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What Gives?—Frank Sinatra & Janet Leigh

It’s easy to believe that Janet Leigh is in love with Frank Sinatra. It’s just as easy to believe that Frank loves Janet. But believing does not make it true. You have to look at the record to find out what goes with Janet and Frank. You have to remember that earlier this year Janet filed for divorce from Tony, her husband of eleven years, the father of her two children and the man who once said, “Janet is my life and my hope. We’ll be together and in love forever.”

Yet it was Janet who had lost hope for her marriage. It was Janet who gave up the man who was her life. It was Janet who knew in her woman’s heart that “forever” in a man’s heart is frequently a long time less than an eternity.

So one morning shortly before her thirty-fifth birthday, her husband gone, Janet sat down at her dressing table and took a long hard look at what she saw in the mirror before her.

What she saw

Try as she might, she could see only the reflection of a neglected, abandoned wife. It didn’t matter that she was beautiful, impeccably groomed and warmly sophisticated. It didn’t matter that she had fought desperately to keep her husband. It didn’t matter that she had taken every conceivable step to preserve her marriage, that she had refused to quit long after another woman would have run sobbing to mother.

At that moment, Janet faced instant reality. She was a woman in her mid-thirties without a man in her life. It was then that Janet did something she had not done in a long, long time. She began to think of herself.

It wasn’t easy. You do not step out of eleven years of marriage and motherhood and become a femme fatale. Lonelines is the inevitable hangover of divorce especially for a woman. You stare, dismayed, at a hundred voids, an aggravating, frustrating swarm of little spheres of emptiness—once occupied by the man you love. He isn’t there any more. And if you are a woman, a real woman, the need for someone to take his place is so great it can drive you crazy.

Movie divorcees, however, cannot just turn to the nearest man at hand. Mature men are wary of women on the rebound, and smart women understand their caution. For a woman like Janet it could not be the simple expedient of finding male companionship—the most natural thing to do, but in Janet’s case also the most dangerous.

Up to that moment there had not been the slightest hint of another man in Janet Leigh’s life. (And let us set the record straight. In all her married life, and for weeks following her separation from Tony, there were no other men for Janet. Tony was not that easy to forget.)

Fortunately, perhaps because she is the right kind of woman in any man’s eyes, Janet was saved the difficult task of deciding which man to turn to.

He arrived on the phone one evening.

It was Sinatra.

“There’s an informal meeting of the A group tonight, Janet,” he said. “You’re a member and you’re welcome. Dinner at 8:30.”

“Sometimes,” Janet told us, “I think that call from Frank saved me from—I don’t know what.

“How can you tell one man how much you hurt from what another man has done to you? Women will know what I mean. With Frank, explanations, excuses and all that, were completely unnecessary. I went to dinner that night and a few days later Frank put me in the picture he was making, ‘The Manchurian Candidate.’ ”

Janet smiled. “You know, if Tony and I were still together I would have been angry at Frank for giving me the part. It’s the most difficult role I’ve ever even heard of for a woman. At first I was appalled by the work that was expected of me.

“But a few days later my head cleared and I realized how clever Frank had been. I loved him for it. He realized that there was only one thing that could take my mind from the heartache I was having over Tony. That one thing was work. It came when I needed it most. I steeped myself in that part. Drowned in it!”

If only people knew . . .”

Janet’s attractive eyes lowered slightly and she absently examined the backs of her hands.

“It was better than drowning in grief over the failure of my marriage,” she said. “If people only knew, oh, if they only knew what Frank does for his friends, they would find it hard to believe. He won’t allow those things to be publicized. He doesn’t want the world to be that sure that under the surface he’s really softhearted. You can read and hear a lot of things about Frank, but I know the kind of man he is. And I’ve never met a person yet who knew Frank and didn’t like him.”

But Photoplay wanted to know: Did it look as if Janet Leigh and Frank Sinatra were going to be any more serious than “liking” each other?

