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He was moving easily about the living room when suddenly he came to a halt. "You've had this rug cut off since I left," he said, with the quality Tyrone Power has for observing simple things around him.
It was true. The carpet had been too long and had to be shortened. But somehow nothing could have been more surprising than to have him note this now in the midst of our conversation. Yet it shouldn't have amazed me, for Ty, more than any star in Hollywood, will never grow beyond the sound and feel of everyday life about him.
Much water had gone over the dam since our last visit. He had made his highly successful flight through the Latin Americas, had announced with Annabella the termination of their marriage. He had witnessed the spectacular New York premiere of his picture, The Razor's Edge, had even been confronted with rumors of his making Gene Tierney the next Mrs. Power. And almost in the same breath he had had his name linked romantically with Lana Turner by the same rumor factories.
The last of these had given me some concern. Both Ty and Lana are close friends, and you don't like to see your friends upset by that old Hollywood virus, gossip. The party which had started the talk was given by Otto Preminger, although Ty and Lana hadn't gone together. This fact, of course, didn't stop them from having a good time together while they were there. Hardly a basis, however, for the sort of news manna both air commentators and Hollywood columnists made of it. I was frankly afraid it might jeopardize their new friendship.
Ty, pausing in one of his swift turns on the cut-off carpet, put an end to those worries. "Let's call up your girl friend," he said with a flash of a smile.
Luckily Lana was home. Would she join us? She would, as soon as she could make the trip from Brentwood.
While we waited, Ty returned to some of the ground we hadn't yet covered.
"I want Annabella to have our home in Bel-Air," he said, "and we've arranged it that way."
Annabella loved that house, with its spacious green lawns stretching away from the patio to the swimming pool beyond. She loved everything about it, for it was to this home, not yet completed, that Tyrone had brought Annabella as a bride after they made Suez together. And now it was hers.
"All is well then, between you two?"
His eyes went into a twinkle. "This will amuse you. When I got to New York and we'd made our announcement, I invited her to go with me to the premiere of The Razor's Edge. She'd been with me all through the making of the picture and was patient and understanding. Annabella accepted my invitation because we'll always be friends. We decided to keep the plan to ourselves. Well, you should have heard our New York friends hinting around -- about the premiere, asking in a sort of off-hand way if Annabella didn't want tickets for it. She refused politely. So you can imagine their surprise when we attended together!"
That wasn't the only surprise in store for the Power friends. For not only was Annabella by his side; there, also, was Annie, Annabella's teenage daughter. Back in the first days of the war in Europe, after Annabella had succeeded at great risk in getting the child out of her native France, it was Tyrone who suggested that he adopt Annie, who was then twelve. And the child adored her young and handsome stepfather who, in turn, has been devoted to Annie.
As proof of this, just last June a party of friends, flying East for the Louis-Conn fight, urged Tyrone to join them.
I'd love to," he said, "But you see, it's Annie's graduation night, and she'd be disappointed if I weren't there."
That night Tyrone sat in the auditorium of University High and watched his stepdaughter proudly receive her diploma.
Annie, in turn, had to be with Tyrone and share the excitement of his first big premiere after he returned from war. Thus together the three of them proved to curious onlookers that they were in the truest sense of the word "friends", as Ty had said.
"You see," Tyrone went on thoughtfully, "Annabella and I had begun to drift apart before I enlisted in the Marines. We had even discussed a separation then. But war was no time to take any such step. We might have just gone on drifting even after my return from the South Pacific except for the fact I'd had a lot of time to think overseas. I'd come to know how insecure life itself can be and how one should get out of it all the happiness possible. No use dodging issues. The only road to travel is the one that leads to straight-forward decisions. I knew I'd never again accept the easiest line of resistance."
And so they had talked it over, faced the fact that Annabella's social world was not for the simpler tastes of Tyrone and, without bitterness or recriminations, had decided that the break should be made.
Although Tyrone may have been unaware of it, Hollywood had for some time suspected that all was not serene in the Power household. Rumors that Annabella was about to divorce Tyrone had been floating about, and the town was eagerly looking for some one person to bear out the rumors. They didn't look further than The Razor's Edge set, where Tyrone and Gene Tierney were working together. Unfortunately, Gene and her husband, Oleg Cassini, had about reached the end of their marriage, too, and with the announcement of her divorce plans, the heat was on. One columnist blew her top with the printed items that the studio had known all along about the romance. Others said the whole thing was a publicity gag. Still others proclaimed an immediate marriage for Gene and Tyrone was in the offing, for there was a beautiful girl and a handsome man working side by side, both terminating their marriages.
Tyrone's eyes twinkled when we spoke of it. "Well, it's too bad to spoil their fun, but it's not true," he said. And time, of course, has proven he's right.
At this point the doorbell rang and in breezed Lana. Seeing them together, you couldn't help but be struck by the handsomeness of this pair -- Tyrone, tall, slender, electric; Lana, petite, rounded, creating her own magnetic field.
What doesn't immediately meet the eye is a certain kindredness of spirit. Tyrone possesses a keen sense of the spiritual, and Lana, as so very, very few people realize, possesses a deep spiritual hunger. For hours she will talk of her favorite author Kahlil Gibran, the man of God who wrote The Prophet.
There is in Tyrone so much of Larry, the Somerset Maugham hero of The Razor's Edge, and after he'd left to have dinner with his mother, Lana and I discussed this searching for something enduring , something to hold to securely that seems to be a part of Tyrone these days. In fact, it is that very quality of searching and knowing he'll find that has won Lana's admiration if not her very heart.
They've known one another for several years, but it was only after he returned from South America that they became friends. Their appearance at the Preminger party which caused such a furor, still did not bring forth a statement from either one. Nor have their subsequent actions provided any further food for romantic gossipers. Lana is making Green Dolphin Street in Hollywood, and Tyrone will be in Mexico for several months shooting The Captain from Castile. The thousands of miles between them form a wall of space that not even the most avid rumor mongers could surmount.
So far as Tyrone is concerned, one thing seems reasonably sure. It's based on what he once said to me:
"I want a home and children."
And something tells me that when he has reached the end of his searching, he will have his wish -- a home and children and happiness.
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