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I Was There: They sat at a table close to mine in the M-G-M dining room, Liz Taylor, Mike Todd and two guests, in easy, natural conversation. And I found it almost impossible to turn my attention from the couple whose every move made news and more news. I noticed, with an almost personal concern, that when Mike spoke, Liz listened attentively and several times I caught a quick exchange of glances between them that revealed louder than words that here was a man and a woman who had found complete understanding in each other. As Liz rose to return to the set, leaving the others behind, Mike planted a tender kiss on her cheek but the firm clasping of hands with a positive, downward movement which gave it special emphasis, also revealed here was a man and a woman who had found love together. A few days later, Mike lay dead on a New Mexico mountain side, victim of a tragic plane accident; and among the ashes of that charred plane lay the first real happiness Elizabeth Taylor had known in years. The greatest showman in the business today, Mike was first and foremost, husband to Liz, the girl he loved so deeply. His offices had been moved to the M-G-M lot so that he could be near her. He would sit with her in the studio projection room, viewing the daily rushes. His feverish anxiety over her possible Oscar award was touching in its intensity. He lived, this dynamo of a man, for Liz and the three children in their home. On the first day of filming on “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,” Liz’s last contractual picture for M-G-M, Mike had awed the cast and crew with a six-foot floral emblem of a roof top of red carnations, upon which crouched an enormous white cat made entirely of white flower petals. Later that morning the chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce drove up to the sound stage and out stepped Elizabeth’s three children—the two Wilding boys and baby Liza Todd, whom Mike had brought to wish their mother success with the film. Both typical Todd gestures—flamboyant as usual, but with tender, sweet motives behind them. I look back now to that scene in the studio dining room, remembering the intimacy of their glances, their clasp of hands. And though the hearts of all of us who knew Mike and Liz are so saddened, I can honestly say I am glad I was there. For I have this memory of the Todds to keep with me always.

Tattle Tales: The next voice you hear will be Natalie Wood’s raised in howling protest if that long-promised and well-deserved raise doesn’t come through. After her outstanding performance in “Marjorie Morningstar,” Natalie’s studio must realize their young star deserves at least a four-figured salary commensurate with her talent and popularity . . . Rock Hudson, mobbed by teens at a dance in Rio de Janeiro, came out of it good-humoredly, if somewhat ruffled. Which is more than Van Heflin, who had a slightly more embarrassing experience, could claim. He lost his hairpiece! . . . Whether it was the effects. of popular opinion or whether Marlon Brando finally grew used to marital domesticity, I wouldn’t know. But Marlon seems more than contented in his new Japanese house with bride Anna Kashfi these days . . . Geoffrey Horne’s marriage to model Nancy Berg met with no orange blossom bouquets from his friends and fellow actors, who feel at this critical period in his career, Geoflrey should have no such sharply shared interest . . . . Doris Day’s crazy about Gene Kelly as a director. After their “Tunnel of Love” stint together, Doris confided it takes an actor to understand one . . . The one song that never plays in Debra Paget’s home is “On the Street Where You Live.” Not since David Street, her husband of a few weeks, doesn’t live there. She’s divorcing him. . . . Dana Wynteris the perfect off-screen lady as wife of our prominent attorney, Greg Bautzer. Always impeccably groomed, beautifully mannered, yet forceful on screen and definitely off, Dana lends tone and quality to the daily, noisy grind of Hollywood’s wheels in motion.

Set of the Month: Youth, youth, youth, talented, eager and avid, crowded Sound Stage 21 of the M-G-M lot as I walked onto the “High School Confidential” set. John Drew Barrymore, Charles Chaplin Jr., Red Fulton, a handsome lad who resembles your favorite, John Saxon, Diane Jergens, Burt Douglas, Carl Thayler, William Wellman Jr., son of the director, lined up against their adult contenders—Jan Sterling, Ray Anthony, Mamie Van Doren, Jackie Coogan. And, of course, there was the young star, Russ Tamblyn, looking wan and depleted from a bout with the flu. And frankly blue that his Army induction came at such a critical period in his long, fought-for career. After such acclaim for “Peyton Place” and a bright future ahead. Russ feels that after two years in the Army, he’ll have to begin all over again. As I sat on the sidelines with producer Al Zugsmith, meeting the young actors between scenes, and watching them go through their paces, the tension and morbidity of this story dealing with dope peddling in our high schools revealed that this movie should undoubtedly sweep a gale through every box office in the country. Our children at the mercy of evil. And, oh yes, that popular singer Jerry Lee Lewis will sing the title song, “High School Confidential,” which he wrote for the movie. Don’t miss Jerry’s recording of the tune.

Fads, Fashions and Accent on Legs: It’s the latest. It’s the craziest. It’s the new look: Accent on legs! All over town hems are creeping up like ivy on a college dorm. Bosoms and sack dresses are completely passe. Legs it is, mesdames, and pretty ones you’d better have. Neat, trim and well-shaped . . . Jean Simmons, who looks ever-fresh and youthful, has a secret formula. After making up her pert face, cream or liquid foundation with powder, Jean pats on cold water and daintily dabs—not rubs, but dabs off the moisture with a cotton pad. The result is a long-lasting, dewy rather than pancakey effect. On her it’s divine . . . Dorothy Malone attributes her all-day pep and energy to a full treatment banana-split every afternoon at four. Dorothy claims the dish has vital energy-building calories and sometimes takes the place of dinner later on . . . And Sophia Loren, who believes in the big breakfast, no lunch, light dinner routine, will often dash off a plate of spaghetti, garlic bread, eggs and bacon for breakfast without batting an eyelash. But that’s the main meal for the day, remember!