“I could say it,” replied Janet good-naturedly, “but it would sound trite. So let me ask you. Don’t you think it’s possible for Frank and me to be just good friends?”

Possible? Of course. But what about—?

Still smiling and not at all annoyed by my very personal questions, Janet interrupted. “What you’re trying to say is that people are interested in whether there’s a romance in my future. Isn’t that it?”

I nodded.

“All right,” said Janet. “Let’s talk about that.”

It was then I discovered the real romantic possibility in Janet’s new life.

His name is Bob Brandt and he is Janet’s age, thirty-five. He is a Beverly Hills stockbroker.

“He’s six-feet-two,” Janet said with a twinkle, “and I guess any woman would call him tall, dark and handsome. We met on the tennis court through mutual friends.

“He’s very, very nice. He surfs, swims, and he’s even taught me how to ride a motorcycle. As a matter of fact I like cycling so much that Bob came over one afternoon and put me and the two children on the seats and all four of us rode together. Isn’t that wild?”

Although not completely discounting the possibilities of a romance with Frank, some of Janet’s close friends say that Brandt might be the man. “If you examine the situation carefully,” they warn.

Divorced Hollywood actors and actresses quite frequently resort to clever little schemes to fool reporters and writers. Much publicity is given to a newly-divorced actress’ “romance” with one man, while in private her heart is slipping away to another.

One of Janet’s close friends says, “At first we thought Janet’s friendship for! Bob might be a cover for her more serious feelings for Frank. But it doesn’t look that way any more. She really digs Bob. She must, she dates him so often. Every day in the week, when she gets the chance. A woman doesn’t go out with a man thatmuch if she’s using him only as a cover for someone else—there just isn’t any time left for another man. And Brandt is a dreamboat. He’s charming, wealthy and free.

“Bob’s profession is somewhat significant, too. Janet is convinced that marriage to another star is for the birds. She had eleven years of it with Tony and sometimes, from the way she talks about her life with Curtis, I get the impression that she knew it would end in divorce all along. She knows that in such cases there’s too much competition in the business itself without the inevitable competition at home.

“I think that is one of the reasons Brandt appeals so much to Janet. He’s a star, but in another business. If she makes a success, he’s the guy who will happily invest it for her.”

Brandt is so non-show business that after he visited Janet on the “Bye, Bye Birdie” set, he sheepishly confessed it was his first visit to a movie studio.

Janet and Bob have dated so steadily, that marriage rumors have started.

But Janet is still smarting from an eleven-year wound in the heart that won’t heal overnight, and those who expect anything sudden my have a long wait.

“I have no plans,” Janet told me, “for going to Las Vegas and getting a quick divorce so I can marry in six weeks. I filed in California and I think the best thing for me, and in a way for Bob, is to wait out the year in California until the divorce becomes final.”

Does the romantic relationship with Bob rule out Sinatra?

In truth, I don’t believe Janet, Frank or Bob could answer that question.

Don’t count Frankie out!

In a romantic situation, Sinatra is an unknown and unpredictable man. He is tough and deliberate one day and sentimental and impulsive the next. He is rich, experienced and frequently shows wisdom that surprises even his closest friends. He certainly can never be counted “out of the running” where romance is concerned.

Janet says that a romance with Frank won’t happen. But, Sinatra remains silent.

What will happen next is anybody’s guess.

One thing is sure, however. Janet Leigh is too much of a woman to live even a little of her life without love. She will make a choice and, we think, sooner than even she predicts.

Because for all of her sophistication, for all of the hurt she suffered from the ordeal of a failing marriage, Janet is eager, almost impatient, to live the full, rich life that her charm and maturity demand.

“All I can say at the moment,” Janet points out, “is this—I am no loner.”

Whether her future lies with a man named Sinatra or a man named Brandt, it is evident that a woman named Janet has the wisdom—and the love—to make the right choice.



Janet and Frank co-star in “Manchurian Candidate” for Col. Her next film is “Bye, Bye Birdie,” also for Col. Frank’s in Paramount’s “Come Blow Your Horn.”