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Under Hedda’s Hat

Not since Will Rogers lost his life in an icy plane crash had the entire world been so affected by the death of a show business figure as they were when the news flashed across the front pages that Marilyn Monroe had ended her life with sleeping pills. Somehow the most sensational blonde in the world, whose childhood made Charles Dickens’ stories look pale, touched her fellow man deeply.

Marilyn always wanted to play the life of Jean Harlow on screen. It’s ironic that her own life was so much more exciting, and, as it turned out, more tragic. We’ll never know the agony of Marilyn’s mind—nor who it was who made the third telephone call to her the night of the suicide. There was mystery surrounding the death of Carole Landis, too. The truth of that has never come out. I believe she had the telephone in her hand, too. There was no mystery about Lupe Velez’ suicide. But the death of Thelma Todd was never satisfactorily cleared up. Jean Harlow’s husband Paul Bern died mysteriously, too. I never believed it was suicide and still don’t.

Kay Gable and Efrem Zimbalist have been more than just neighbors since Denise Minnelli asked Efrem to escort Kay to one of her parties.

You can look for a big change in Jayne Mansfield. Kurt Frings, agent for Audrey Hepburn and Liz Taylor, has taken Jayne on with the understanding she’ll stop all the unfavorable publicity. She’s always managed to tear her dress or lose a shoulder strap whenever photographers were around.

Laurence Harvey knows how to give a girl a present. Joan Cohn’s birthday offering was a complete wardrobe by Balmain.

Above: Mae West is a switch on the usual Hollywood story of the big star who made money and wound up destitute. She broke ground in the San Fernando Valley for a two-million-dollar office building, which is being erected on land she sold for $300,000. She still owns the three adjacent blocks. This in addition to an apartment, a fabulous beach house and a ranch.

A lucky boy is young Tony Bill. He was signed to play Frank Sinatra’s brother in “Come Blow Your Horn.” Tony had no experience outside of college drama classes, and looks a great deal like Frankie, Jr. Young Frank would like to be in show business, but he listened to his parents and went back to Arizona University to finish his schooling. There should be more kids like him in Hollywood.

Anita Ekberg put on so much weight she had to enter a clinic in Rome. I heard she was being treated by the same doctor who treated Mario Lanza. When I discovered that Bob Hope had signed Anita for his leading lady, I asked if he’d seen her lately. “You’d better take a look, Bob, she’s put on so much weight that if she takes you in her arms, you’d disappear from view.”

“Ah,” sighed Hope, “what a beautiful way to go.”

Grace Kelly hasn’t changed her mind about coming back to the screen, but she will take a television tour of Monaco in early ’63. In the hour TV show, which will be aired all over the world, Grace will show us the wonders of her tiny kingdom—from the palace itself to the annual Fall Festival. And you can be sure there’ll be some shots of the Prince and her children—a bigger attraction than Monte Carlo itself. It’s one TV show I’ll watch!

Above: While Jackie Gleason was in town, I gave a party for him at my house where this picture was taken. Jackie’s surrounded by Lucille Ball, Merle Oberon, Mrs. Vincent Minnelli, Jill St. John and Rhonda Fleming. He looks like the cat that swallowed the canary. Gleason left our town in great style—on his own private train with seven cars, if you please. It cost $80,000 (paid by CBS) for the ten-day trip back to New York. He made eight stops across country and had a schedule that would have killed an elephant for sure.

Vince Edwards has a time keeping his love life straight. Now that he’s big news, a lot of columns have linked him with many girls, including Diane McBain. Trouble is, Vince’s real girl, Sherry Nelson, gets upset. Vince told me he’ll do no more comedy guest appearances. From now on he’ll stick to the dedicated doctor image.

Despite all the stories picturing Elizabeth Taylor as independently wealthy, she has not received any money to date from the estate of Mike Todd.

Above: My favorite outdoor girl, Doris Day, roots for her favorite team with her son Terry.

