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Tyrone Power’s Baby

A few days before Deborah Power, Tyrone Power’s widow, was to bring her new-born baby, Tyrone Power IV, home to Hollywood, the infant was robbed of a precious legacy that his famous father had willed to him. The legacy of a thumb-worn copy of “Hamlet” that had been packed away in a scuffed briefcase, and the legacy of a gold ring bearing the Power ancestral crest, that had lain in a jewelry case in one of the bedrooms of the Benedict Canyon home of the late actor.

This was the ring and the book which Tyrone Power III had received from his father, Frederick Tyrone Power II. This was the token Ty had carried with him wherever his acting work took him throughout the world. And this was what he wanted so terribly to pass on to his own son—the boy he was not destined to welcome into the world.

Little Tyrone William Power IV did not receive his father’s legacy. Thieves had broken into the Power house one evening while Deborah was still in the hospital after giving birth to him, and had stolen two mink wraps, some jewels and a TV set. Apparently as an afterthought, they filched the locked briefcase and the ring.

Almost three years later, on November 16, 1961, young Tyrone William Power IV was to be denied an even more precious gift from his father. He was to be denied his name itself.

İn response to a joint plea made by Ty’s widow and her new husband, Arthur Loew, Jr. (they were then separated; they are now divorced), the Los Angeles Superior Court granted Loew the right to adopt his stepson legally. In addition, the judge gave the legal stamp of approval to the changing of the little boy’s name from Tyrone William Power IV to, surprisingly, Tyrone Power Loew.

Not only columnists and friends of the late Ty Power, but also his fans all over the world were disturbed and dismayed by this adoption-name-changing procedure. And for many reasons.

Cholly Knickerbocker wrote in the N.Y. Journal-American: “Well, I know it’s none of my business if they rename Tyrone Power IV something like Tyrone Goldwater Kennedy, but I still think it’s too bad that the late actor’s widow, Debbie Minardos Power Loew, should allow her ex, Arthur Loew, to adopt Ty’s son and change his name from Tyrone Power IV to Tyrone Power Loew. If Mr. Loew is so mad about the baby, couldn’t he adopt him without tampering with his very famous name?” An interesting question.

PHOTOPLAY columnist Hedda Hopper, writing in the N.Y. (Sunday) News, was even more indignant: “Debbie Power gave out some sentimental quotes about her son carrying on the Power name, so it’s ironic that she’s given her permission for the child’s legal adoption—and since their divorce yet.” (Miss Hopper was using “divorce” in its nonlegal sense here—meaning a complete severance or separation. The actual legal divorce wasn’t to take place until a year later, on December 18, 1962.)

Ty Power’s fans were, if anything, even more incensed than the columnists. Perhaps their dismay was increased when they read a brief out-of-the-way notice to the effect that the late actor’s furniture and furnishings were to be auctioned off. By a sad and far-fetched twist of fate, the date of the auction was to fail exactly on the fourth anniversary of the actor’s untimely death.

Perhaps it was simply that their love for Ty Power was still very much alive. And perhaps they were just remembering how much he had wanted his child to be a boy so that the family name and tradition of which he was so proud might be carried on.

Just before Ty went to Europe to make “Solomon and Sheba”—it was to be a combined picture-making and delayed honeymoon trip—he confided to a columnist that his wife was pregnant and added, with a smile crinkling the corners of his dark, handsome eyes, “We’ll have a boy. I know. A Tyrone Power IV.” (Later he was to pick a middle name, too—William, in honor of his friend, director Billy Wilder.)

Love at first sight

This anticipation of having another child, of finally being father to a boy, was something Ty had never expected. After two divorces he said he would never marry again. But then he met Debbie, a slim, dark-haired, black-eyed, beautiful divorcee, and it was love at first sight for the two of them.

Debbie, in her soft, slurred Southern speech, explained it laughingly, “Ty fell in love with me because we look alike—and think alike. People keep asking us if we were related. Good heavens, no! Why, if we were cousins we couldn’t even marry.”

Marry they did on May 19, 1958, in Tunica, Mississippi, Debbie’s hometown, where, as she said, “everybody knows everybody and they don’t even have numbers on the houses.”

The forty-four-year-old leading man spoke with pride of his radiant bride, “She’s different. She has no ambitions. She doesn’t care about expensive clothes and jewelry.”

With stars in her eyes Debbie said of Tyrone, “He’s beautiful. Every way there is, he’s beautiful.”

When Ty learned his wife was expecting, he went through the motions with her of choosing girls’ names as well as boys’. Rather, a boy’s name. But there was no doubt in his mind: the child would be a boy and the boy would be called Tyrone William Power IV.

Debbie, trying to prepare her husband for an awful letdown if the sex of the baby was not male, said, “Ty just knows we’ll have a boy; but with his two daughters (from his marriage to Linda Christian) and my own daughter (from her marriage to Nico Minardos), I’m not so sure!”

