To Love And To Cherish—Ann Blyth & James McNulty
St. Charles Roman Catholic Church in San Fernando Valley has always been known as a pretty church. But on the Saturday morning of June 27, 1953, it was so beautiful you caught your breath.
Holding the arm of her uncle, Patrick Tobin, who was giving her in marriage to Dr. James Vincent McNulty, Ann Blyth moved slowly down the aisle.
The organ strains of the Lohengrin wedding march sounded in her ears and the scent of Lily of the Valley filled the air around her. Through the haze of sun spinning in motes of gold from the windows she could see the tall white tapers, fern and lily trimmed, burning softly.
Ann Blyth was almost twenty-five and this was her wedding day: the fulfillment of a dream common to all women. An answer to many of the questions of life.
The wedding and high mass were set for 10:00 a.m. but Ann woke shortly after dawn. For a few moments she lay quietly on her bed, reviewing the events that led to this, the most cherished of all days. The Christmas Eve, 1952, when Jim in a sudden rush of words asked the question that, little changed through the years, still holds the thrill of first discovery.
As does the answer he received.
After that, they were teased and made much of; were alone; bought a house hidden near Toluca Lake; produced the memories that were the prelude of their lives together.
As with all weddings, there were the unexpected elements. In the midst of the turmoil, tinsel and laughter, Ann began to wonder if she was going to have any bridesmaids left. Originally Jeanne Crain and Jane Powell were to have been in the bridal party. First, Jane got word that her night-club dates were to take place in June, and then suddenly Jeanne was scheduled for a picture in Europe. Reluctantly, both girls had to bow out. If they were heart-broken on having to withdraw, their hearts were twice broken when, just a few weeks before the wedding, Jane learned that she had a free week at the end of June, and Jeanne’s overseas film was canceled. So they could have been bridesmaids after all.
Then Ann learned that “Rose Marie,” her second picture under her new M-G-M contract, was to start shooting the beginning of July. It looked as if the honeymoon were going to be cut short. But the bosses at M-G-M had a change of heart, deciding the show could go on later after all, for although Ann will be making several pictures a year, her honeymoon was strictly “once-in-a-lifetime.”
Last minute revisions in the seating arrangements at the church and reception were made excitedly when dozens of Ann’s friends and distant relatives, upon receiving token invitations, wired from all over the country that they were flying to Hollywood to see Ann get married.
Aunt Cissie’s own special surprise for Ann was the most touching of all. As the bills started piling up for the wedding, she handed Ann a lump sum she had been saving out of her household budget for several years—just for this occasion.
All these thoughts came to Ann lying there in the soft light of an early dawn. She opened her eyes, half-afraid her wish for a beautiful day would not be granted. Weather in Southern California had, for the month of June, been filled with gloomy dullness and drizzly rain. But this day was as bright as a crystal goblet. Sunshine poured through the window and struck notes of color on the objects in the room like designs in a stained glass window.
The satin whiteness of her wedding gown, hanging so she would see it first thing upon awakening, was dazzling.
In the privacy of her room, she had tried the dress on so many times. Helen Rose had created a poem of young love and loveliness—a white satin sheath covered with a gown of white mousseline de soie with heirloom lace forming a deep yoke, long sleeves and insets in the full-skirted hemline. Seed pearls were embroidered into the lace pattern. Her veil billowed from under a Mary, Queen of Scots, cap of seed pearls.
Ann dressed carefully, each movement slow and precise—yet dreamlike. Aunt Cissie and Uncle Pat were waiting to whisk her off to the church.
Jim and his brother, Dennis Day, had already arrived when, on the precise moment of 10:00 a.m., the black shiny limousine carrying the bride pulled up before the church. More than 2,000 onlookers were waiting to catch a glimpse of her.
Inside the Spanish-style church, notables of the movie industry, religious leaders and Ann’s friends and family filled the six hundred pews.
Jim, Dennis and the ushers (brothers Francis, John and William McNulty, Ted McConnell, Dr. John Thom and Dr. C. Stehly) took their places at the altar.
There, for the first time in a Hollywood church, a Prince of the Faith, James Francis Cardinal McIntyre, Archbishop of Los Angeles, resplendent in robes of red and gold, was waiting.
Bridesmaids Betty Lynn, Peggy Kelley, Marjorie Zimmer, Joan Leslie Caldwell, Alice Krasiva and Jane Withers Moss, preceded by Jane’s little daughter Wendy, the flower girl, filed slowly down the aisle. The girls were pretty as portraits in ballerina length gowns of bouffant, delphinium blue, silk shantung. Their bodices were tight with taffeta cumberbunds. Long white gloves covered their arms; each carried a small muff of delphiniums and wore a blue lace picture hat with matching taffeta streamers. Blue silk shantung shoes completed the outfits.
The bridesmaids were followed by the maid of honor, Ann’s cousin, Betty Lynch, who wore a full skirted gown of lavender over pink organza.
Ann joined Jim before the Cardinal, where they spoke their marriage vows. Ann said her “I do’s” clearly and distinctly without a trace of nervousness.
At the conclusion of the double-ring ceremony, Cardinal McIntyre announced: “I have a letter from the Apostolic Delegate in Washington which conveys the special blessing from our Holy Father. The Pope sends his special apostolic benediction of eternal affection to Dr. and Mrs. McNulty and their families and friends gathered here. He sends his personal congratulations and best wishes.”
Later, in the Crystal Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel, Ann, Jim and the wedding party tirelessly received more than 800 guests at a very simple and dignified champagne breakfast.
It was 2:30 p.m. when Ann and Jim left the table to cut their magnificent four-tiered wedding cake. Then, skipping onto the little balcony of the Crystal Room, Ann threw her wedding bouquet, announced, “I’m the happiest girl in the whole world,” and left.
Ann and Jim had quietly made arrangements for their honeymoon, but not even their closest friends knew where they were going until they reached Lake Tahoe.
Somehow these two people—one, the member of a profession of imagination, fantasy, dreams; the other, a profession of fact and precision—seemed to be symbolic of all people joining together for the love and betterment of mankind. And, above all, there was the personal reality of their love, their lives made one.
—BY BEVERLY LINET
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1953