You Read It First In Vintage Paparazzi
We’re proud—and we don’t mind saying it—PHOTOPLAY was the only magazine or newspaper invited to join Paula Prentiss and Dick Benjamin on their honeymoon. This exclusive interview toole place aboard the Pan-American Jet airliner zooming across the Atlantic, continued over Irish coffee at Shannon Airport and wound up at our honeymoon destination, the Dorchester Hotel in London. If you’re counting, that makes three on a honeymoon, one above the usual number, but Paula and Dick have never been the kind to insist on doing things in the routine way. Theirs was a whirlwind wedding, a wacky honeymoon and, we think, a wonderful story. We won’t forget it tor a long time and we don’t think you will either:
“It all happened so fast,” Paula told us, “that I almost missed my own wedding. Everybody was there in the judge’s chambers. My parents and my sister Ann, who was going to be maid of honor. Dick and his parents, his sister Linda and his best man, Stanley Silverman. But me . . . I was missing.
“I was sitting in my room at The Plaza hotel, looking at myself in the mirror and making faces. I was trying to make a pretty one. I kept thinking, ‘I have to be pretty on my own wedding day, I have to.’ Only I wasn’t. My hair just hung there—straight. I kept looking at the reflection in the mirror. Maybe I was trying to scare my hair into curling. But it didn’t get any better. After a while, the reflection stuck its tongue out at me—and then got scared. I grabbed my floppy Garbo hat—it hides everything anyway—and I ran.
“The funny thing was, nobody seemed surprised; I think they all figured that even if I had months to plan my wedding I’d still be late for it. I looked at my sister Ann, and she had the giggles. After that, I didn’t dare look at her again. I was so nervous I was afraid I’d catch them. Instead, I just kept looking at Dick—I’d warned him all day about my hair.
“The wedding was Thursday, October 26th. We’d decided on it only thirty-six hours before, on Tuesday night. I’d flown up to Toronto to visit Dick—he was there as assistant director on a play trying out for Broadway, ‘The Gay Life.’ It’s a great play—but everything Dick does is. Suddenly M-G-M called me up there and asked me to go to London for the premiere of ‘Bachelor in Paradise.’ That did it. Maybe neither of us could stand the word bachelor any more. Dick had been one long enough. Me, too. After all, we’ve known each other three years and we should have been married long ago. So we decided we’d do it then—right away—and go to London together. Imagine London for a honeymoon? We could see all the sights—especially Laurence Olivier. I adore him because he reminds me of Dick—brilliant, you know.
“Dick picked up the phone and called his uncle, Arthur Klein, who’s a supreme court judge in New York. He said he could fix things so he could marry us on Thursday. Then I called my mother and told her about it. She didn’t say a word. There was just a long silence and I rolled my eyes frantically at Dick. I could picture her fainted dead away on the floor. But finally her voice came through. ‘Dear,’ she said, ‘I have to hang up now. I’II call you back later.’ It was just too fast for her. She knew Dick and I would get married one day but she expected some advance warning—like a week
“Dick and I were back in New York late Wednesday and we had to do everything Thursday morning, just before the wedding. At eight o’clock, we had to get our blood tests. I don’t think I even felt it when they took the sample. I just kept pointing to my hair. And Dick just kept saying, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll grow back.’ I’d just cut it for my next movie so of course that made me feel just great. I guess Dick’s like most men that way—they like long hair. I tried to explain, but Dick just pointed to his watch and grabbed me. Next stop, the judge who set aside the regular three- day waiting period for us. Then our passports. Then our wedding license. There was just time for me to shoot back to the hotel in a taxi to get dressed. If there’d been one more red light, I’d never have made it.
“Maybe the reason I was so worried about my hair was that Dick never actually proposed to me. We’d just both agreed that it would be nice to be married to each other some day. I guess it was official when we were doing summer stock together at Eagle’s Mere and my family came up to visit. That’s the first time they met Dick. Somehow he found himself all alone on the empty stage with my mother. They hadn’t said five words to each other up till then, but she looked him in the eyes and demanded: Do you love her?’ I don’t know what she would’ve done if Dick had said no. I’d already slipped her the word that this was it for me.
“Anyway, when I finally arrived at the wedding, I was numb. My mother handed me some gardenias tied with a blue ribbon and she also gave me a wonderful big old locket. It had her mother’s picture inside and some pressed violets. I carried Linda’s little confirmation Bible. It wasn’t till much later that I realized my mother must have planned it all out that way. all those things—they were my something old and borrowed and blue. My suit—a tweed walking suit trimmed with fur—was the ‘new.’
“It was all so hurry-up, and it was just a small wedding in a judge’s chambers . . . maybe that’s why I didn’t think I’d really feel anything. Even though it was my own wedding. But I was so moved . . . I really was. I didn’t cry, not actual tears. But I was crying inside. Especially after the ceremony, when Dick’s uncle talked to us. What he said was so beautiful. He stood facing us and he told us that even though this was just a civil ceremony, we mustn’t think it’s any less binding or sacred.
