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Why the Sand in his Shoes?

by Robbin Coons

Motion Picture, June 1948


TYRONE POWER HAD BARELY gotten the roar of the DC-3 out of his ears and the sand out of his shoes when he started talking about still another flying journey.

This time to Scandinavia, in the autumn.

"And then, another year, Australia and the South Pacific," he says. "After that maybe I'll stay put unless -- well, there's still much of the world I haven't seen, and a great deal I want to see again."

Thirty-two thousand miles in three months through Africa and Europe -- and he's ready to turn the motors over again after what amounts to a ten-minute break. It looks as if Ty, already champion flying tourist among the stars, will be winging in and out of Hollywood indefinitely, thwarting the romantic gossips who would like to see him married and "settled down".

WHY THIS PENCHANT for world travel, why this silica in his sandals? Didn't he have enough flying during his Marine days in the Pacific war? How does 20th Century-Fox feel about its prize boy's aerial swashbuckling, his gadding about on two engines over land and sea, risking his box-office-precious neck?

And what about the ladies?

"Sand in my shoes?" Ty grins, avoiding that last questions. "Maybe it's just rocks in my head, instead. But the answer is simple.

"I've always been travel-crazy, and now I can cover a lot of territory and still make two pictures a year. Plenty of fellows got their fill of flying in the war, but I was lucky -- I still like it. And its the only way to get places fast."

"All your life you read about places on the other side of the earth, and you get curious. Then you see those places, and they become realities to you. Along with education, excitement and fun, it's a kind of emotional experience."

"TO SEE OLD CIVILIZATIONS as they are today -- Egypt, Greece, Rome. To see the Congo; to ride through South Africa's Kruger National Park, 8,000 square miles where the wild animals roam free and you are caged in your car; to look down on the White Nile as it joins the Blue Nile . . ."

"And the people you meet . . . "

But there's still another reason for Ty's travels.

"Maybe," he admits, "it's as important to me as the traveling. That's the getting away from the Hollywood atmosphere. I like living and working here, but I feel I'd go punchy if I didn't get away now and then. You can get pretty ingrown, just sticking around town, hearing picture talk, going to picture affairs, seeing just picture people."

How does the studio feel about it all? Says Ty: "I've never asked them."

On the evidence, however, 20th isn't exactly irked about it, and its cheerful financing of the Power gadding is understandable, despite the risks involved. By re-releasing power films in areas he visits, the studio is reaping rich rewards. In Panama and Central America, for instance, re-issues of films like The Mark of Zorro and The Black Swan brought in enough to pay for Ty's plane and for his whole South American trip.

AND TY'S VALUE AS a goodwill ambassador from Hollywood is incalculable. The very name of his plane, The Geek, was a plug for Nightmare Alley, but that was incidental gravy. Personable, poised, friendly, Ty invariably makes a good impression, whether on a mob or on a more select group. Invited to talk to a session of an international trade conference in South Africa, Ty accepted and made an effective pitch for Hollywood and the picture industry.

In Johannesburg, at a tea given by the mayor, he met the council and other city officials. He must have charmed them because -- as a companion reports -- he was asked to sign the guest book on a page all his own, just like the King and Queen of England, who had preceded him.

Next day the mayor called, asking for a repeat performance.

"Somebody," he lamented, "has torn out your page. Will you sign again?

Ty signed again.

In Rome, a little girl from a remote village came bearing her schoolmates' greetings. She knew only one sentence in English, and she used it: "Will you kiss me?"

Ty did that, too, like a gentleman.

Which reminds us -- the $64 question. How about the ladies, Ty?

"They're still here," he says, cryptically. His twinkling eye, however indicates that he approves heartily of the fact.

Since the romance with Lana Turner foundered, he has been paying court to brunette beauty Linda Christian, the actress he met in Rome this last trip. Linda visited there en route to take her young sister to a Swiss school.

His close friends say that the girls who wins Ty, permanently, will be the girl who takes his urge to travel as part of him and doesn't try to change it. The boy, at least at this writing, doesn't want to be tied down -- by romance, by extra pictures, by anything -- until he has shaken all that sand from his footgear.

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