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ONE DAY SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, a young man who rather overdid the tall, dark and handsome business, paced back and forth in the lobby of the famous Bel-Air Hotel, waiting for his date. He had a brooding look, perhaps because he'd just had a spat with the girl to whom headlines had him engaged.
The man was Tyrone Power. The girl with whom he had quarreled was Lana Turner. The girl for whom he was waiting was Corinne Calvay, the French actress recently imported to Hollywood by Paramount studios.
Ty had waited only a few moments when a girl entered through the flower-banked archway and walked to the desk for her key. Involuntarily, he turned and watched her -- a slender silk and nylon vision. She had honey-colored hair, not quite red. She spoke to the desk clerk with an imperceptible trace of a foreign accent. As she picked up her key and a letter, she turned and her eyes found Ty's.
Ty, caught in the act of staring, looked the other way.
He doesn't now.
The girl was Linda Christian, the young actress who, the the surprise of everyone and the consternation of some, will in all probability become Mrs. Tyrone Power before the year is out. She may even marry Ty in a foreign country, away from the jurisdiction of exacting California law, before his decree from Annabella is final.
But first to the who, what, when and why of this story, which exceeds in plot motivation, anything that Hollywood writers would dare to put in a script. For this is no ordinary, run-of-the-Hollywood-mill romance in which boy meets girl and the final close-up is inevitable. At any moment many things may take an unexpected turn.
As it happened, Lana Turner herself is largely responsible for the present state of affairs, although the previously introduced Corinne Calvay plays a major role -- one overlooked by the usually alert reporters. For had not Ty dated Corinne, he would have missed the first glimpse of Linda Christian that day in the Bel-Air lobby.
It was, however, Lana Turner herself who eventually performed the official introduction of Linda Christian to Tyrone Power on the set of Green Dolphin Street. Lana, the star, ironically had no idea that Linda, the bit player, was soon to become the girl most likely to become Mrs. Power. For at that time, Lana entertained ideas of this sort herself.
Here, as in the most engaging stories, things were not what they seemed. If Lana had any thought of a rival, the thought was about Corinne Calvay. Not long before, Lana had bumped into Corinne at a party, and an accident occurred which caused an epidemic of powder-room gossip of the usual sort.
Lana, carrying a hot silver coffeepot, had accidentally brushed against Corinne's arm. Corinne had gasped with pain. Lana had apologized. But Corinne and certain others of the guests were convinced that incident was no accident. They interpreted it as an abrupt warning from Lana to Corinne -- an ultimatum delivered by a direct look in the eyes following an inadvertent act. Also, a story gained circulation soon after this, that Lana had called Corinne on the telephone and frankly told her to stay away from Ty.
If this were actually the case, neither Lana nor Corinne need have wasted their animosity. The atom-like bombardment of events had already gone beyond that, though none of the principals were yet aware of what was going on.
Over a year ago, while Lana was still working in Green Dolphin Street, Ty left for Mexico and location scenes for Captain from Castile. It may have been coincidence that Linda Christian was on a trip to Mexico City to visit her mother at the same time. An inspired fiction writer could dream up no better twist of fate than to make Lana suddenly aware of a threat to her romance with Ty. Certainly that would be a better explanation than any so far given by her hurried flight south of the border to see Ty -- a trip that postponed production on her picture because of a delayed return.
When Lana did come back, there was a rush of stories to the effect that she had been given the customary studio scolding and everyone assumed that her romance with Ty was at the same fever pitch.
But was it?
Subsequent events seem to prove otherwise.
Lana later gave a beautiful farewell party for Ty on the eve of his flying trip across the ocean. And newspapers were filled with stories about their romance and what would happen on his return. But examination since reveals that these were empty speculations. As usual, before a breakup between two people supposedly deeply in love, friends are on one side or the other and the best interests of those concerned are a secondary matter. When Ty did not stop in New York to greet Lana, who, according to the newspapers was waiting for him eagerly, the headline romance that had grown out of all proportions blew up. In its wake came such revelations as the "inside" story that a mutual friend had telephone Ty while he was in Rome to report that Lana had been furiously dating other men in his absence.
No one stopped to think that the love between Lana and Ty might have cooled before he left the country. And, as no one stopped to think, Lana was believed to have fallen in love with Bob Topping on the rebound.
There is the mute evidence of Ty's new home on Roxbury Drive as interesting evidence in this case. The modern decorations which were being installed as sort of a "Lana Turner project" had hardly begun before Ty lost interest. Suddenly, on his return, the modern theme changed. Decorators were now suggesting fine European pieces. The color scheme for the living room, once in tones of black and gold, became deep green. Other changes were being made in the den, in the upstairs master bedroom and guest room.
And very much in evidence now was Linda Christian, the girl in whom Tyrone Power first found interest one evening in the lobby of the Bel-Air hotel.
Not unkindly, people in Hollywood are now asking -- Who is Linda Christian?
There are varying stories. One is that she came to Hollywood as an eager little starlet with hardly more than a single dress and a pair of sheer stockings -- one of the many girls whose ambition leads them t o gamble a supposedly dull life, security and happiness back home against the bright promise of a career and riches.
Linda is said to have once been under contract to a famous actor who became enamored of her shortly after her arrival.
She is said to have had many beaus and to have been prominent on what is known as the "night club circuit".
The truth is this. Linda, half Dutch and half Mexican, was raised and educated abroad where she traveled extensively with her father, who is an oil company executive. She speaks a half dozen languages, and her intelligence has been questioned by the flip set of Hollywood because she is reserved and quiet at parties. This opinion is underscored by many because she is frequently happy -- a superb dancer, an excellent swimmer and when it comes to fun, she can be as noisy as the moment suggests.
At first under contract to RKO, Linda was dropped. Then she went to Metro. There is no truth to the rumor that Lana insisted that she wouldn't work on the same lot if Linda remained there. A studio of such great prestige, and a girl like Lana, are above such petty politics. Linda never having lacked money, simply has never been too much interested in pursuing a motion picture career.
There is something else of the utmost importance in considering Linda as Ty's future mate.
Earlier, Ty's interest seems to have been in older women. Everywhere, from the studio to the confines of his private life, Ty has been subjected to what can best be called a "junior treatment". The war changed that. When he returned after his highly competent job as a Marine during the war, some people didn't quite understand him. Ty was definitely the boss of Tyrone Power and, as a consequence, was no one to take orders from any woman, no matter how delicate the attempt to lead him into those familiar channels.
There is not today any man more sure of himself or of what he wants than Ty Power or any man more capable of achieving what he wants.
Very soon he will be on his way to Italy. When Ty was in Europe last year, he was so impressed and interested by the Italian film industry, and like the Italian people so much, that he resolved to return as quickly as was possible.
On this trip he will make a picture called Prince of Foxes. He may also produce a picture of his own there.
Linda Christian, more than likely, will be with him. And if this happens, do not be at all surprised is she goes as the new Mrs. Tyrone Power.
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