The Night Glenn Ford Betrayed His Bride-To-Be…Or Did He?
Probably Glenn Ford, former Boy Scout troop leader, would have been safer trying to make fire by rubbing two sticks of dynamite together than igniting Linda Christian, who proved to be a ferocious tiger the actor had by the tail. There are two sides to every story, even in Hollywood. This is Linda’s side. And that Latin’s scorn would be enough to make a Sunday School teacher out of Richard Burton.
When Linda reported to work on the set of “The Lloyd Bridges Show” one morning in March, she was in her glory. “Naturally I was happy,” she recalled. “I was in love. I was to be married. My future was bright. My love was bright.” Across town in Beverly Hills that same morning the telephone rang at Glenn Ford’s palatial bachelor mansion. Sleepily Glenn heard a wireservice reporter ask him if it was true. He was just checking.
“Are you going to marry Linda Christian?” was the question. Glenn hesitated for a second before answering and then screamed into the phone: “This is ridiculous. Absolutely untrue!” Simultaneously with Glenn’s denial the first edition of the Los Angeles “Herald-Examiner” hit the streets. There in bold type was the headline: “Linda Christian And Glenn Ford To Wed.” Underneath was a smaller head which read: “Betrothal Comes As Surprise.” To put it mildly.
With Glenn’s denial of the engagement story, naturally the reporters felt the newspaper had been stuck with a phony. To verify if the announcement was a fake, they checked with Linda. The actress at first showed signs of puzzlement. “What did he say?” Linda said after being called to the phone on the sound stage. “Naturally the story is true. We are going to get married.”
When Glenn’s denial dawned on Linda a few seconds later, an explosion that could be duplicated only at Cape Canaveral transpired. “That dirty — — — —,” Linda blasted
into the telephone receiver with such force the reporter at the other end nearly toppled from his chair. “He’s lying. He’s lying. I have witnesses to prove that he’s a liar.”
Linda did, too. The strongest witness was columnist Harrison Carroll. It was Carroll who broke the story. Around 10 P.M. the veteran Hollywood reporter received a call at his office that nearly flabbergasted him. Usually Hollywood news results from prying into the linen bags, but this night Carroll only had to answer the telephone and a big and fascinating scoop was seemingly right in his lap.
“This is Linda Christian,” Carroll heard. “Glenn and I wanted you to be the first to know that we’re engaged.” Then, according to Carroll who has a sound reputation of getting the facts straight, Glenn came on the phone and said: “Yes, it’s absolutely true.” Glenn’s main line of defense is that he was kidding. He did talk to Carroll, but says he didn’t think the columnist would ever for one minute take him seriously.
Glenn’s friends insist that anyone who knows Glenn would know that the last thing in the world he’d do would be to phone a columnist and say he was about to be married. They say he’s had his marriage strategy planned for years. He’ll marry in Europe, quietly, without a word of rumor. And any girl he’s seriously dated—Hope Lange, for example, Connie Stevens, for example—have stayed as far away from the press as possible. “I hate this kind of publicity for Glenn,” Connie said when he was devoting himself to her. ‘‘He’s in another sphere, a really great star and a sensitive man, totally above that. Above gossip. Women have hurt him. I’d never intentionally hurt him for the world.” Hope has wisely refused to be quoted although Glenn is obviously one of the people she considers important in her life.
When publicists at M-G-M where Glenn just finished ‘‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” begged him to make a detailed statement, to tell his side of the ‘engagement,” Glenn refused. He’s probably had the least to say about himself of any star in the business and through the years has handled himself always with reserve and dignity. “Time disproves most of the nonsense,” he says. “My son Peter, my close friends know the truth about me. I’ve always felt it foolish to try to explain. The people who know you and care for you deeply will accept you without explanation, they know you. And the people who don’t :are for you—it makes no difference one way or the other. An actor has one major obligation to the public: to do a good job on the screen, to dedicate himself to that job and do it well and honestly. He has an obligation to tell the press the truth and the press has an obligation to report the truth. You owe courtesy, they owe courtesty. It’s a reciprocal situation.
With their past talent for collecting the opposite sex, what a pair Linda Christian and Glenn Ford would have made!
“And the truth is that I ha ve never had the slightest intention of marrying Linda Christian. I’ve actually seen her less than half a dozen times.”
Linda, however, has a different version of Glenn’s “courtship.” She maintains that “Glenn had kept calling me to tell me how much he loved me. That he couldn’t stand to be without me. That all the women he knew were sick. Even when he was in Las Vegas with Hope Lange the previous weekend he called me. When he got back to town he invited me out to dinner. He was so lovey dovey the night we dined at the Luau. The next night we were together at La Scala.
“Then I suggested we have dinner at my house the next night. Glenn loved my cooking. I used to cook for him a lot when he first moved into his new place. Glenn came over. He seemed nervous. So nervous that he ate three helpings of my wiener schnitzel. He usually has only one. Then he proposed to me. He kept telling me how much he loved me. That I was the only girl for him.
“All the while he kept eating. He even polished off three dishes of crepes suzette. Such a charmer he was. He had proposed before, but always before he was crying when he did it. This night he didn’t cry, and I took him seriously. When I saw he really meant it, I said I would marry him. My children’s governess was in the room at the time.
“We both decided we would anounce it that night. We didn’t care if the world knew. So we called Harrison Carroll. He heard Glenn. He knows Glenn. He knew Glenn wasn’t kidding.” Linda was firm.
Linda maintained Glenn wasn’t drunk either.
“He only had a glass of wine with his meal. We kissed goodnight at 11 P.M., as I had an early call the next day for work. We were to have dinner again the next night and set the date.”
