What Gary Clarke Has To Say About The Connie Stevens’ Wedding
How did Gary Clarke feel about Connie Stevens’ marriage? I didn’t know what Gary would say for publication. Or whether he would say anything. But the public who’d followed their romance for seven years would want to know. On the other end of the phone, there was abrupt silence.
Then, “I wish Connie all the happiness in the world,” Gary said finally. “You know that. You know the whole story. But why do people want to bring me into it now? Look, two people are getting married. And, given a chance, I’m sure they’ll be very happy. They will raise a fine family together. And they will have a happy life together. I’ve had a lot of queries from the press and from people we’ve known. A lot of calls. A lot of letters from fans. All wanting to know how I feel about Connie’s marriage. How I feel about Connie. What I’m going to do now.
“Why can’t people just let Connie get married in peace? Why keep reviving what’s over and done with?” Gary said earnestly. “It isn’t fair to Connie. And it isn’t fair to Jim. It takes a lot for two people to be happy in this business, anyway. Why bring up the past even before their new life has begun? This is the beginning of Connie’s new life. Of their life together. Why involve me? Why bring me into it?” Another pause. The answer, of course, was the years they’d shared. Years in which they’d grown up together. Struggled through the tough dream to success . . . together. There was the matter of their own plans to marry, their broken engagement last January. The public had just coupled them too long. If Gary said nothing, there would still be questions . . . unanswered. Speculation.
“I suppose it’s only natural for people to wonder how I feel . . . after all this time,” Gary said finally. His voice more relaxed—and resigned. “So, okay—once and for all—
“I want Connie to be happy. That’s what I’ve always wanted for her. Happiness. I hope this is right for her. And if Connie’s happy—then this is right for her. And this is what I want for her too.
“You know, it seems people are never expected to have a happy medium. Society won’t let them. If they’re married to somebody or going with somebody and it doesn’t work and they split up—people seem to think they either have to hate one another . . . or still be in love. Which isn’t true.
“I’ll always care . . .”
“Now, I haven’t seen Connie for six or seven months. And my only thought is . . . that I hope she’s happy. I want that for her, and I’m sure she wants that for me.
“I’ll always care for Connie . . . as a person. I’m not in love with her, but I still have love for her . . . that way. And now she’s getting married, all I keep thinking is . . . I hope she’s very happy.
“She’ll always be a special person to me. When you’ve gone together so long—when you spend seven years with somebody—you become part of one another’s life. And this was an important part of life. It was the beginning of a new life for each of us. A struggling life in show business that we experienced together.
“And because of that period of time spent together and the things we went through together, Connie could never, say, be a ‘picture’ in the past. Even when I’m sixty or seventy years old, I can’t imagine somebody mentioning her and me saying, ‘Connie Stevens? Oh yeah—we went to drama school together.’ You know, that kind of thing. We went through seven years of life together. They’ll always be an important part of my past.”
In recent months, Connie and Gary have been completely out of touch, however. And he hadn’t known she was getting married until he read the announcement.
“No, I didn’t know Connie planned to get married,” he said now. “But there’s no reason why I should have known. Since we broke up, our association had dissolved over a period of time. Connie had been to Europe and traveling around a lot. She’d met someone else. I’d met someone.
“In six or seven months, I’ve only talked to her on the phone once. She called my roommate, Steve Ihnet, who’s a good friend of hers, and I answered the phone. We both said, ‘How are you?’ That was all.”
But Gary hadn’t been surprised by the wedding announcement. “Knowing Connie as I do,” he said, “when she’s spending that much time with someone, then she cares. She’s serious.”
Asked his opinion of Jim Stacy, particularly relative to his marriage to Connie, Gary said. “I don’t know Jim. I’ve never met him. But what I’ve heard about him has been very complimentary.”
A number of people have remarked about Jim Stacy’s physical resemblance to Gary, but this he countered with. “I don’t think that’s true. He’s bigger than I am, and he has a darker complexion.”
The closest Gary and Jim ever came to meeting was an awards dinner both attended. “I was sitting at a table with Ozzie Nelson.” Gary recalled. “Jim was seated at a table below ours, and he was leaning up talking to Ozzie. Later Ozzie remarked, ‘He’s a nice fellow—he plays football.’ Everybody was dancing and milling around, and we didn’t meet.
“But I understand he’s a very nice guy,” Gary added. “Steve’s been out with Connie and Jim. He’s been dating Connie’s cousin, and he says he’s a very nice fellow. A couple of other friends who’ve met him have said the same.
“And if Connie is happy—then I’m sure Jim is the right man for her.”
Gary had no regrets about the two of them. “No, toward the end . . . something happened to us,” he said. “I could never begin to say what happened. But I’m sure whatever happened to us . . . happened for the best. I feel now—as I felt then—that we did the right thing when we broke up. We weren’t ready for marriage. We both had more maturing to do.
“I was immature in various ways,” Gary went on. “Among others, my inability to handle my personal life in conjunction with my new career. I got a personal manager, Bob Marcucci, and a business manager, which was about the smartest thing I ever did.” Gary feels he’s gained maturity in the past months. “I think I’m coming around,” he said. “Life helps do this. Experience after experience. I was dating around a lot for awhile there after Connie and I broke up. This probably had something to do with the maturing process.
“Then I met a certain young lady . . . and the timing was right. I was more ready. You have to be happy within yourself. You have to be secure within yourself . . . before you can be secure with others.”
Undoubtedly Connie had matured more too. “As I’ve said, I haven’t talked to her—but a lot of developing can take place in a matter of months,” he said.
Gary’s new girl
During these months both Connie and Gary have been building a new life. The first two months after they broke up, Gary had dated a number of glamorous young eligibles like Maria Persche, Anna Kashfi, Anna Capris, and others, as I knew. But as Gary pointed out now, “That all stopped when I finally met somebody I really became interested in.” He refrained from mentioning her name here.
“I’d rather not,” he said. “We’ll talk about her later. We didn’t start dating until months after Connie and I broke up. She is in no way involved, and I think it would be unfair to bring her into this.”
Were they serious?
“Serious enough that I don’t care to go out with anyone else,” Gary said. “We have a great deal in common. She’s a talented singer, and she has her own television series. She’s a very mature young lady, and I’m very happy with her.
“And now a new life is starting to form for Connie. Some girls may find happiness in a career, but I don’t care how much of a career Connie has. I’m sure her life would not be fulfilled without a home and husband and children. She’s a wonderful person, Connie is, a warm and giving person.
“From what I hear, Connie and Jim Stacy are very happy together. Everything about Connie and me has been said . . . and said . . . and said again. It’s about time they stop being said.
“Connie’s been a special person in my life, and for Connie I wish special happiness. May God be with them both . . . in their new life together.”
—BY DIANE SCOTT
See Gary on “The Virginian,” via NBC-TV, Wednesday 7:30-9:00 P.M., EST.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE DECEMBER 1963