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Annabella's just like a million other soldiers' sweethearts -- dreaming of her first meeting with Ty, the funny, tender things he did, and furloughs to come.
When a girl's sweetheart or husband goes to war, she has to learn to live her life in two directions at once: forward in hope and secret planning, backward for comfort and dear remembering.
Annabella is like any other girl whose heart wears khaki: she looks ahead in anticipation of furloughs and final victory; she reflects on the glorious four years she has known Tyrone Power.
Occasionally, she learns something about their romance that she didn't know before. For instance: on the set for Bomber's Moon at 20th, recently,
Annabella was wearing a devastating grey suit, trimmed with red and white blouse and red-piped buttonholes. When Ann Power Hardenbergh (Tyrone's sister, who was visiting the set) admitted that she was swooning with envy, Annabella chirped, "I love it, too. This was designed for me by Rene Hubert -- who also did my clothes for Wings of the Morning. That was one of the very last pictures I made in France before coming to this country.
Did you happen to see it Ann?"
"Are you kidding?" demanded Annabella's sister-in-law.
Annabella's fascinating golden eyes grew more round than ever. "I keeding? But non! Why do you say eet that way?"
"Do you mean to tell me," Ann Hardenbergh proceeded, "that Ty has never told you about the Power family and Wings of the Morning? Fine thing!" She launched into the story with zest.
It seems that Ty has long made it a point to visit theaters in which foreign pictures are exhibited. He happened to see Wings of the Morning one afternoon when he was "between pictures". He went home and delivered a stirring address to his mother about the acting ability of the girl in the picture; she had such sensitivity! She had such charm! She had the pathos of a Bergner, the light-hearted touch of a Colbert.
After dinner he fetched his mother and his sister willy-nilly to the theater to see this marvel. A day or so later, he suggested that all three of them watch the picture just once more -- on the chance that they might discover some new secret of technique.
"By that time," remembered Mrs. Hardenbergh, "if anyone mentioned the word 'Wings' in my presence, I was ready to fly into his face."
Shortly after this folding-seat marathon, Mr. Power was cast opposite the object of his eager eyesight when Annabella was brought to this country by 20th to work in Suez . Yet, from the day he first met her on the set until Mrs. Hardenbergh told this family secret, Ty had never mentioned it to Annabella. You know how men are -- they refuse to admit they've been impressed.
at first sight . . .
Yet isn't this a charming thing for Annabella to remember: that her husband looked upon her image and found it fair, long before he met her face to face and was struck by color, fragrance, savoir faire.
And what about Suez -- their first picture together? What are the things one could remember about it? Their meeting for one thing.
Both Annabella and Tyrone move -- most of the time -- as if they'd been shot out of a new cannon. Tyrone, on this particular morning, was going into the make-up department. Annabella, doing a Dagwood, was leaving. Click, click, click; stride, stride, stride - SSSSmash!
Tyrone fell back against the wall,
His head was all awhirl
His eyes and mouth were full of hair,
And his arms were full of girl.
"The young man who has just made such a forcible impression upon you, Annabella," said a wit who had witnessed the collision, "is Mr. Tyrone Power. After that intimate introduction, your love scenes may seem anti-climactic."
However, before the love scenes were shot, Tyrone and Annabella had discovered a second mutual enthusiasm in addition to going through doors like a Notre Dame tackle hitting the U.S.C. line. They found that each loved games of any and all sorts. They began a brain buster called "What is it?"
First you think of an object; the rest of the contestants ask questions. Is it vegetable? Is it mineral? Is it living? Or dead? Has it figured in the news lately? After 50 or 60 questions, you should be able to guess what the other person has chosen for an object.
Easy, huh? Well, try this one thought up by Tyrone. Its texture is white. It figured prominently in the news. It appeared in newsreels. It had to do with a famous man. (At this point someone guessed Gandhi's sarong, but that solution was wrong.)
After two days of steady questioning, Annabella finally thought of an answer: It was the white silk ribbon, cut by the Mayor of New York, when the Washington Bridge was formally opened to traffic!
sentimental journey . . .
But there are other games to remember -- with laughter -- when Annabella recalls their happy times together. While they were in Italy, they bought a small car and motored from the tip of the boot to the Mediterranean coast of France.
They were enchanted with the odd little villages, the magnificent old churches and the lazy, sunny countryside. Each morning, before they started on the day's journey, they studied the map, struggling to pronounce the liquid Italian names. Some towns through which they were to pass seemed far more exciting than others.
Annabella suggested a game: They were to count the number of towns through which they would pass during that day and divide them equally. If there were 20 towns on the itinerary, each selected ten. Annabella chose her group according to the system you use in a millinery shop or on a racing for: Love at first sight.