But Ty’s certainty was unshakable. In Spain, on the set of “Solomon and Sheba” with his bride of six months at his side, he told an interviewer, “Debbie and I are going to have a son.

“It’s not that we’re tired of girls,” Ty said with a grin. “I could have a dozen girls, and I hope we do.” Then his expression changed and he said emphatically, “But there has to be a boy, too. At least one. There’s got to be another Tyrone. You know, I’m the seventh Tyrone Power, actor. There’s always been one in my family, and it’s like a trust, an unbroken line for seven generations, that one boy will be named Tyrone and that he’ll act. You’d be amazed at how much of my life is wrapped up in that idea. And now, at last, there’s going to be an eighth.”

Two days later, though not feeling well, Tyrone insisted on going through with a dueling scene with George Sanders. The cameras had been set up, the extras were waiting, and Ty, always the professional, didn’t want to hold up production. In the midst of the action he suffered a heart at- tack, and Tyrone Power III died. (The manner of his dying was tragically reminiscent of the death of his own father, Frederick Tyrone Power II, who was stricken fatally before the cameras on a Hollywood set back in 1931.)

When Debbie was told that her husband had died, she did not say a word. Instead she crossed her arms on her breast and rocked back and forth . . . back and forth . . . back and forth.

Finally words forced their way from her lips. “It isn’t true” she moaned. “I don’t believe it,” she screamed.

Then the tears came.

Debbie accompanied her husband’s body when it was flown home for burial. Bill Gallagher, the actor’s secretary, said about her at the time, “I didn’t know that women came with such stamina. Her only reason for wanting to live is Tyrone Power’s child.”

The mob of three thousand men and women (some of them even brought their children) that invaded the funeral was not made up of Ty’s friends or fans, but consisted of morbid curiosity seekers.

A circus for the mob

They milled about outside the Chapel of the Psalms at Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery at seven o’clock in the morning, swinging hula hoops, clutching box lunches and cameras.

They thrust autograph books at the stars arriving for the ceremony.

They clapped and bellowed, “Hooray Yul,” when Yul Brynner stepped from a limousine.

They cheered wildly and yelled their approval when one woman crashed the police lines and ran forward to kiss the hearse that was bearing Power’s body to its grave.

They hooted and hollered outside as the service went on inside, with Debbie kneeling beside the casket and holding her dead husband’s hand during the entire ceremony.

They massed together and broke through barricades and snatched flowers from the grave, when the funeral was over.

Then, hardly had Tyrone Power been laid to rest, when the Hollywood rumor manufacturers were busy linking his widow with Rock Hudson. In desperation Debbie turned to Louella Parsons and told her the following, which Miss Parsons printed in her column. “I am seven months pregnant. Ty hasn’t been dead a month and yet they’re saying that I have another man in my life. I am sorry, too, for Rock Hudson. because it is very embarrassing for both of us. He was a good friend of Tyrone’s and he’s a good friend of mine, and if you don’t see your friends when you’re in trouble, whom do you see? Couldn’t you please say marriage is the furthest thing from my mind?

On January 21, 1959, two months and six days after Ty’s fatal heart attack, Debbie gave birth to the boy her husband had prayed for. The five-pound, twelve-ounce infant was immediately named Tyrone William Power IV, in keeping with his father’s last wish.

The story should have ended at that point. or at least there should have been a lengthy intermission before the next act. But the story did not end, and the intermission was very brief.

“It was such a short marriage,” Debbie said. “I knew after Tyrone died I’d have to make a new life for myself. After all, I was only twenty-five.”

Her new life revolved around one of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors, Arthur Loew, Jr., the handsome, wealthy thirty-five-year-old grandson of pioneer motion picture magnates Adolph Zukor and Marcus Loew. On October 26, 1959, just a little less than a year after Tyrone Power’s death. Debbie became Mrs. Loew.

When Ty’s still-grieving fans were disturbed by the speed with which his widow had remarried. Debbie commented, “I am sure that people who would have qualms certainly aren’t any friends of mine. My friends wouldn’t have any reservations.”

Debbie bore Arthur Loew a son, Gerald Zukor Loew; but nevertheless, eleven months after they were joined in marriage by a Las Vegas justice of the peace, the Loews separated.

It was shortly thereafter that little three-year-old Tyrone William Power IV lost his late father’s most precious heritage—his name.

For upon separating, Debbie and Loew made an agreement: Debbie would give up custody of both her sons (that means the son that Loew fathered and the son that Tyrone Power fathered) to Loew, and Loew would legally adopt Tyrone William Power IV and change his name to Tyrone Power Loew. Obviously, this was a very unusual agreement. In most cases, the mother keeps the custody of the children. And in this case, Loew also received custody of a child he hadn’t even fathered.