Hearts, Flowers and Very Tired Rice: If and when Frank Sinatra becomes the husband of Lauren Bacall, no one will be more surprised than just Frank himself. Devoted to Lauren, Frank still remained marriage-shy after that Decline and Fall of the Sinatra Empire with Ava Gardner. But Lauren is a forceful woman, in love with Frankie as she once was with Humphrey Bogart. And despite every obstacle in her way at that time, Lauren got her man. And made Bogey a happy man for the rest of his life. Sooooo, maybe Frankie will come to realize that for once in his life he’s met his match. And will make it just that—a marital match. And probably live happily ever after . . . Kim Novak’s mother has her daughter’s bridegroom all picked out—if Kim’ll have him. He’s Dr. Ernest Wynder, an important member of the Cancer Research Committee. Knowing Kim, she’ll probably pass him by, charming as he is. And judging from the way Kim looked down her nose at the lovely nosegay delivered to the set of “Bell, Book and Candle,” with a card from Mac Krim reading, “To the loveliest witch that was ever created,” I have a feeling shell keep right on passing by this devoted swain, as well. What or whom does this girl want, anyway? Or doesn’t she know? . . . It’s “sayonara” for lovely British starlet Patricia Owens (whom you saw in “Sayonara”) and her husband, screenwriter Sy Bartlett, who tried a reconciliation but without success. Pat’s now working on “The Fly” for 20th.

Newcomers Diane and France: From the Bob Cummings and Burns and Allen TV shows, to the role of the over-ardent fan of Tommy Sands in “Sing Boy Sing” was a short skip and hop for blondish, five-foot-three Diane Jergens. Freckled-faced and eager, Diane tripped from “Teenage Rebel” to the Sands movie. to “Island of Lost Women” to her best role to date in “High School Confidential.” Single and without a steady beau, Diane is available. But boys—tread lightly and carefully in the presence of the perky blonde. Diane’s dad, you see, is a policeman! . . . France Nuyen (pronounced New-yen), the half-French, half Chinese doll of “South Pacific,” was born in Marseilles, France, of a French mother and a Chinese father whose job as ship’s navigator on a Chinese vessel made him almost a stranger to the little girl, who starved through the war years and still hoped to be an actress. Working as a model in France and later in New York, France was literally lifted from the cookie counter of a New York bakery to play the tragic, sweet-faced Liat in the $6,500,000 movie production with Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor. If there’s still a mark of sadness on her face, even through her “Happy Talk” number, it’s because her mother, who worked so long and hard for little France, is, as she puts it, “too ill to know now that I gently touch my first success.”

I predict: The uncomfortable compromise that exists between Eddie and Debbie Fisher will not last far beyond the year 1958, despite the new baby. These two, whose ideas and ideals are poles apart, have really tried. So why don’t we all go along with the idea that it’s not our duty to force clashing personalities to stay together, and let the kids work out their problems in peace. Rather than pieces . . . Rick Nelson will be the biggest rage in the musical world now that Elvis has taken to uniform. Rick’s growing popularity, which in no way encroaches on Pat Boone’s established niche, is due to his youthful wholesomeness, unassuming manner and unmistakable talent. Shyness is Rick’s biggest drawback at the moment. But remember when a mere “hello” was difficult for Rock Hudson? He got over it. So will Rick . . . As a result of “South Pacific,” John Kerr will be Big News everywhere. John’s obvious good breeding, his forthright qualities and almost tender appeal, will rate him a special niche in Hollywood and in the hearts of fans . . . Did you know it was me who created the name “ski nose” in Photoplay a few years ago for comedian you-know-who? . . . Mile-high Jeff Richards, of TV’s “Union Pacific” will be a big rage . . . No one swings through an open door with the flair of TV’s Loretta Young!

Overseas Bits: Friends wonder what will happen if Shelley Winters’ quick-tempered husband, Tony Franciosa, meets up with the ex-husband who caused her such heartache, Italian Vittorio Gassman, the popular stage star. Tony, in Rome for “The Naked Maja,” with Ava Gardner, bears no love for Senor Gassman, and Roman candles could pop all over the place . . . That baby carriage carrying Baby Bertie Rainier around the palace grounds of Monaco, saw similar service with sister Caroline. Grace, who purchased the carriage in Nice for $90, intends on getting her money’s worth. And a new hotel off the Champs Elysses in Paris has been named Hotel Princess Caroline. Wonder if Grace’s American friends will stop there in deference to Grace’s first born! And if Grace and Rainier do take the titles of King and Queen, as rumored, I can honestly state Queen Kelly is the only monarch with whom I’ve shared powder rooms at Hollywood parties!

Letters, We Get Letters: A note arrived from Nancy Sinatra, recovering from a serious tonsilectomy, that precluded all telephone conversations. Nancy had nothing to say on the rumors of Frank-Lauren coming marriage. And what a universally admired woman, this Nancy . . . From Dolores Hart, a most original thank you note for a pleasant evening. Dolores, a handsome young woman, is also an independent one. And maybe the Hollywood wolves don’t know it . . . An invitation addressed to Signorina Sara Hamilton from Sophia Loren, to dinner—Italian style. It’s good news that Sophia and husband Carlo Ponti are house hunting in Beverly Hills and will stay with us awhile . . . A telephone call from Jacques Bergerac in from Paris for TV appearances. What an accent! . . . A nice call from Jack Lemmon, the best young comedian in the business and the fast rising star. Incidentally, Jack’s new album, that has the many-talented lad singing to his own piano accompaniment, is a gasser.




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