Then, as they drove along, they sold one another their towns. Tyrone would say, "The next town on our map is a serene little village nestled among rolling hills. It is noted for the sharpest cheese and the sweetest wine in this county. The river is an added attraction, and the bougainvillea grows wild everywhere. I will sell you this town for 300 points."
When they reached the town, Annabella sampled the cheese and tasted the wine, checked the river and the bougainvillea and decided whether Tyrone had made his 300 points or not. Sometimes she was miserly in her buying habits. "The river is tiny and swampish, and it has an odor," she said. "I have eaten sharper cheese and tasted sweeter wine. You have overrated your town, so I can pay you only 200 points."
"Make it 225. Notice how green the hills are. I forgot to mention that."
"Wee-ll. I will make it 250. Not one point more."
Solemnly, Tyrone would make a note of his points in a notebook.
sold American . . .
After three days of this, Annabella was far ahead. Her towns had proved to be the most dramatic, the most agreeable to her descriptions. She began to feel heady with prophecy. "Perhaps it is second sight. Perhaps I see a mirage of the coming town."
Tyrone stared straight ahead at the winding highway, but he made a noise in his throat that observed, "Oh, yeah?"
Annabella went on blissfully, selling him her next town. "Of all the towns, this is the most picturesque," she predicted. "It has a small stone church, and in the courtyard the pigeons coo all day. There will be practically no children playing in the road."
She went into detail about her entrancing town. It had a famous spa, she said, and a sacred wood in which miracles had occurred. Oh, it was a TOWN! It would cost Tyrone 500 points.
At about that time, they began to notice a certain acrid tone sharpening the air. The odor grew more persistent as they rounded a wide curve and came in view of the settlement below. It was brown; it was desolate. There were no houses, no small, intriguing shops. It was, in short, a commercial settlement devoted entirely to converting very dead animals into very rich fertilizer.
That broke up the game.
Annabella has never entirely lived it down. Thereafter, when she grew lyrical over some subject, garment, beverage, or person that she was trying to "sell" to Tyrone, he sometimes lifted an eyebrow at her and queried, "Clarissima?" -- the name of that wretched town.
But that isn't the only piquant experience Annabella remembers from those days. There is always l'affaire lait, or The Problem of Milk. Tyrone has always been very fond of dairy products; a tumbler of foaming white completes every meal for him.
Knowing this, Annabella wrote to her French family and asked them to make some sort of arrangements whereby Tyrone could have his glass of milk while he was their guest. It was a request fraught with difficulty.
It seems that milk in France is not the commodity it is in this country. No adult would think of touching the stuff; it is strictly for babies, and then should be imposed only on the young who can not yet protest such questionable food. A person having attained the age of reason drinks what is known as the "wine of the year".
Annabella's father, determined to make the proper impression upon his son-in-law (who must be, after all, a quaint person to drink such a thing as milk), went out into the country and talked to a farmer. It was explained that his milk to be purchased was not for cooking, but for drinking. It could not be the creamless, anemic substance commonly called milk. It must have body; it must have butterfat.
It took a good deal of dignified explaining, and the farmer -- shaking his head -- agreed to reserve the milk of one particular cow for the visiting son-in-law. Crazy people, these Americans!
wine of the year . . .
Tyrone and Annabella arrived in time for dinner. At Tyrone's place was a glass of golden-white milk, pleasantly chilled. "Ah, milk!" he said, and took an appreciative draught. But --
During that glorious drive up the coast of Italy and to France which lies beyond the Alps, Tyrone had been introduced to the wine of the year. In each town it was different, as it was compressed from grapes grown only in that vicinity.
So, Tyrone glanced down the long table and noted that each person -- himself excepted -- had a bottle of the wine of the year at his plate. "Is that ...?"
"Yes," Annabella said. "I knew it. I knew it."
For three days, the family dutifully brought the elegant milk ration, but Tyrone neglected it shamefully. He much preferred the wine.
The father of Annabella made an embarrassed trip back to the farmer and explained that he would no longer need the total assistance of the farmer's best cow. The farmer, having had an abashed apology from his ex-customer, simply shrugged. "The American," he agreed "had probably come to his senses!"
Tyrone had another brush with the Gallic - a circumstance that Annabella recalls with glee.
Ty had learned -- rapidly and well, but with a super-Power accent -- a great deal of French under his wife's tutelage. In Hollywood, they found it pleasant to be able to exchange, swiftly a few intimate words when they were in a group of other people. In an elevator, it was great fun for Annabella to say in French, "The hat of the lady next to me is very chic." And Tyrone could answer in code, "I could whip up a little number like that with six scrambled eggs, half a gunnysack and a pheasant's tail."
