You Can’t Fight It, Vince…
She’s a brown-eyed brunette with a peaches-and-cream complexion and an enchanting figure for a mere sixteen-year-old. She’s the kind of girl who turns boys’ heads and starts their hearts pattering when they pass her on the Street or in the hail at school. But the boys can stare at her till their eyeballs fail out. They can whistle and wolf-call till they’re blue in the face. They can wave until their arms fail off. None of these mating calls make an impression on her. It’s not that this sweet and fascinating charmer isn’t interested in boys. But boys, as such, don’t stand a chance with her because she’s waiting for a certain man—a certain man who is also waiting for her. waiting until she grows up just a little bit more. . . .
The man is Vince Edwards.
The girl is Karen Zoine.
Of course you know Vince Edwards, the dour, dynamic and dedicated “Ben Casey” of coast-to-coast television fame. But you’ve never heard of Karen Zoine, you’re about to tell us?
Pay close attention because you may be hearing a lot about her in the months and years ahead. For Karen has her eyes on Hollywood and a burning desire to follow Vince Edwards out to the cinematic citadel. So far as Vince Edwards is concerned, the idea is great. But as he has already told her: “Karen, the best thing for you is to finish high school first—don’t neglect your studies. Nothing is more important than a good education. Once you have that, everything else is easy. If you don’t finish school, that is something you’ll regret the rest of your life. . . .”
Karen has taken Vince’s injunction to heart. She will stay in school—she will enter the senior class in September at Brooklyn’s Franklin K. Lane High School—until graduation next June and then continue her education at some school of higher learning, because she is convinced that what Vince has told her is sound advice. Karen knows how he had done all he could to get an education before he struck out for movieland.
It was 1947—the year Karen was born—when Vince was still in school, a student at the University of Hawaii. A short time after that, Vince quit and went to Hollywood to begin his acting career.
And ever since Karen was old enough to remember, she has been a fan of Vince’s, watching him through dozens of films—films that led nowhere, really, until he got his big break in television with the “Ben Casey” show.
But even though he never hit it big with the fans until his TV debut. Karen nevertheless always looked on Vince as a star of the first magnitude. In her eyes, there simply wasn’t any actor as great as Vince.
Through all her many years of growing up, Karen’s overriding ambition was to meet Vince Edwards someday.
“I wanted to see him and tell him how wonderful he was,” Karen confided. “I wanted to see what he was like in real life.”
Karen’s years-long dream finally came true early last summer when her father, Joe Zoine, took her to meet Vince. It was at the home of Vince’s twin brother Bob in Westbury, Long Island, where there was a big family reunion.
It was only natural that Karen would be there since her father is not only Bob’s brother—but Vince’s as well.
And as the account of human family pedigrees goes, that makes Vince Edwards—Karen’s uncle!
Yet, in all her life Karen had never seen her uncle Vince in the flesh. He’d been so busy pursuing his career in Hollywood that on the few occasions he had come home to visit his family, his stays were so brief that Vince never had the opportunity to see Karen.
Now, at last, they had met.
“You’ve got a beautiful daughter,” Vince said to brother Joe.
“I know I have,” Joe smiled. “And she wants to be an actress.”
Sensitive and still somewhat shy, Karen blushed as she overheard her father divulging her ambition to follow her famous uncle out to Hollywood.
“I was a little embarrassed,” Karen said. “I didn’t want him to think I was trying to get ahead on his name.”
But Vince never got that impression. Her father made it clear to Vince that Karen was determined to make the grade as an actress on her own—that she did not want any help whatsoever from him.
Nevertheless, Vince vowed to do everything he could to help Karen—provided she did what he thought was best for her. Then he took Karen aside and talked with her at length about her appetite for the glitter, glory, and gold that lies in the world of make-believe. He impressed Karen with the importance of completing her education, and Karen agreed. Then Vince promised her: “I’m going to bring you out to visit me in Hollywood—I want to show you around.”
Vince even set a date: for last August. But there was heartfelt disappointment ahead for Karen, as well as for Vince’s mother, Julie, who was supposed to take her granddaughter out to the Coast. Vince had signed to do “The Victors” and had to leave for England and Italy during that month. When he came back in September, Karen could no longer make it because of school.
“We put it off until later this summer,” Karen told me recently when she dropped in with her family for a visit at my home in Westbury, not far from Bob’s place. I had asked Joe to come over for a social call because my family—especially the kids—had wanted to meet Vince Edwards’ mother. They had heard and read what a wonderful woman she is, and they were anxious to see her. While the Zoines were there I found the opportunity to ask Karen about her plans.
“If all goes well,” Karen related, “Grandma and I will go to Hollywood and stay with Vince for a good part of the summer. It’ll be a wonderful opportunity for me to see what Hollywood is like. Vince promised to take us everywhere and show us what makes the town go round. I know I’m going to love it.”
I asked Karen what she’d do if she suddenly found herself confronted with an opportunity to take a screen test.
“I’d take it,” Karen laughed. Then she quickly added, “But I doubt that Vince would let me. He’s a bug about wanting me to finish school. He’d probably put Grandma and me on the next plane and send us home.”
Actually, Karen sincerely believes the advice Vince has given her is the best she could get. “I don’t think I’m ready yet to take the big step in Hollywood,” Karen admitted. “I want to finish high school and then go on and study for an acting career.”
She plans to enroll either at Northwestern University, which offers a fine dramatic course. or the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, the same school Vince attended early in his career.
