reprint from Screen Stars; April 1947 issue
TY STRODE into the commissary at 20th Century-Fox in a happy mood. There was a look of expectancy on his intense, handsome face. I knew the reason. He was all set, or perhaps I should preface this story with “We were all set” to start on a trip; one that Ty had been planning for months - even years.
Cesar Romero and genial Jim Denton, the latter Ty’s public relations man at the studio, were totally unprepared when Ty said, “Hey, Butch, how about going to South America on a vacation trip with me?”
“Okay,” Butch (Romero) replied, the essence of nonchalance.
“By plane-my plane?” Ty added quizzically.
“Okay,” Butch replied, as though flying to South American in a private plane was a casual week-end jaunt, like flying to Glendale. Then, “Say, Ty! Are you serious?”
“I’m serious,” Ty replied.
“Then, so am I,” Butch said hesitantly.
Jim Denton, a member of Harry Brand’s powerful publicity machine at 20th Century Fox, surprised at nothing, said he’d go. Jim’s known Ty since the handsome youngster first walked into the studio from New York. And Jim will tell you that he also recalls when Ty was sent to Director Sidney Lanfield for a role in Sing Baby Sing. Lanfield literally threw Ty off the set. “I want an actor-not a baby,” Lanfield said. “This Power kid has no future.” Three months later, Ty made his debut in a small role in Girls Dormitory and immediately aroused public interest.
Ty was playing with Katherine Cornell in a Broadway show, and I was working in New York as a bookkeeper for my uncle, who owned a department store. My uncle and Ty’s late father had been great friends and when Power, Sr., died, my uncle continued his interest in Ty’s future. We met - but I don’t recall either Ty or myself double dating or taking in much Broadway life. It was simple. We didn’t have the time, because we were both working so hard, and we didn’t have the money.
When Ty left for Hollywood to try pictures, it was a gamble. A gamble for both of us, since Ty asked me to come along and act as a personal, confidential secretary. It is hard to classify my job, but to say that I was in when Ty planned this trip to Mexico puts it pretty well.
We’re going on our eleventh year together in Hollywood. And except for the three years that we were both in the service, we’ve been constant pals. Ty went into the Marines as a private and worked his way up to First Lieutenant pilot in the Air Transport Command. He’d owned a plane before, and he’d always been interested in flying.
Ty and Bill Gallagher check the itinerary of their two-month tour. His next 20th Century-Fox film is "Captain from Castile".
FOR WEEKS THERE WAS MUCH PLANNING and scheduling the itinerary for our South American venture. Ty worked the whole trip out on paper, explaining, “When I was out there on Guam and Saipan, I promised myself that when I came back I would take a flight for fun. This is it.”
Again he said, “I’ve never forgotten how cordial and kind-hearted the people are down in South American and Mexico. Eight years ago were there - and all of the time out in the South Pacific, I kept thinking about going back to look up the friends we made down there. Wonder if they’ve changed.
“Besides,” Ty, who’s not long on discourse, concluded, “it’s good to get away from Hollywood. Give you a new perspective of life, and a change of background gives you a new sense of proportion - and builds a sense of humor.
“People are lucky to be part of Hollywood, to my way of thinking, but if they stay put too long, they lose their sense of balance.”
WE WERE ALL SET to start out in Ty’s BT, a single-motored job, but the studio stepped in and placed a brand new twin-engined Beechcraft at Ty’s disposal.
Since Butch, Ty, and I were all fresh out of the Army, we had already been inoculated for everything one could think of. But there were passports to get in order. One day in wardrobe, Ty luckily met John Jefferies and persuaded him to act as co-pilot and navigator. John, a former Army Air Force instructor, also had been recently discharged form the Army.
We first landed at Mexicali and next at Mazatlan, where we went swimming in the bay. Opposite us was the island that Ty once owned but which he relinquished during the war. Naturally, the government took over, and as Ty said - “how can a marine on $30 a month keep up an island?”
At Acapulco, we went swimming, sailing, and fishing. Thousands of people met Ty, and the women went for him just like they do in this country. They said the same things to him, except they said them in Spanish. Ty speaks a little Spanish, just enough to order breakfast and discuss flight operations. But he can grin - and the senoritas obviously adore him.
Well-read, Ty has a curious and interesting mind. He loves people, and as we continued on through Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Central America, he looked up all of the people that he had met eight years before. Many, not wishing to impose on friendship, didn’t call on Ty. They were happily surprised because he visited them.
We flew mornings for the weather wakes up in the afternoon in the tropics, and it gets plenty rough. At San Salvador, we called on the American Ambassador.
