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You Have 12 Days To Change Your Mind—Mrs. Alberghetti

Dear Mrs. Alberghetti,

In a few days, on Sunday, April 12, your first-born child will walk solemnly down the aisle of St. Ambrose Catholic Church, to be united in holy matrimony with the man she loves. The church may be crowded, but Anna Maria will be alone.

Her father will not be there to give this bride away; he is dead. Her mother will not be there; she will be ‘sick.’ That’s what you’ve announced for all the world to know, Mrs. Alberghetti: I said I was going to be sick the day the marriage took place. I am still going to be sick. I will not attend the ceremony.

She will have to hold her head high, your daughter will, her eyes unblinking against any tears, for this will be a day unlike any other for her. The happiest—and the most heartbreaking. On this never-to-be-repeated, once-in-a-lifetime day, she will go to join her husband, and to leave—since you give her no alternative—her mother . . . forever. . . .

But, God willing, you will be there, Mrs. Alberghetti, on the day your daughter needs you most. We pray that you will change your mind, for there is still time, still a few precious days in which to make the decision that will affect you, your daughter, and her husband-to-be for the few days left in which you can change the bitterness in your heart to love.

We’ve seen this bitterness, Mrs. Alberghetti, in the candid photograph taken of you with Anna Maria. She is dreaming, perhaps of Buddy Bregman, perhaps singing one of his songs, and lost in her thoughts she cannot see your face. We looked at this picture, Mrs. Alberghetti, and we were shocked. Shocked that a mother, as loving as we know you to be, could have grown so far from her child. She looks like you, Mrs. Alberghetti; no, maybe not in this picture where all that you feel is unveiled for the camera to see, but we have seen pictures of you in other days. Days when your husband was there.

And we do not condemn you, Mrs. Alberghetti; we know you to be a good woman, a wife and mother who wanted only the happiness of her husband and her children. A woman left too young a widow, and trying, not really knowing how, to take the place of both mama and papa.

But think back, Mrs. Alberghetti, think back to the words of your own husband, speaking about the very man soon to be the your son-in-law, man you now scorn. . . .

. . . You had just come to Hollywood from Italy, the ‘musical Alberghettis.’ Singing was a family affair; Papa had taught Anna Maria to sing when she was a tiny child, to make singing her life. You yourself were often her accompanist. Your daughter was just sixteen then, preparing her night club act. Papa had called in a ‘tall, dark, handsome, young musical genius’ to help with her arrangements. And what was Anna Maria’s reaction to this young man? Did she fall headlong in love with him? These are her own words:

“I was disappointed. I thought he was too young. I thought, He’s so handsome and sure of himself; he must be terribly spoiled and conceited. I told my father and mother, ‘No. I don’t want that young man. I don’t like him.’ It was my parents who insisted that he was right . . . My mother liked him very much . . . My father said, ‘He’s so talented; he’s so serious about his work. . . .’ ”

You have told the press, “. . . They warned us at home in Italy that this sort of thing would happen to our children if we took them to Hollywood . . . This would never happen if my late husband were here, I assure you!”

And yet, Mrs. Alberghetti, it was your late husband who said to Anna Maria when she kept protesting that she didn’t want to have anything to do with this conceited Buddy Bregman, “You should get to know him better. Give yourself a chance. This is the kind of boy you should marry. He is in the same business as you. He will understand you. He’s smart.”

The kind of boy you should marry . . . How did this romance begin? This is what Anna Maria told us:

Your daughter’s own story

“When I met him, Buddy was married to Gloria Haley, Jack Haley’s daughter, and had a baby boy. He’d married when he was nineteen I didn’t think of him at all as a boy I might ever be interested in.

“I ignored him. I treated him terribly. He smoked a pipe, and this, to me, was affected. I hated him! I thought, I guess he expects me to fall over over him, the way every other girl does, I guess. . . .

“However, as soon as we began to work together, my respect for him grew immediately. He’s an artist, magnificent. I don’t think my night club act would have been the success it was without his guidance.

“But I still thought he was conceited— away from the piano.

“I went to Italy to make 10,000 Bedrooms and thought myself in love with Count Alberto Mochi. He was a doctor in Rome—young, handsome, a blue-eyed blond Italian of my faith, wealthy, prominent and distinguished. When it appeared to my mother that it might be getting serious, she thought of a dozen reasons why I shouldn’t consider marrying him. Actually, my mother has never been happy with any boy I’ve gone with seriously, even when he was a Catholic.

“I returned to Hollywood and realized the Count was not for me. He wanted me to give up my career and live in Rome.

