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Why Is The “Other Woman” Usually Foreign?

Womanhood, in Hollywood today, is seething—and the reason has nothing to do with Dr. Kinsey. Both the once-married wives and the much-married stars are starting to discover that purely American glamour is not enough when it comes to capturing and captivating the modern male—and being able to hold on to him!

They will tell you that—Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell and Ava Gardner notwithstanding—the modern vamp is a product from overseas, a deadly import when it comes to the lives, loves and emotions of the woman at home.

As for the woman abroad, the things other people think about her are curt, concise and conclusive. She’s dynamite! Truthfully, however, in this respect Hollywood wives and stars are no different from men and women anywhere in America.

“Why should they think otherwise,” asks a Hollywood producer, “when many a girl in Gopher Gulch or New York City found to her dismay that the foreign girls had her beat a mile at snapping up the G.I. boys from home?”

Well, the situation hasn’t changed. Currently, Greta Peck, Rocky Cooper, Mona Freeman, and a number of others can sympathize fully . . . because they, too, have found the foreign woman to be truly fatale.

No small wonder, then, that all Hollywood is asking the same question: Why do the American wives fail and the foreign girls hold such appeal?

A husky accent, perhaps? How irresistible is the appeal to the conceit of man when a beautiful girl whispers shyly, “You weel teach me Eenglish, no?” And even though the film star may be no more literate than to be able to say, “Settle it with my agent,” the answer is—he weel teach her Eenglish, yes.

In a matter of hours, he has become convinced that he is a rare combination of the brains of Einstein and the teaching ability of a college professor, and he quickly believes his new little friend is the only woman who appreciates his intelligence. Every mistake in grammar becomes, in his mind, a proof of her wit, and every time she widens her eyes and says trustingly, “I not onnerstan’, but you weel explain, no?” he feels protective.

But the allure of the foreign woman is more definite than a matter of appealing accent and need for instruction in the difficult world of America. For example, there was Ursula Thiess and her prominence in Bob Taylor’s life. Why did he prefer this German-born film star to the charming and accomplished Barbara Stanwyck?

Dr. Arnold Gruber, internationally-famous psychologist and technical adviser on many European-made movies with American stars, points out one basic factor in all these situations. “Before we can say that the foreign woman is always the ‘other’ woman in luring away the affections of the American man from the women he might naturally select for his wife,” he remarks, “we must remember that all human relationships depend upon the people involved and on their particular combination of hopes and fears, successes and frustrations.

“It seems to be true that the foreign born woman is more adept than the American woman at sensing the needs of the man,” he concludes. “Perhaps because the foreign woman’s background of experience has taught her that she can only live by and through the will of men, she automatically studies the man’s desires rather than her own, and in giving full expression to them, hopes to be able to gain her own desires without bringing them into the open.”

This is definitely a point often cited by the American G.I. in explaining his marriage to a foreign girl. “She makes me feel I’m a man,” he says, repeatedly. “She looks up to me; she depends on me; she recognizes her place in a man’s life.”

On the other hand, pretty young Mona Freeman is a healthy, ambitious, all-around, American girl. She can cook and she can sew, and she, too, doesn’t look on man as her equal, but rather as her superior. For a long time it seemed that she was the number one girl in Bing Crosby’s life.

Then one day, and it is now no longer a secret, Bing put in a hurried long distance call to Paris, to the famous salon of Schiaparelli—a stone’s throw from the Ritz Hotel. Only he wasn’t ordering any clothes for his new picture.

“Give me,” said Bing, “Ghislaine.”

Madame Schiaparelli, who is very strict in allowing gentlemen to talk to her sultry, beautiful high-fashion models, felt that a long-distance call from Hollywood was an exception. Bing and Ghislaine talked for hours—over a period of time. And Mona, so the story goes, had no dates with “The Groaner” from then on.

What the Hollywood grapevine learned was that Bing was anxious to get Ghislaine to give up her modelling work—at least for a time—and come to Hollywood to make a screen test, and consider a career in the movies.

“And I’ll be around to advise you, baby,” said Bing, in typical vein.

