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October 1946 issue

He was Captain Power of the United States Marine Corps, with movies wiped clean off the slate -- Tyrone thought. But the heart plays tricks .....

One morning Ty Power and his crew had an early take off from Peleliu and sat down at the field in Saipan. They had just a half hour to grab some breakfast while the C-46 was being refueled. Ty was bolting his eggs and coffee in the mess room when another flyer across the table introduced himself.

"I'm Lieutenant Brown," he said, "and I know you from somewhere."

"Lieutenant Power," Ty identified himself. The officer creased his brow.
"Can't place the name," he said, "But did you ever live in Kansas City?" Ty shook his head. "How about Seattle? Ever around there much?" Ty said, "No." "H-m-m-m," mused the baffled flyer. "Could it have been in St. Louis?" The groping search went on all through the meal a the aviator wracked his brain about Ty's familiar but elusive features. All Ty kept saying was, "No, I don't think so. Maybe you've got me mixed up with someone else."

Time came for his crew to take off, so they tipped back from the table and hustled out the door, with the puzzled flyer still beating his memory fruitlessly. As they climbed aboard, Lieutenant Jerry Lenz, Ty's co-pilot, said, "For Pete's sake, Ty, why didn't you let that poor guy off the hook? I was busting to tell him who you were, and where he'd seen you."

Ty grinned good naturedly. "But I told him who I was. I'm Lieutenant Power," he retorted. For that's the way Ty chose to regard himself. He had wiped the slate clean!"

Not that he ever forgot Hollywood or the people there all the three years he wore a Marine Corps uniform. In fact, I know a story on Ty that even he doesn't know, and that anyway he'd never tell in a million years. I got it from a studio carpenter who used to work at Ty's lot, and then joined the Seabees and ended up on Guam.

This Seabee, naturally enough, was a marked man with his buddies because he'd worked intimately on sets with Hollywood stars. They pumped him for the inside on their favorite heroes and heroines and in the bull sessions-and well-maybe he expanded a bit and painted the lily. Betty Grable? Sure-he knew Betty well; they used to share a hamburger on the set. Alice Faye? Yep, Alice (that's what he always called her) was a regular gal. Never forget the time she tripped on a ladder in a scene and if he hadn't been there to catch her she might have busted her neck -- and so on. Ty Power's name came up sooner or later and it was, "Do I know Ty Power? I'll say! Him and me used to sneak off between scenes and shoot a round of golf together. Yeah, he's pretty fair on his drives, but I nicked him for ten bucks once at a dollar a hole…"and so forth. This Seabee was doing all right basking in star glory until one day he got some shocking news.

"Say, Fred," a grease monkey informed him. "Guess who's coming in on the next flight -- your old buddy from Hollywood!"

"Who's that?" gasped the gabby guy. "Lieutenant Tyrone Power. That's him sitting down now."

There was no escape for the imaginative Seabee. The cargo plane was already taxiing up to a stop and the hatch opening. His pals surrounded him. He just stood there and watched the pilot drop out and walk over. It was Ty Power, all right. But the panic that gripped this guy was --- will he remember me?

So the relief was terrific when Lieutenant Power caught his eye, grinned and yelled, "Hi, there Fred --- how's your golf?"

So it wasn't a case of Ty's forgetting Hollywood or ducking it, exactly, while he did his bit in the war. He just lived in another world, that's all. His crew buddies --- Lieutenant Lenz, "Chub" Church, Gene Millette, and Jud Webb --- were guys who might have thought a dramatic role was some new kind of coffee cake and a baby spot was --- well, practically anything you might suspect. They all lived together and flew together and griped together and stood duty together, and it was a very different world.

all up in the air . . .

You'll see the leatherneck traces in the tighter set of Ty's jaw and the character lines at his mouth and eyes. But he's home again, and on the "clean slate" he kept all spit and polished in the Marines, the deep traces of his life before are beginning to show again.

