Why Do They Keep Asking Us When We’re Getting Married?—Troy Donahue & Suzanne Pleshette
I’ve been in the movie star reporting business for eight years now. In my time, I’ve been told off by the best of them. A perennial starlet (blonde), for instance, once blasted me for reporting to the world that she liked to shoot pool. It didn’t seem to matter to her that half our photo layouts showed her fracturing the old billiard balls.
A famous redhead once got sore at me because I had the nerve to print her age. That was two years ago, which—if I can still add—now makes her . . . whoops!
A TV “doctor” blew up at me not too long ago because I invaded his childhood “privacy”—and found out from some of his old hometown buddies that he used to like to eat meatball heroes. So what were they serving back on Hometown Avenue those days, huh, Doc? Pate de foie gras hero-ettes?
Yep, my earth-shattering scoops have made me about as popular in Hollywood as Barry Goldwater at a union picnic. But believe me, dear friends, never was my subtlety so coolly received as the recent day when I asked Troy Donahue and Suzanne Pleshette: “Are you two ever gonna marry? And if so—when?”
It was as if I’d just asked Nikita Khrushchev if he happened to have a copy of the Wall Street Journal I could borrow. As if I’d asked Popeye to fix me up with Olive Oil. Or Oliver Twist if he could spare a dime.
Man, it was like ask that and get ready to run for the hills. Beverly, that is.
Which brings us somehow to Troy. Donahue, that is. Who owns a pretty little Cape Cod-type house nestled in the heart of the B-Hills. Which he’s forever working on, fixing up, decorating, re-decorating.
Which has nothing much to do with our story except that there are people who will tell you, quite sincerely, that this is the house that will one day serve as Troy and Suzie’s honeymoon abode. A lovely setting it is.
Sweet sincerity, sweet news—except that before a honeymoon it’s customary for two people to get married. And so there I was, asking the question—“When?”—first of Suzie, then of Troy. . . . “I’m tired, tired, tired, tired, tired,” answered Suzie tiredly, “—tired of people asking me when Troy and I are getting married. It becomes ridiculous.”
Said Troy to the same question, a little less tiredly, “I’m pretty tired—you know?—of being asked the same question over and over again. As Suzie says, ‘If you go steady six months in Hollywood, people think you’re mentally ill if you don’t set a date.’ ”
But it’s two years
But, I reminded Troy, he and Suzie had been going together for two years now. “Hmmmmmmm,” wondered Troy, “I wonder what Suzie would say to that?”
So I asked her. “Worse than mentally ill,” she answered, “they accuse you of being old-fashioned. As if it’s a weird and terrible thing for two people to really want to get to know one another.”
The mood was getting serious now. I began to delve. “Do you like what you’ve gotten to know about Troy these past two years?”
“I love and respect him more than any man I have known,” Suzie said, adding, “—naturally with the exception of my father whom I love dearly.”
“How about you, Troy?”
“I’ve never met Suzie’s father,” he said.
“Ahem . . . Most of all,” he added, “I love Suzie’s love of life. This rubs off on me. I’ve discovered things in life that I never knew. Little things. My garden, my house give me great pleasure now. I even hear the birds singing outside.”
We paused to listen here. We heard a Cadillac go by on the street outside; then somebody plugged in an electric lawn mower somewhere and whrrrrrrrrr. But no birds.
“I firmly believe,” said Troy, continuing, “that life is what you make of it. So many people grumble about it. They grumble when they are losing it, too. All I can say is that life is wonderful to me. Suzanne is wonderful.”
“Have you two ever fought?” I asked, not-so-innocently, remembering last April and the hot battle rumors of the time.
“We’ve never had a major quarrel,” Troy answered. “When we decided last April that perhaps we shouldn’t see each other for a while, it was a friendly decision. We didn’t even set a time limit. Then, a few days later, Suzanne called me about a chair she’d found in a shop that she thought would fit perfectly with the other furniture in my living room. We went to look at it. Later we went out to dinner.”
“Of course,” said Suzie, “there’s always some gossip monger who’ll spread a rumor, on the average of once a week, that Troy and I had battled. I even heard once that he slugged me. I suppose I’ll hear a rumor next that I belted him!”
Helplessly, we now remembered the much-publicized Lili Kardell incident of a few years ago. As so, obviously, did Suzie.
“I never believed for a minute Troy could do such a thing,” she said. “He didn’t hit her. I believe he was a victim of circumstances. I didn’t know Troy at the time, but later he was man enough to explain the entire episode to me. and I know he was telling the truth. A phony he’s not.”
Said Troy of the incident: “I never hit her (Lili), but I erred in believing that she believed in me. Today I have very few close friends. I want it that way. I was surrounded by so-called friends long enough. All they were doing was using me. Suzanne helped me see this! She straightened me out on this score!”