Their reason for this action, as explained in their petition to the court, was this: “We consulted child psychiatrists and case workers for the Los Angeles County Adoption Board to see what was best for the boy’s emotional security and decided that this was the thing to do.”

But some insiders claim that Loew would have refused to even consider granting Debbie a divorce if she hadn’t let him adopt his stepson and change his name to Loew. Debbie very much wanted the legal separation—and the divorce that was to follow, according to these insiders, because she was then rumored eager to marry twenty-eight-year-old Brett Halsey, the tall, well-built, handsome (thick black hair, smoky blue-gray eyes) star of the now-defunct TV series, “Follow the Sun.”

Debbie vigorously denied this at the time. “He is a wonderful friend,” she said. “But my friendship with Brett Halsey is just that—friendship.”

And she added wryly, speaking for herself and Arthur Loew, “Neither of us have any plans to remarry. In fact, I am just about fed up with marriage.”

Accepting her statements on their face value, the question still remained: Why did Debbie consent to give up her son?

Well, young Tyrone and his step-brother Gerald had been raised as crib mates together, and Debbie and Arthur said they didn’t want the boys to be separated.

Debbie explained it this way. “I think it will be the best thing for my son by Tyrone. He and Gerry are very close, and they will be always together, raised as full brothers.

“Arthur is just as much a father as little Ty’s own father could have been. It would be different if his father were alive, but this way I believe it will work out well and his future will be in safe hands.”

The trouble with Debbie’s explanation, of course, is it raised more questions than it answered.

If Debbie and Arthur were so concerned with the welfare of the two boys, why didn’t they make another effort at making their marriage work instead of separating after such a brief period as Mr. and Mrs.?

If it was best for little Ty and Gerry to stay together, why didn’t they remain in their mother’s custody, as is usual and normal in separations and divorces?

Why did Arthur and Debbie reverse the usual procedure? It is not unusual for a stepfather to adopt his wife’s child by a previous husband. (After all, Eddie Fisher legally adopted Liza, Liz Taylor’s child by the late Mike Todd.) But it is unusual for the stepfather to receive, with court approval, custody of the child even before the divorce.

Why did Arthur Loew insist on changing the name of Tyrone William Power IV to Tyrone Power Loew, especially in the wake of the late Ty’s fervently expressed wish that his son carry on the Power name?

And, the biggest why of all, why did Ty’s widow agree to Loew’s action then?

Later, when she won a divorce from Loew charging “extreme cruelty,” she testified, “He told me he didn’t want to be married,” and asserted that after six months of marriage he informed her that “he didn’t want to be tied down.”

The surprise in the divorce proceedings was that, contrary to their previous separation agreement, this time Debbie was granted custody of both boys. And she was to get $250 monthly support for two-year-old Gerry and the same amount for three-year-old Ty, in addition to $1,000-a-month alimony for herself. Whatever the reason for this switch in custody from stepfather to mother, one thing remained the same: little Ty had been denied his famous father’s name.

What happens next?

For Arthur it looks like a return to his pre-marital role of dashing man-about-town. Arthur’s preference for brunettes has not changed (before marrying dark-haired Debbie he almost married still darker-haired Liz Taylor, and since eighteen days before his divorce from Debbie was granted, he’s seemed to be courting actress Susan Strasberg quite seriously).

For Debbie it looks as if she might be able to land Brett Halsey, if their romance can survive the one-year waiting period necessary in California. But between now and then anything can happen—and probably will. Brett, as many woman including his two former wives have found out, is tough to tie down and even tougher to keep tied once a gal thinks she’s got him.

A confirmed bachelor

Brett himself talks like a confirmed bachelor. “I work like the devil, and when the work is over I go out and let off steam. I’m a born hell-raiser,” he says.

Even if Debbie were temporarily to tame this man and lead him to the altar, her problems, if we harken to what his two previous wives have to say, would just be beginning.

Says Renata Hoy, a former Miss Germany, who was Brett’s first wife and bore him two children, Charles Oliver, now six, and Tracy Leigh, now five: “Being married to Brett was like raising a child.”

Says Luciana Paluzzi, who was Brett’s second wife, on being told by a reporter that he’d just spent two hours with her ex-husband and could barely eke out two paragraphs of copy from the interview: “You are lucky. I was married to him for almost a year and didn’t get that much.”

A few months after their divorce, Luciana claimed she wasn’t getting something else from Brett that she was legally en- titled to—$200 a month support for their child, Christian. “Brett has never paid any child support—and frankly, I couldn’t care less,” she said. “I’m just glad to get rid of him at any price.”

For Tyrone Power Loew (formerly Tyrone Power IV), the forgotten principal in this drama, there can be only confusion. Only four years old, he has already been cheated by death, bewildered by an on-again off-again custody arrangement, touched by divorce and deprived of his name. Tyrone Power’s dreams for his son are slowly turning to ashes.