Karen is confident she will have the entrance requirements for Northwestern, or practically any other college she may choose, for her scholastic standing is very high. In fact, when I saw her she had just taken a college scholarship test which is given to selected groups of New York City students with only the highest academic averages. The winners can take their choice of any college or university in the country—tuition free.
Karen is taking an academic course which includes geometry, biology, physics, and other cerebral subjects. Her favorite courses, however, are English and public speaking.
“I believe they are the most important subjects for a person who is going to act,” Karen said. “It’s important to be able to read and speak properly. That’s why I have the most interest in English.”
Karen also reads a lot, mostly novels. “I like to pick out a certain character in the story I’m reading and put myself in her part,” Karen related. “Then I can live through the experience, which is what I would have to do if I were acting.”
Because good grades are dependent on a lot of study. Karen finds little time for much else during the school year. Occasionally, however, she will go bowling with her girl friends, or take in a movie. On Sundays she attends St. Fortunato’s Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn.
“Yes,” Karen admitted, “but not until I’m at least twenty-four.”
On the subject of boy friends, Karen had this to say: “Lots of boys try to date me, but I don’t go out with them. In the first place I haven’t got that much time, and in the second place I haven’t met any boys yet that I can say I like a lot.”
What Karen didn’t say is that she is often too busy at home helping with the household chores—and in recent times with being Grandma’s strong right hand. Grandma Julie had suffered a painful broken varicose vein in her leg just before Thanksgiving. She was laid up for months in her apartment, a Virtual invalid. Karen, who lives a few blocks away, brought her grandmother food and helped around the house.
“It was the least I .could do for her,” Karen said. “I can never repay her for all the things that she’s done for me.”
Her mother, you see, died when Karen was six years old. Beside Karen, there were two other children—Jo Ann, who was eight, and Terry, who was ten. For six long years—until Joe married his present lovely wife, Ginger—the children were cared for by Grandma Julie.
“She raised them as lovingly and tenderly as she raised her own sons and daughters,” Joe told me about his mother. “We owe her a great debt of gratitude for being a mother to my children when they needed one the most.”
Today Jo Ann, who is eighteen and has graduated from high school, is a beautician in a neighborhood beauty parlor and someday hopes to open her own shop.
Terry, who is twenty and also a graduate of high school. is on his way to becoming a New York City policeman. He has passed his written examination and only the physical test remains before he is admitted to the Police Academy.
“He’s just like Vince,” Joe told me, taking out a picture of his son for a comparison. The resemblance to Vince in height, build, and looks is remarkable.
“He looks more like Vince’s son than he does yours,” I told Joe. It wasn’t the first time someone had mentioned that.
More remarkable, however, is another interest: “My Vinny used to go in for health foods, weight-lifting, and bodybuilding,” Mrs. Zoine said. “Terry is just the same way. He will not allow himself to miss a single session at the gym. He practically lives there.”
Those of you familiar with Vince’s background probably recognize the similarity at once.
Terry, though, is a bit of a disappointment to Vince, who wanted the boy to go to college.
“I wanted him to go, too,” his father said, “but Terry has made up his mind that he wants to be a policeman. It’s an honorable profession and if that’s his desire I won’t stand in his way.”
Joe has that same attitude toward daughter Karen.
“If she should make it as an actress,” Joe told me, “you can be certain that I will never stand in her way. I’ll never be a backstage father, nor will I push her the way some parents do. I believe in giving my children their heads and letting them do what they feel is best for themselves.”
That is why Joe was at first reluctant to let Photoplay write this story.
“I don’t want anyone to think that I’m trying to force Karen into acting,” Joe told me when I suggested doing a story about his daughter. “You talk to Karen.” he said. “If she agrees, then you have my consent.”
Karen thought “it would be fun to see my picture and a story about me in my favorite movie magazine. It’ll give me an idea of what it’s like to feel like a celebrity.”
But Karen already knows the feeling. In school, she is a celebrity of sorts because all her school chums know she’s the renowned Vince Edwards’ niece.
What do the kids say?
“Gee, you’re so lucky to have an uncle like Ben Casey!”
“How does he look . . . Is he really nice or is he grumpy like on television?”
“Is he as good looking off the screen?” “Do you see him often?”
“I have all I can do to answer them,” Karen said with a sigh. “It’s really hard to explain to the kids that I don’t really know much about my uncle.”
I asked Karen whether Vince was her favorite actor now, as he was all during her early childhood. Her answer almost floored me (wait till Edwards sees this).
“I like Vince a lot,” Karen replied candidly, “but my real favorites are George Maharis and Robert Walker, Jr.!”
What does Karen think of Richard Chamberlain, Vince’s chief rival on the stethoscope and suture Circuit?
“Dick’s all right,” Karen smiled. “I think he’s nice. . . .”
Karen, of course, is a loyal fan of Vince’s and she wanted to make it clear that “I never. never miss one of his shows.”
When and if Hollywood beckons, Karen hopes to become a dramatic actress in the style of her two favorites—Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Simmons. Actually, Karen believes Jean is “a better actress, cuter, and sweeter” than Liz, but she has a great deal of respect for Liz’ acting ability, too.
Karen herself has had a little experience in acting, but it’s all been in school plays. But she has the desire, courage, and drive to act. And most importantly—the confidence.
Summer vacation is here now. Karen’s heart beats faster from day to day for she knows that she will be getting that phone call from Vince to head for Hollywood for that long-delayed visit.
She is the sixteen-year-old girl who just can’t wait to hear from Vince. . . .
—GEORGE CARPOZI, JR.
Vince’s in “The Victors,” for Col., ABC-TV’s “Ben Casey,” Mon., 10 P.M. EDT.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JULY 1963