‘Ku Ku Ka Chu Mrs. Robinson’ Five Tumultuous Lovebirds of Olde Hollywood!

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Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest

Now is the time that face should form another,

Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,

Though dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.

For where is she so fair whose uneared womb

Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?

Or who is he so fond will be the tomb

Of his self-love, to stop posterity?

Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee

Calls back the lovely April of her prime.

So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,

Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.

But if thou live, remembered not to be,

Die single, and thine image dies with thee.

Sonnet 3 William Shakespeare

These are my five favorite couples to grace you with on Valentine’s Day, from the walks of ancient Hollywood, when secrecy and covetous concealment ruled its iron grip over the Gods and Goddesses populating the opulent Cul De Sacs of Los Angeles. I made an arduous search of present-day Hollywood, looking for the perfect couples marked by Cupid’s poisonous arrows, but couldn’t find the right ones. There are no Silver-Screen Stars in existence today, if you get my drift!

Olde Hollywood has the lions share of Big Scores, with just the right combo of cupidous ingredients: volatility, passion, scandal, marriage and divorce (several times over), love and hate (amplified to Eleven), and sometimes total destruction, because combustible emotions could not be corralled or caged by societal mores or studio restrictions. Looking for love in all the wrong places, is what I gather from Shakespeare’s Sonnet # 3. Okay, so I’ll go back and read Bill’s spicy words once again for good measure.

Shakespeare’s meaning is, if you die alone or single, the memory of your life will NOT endure after you are gone. This is what Jean Harlow (as portrayed by Carroll Baker in the 1965 movie Harlow, which I saw last night) must have been thinking, when searching the alleys and back parking lots of Hollywood for the perfect man. Ironic, don’t you think, that so many ravishing movie stars could never find True Love, in spite of their good looks? This is the mystery of Saint Valentine, I opine so eloquently!

Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra

My heart breaks in two when I think of Ava and Frank. This on again, off again Hollywood couple is the most demonstrative (in my opinion) of what Saint Valentine’s Day is all about. You can’t live with someone, and you can’t live without them, even if you tried harder. Heartbreak Hotel describes aptly these two megastars. I watched The Barefoot Contessa last night, and you can see why Sinatra was so infatuated with Ava Gardner. Tumultuous is a good word that characterizes their romantic interaction!

She’s as much of movie star as any one lady could ever hope to be. I believe her to be the most beautiful movie star that’s ever graced the big screen. I did notice this morning, however, that she always seems to be holding a cigarette in her hand, when posing for the camera. Yet this is not all that unusual for the 1940s and 1950s, which were her heyday in the sun. Actually, my favorite film of Ava’s is Night of the Iguana, which ironically enough, co-starred Richard Burton (the object of my next entry).

frank and ava

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

This is an all-time doozy if you see what I’m driving at! Classic love/hate love relations boosted by lots of booze and pills. Obviously, the booze took poor Richard down, who died from too many chugs from the bottle in 1984, at the ripe age of 59. Again, their style of communication was marked by combustible volatility, where frequent arguments and bickering tended to undermine a tenderness and passion (that also was frequently present). It’s often said that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf was the Real Deal, not acting on their part.

I love to see these two greats together in any medium, whether it be supermarket gossip articles, movie star mags with beaucoup pix, actual films, or writing of any kind from biographies or just plain trashy tabloids or magazines, of which they were king and queen for decades on end! I’ve seen Cleopatra around two trillion times and dig the Liz and Dick scenes as much as one old dude can possibly dig it. When Valentines comes around every year, the pill-addled Liz and the booze-hound Dick are the first couple that comes to mind!

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner

These two superstars had a volatile relationship, especially in Natalie’s final days. They were married twice, first from 1957 to 1962, then from 1972 to 1981, when Natalie had the tragic drowning accident, in November of 1981. They were simply put (in this love tribute), because they are a very attractive couple, and both of them were such big stars in their own right. Robert more so on television (I never missed Hart to Hart), and Natalie was aptly captured in some classic films, such as Splendor in the Grass or Rebel Without a Cause.

liz and dick natalie and robert

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio

When trying to write about Marilyn’s relationship with Mr. DiMaggio all the creativity is consummately sucked dry as Deadwood Gulch from my blood marrow. It’s most troubling as far as the outcome of these two superstars, but it probably could have been predicted. Joe was a product of 1950s conservative values as far as women were concerned, and didn’t like Marilyn getting all the attention from millions of doting, dribbling wolves, such as she did. Ms. Monroe may be thought of as an initial advocate of women’s liberation.

marilyn and joe

I’ll not give that anymore girth, but just to say Joe needed to hold her down or was a parcel brimming with jealousy for Ms. Monroe’s oozing sexuality, of which the best example is the flying skirt imbroglio from The Seven Year Itch. There marriage in 1954 didn’t endure even a year, but they stayed connected until Marilyn’s death in 1962.

I’ve included them as a favorite couple, since they exemplify to a tee how a person can feel a tremendous sense of loss, once someone is truly gone. Joe had a half-dozen roses delivered to Marilyn’s crypt (three times a week), probably, upon realizing he did truly love her very much in spite of their differences.

Jean Harlow and William Powell

Jean Harlow was only 26 tears old when she died in 1937. Jean had a mystique about her that is indescribable, but I’ll do it anyway. She was both the girl next door and the icy platinum blonde bombshell; perhaps the first, best example of a twentieth century Hollywood sex symbol, in a way we would come to know as a sterling phenomenon with Marilyn Monroe. Jean was unlucky in her pursuits of romance, but breached Cupid’s straw lot with Dick Powell.

jean and dick

Powell was falling into the trap of a recurring pattern (of picking the same type of woman), and Jean was trying to escape public scandal from the unsavory and unsolved death of her second husband, MGM executive Paul Bern. To top it all off, Jean was engaged in an unusual friendship with Clark Gable (who like Powell was married to Carole Lombard), who complemented her quite nicely on the silver-screen.

What I’m getting at, I think, is that Powell is sandwiched into all these other strange events, while Harlow looks the world over for a true love of her life. Jean finds it with Dick Powell, although it was but a whisper in the night. The transitory brittleness (it would never last) of their relationship gives it a transcendent property fitting for a worship of lovers on Valentine’s Day.