“Some time later, I got a call from Buddy. He told me he was divorced. I knew that because he was dating Gia Scala, Anne Francis and other beautiful girls.

“I still thought of him as brash and conceited. so when he asked me for a date, I thought, Hummm, he wants to add me to his list of conquests. I told him I was busy. I was very chilly. He called me four days in a row. Finally I made a date with him.

“I had just bought a beautiful, modern home in the hills where I have been living with my mother, sister Carla and young brother Paulo. Buddy called for me there and was so charming. My mother thought he was wonderful. But I was so suspicious that when I saw how thoughtful he was to my mother, I thought he was doing that only to impress me.

“We had dinner at the Villa Capri and he asked if he could see me the following night. I said, ‘Frankly . . . no.’

“He seemed so surprised, and I got a kick out of that! I thought I was probably the only girl who’d ever turned him down.

“He said, ‘Why?’

“I told him, ‘I’ll tell you frankly—I think you’re a very spoiled person. You’ve had success at an early age and you probably think every girl considers it a gift from heaven if you take her out. Well, I’m not one of those girls. I don’t think you’re the answer to my dreams at all. . . .”

“And on and on I went. I let him have it. I kept this up for half an hour and when I got through I was surprised at the way he took it. Instead of being angry, he looked thoughtful and humble, and then turned to me and said, ‘You know, you’re absolutely right . . . Success did hit me young. I took it all for granted . . . I was unhappy as a kid . . . Since then I’ve been searching for happiness and maybe I do it the wrong way. Maybe that’s why I got married at nineteen, without thinking . . . I haven’t found happiness yet.’

“Well! When he was through, I had egg all over my face. I never expected him to be so sweet about the whole thing. . . .

“Then came the Academy Awards affair last March. At the last minute I quarreled with my date. I called Buddy.

‘He was going with another girl, but said, ‘I’ll call you right back. ’m going to break my date.’

“Hive minutes later, ‘I’ll pick you up in an hour!’

“My fingers were trembling when I dressed; I wanted to look my very best. I wore a gorgeous black velvet sheath gown Don Loper made for me. And I discovered to my surprise that my heart was pounding when I opened the door for Buddy.

“That night was one I’ll always remember. We fell in love. It happened on the dance floor at the Beverly Hilton, at the party after the Academy Awards. I thought Buddy loved to dance. But he told me later he hates to dance—he danced every dance with me, just so we could be together . . . No one else existed when he held me in his arms and we danced.

“We dated every night from that time on. We were in love. Magically, unmistakably, joyously in love. I’ve never felt so happy in my life; never felt this way about any other man. Buddy told me he never felt this way with any other woman.

“Even when we were apart, we felt together. When I had to go out of town for a singing engagement, Buddy hated the separation—but so great is his understanding and respect for my career that he never suggested I break my date.

“Instead, he worked with me, way past midnight, helping me with my arrangements. When I was away, he called me long-distance every half hour. . . .

“It wasn’t easy to be apart, for our love was growing all the time. I was to open at the Eden Roc in Miami Beach on the same date as his new show, so he couldn’t join me. We were so unhappy that we both wanted to cancel our engagements. We knew how much we were in love; our careers meant so much to us, yet being together meant more.

“Buddy asked me to marry him. I should have been very happy, but I was not. In my heart I wanted to, but I was afraid. I knew I couldn’t say yes right away. There were too many barriers. And I felt that we were heading for trouble.

“Buddy wanted to get married right away. My mother told me she was against it. This made me miserable. I’d always been close to my mother, respected her judgment. Like all Italian girls, I’d been brought up to respect my parents’ opinions. I am independent by nature, but not so independent that I could overcome the way I’d been brought up. My mother objected to Buddy because he was a divorced man and because he was not of my faith. She saw only unhappiness ahead.

“There was a decided coolness between my mother and Buddy now. When he came to call for me at home there was no enthusiastic welcome. Meanwhile, Buddy kept asking me when we could get married. It was hard for me to say, ‘Let’s wait.’ He would ask me, ‘I’m sure of my love for you; aren’t you sure of your love for me?’ ‘And I’d reply, ‘I love you, and I know I love you, but I must wait. After all, you have lived; you have been married; you have dated many women; so you know what you want. But I have never been married. I have never dated much. I have never seen as much of the world as you have. I must be sure because I am not as experienced as you. You must give me time, darling.’

Anna Maria tested him

‘He was very patient. Once, I was so confused and had so many mixed emotions that I thought I would try not to see him for a while. Maybe if I stopped seeing him we would find out if we were really in love.