“Without even looking at Dick, I knew he was feeling the same thing I was. We had a civil ceremony because Dick and I both wanted to be honest. We both have faith, but it’s not a formal thing with us. I stopped being a practicing Catholic about five years ago, so I couldn’t ask Dick to convert or to promise anything about our children. And we couldn’t get married in Dick’s religion unless I was converted to Judaism. I’m not ready to do that, at least not right now. We talked that all out long ago. When we have children, we’ll raise them the way we feel it then. Probably, we’ll bring them up in the Jewish faith. I think that Judaism has the same beauty and tradition that meant so much to me in my religion when I was a child. It’s important for a child to have that. But we don’t plan on children right away. We want to enjoy things the way they are right now, and a child is such a tremendous responsibility. But, of course, when you have one, even if you haven’t planned on it, I’m sure it’s like instant love.
“I keep teasing Dick, telling him that after all I always wanted to marry a Jewish boy. My mother’s Protestant and my father’s Catholic, so I say we might as well get them all in.
“But what I really always wanted—and dreamed of— was to marry someone like Dick, whatever his religion. I’ve always wanted someone who could teach me the things I want to know, someone I could really look up to. I always wanted someone who would help me, but who wouldn’t make me feel inferior while he was doing it. That’s what made me fail in love with Dick. He helped me so much at school—not only as an actress but as a person.
“I think that’s what love is—helping each other and needing each other. It’s not only wanting something from a man, but feeling you have something to give, too. Dick makes me feel that I’m unique, that only I have this thing in me to give—to him, to acting, to everything.
“Before I met Dick, I didn’t think I had anything to give; I didn’t have any confidence in myself. When we First met, I hated him, probably because he had so much—talent, looks and confidence. I guess it scared me.
“We started off having terrible fights. In fact, maybe that’s another reason I fell in love with him. He’s so great to fight with—and with Dick, nobody can say I’m not picking on someone my own size.
“We have wonderful fights. They can start about acting or politics or the weather. Any excuse will do. We shout and stomp around and make all the wild dramatic gestures. We try to see who can be more impressive and hammy. The winner is the one who makes the best exit. Sometimes it’s a tie—when we bump into each other going out the doorway. Then there’s nothing to do but start necking.
“We had a terrible fight recently in my apartment and, after it, we had what Dick calls the quiet period. I was in another room, cooling off, and Dick was in the living room watching TV by himself. He was sitting in front of the coffee table and there were still some snacks in front of him that we’d been eating before the great battle. After a while, I came back into the room. ‘Are you finished eating?’ I asked him. Dick just nodded and kept watching TV. So I picked up the first bowl I came to—it was full of cranberries. I started running around the room, throwing them all over, at the walls, the TV set, the chairs. Finally, I took the bowl and just emptied it on my head. I stood there in front of Dick with cranberries in my hair and coming out of my ears and running down my dress. We both got hysterical. I was laughing so hard I was probably the first do-it-yourself cranberry jelly. Dick was trying to tell me something, but he’d just get out one word and then break up all over again. When I finally got his message, I still pretended I didn’t understand. I wanted to hear it again. ‘I love you,’ he was shouting. ‘I love you.’
“Well, when you find a guy who loves you even with cranberries in your hair, what can you do but marry him—if you’re lucky.
“And I’m lucky!
“After the wedding ceremony, Dick’s parents gave us a small reception at their apartment in Manhattan. Just our two families were there; our friends were busy planning our honeymoon. Boy, were they planning it!
“You know, we’ve been married five days today! We spent the first three in New York before getting on the plane. Our friends were really great to us. Our first night, Penny Fuller let us use her apartment—she went on the road with the national company of ‘Toys in the Attic.’ Then for the next two nights, some old friends from Northwestern, Susie and Guy Decker, lent us their apartment. They helped us move our bags in, and then Dick and I took off to visit his grandmother. When we floated back. Susie and Guy were gone. They’d unpacked all our stuff, stocked the refrigerator and disappeared.
“We couldn’t get over what great friends they were; they’d really gone all out for us. While we changed clothes, Dick and I kept calling back and forth about how lucky we are to have friends like that.
“I’d just changed shoes and it threw me in a panic—they were so tight. ‘My feet are growing—again!’ I groaned. Then I slipped them off and out it poured—rice by the sock-full. When I looked up, there was Dick with a puzzled expression and a fistful of rice he’d just pulled out of his jacket pocket. After that, everything we touched had rice in it—or on it. But Susie and Guy had done such a job with it, you couldn’t see it till you felt it. When I took my white nightgown out of one of the drawers, rice poured out of the folds. Whatever we touched. it turned up rice.
“Susie must’ve bought tons of the stuff; we’re still finding it. Before we took off, I called my mother and told her, ‘You haven’t lost a daughter, you’ve gained a rice pudding.’
“And that’s how our honeymoon started. I couldn’t have dreamed it would be so wacky—or so wonderful. So far, we’ve only had one rocky moment, and that was when I asked the hotel porter if they had any sour pickles in London. Dick turned white—till he remembered that I just happen to like pickles. I always have. After all, we’d only been married three days!
“Right now, we don’t know where our honeymoon will end—in Paris, maybe—or when—I hope never! Remember, I told you I’m lucky. There’s only one thing I have to worry about while I’m over here. That’s not eating too much. It’s not that I get fatter—just taller!”
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JANUARY 1962