Suzanne, let it be said here—and seriously now—has helped straighten out Troy on lots of scores during these past two years.
Before they met, he’d been a pretty mixed-up young man. A sudden and overwhelming popularity had thrown his normal stability off-balance. He’d begun to strut around, cock-eyed with confusion. He’d taken the inevitable apartment overlooking Sunset Strip, he’d thrown the inevitable wildish young-star-in-Hollywood parties—and he’d gotten himself smack into inevitable trouble. There’d been talk, even as he was starting to make it, that his career was kaput. There’d been rumors that his studio bosses had warned him to settle down—or else. Co-stars whispered about him. Interviewers disliked him. It had been no secret that half of Hollywood would have paid benefit prices to see young Troy fall flat on his handsome face.
Suzanne, on the other hand, had been Miss Stability itself. Always. The daughter of rather affluent New York parents (her dad’s an exec with ABC-TV), the product—more importantly—of an extremely happy household, she’d had the added advantages of being extremely pretty, extremely bright—and was, as they’d say in pure New Yorkese, “a dolling of a girl with what a head on her shoulders!” She’d been, furthermore, a hard worker, a talented actress—and it had been clear to those who knew her that she was going to make it big one day.
Her first meeting with Troy, report has it, had been something of a shambles: Suzie had been shopping in a Beverly Hills department store. Troy had happened to be in the store at the same time. He’d begun to flirt with Suzie. Suzie had been in a hurry. “May I help—?” he’d started. “No thanks,” she’d said. And that was that!
Says a friend of Suzie’s now: “Looking back, I can’t think of a more unlikely pair getting together, even for a few minutes. Troy was an immature kid at heart. Suzie, even though the same age as he, was a woman; all woman, real woman. It was as if Narcissus had just gotten a crush on Lady Hamilton. It was the big giggle of the month. Crazy!”
But Hollywood has its own crazy way of bringing “unlikely” pairs together. And one day the Brothers Warner announced to Suzie that they were signing her to play the femme lead in a picture to he called “Rome Adventure”—that filming would take place in romantic Italy—and that her love interest in the picture was to be Troy Donahue.
The rest, of course, is location history.
“When Troy got back,” says a friend of his, “he was a different person. He seemed settled, mellow, confident of himself for the first time. I wondered how come. And then, then, one night soon after, I saw him with Suzanne. And I realized right off that he’d fallen for her, hard—that in order for a guy to feel worthy of a chick like this, he’d have to have changed.”
The columnists naturally noticed, too.
And it wasn’t long before the Troy-Suzie items began to hit the papers.
“Troy likes Suzie,” it all began, in effect.
Then: “Troy loves Suzie.”
Then: “Troy on the verge of proposing to Suzie.”
Then: “Troy, did you propose yet?”
Naturally (since a year bad just about passed now, and no action) what followed next was: “Troy and Suzie secretly married.”
Followed by: “Troy and Suzie insist they are not secretly married.”
Followed by: “Troy and Suzie respectfully request to be let alone.”
Followed by: “Oh yeah, Troy and Suzie?”
Which brings us back now to where we started. And to my recent and insistent talk with them on will-they-or-won’t-they.
Here’s how it will be
“Look,” said Suzanne, “frankly, and it is frank, we haven’t set a marriage date. Perhaps we never will. Who knows? I feel, and it’s a sincere feeling, that I would be ecstatically happy as Mrs. Troy Donahue. I have no apprehensions about this. But it takes more than feelings.
“When and if it happens, however, my parents in New York will announce it. That’s the proper way and we want to be proper. I want a large wedding. There will be embossed invitations. I’ll wear a white wedding gown, Troy a tuxedo.”
“Right!” said Troy, who then added: “Look at our careers. We just don’t have the time now. I wouldn’t like to marry one day and have to report back to work the next. Neither of us has been married before. Why rush? We’re both young.
“The important thing is that we completely understand one another. Everyone who has been making a big thing out of the fact we’re not married following nearly two years of steady dating doesn’t understand or want to understand us. Our feelings for each other are beyond saying that we’re just merely in love. It goes much beyond that. We respect each other. You can’t have love without respect and vice versa. We have both. . . .”
Interestingly, just before we went to press, I received the following note from a gossipy friend of mine who signs himself “Informer”:
“Stop everything! Warner Bros, have just announced that they are teaming Troy and Suzie in a picture to be called ‘Distant Trumpet.’ The two will be constantly together for the next few months. I predict a wedding—definitely—by Christmas!”
To which I can only reply:
“Dear Informer: I hope you’re right. A few more interviews like the last—and I’ll start hearing birds!!”
—BY ELLA ORMANDY
You can see Suzanne in “Wall of Noise,” and she will be appearing soon with Troy in “Distant Trumpet,” both Warner Bros.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 1963