Bette and I often walked our few acres, stretching our legs and enjoying our new role as landowners… and one warm summer day, as we walked by the fenced area, she turned to me and said, “Gary, I thought I told you to take a shower!” I had been playing golf and had taken a shower. “Bette, that’s not me, it’s the goat. He’s in heat. Jesus, I hope I never smelled like that!”
“Phil Stern, the photographer, was down to the Malibu house. We were getting ready to do An Other Man’s Poison but here we were just fiddling around, getting some action in for the pictures… Actually, I don’t know what the hell we were doing in some of these.”
Bette heard that Anna Magnani, the great Italian actress, was in New York for the first time and had expressed an interest in meeting her. Bette couldn’t have been more excited at the prospect. The meeting between these two dynamos was tremendous, a real scene as they communicated in fractured Franch and Italian with a bit of English thrown in. They admired each other’s work; and the passion that Magnani displayed on the screen was magnified in person. A friend said that if Con Edison, the power company, could have plugged into that meeting, it could have lit the city for a couple of days.
Harmon “Ham” O. Nelson (1932–1938) School sweetheart, orchestra leader. After my two years in Hollywood, Ham stood taller and more genuine than ever. He was home, New England, stability. I had been homesick for the world I had been brought up in.
Arthur Farnsworth (1940–1943) New England innkeeper, former commercial airplane pilot. Accidental death in 1943 due to head injury. I was not violently in love with Farney. I loved his loving me and our mutual love of the New England way of life was the tie that finally bounded. He respected my career and was proud of my work. He was as removed from the theatre as anyone could be and had no interest in competing with me in any way. He was companionable, attractive and a divine host. Plus, he was the most beautifully mannered man I’ve ever known.
William Grant Sherry (1945–1950) I met William Grant Sherry, an artist recently out of the Marines, at a party in Laguna Beach. On November 29, 1945, we were married. I justified this dreadful mistake in many ways. I was lonely and restless and had been a widow for two years. These were war years. He had the powerful build of a boxer, but when he wanted to be he was a gentle person. He did not always want to be gentle. His anger was blind and unpredictable, and therefore all the more dangerous.
Gary Merrill (1950–1960) The last place I expected to find love on was a movie set. I was too aware of the pitfalls, too smart to let the obvious happen. I had vowed never to marry an actor. Then I found myself amending my own rule: I could never marry an actor I did not think had talent, one I did not respect. Gary had enormous gifts. What he wasted was part of our defeat, our sadness as a couple. “All About Eve” was at once the cause of our falling in love and our curse. He wanted to believe that I was Margo Channing. I thought he was Bill Sampson, this strong, protective, secure man. I sensed in Gary my last chance at love and marriage. I wanted these as desperately as ever.