“How do you find the trip?” he inquired. “Do the people bother you?” Ty is a No. 1 favorite in South America, and re-issues of his pictures Blood and Sand and Black Swan, now playing at the movie houses, brought in more people than any first run in South America.
“No one bothers us,” Ty said modestly. “People are fundamentally the same. Only here, perhaps, they are a little more demonstrative.”
The Ambassador’s secretary came in and whispered, “I don’t think it is safe for Mr. Power to go out. He has about 1,500 clamoring admirers waiting for him outside.”
Ty and "Butch" were swamped by autograph hunters in every stop-off point. Here, in Panama, two hundred enthusiasts ardently claimed Cesar as a close relative.
PEOPLE CHEERED AND SWARMED over Ty’s car. I never witnessed such demonstrations of friendliness. There were receptions and dinners all along the way of our three month air flight, which covered Mexico, Acapulco, Guatemala City, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, French Guiana, Trinidad - the land of Rum and Coca-Cola. The Calypso singers came to sing to us, and the lush, languid, tropical beauty of the place held us over schedule.
Heading down the coast of Colombia early one morning, we ran into one of those tropical fronts that closes in like a gate. Flying entirely by instrument, we dropped down to 500 feet. It was rough. The updraft shot us up to 5,000 feet and then up to 10,000 feet in that soup. Ty headed back to Panama where we changed our course. Ty never takes any unnecessary risks.
Two trophies of an alligator hunt at Porto Fonciere, Paraguay are proudly displayed. It's dangerous sport, but Ty's a dead shot.
Alligator hunting on the Rio Paraguay was a new experience. You hunt at night with a flashlight and a row boat. The ‘gators are lying in the water lilies, and you spot their eyes-a fiery red-and row toward them. You get your rifle and line up the head by flashlight. You get only one shot. If you miss . . . you’re in for trouble. Ty was a dead shot. He’s cool and steady and intense. He’s like that about anything that requires concentration.
The deep-sea fishing craze caught up with them at Acapulco. Co-pilot John Jefferies, Ty, and "Butch" kneel in front of their catches.
We wore rough clothes, and there were days when we didn’t shave. Highlights of our trip included riding on the Pampas with the Gauchos, Ty’s party for a famous group of traveling players, nine presidential banquets, and some solid relaxation. No strain, no stress, no anxiety on this trip. Ty had plenty of that during the war.
In Havana, the birthplace of Romero’s parents, word came that Cesar’s relatives “wished to see him.” “I have only one here,” Butch said. Two hundred “relatives” and friends turned up at the hotel that night.
THERE’S A NOTE OF EXCITEMENT about Ty that echoes in everything he does. Perhaps it’s his zest for life-living. But with it, he is considerate of everyone. Because he is democratic and genuinely likes people, Ty promised many people to deliver personal messages to their relatives and friends on his return to the United States. Between the time we returned to Hollywood and his brief trip to New York for the premiere of The Razor’s Edge, Ty was on the telephone a great deal of the time, calling people in Santa Barbara, Kansas City, etc., delivering greetings from South of the Border.
Ty was an Ambassador without portfolio. Many newspapers throughout the countries we visited expressed the opinion that he had done much to cement Pan-American ties and clarify the American way of life.
Character lines and the deeper set of Ty’s jaw reflect the maturity that he has attained since he first came to Hollywood. His Marine life left an emotional imprint. Today, Ty’s intent on one subject: doing his share to maintain the ideal of peace for which we were all fighting. A mutual understanding between all of the nations of the world will keep peace.
Vaquero clothes and prancing steeds supplied a gaucho motif
for Jim Denton, John Jefferies, Ty, and Cesar Romero on a huge Paraguay estancia.
Ty reads incessantly. He keeps well-informed. He loves classical orchestrations, a favorite being Tales of the Vienna Woods. He’s fond of outdoor sports and is a football enthusiast. “I always wanted to play football at school, but didn’t make the team because I was a bean pole then.” His hobby is amateur photography and he plays tennis, swims, and rides horseback.
Mr. and Mrs. Power wait patiently for a table at the Trocadero. Although separated, Ty and the charming Annabella remain good friends.
At this writing, Ty is still residing in his Saltair house, which he has given to Annabella. He never discusses their separation, and they remain good friends.
He is searching for an apartment, and one day he hopes to build a house. Beyond that he has no plans for the future. He says his plans and dreams have just been fulfilled on the South American trip. And now, while he works in Captain from Castile , in which he plays the title role and which will keep him on location in Mexico for five months, he’ll formulate new plans. What they will be, I don’t know. Neither does Ty.
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