All Hollywood predicted an eruption when Joan Crawford and Bette Davis got together for “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” But it turned out to be love in bloom. They’re both pros, and neither has ever worked so hard. Bette plays the evil sister, and she really ripped into the part. Joan plays the sweet, placid girl. Bette said Joan was so good, she’ll probably get the Oscar. And, Bette added, she’ll deserve it.

An image has been shattered during the feud between Loretta Young and Pamela Mason. Pamela would have you know that Loretta treated her daughter, Portland, in a shabby manner when she was fired from Loretta’s TV show. The producer says it was mother trouble. But Pamela said it was because she wouldn’t buy Portie’s clothes for the show from Loretta’s sister Georgianna, who runs a dress shop. So lawsuits have been flying thick and fast. Loretta, however, had the last word when she wrote: “Dear Portland, I shall miss you.”

Bobby Darin’s friends are delighted but slightly amazed. He’s settled down and is the most loving husband and father in town. At times he forgets that he’s a big star. And this is the guy who predicted he’d be a legend before he was twenty-five! And now he can add to that: Husband, lover, and baby sitter.

I’m glad Liberace and brother George will be together again. We’ve missed them. Liberace’s new home is more fantastic than his old one, and he’s making as much money as he ever did.

Twenty years ago Zsa Zsa Gabor was thrown out of El Morocco by owner John Perona for being flip. Now his son has taken her back, and she said, “But twenty years ago I hadn’t yet learned how to behave.”

Shirley MacLaine finally lowered the boom on her brother Warren Beatty. She doesn’t know why he’s feuding with her. As far as she’s concerned it’s all a lot of publicity which she doesn’t need.

When Sophia Loren and husband Carlo Ponti came to town for the opening of “Boccaccio 70,” Joe Levine threw quite a shindig for them. I went with Dana Wynter, Greg Bautzer, Merle Oberon, George (Redskins) Marshall and George Hamilton. Marshall was the only man there who wore a black tie and I thought he’d be lynched. Some of the girls’ dresses were really weird. One woman wore a skirt that could have passed for a ballet costume. Sophia wore black, which made her look tired. I told her she was working too hard, and she said, “But, Hedda, I love to work.” The host’s wife, Mrs. Levine, was in solid gold from head to toe. It was quite a creation, too. Joe was so proud of her.

Marlon Brando has evidently been reading his publicity. He’s a changed man. He was so cooperative during last days of shooting on “Mutiny on the Bounty” that his co-actors scarcely recognized him. When people read that he caused a $6,000,000 loss to the picture, he began getting letters. One stockholder wrote and said he had put his last savings into M-G-M stock and didn’t think it was fair of Mr. Brando.

Above: Bob Wagner and fiancee Marion Donen prefer Europe. That’s fine with me—but why, oh why do those who forsake the States for Europe have to downgrade Hollywood? Bob’s now giving out anti-Hollywood quotes that are tasteless.

Above: Today, Hugh O’Brian prefers model Viviane Chance. Yesterday, she was Soraya. Who will she be tomorrow?

A lady writes from Birmingham, Alabama: “This is the first time I’ve ever written to a columnist, but I couldn’t stifle the urge to pat you on the back for your statement that you weren’t jumping on the Eddie Fisher bandwagon because he’d gotten just what he deserved. Hooray for you! All of this ballyhoo about how noble and righteous he is turns my stomach. I had to get this off my chest as I’ve read so much goo about how badly Eddie is being treated by Debbie. Hooey! You call a spade a spade and don’t back down. You’re not one of the columnists who swing with the tide.”

Joan Blondell says Hollywood should give her a “heart of gold” award when she celebrates her fiftieth year in show business. “I’ve given back more men to leading ladies than anybody else in the world,” laughed Joan. “The toughest was handing Clark Gable back to Greer Garson,” she told me.

That’s all the news for now. I’ll write more next month.