All the next day Linda verbally ripped Mr. Ford to pieces.
“I’ve gotten rid of a monkey who was full of tricks before and I can get rid of another one. The man needs a psychiatrist. He should be committed to a rest home if he doesn’t know what he’s doing.
“He can go jump off a cliff. If that’s the way he plays, I don’t want to speak to him or see him again. He just doesn’t exist in my mind any more. What really burns me is that I’ve been taken in by his line. All that stuff about how he loved me and couldn’t stand other women I believed.”
When Linda became so angry that she could have tarred and feathered Glenn she vented some of her temperament by sending Glenn the following wire: “I’m not kidding either. Just drop dead.”
Linda’s relationship with Glenn wasn’t always as explosive. “Just before Christmas,” she said. “he called me for a date. We started going out together on a steady basis. He told me that Hope (Lange) was out of his life forever.”
Apparently at the time of the “engagement for one edition” ruckus, Hope was out of his life.
When queried for a comment about Linda and Glenn. Hope without cracking a smile said: “I know absolutely nothing about it. But Glenn doesn’t have to explain anything to me.”
Some insiders feel that Glenn originally started dating Linda Christian to make Hope jealous.
This could be. Just when it appeared that Glenn and Linda were the right chemistry for each other around the first of the year, the actor dropped her like she was a feline at a dog show. Originally, Linda was to be the hostess at the housewarming he gave. She wasn’t. It was Hope Lange who dominated Mr. Ford’s attentions that evening, although Linda was very much in attendance. The stares she gave Glenn and Hope were enough to make it snow on the Sahara Desert. And Linda must have had quite a laugh, too, when Hope and others were conducted on a tour of the house by Glenn. In one of the bathrooms was the famous nude statue of Linda. She had given it to him as a present.
Asked about Hope being at the party, Linda coldly remarked later to a reporter, “I didn’t even notice her. In my mind she doesn’t exist.” Another nonexister.
The Ford faction give this account of that party: Hope acted as hostess that night, welcoming guests and looking very beautiful. Everyone wanted to see Glenn’s new house. Among the guests was producer Ronnie Lubin. Ronnie and Glenn were partners on “Love Is a Ball,” and he had phoned Glenn earlier and asked if in addition to his own date they might bring their friend Linda Christian.
Now the story is that Linda had asked Ron Lubin to ask Glenn. She wanted to attend the party, she was intrigued. And during the festivities. Ronnie suggested that one night soon, the four have dinner together. That was supposed to be the beginning. None of Ford’s friends said if Linda’s statue was in his house before that beginning or not.
Glenn took Linda to dinner a couple of times alone after that. then he left town. went to Las Vegas, New York and Chicago, with Hope to ballyhoo “Love Is a Ball.” When he returned he resumed his usual round of activities. One night he took Linda to the Luau for dinner and then for coffee at LaScala. Linda suggested the next night he come to her house, and she would cook wiener schnitzel.
He came by for cocktails, they had dinner; he was in her house a total of an hour and a half. then had to dash because he wanted to catch the Golden Globe awards on TV and then watch the Steve Allen show on which he had already taped an appearance. Linda didn’t want to stay up late, she was working on the Lloyd Bridges show and had an early call. They’d had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs. The next morning Glenn was in for a surprise. He was “engaged.” It was the biggest surprise since the day he awakened in the barracks of the French Foreign Legion in Paris six years ago and remembered he’d enlisted!
Linda Christian, as Ford can so amply testify by now, is no woman to trifle with, especially in the romantic department. She’s a woman of the world. Husbands number only the late Tyrone Power and actor Edmund Purdom, but she has had romances on many continents. However, Linda really fell for Glenn, according to one of her close friends.
“All she talked about was Glenn,” the friend said. “The night he proposed she called me. She was ecstatic. Full of all kinds of plans. Told me they would honeymoon in Europe. Told me Glenn would build onto his home so they would have room for her daughters.
“I concur with Linda. I think it’s terrible of Glenn to do a thing like this. I don’t think Mr. Ford will go around proposing to anyone for a long, long time after this.”
Glenn. who has said so little in his defense, has found a host of allies rallying to defend him. A close friend of Glenn’s: “Glenn never stands still long enough to be a moving target. He’s fast on his feet and Linda pulled a boner. She tried to hit him while he was moving. She was in too big a hurry—she should have gotten him in a more sedentary position.”
Eleanor Powell, Glenn’s former wife, now his close friend: “Glenn, I’m coming over and build a fence around you, build a fence all around that house and not let you out. You get into nothing but trouble.”
Hope Lange: “Glenn doesn’t have to explain anything to me. This would be pretty hard to misunderstand.”
Columnist: “International playgirl Linda Christian is at it again.”
Linda’s blast at Glenn went on for days. “If he wants to act like a kindergarten pupil,” she snapped, “he should start dating kindergarten pupils. He better not associate with grown women, especially the ones who are wise in the ways of the world. Just think, if I’d have gone to bed early that night I wouldn’t have wasted the evening with a kindergartener. I don’t think he’s even much of a gentleman.”
We’ve presented Linda Christian’s story of how Glenn Ford betrayed her. We’ve presented Glenn Ford’s denial. Who should have the last word? Traditionally, the lady should, but in this case she has had more than equal time.
One of Glenn’s friends sums up the betrothal farce this way: “Glenn likes to run the show. He likes to lead. Linda Christian never knew who he was. If she had, she’d have known the last thing he’d ever do is report a romance to a columnist. She’d have known the difference between a proposal and a proposition.”
To which Glenn adds only, “Good heavens, I don’t even like wiener schnitzel.”
Glenn Ford stars in a new comedy. “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” for M-G-M.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JUNE 1963