Very useful, you see. Until the Powers were invited to a very swank dinner one evening in Paris. It was strictly white-tie-and-tails, and the conversation soon grew as colorless as the tablecloth. Unhappy little conversations -- all in English, out of consideration for Tyrone -- languished along the table.
Tyrone leaned forward and said across the table to his wife IN FRENCH, "This is a dreadful bore. Let's make some excuse and get out of here."
Annabella knew his accent, so she heard every syllable as if it had been blared from a loud speaker, but fortunately, the others nearby realized only that Tyrone had spoken French. They asked if everyone in America spoke French; they began to be acutely interested in this man who knew their tongue, even though he spoke it in a fashion beyond understanding. Ty sat wishing somebody'd open the window.
Perhaps there are always two prime things that a girl likes to remember about her man: the amusing things he has done and his thoughtful deeds.
He listened, grinning, whenever Annabella talked about the Grand Canyon. Yes, he said, it was a big ditch. The Technicolor effect was okay. Yes, sometime -- when he was between pictures -- they would go to Arizona.
When Annabella had first realized that she was coming to the States, she thought of America as a series of settlements on the ramparts of the Grand Canyon. She wanted to see it as badly as the visitor in Egypt wishes to see the Sphinx. But American distances appalled her, so she was content to let the Canyon trip wait until she has a great deal of time.
One Saturday morning Tyrone suggested that she toss a few things into a bag and fly down to Coronado for the weekend. "What will I need?" she asked. He mentioned a bathing suit, shorts, a suit -- nothing much, really.
In the plane, he pointed out this and that point of interest. "I thought Coronado was on the sea," she said. He said that it was, but that -- by going as he had instructed the pilot -- they were cutting across a peninsula. Any moment now the Pacific would gleam through the clouds blue and vast beneath them.
big ditch . . .
You're away ahead of the story, but you're right. They went to Grand Canyon. While they were there, Annabella and Tyrone took the two-day trip to the floor of the canyon and back - a feat notable for the fact that Annabella was probably the first woman ever to make the terrifying donkey ride, clad in tennis blouse, shorts, bobby sox, and oxfords.
Another of Tyrone's surprises occurred at Christmas time. Several days before the 24th, a number of quaint things happened. In the first place, Annabella was sent downtown on an errand to Mr. Power's attorney. Annabella had suggested innocently that the papers -- so confidential that Tyrone talked of them in bated breath -- could be mailed, special delivery and registered. Her husband looked horrified. No, there wasn't time. This was something VERY SPECIAL. He gave her an impressive manila envelope, closed with massive seals.
Feeling like a conspirator in an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Annabella drove carefully downtown, waited for a long period in the attorney's reception room, delivered the envelope and secured an official receipt, then went home.
As she drove in, Tyrone met her and suggested that she leave her car out all night. Something, he said, had gone wrong with the electric garage doors, and he was afraid to tamper with them for fear someone would get hurt. He had sent for an electrician, but he wouldn't be able to make repairs for a day or so.
high-powered holiday . . .
On the afternoon of December 24th, guests began to arrive. Tyrone and Annabella had invited several couples to spend the night and to open packages around the Power Christmas tree the next morning. Annabella noticed that Ty was in terrific spirits; whenever a new male guest arrived, he was taken aside and initiated into a rip-roaring secret.
After the girls had settled for the night -- in the upstairs rooms, as the lower floor had been made into a dormitory for the men -- miscellaneous rumpus went on downstairs for hours. "It sounds like a man-made earthquake," someone suggested. "Let's go down and find out what on earth they're doing in addition to leading a cavalry charge through the lower hall every 20 minutes," another guest said.
"They are just making noise to attract attention," Annabella decided. "We should only ignore them." The motion was carried unanimously.
Annabella is sometimes sorry that she and her guests didn't investigate. They would have found the lower house filled with amateur Santa Clauses, laughing themselves silly while they transported furniture from the garage to the living room.
Tyrone surprised his wife by having the living room completely redecorated. For months he had paid close attention to every plan she made about "some day" changing this or that. A print, she had said, belonged on that wall. A print was there Christmas morning. A huge lounge done in beige would look well over there between the windows, she had said in October. It was there Christmas morning. The room was complete to occasional tables and bric-a-brac.
If you've been wondering about those crucial documents that took Annabella downtown before the holidays, relax. The envelope contained nothing but blank sheets of stationery. You see, Tyrone had to get her out of the house long enough to see if the furniture looked right in the living room and whether other things were needed. He had workmen move all the furniture out, move in the new equipment, then move it out into the garage and replace the old furniture.
On Christmas Eve the process was reversed by a flock of strong-arm characters having the time of their lives.
It is such things as these that Annabella thinks about, with Tyrone away. Remembering them, and planning for more memories-to-be when he comes back, will make the time pass quickly -- until the war is won all over the world.
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