Romance or career? No one quite knows yet, but Bing Crosby like many of the other Hollywood stars has a good eye for talent, and an equal eye for a pretty girl. While he may not do much about the latter, he still is a man who likes to be in good and young company. And when that happens, everyone prognosticates that something serious is in the offing.

Unquestionably, the normal childhood training of foreign girls is widely different from that of the average American film star. Barbara Stanwyck, for instance, says calmly that she cannot boil an egg—but Ursula Thiess is the true German. hausfrau, who knows how to cook, bake and sew.

This makes it all the easier for her to remember Bob Taylor’s favorite dishes, chat in cozy woman-to-woman fashion with Bob’s mother—and it’s still only too true that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

But aside from their enchanting hesitant accents and their domestic accomplishments, foreign film stars have, too, a certain grace and polish which creates havoc in the American male. Greta Peck is the most recent Hollywood wife to discover this. Rocky Cooper might have warned her—for both women lost their husbands—temporarily—to Ingrid Bergman.

Hollywood still remembers with hushed voices the fiery love scenes of “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” in which—it was said—the reticence of Gary Cooper was breached to such telling effect that the set had to be closed to visitors.

And even with the end of the filming of “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” and the withdrawal of Miss Bergman from Mr. Cooper’s life, seemingly that reticence never returned. Perhaps Mr. Cooper had acquired a taste for the continental touch, for only recently Giselle Pascal, longtime and intimate friend of the Prince of Monaco, was credited with touching Mr. Cooper’s heart.

Throughout these excursions into the land of romance, Mrs. Cooper has stood fast, armored by her position as mother of Gary’s beloved young daughter and buttressed by her own deep religious convictions.

Greta Peck has chosen differently. From Gregory’s initial encounter with Ingrid Bergman in “Spellbound” grew an initial combustion which exploded subsequently in a number of different directions—all foreign.

There was Hildegard Knef, who has been in and out of Gregory’s life and love several times. And there was Audrey Hepburn, who showed him a holiday in Rome.

Nor are all the fatal women European, as John Wayne can testify. Most important woman in his life is Pilar Pallette, 23-year old Peruvian beauty on the brink of a divorce.

Kirk Douglas is another one to fall for the pretty dark eyes. Long time escort of Irene Wrightsman and other Hollywood beauties, the day came when Kirk turned to the simple life. The answer was Pier Angeli, years younger than he, but imbued with all the traditions of Europe in her approach to men.

“American men,” she said softly to the press, “seem to me like boys. It is natural that—after enduring the terrible war years in Italy—I should be used to more decision, more maturity. Our boys are men, because they have endured the hard things in life.”

It was not hard to understand Pier Angeli’s appeal for Kirk—she looked up to him. The difference in age between them was a matter of course in European thinking, where young girls are often married off to older, established men.

Even the giants of the industry are not different from other men when it comes to the foreign women. Clark Gable, vacationing in France, found the perfect companion in lovely Suzanne Dadolle.

Parisian to her fingertips, Suzanne put a figurative ring through The King’s nose, and led him from night club to night club, from party to party. For her sake, Clark Gable—always noted as a man’s man, allowed himself to be seen each evening in dinner jacket or tails, was photographed on dance floors wearing a proud smile while Suzanne showed off the latest creations from the Paris couturiers.

The list of foreign women who have provided interest, solace and spice in the lives of American film stars seems endless. There was Lya de Lys, credited as the first disruption to the Stanwyck-Taylor marital bliss several years ago. There was Hedy Lamarr and Marlene Dietrich, and even farther back, there was Greta Garbo who co-starred with Bob.

But with the number of films being shot in faraway romantic spots about the world, and the consequent increased travel of our male film stars, Hollywood wives and hopefuls may well look to their positions.

No longer does a Hollywood woman compete on her own home ground, where there is the pressure of public opinion, established lives and routines, and all the other habits of life which make a man think twice before throwing his cap over the windmill.

Now it is the American woman who is competing, on foreign ground, against a widely different view of romance and marriage, and—worst of all—against the cruel shortage of men in the foreign countries where war has left nearly five women to every one man available.

And it is time that the American women assessed their romantic values on a more basic plane—or Hollywood bids fair to become as man-less as Europe!





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