“I was at NBC rehearsing for Roberta. He was busy with the Eddie Fisher show and couldn’t be with me.

“So I had dinner with a friend. I was miserable. I thought of Buddy every moment.

“When I got home my sister Carla said, ‘Where have you been? Buddy’s called twenty-five times. He’s out of his mind with worry about you!’ My heart leaped. The phone rang. It was Buddy. ‘Where have you been?’ he asked. I’ve been trying to get you all night! I thought something happened to you, my darling. Are you all right?’

“If I needed any proof we couldn’t be apart, that was it. I knew Buddy would be part of my life; I couldn’t live without him. Next day he came to my rehearsal and I felt so happy and secure having him there. We belonged to each other.

“But still I said, ‘What is another few months? When we marry, it will be for a lifetime.’

“Soon he began to tease me. He told me, ‘I had one bad marriage. I won’t make another mistake. I know ours will be a good marriage. If there are any doubts in your mind, if there are any little question marks, tell me about them.’

“After that, when he phoned, he’d ask, ‘Well, how are the question marks?’

“The question mark for me was still: would I find happiness if I defied my mother and married Buddy . . .

“Now many of the barriers were disappearing. Buddy told me he was perfectly willing to have a Catholic ceremony; he was willing to have our children brought up in my faith. He would not relinquish his own Jewish faith, but was willing to have our children reared as Catholics. He was sincere in this; his son by his previous marriage is being raised as a Catholic. And as for that marriage—he was only nineteen a wild confused boy who didn’t know his own mind. I feel he was entitled to a youthful mistake.

“It was very important to me to be married in the Catholic Church, in the Catholic ceremony. We waited, quietly, to get the wheels moving so we could get permission from the Church to be married Catholic. When that permission was granted, I told Buddy I would marry him. . . .”

And that is Anna Maria’s own account of her love which began from nothing and grew, through sharing, through understanding, to a love which will not die.

Our message to you, Mrs. Alberghetti

Mrs. Alberghetti, please listen to these words: “I love Anna Maria as if she were my own daughter. The two of them have a wonderful relationship and I’m sure they are so well suited that they will be happy.”

That is Buddy’s mother talking. Mrs. Claire Bregman may well have thought, when she found her boy was going to marry out of his faith—and for a second time—Marriage to a Catholic wont work for you. You made a mistake before, son; do not make it again.

She said instead, “. . . they are so well suited that they will be happy.” So well suited . . . Each of us has some special need which must be fulfilled if we are to find lasting happiness with a life-partner: The special need of Anna Maria and Buddy is one few people can really comprehend. Yet you yourself, Mrs. Alberghetti, are one of those few who can understand that music is a way of life.

Anna Maria and Buddy Bregman are like the creature in the old Greek legend who had been made with four arms, four legs, then was divided and spent its whole existence searching for the love of that one right person, its other half, trying to become whole again.

In each other, they have become whole. Anna Maria says, “We are of the same mold. Buddy is very understanding about my career. He knows it is a part of me and he loves me all the more for it. Even if a man and I had every surface thing in common, such as religious backgrounds, if he didn’t understand my feeling toward my career, our marriage wouldn’t stand a chance. I respect Buddy’s work as much as he respects mine. We are not only a boy and girl in love; we are two professionals.”

Anna Maria has found her completeness, her whole self in Buddy. In her last interview before the public announcement of the forthcoming marriage, she said, “Was it a difficult decision to make? Yes, because I love my mother and didn’t want to hurt her. But I realized I loved Buddy more, loved him as a woman must love the man with whom she intends to spend the rest of her life.”

Anna Maria is terribly hurt that you refuse to be with her when her union is solemnized, but she has defended you, Mrs. Alberghetti, and publicly. “Some of the things my mother said I’m sure she didn’t mean . . . My mother is a wonderful woman and I love her very much . . . She thinks no man is good enough for her daughter . . . I’m sure she wants the same thing I want. She wants me to have a happy marriage.” Then she added, softly, with all her conviction, “And I will.”

Next to the bride, the mother of the bride is the most important woman at the marriage ceremony. The Wedding March does not begin until the mother—the last of the guests to come into the church—takes her place in the left front pew. On Sunday, April 12, everyone will be looking for Anna’s mother. We pray that you will be there, Mrs. Alberghetti, on the day which should be the happiest of Anna Maria’s life. And as the ancient vows are exchanged, that you will say in your heart, I do give my eldest daughter in holy matrimony to the man she needs, wants, loves; I do give them my blessing . . . I do . . .


Paris Myers



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