a while. I was married once before in Australia and it didn’t work out. You know, you fail at something like a marriage once and the memory of it lives in your thoughts.
“I think I was simply concerned about whether or not I can make the woman I love happy. Loving a woman is one thing. Contributing nothing but the best to her life is another. Mary deserves that.”
Rod and Mary were finally married in Westwood Community Church in Los Angeles. It turned out to be the happiest and the saddest day of their lives.
At 10:30 that night Mary and Rod called her father in North Carolina. It was to be one of the most important calls Mary ever made.
But they were to realize its importance later. Right now they were only thinking of their honeymoon. They were to have only Sunday because Rod was due on the set early Monday. But Mary, the new mistress of the Taylor house in West Los Angeles, happily set about making it a home that Sunday. In a utility room just off the kitchen she spied a few bottles of soft drinks.
Rod just might like them cold this afternoon or tonight, she thought. She picked them up, brought them to the refrigerator, opened the door and placed them on the wire rack. Suddenly, without warning, the shelf gave way . . . and with a great crash the bottles hit the floor and exploded.
Pieces of the small glass fragments burst through the air like shrapnel. Then, one of the razor sharp pieces caught Mary on the upper eyelid and in the next moment she was desperately trying to stem the blood from an open wound.
Rod, bearing the noise rushed to her side, saw what had happened and minutes later was rushing his bleeding bride to a nearby emergency hospital. It took four carefully placed stitches by the doctor to repair the lid.
Rod’s estimate of his wife’s calm was more than apparent at that time. Mary showed no hysteria and although frightened, managed not to panic at the sight of her own blood.
But the real test of the new Mrs. Taylor’s courage was only seconds away. Though neither Rod nor Mary could know it then. . . .
The doctor had barely finished completing the dressing on Mary’s eye when the nurse in the hospital told her she was wanted on the phone to answer a call of “great urgency.”
Who could be calling her at the hospital?
The next voice she heard was that of her mother speaking from North Carolina.
Her mother, in great grief, told Mary that her father had just died of a sudden heart attack.
Somehow Mary kept her head. Quietly, with the tears barely showing, she told Rod the unhappy news. Then she went back to her new home. She was a bride of less than twenty-four hours but in a silence alive with the memories of her beloved dad, she packed her bags for the long trip home and the funeral.
There was no chance for Rod to go with her because of bis commitments. Mrs. Taylor and her sister, her maid of honor, made the trip together . . . alone.
It was probably the most tragic honeymoon for a Hollywood bride on record.
And, after the honeymoon, has the tragedy that already touched their lives touched their marriage, too?
“If you think it has,” says a close friend of Rod’s, “you don’t know Rod and you don’t know Mary. God knows Mary suffered great shock at the passing of her father. And it was a terrible blow to Rod. But Mary’s last memory of her dad is their happy conversation she had with him on the phone only minutes after the wedding ceremony. Some of us even think it was fate that rushed Rod and Mary together before her father’s death. As you know, Rod and Mary had very definite plans to wait until he was through with ‘Sunday In New York’ before marrying.
“Perhaps it was not so much that Rod and Mary couldn’t wait to get married as it was that life just couldn’t wait for them. You can call it coincidence and speculation if you like, but stop and think of it for a moment and you realize that Providence indeed had a hand in giving a father who was about to die the joyful knowledge that his daughter had married the man she loved. Had the wedding been held when they originally planned he’d have never known it.”
And had he never married again, as Hollywood thought he planned, no one would have been surprised. But this way, when Rod announced that he would marry Mary, the news caused Hollywood to inhale with a quiet gasp.
“I was waiting for a girl who hit me right in the heart,” Rod said. “A girl who would charm me out of my indifference. A girl whose face and voice would stay in the front of my mind and make me forget my lines.
“One woman damn near filled the bill.”
The woman “who damn near filled the bill” was Anita Ekberg.
For months last year it was rumored that Rod and Anita were ready for marriage. No official reason was ever given, either by Rod or Anita for the break-up, but insiders say that Rod wanted to live in the U.S.A. and Anita wanted to live in Europe.
Rod returned to the U.S. early this year. Anita later married a Rik Von Nutter—and they now live in Rome.
It was this Rod Taylor, returned also to bachelorhood, who walked in stag on a Kirk Douglas party and saw Mary Hilem.
Mary, tall with beautiful long blond hair, is more statuesque than voluptuous. Born in North Carolina, her recently deceased father was Dr. H. H. Hilem, a well-known Ph.D. in chemical engineering. Late in her teens, after a quiet and well-reared girlhood, Mary decided that she’d like to be a fashion model. She went to New York and in a short time, after living on a strict allowance from her parents, Mary was one of the most sought-after models in the fashion world. Everyone called her lovely.
None of this flattery affected Mary.
She fell in love, married Rod and decided the only career she really wanted was to be his wife. The day she returned from the East, where she saw her beloved Dad laid to rest, she, with customary calm, went about repairing the shredded moments of the “the first day.” Then they planned a “real” honeymoon—a trip to the Orient, via Hawaii, as soon as Rod finished his picture.
There is one remarkable aspect of this marriage, however, that smacks of the surprise ending. The kind that is provided by life with an impact that is far and beyond any a Hollywood writer could imagine.
It is this: A man named Rod Taylor married a woman named Mary Hilem. because he loved her and because he knew she was the woman he needed in his life, only to discover in a strange twist of fate that it was she who suddenly needed him.
And he was there.
Rod’s in “The V.I.P’s” and “Sunday in New York.” both M-G-M, and he can also be seen in UI’s “A Gathering of Eagles.”
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1963