And Ty is pleased, because he knows now that whether you're in the movies or in the marines, it's people who count-and you don't have to fly to Kwajalein to find them.

Thinking back, it was Henry King, the director, who started Ty off in the air. Once, a long time ago, he came up to Henry, his director, with a timid question.

"I understand the studio doesn't like actors to fly. But I want to fly a plane and I know you fly. What do you think about it? Will I get in dutch if I start taking lessons?"

Henry had practically embraced him. "You want to fly? Then you go ahead and fly, and nuts to what the studio thinks! Next to making pictures, flying's the greatest thing in the world, Ty. Just be sure and watch out for one thing," he added. "Be very careful driving back and forth from the airfield. You might have an accident!"

There are lots of people like that in Tyrone Power's memory account book. People he'll never forget because they didn't forget him. Maybe the time Ty was most mixed up in his young life was right after his famous father, Tyrone Power, Senior, died. He'd left his mother's home in Cincinnati after high school to travel with his father and learn to act. He was in Hollywood sticking around while his dad played a part in The Miracle Man, keeping his young eyes open for the idea that was already buzzing around in his head -- to make movies himself. Then, one night, at the Hollywood Athletic Club, where they stayed, Tyrone Power Sr. gasped and died of heart failure in his 18-year-old son's arms. Desolate, grief stricken and lonely, Ty needed older help and advice as he batted around the studios trying to stick his feet in the stubborn studio gates. He had no home, no family near, and barely any money. And the many friends his father had introduced him to were long on sympathy, but short on help. That's why Ty will never forget Arthur Caesar.

Caesar was at the busy peak of his screen and play writing career then, but he found time to take the heartbroken Ty under his wing, give him a home, meals whenever he needed them, and plenty of seasoned advice, as well as a job chauffeuring him around the studios, to protect the fierce independence he knew Ty held dear.

Then there was Michael Strange, Diana Barrymore's mother. Ty Power will never forget what a lift it was for her to invite him to make himself at home in her big New York apartment rent free, after he'd busted into that town from his small time Chicago radio jobs, determined to crash Broadway or bust. He was busted, all right, in the pocketbook, and the quick generosity of John Barrymore's ex-wife is a bright spot in those dreary days, as was Ty's experience with Stanley Ghilkey, Katharine Cornell's business manager, the first of that species Ty met who didn't use a cake of ice for a heart.

a friend in need . . .

He'd been exposed to those deep freeze characters, it seemed, from the minute he started the old Broadway beginner routine, knocking on show manager's office doors and collecting scowls and growls and snippy taunts from sassy secretaries. So when he dropped in on Stan Ghilkey and was treated for the first time with kindness and consideration, even given a pair of center aisle tickets for Katharine Cornell's play, Flowers of the Forest, Ty responded with such grateful eagerness that he got the job of Burgess Meredith's understudy in the play. Of course that let to Romeo and Juliet and St. Joan with Cornell herself, and her help and advice, along with that of Guthrie McClintic, her husband, made them loom large in Tyrone Power's album of very special people. It was Cornell who advised Ty to take the screen test that finally brought him to Hollywood.

That brought our chat around to Ty Power's first flounderings in the town and at the same studio that was to eventually make him famous.

Alice Faye was queen of the Twentieth-Fox lot about the time Ty was trying to make his tryout option contract stick. He hadn't had much luck.

Naturally, at that point, Tyrone felt as low as a snake in a swamp. He didn't even know Alice Faye then, but bad news travels fast around a studio lot. He heard a soft rap on his dressing room door. "I'm Alice Faye," smiled the taffy-haired girl at the door. "I heard about it, and I think it's a shame. But don't worry a minute and don't let it get you down. Those things just happen out here. I know. They've happened to me. But if you'll just stick and rise above it, they'll find the right spot for you in a few days and then try and stop you!"

Of course Alice Faye was dead right; in a few days there was a movie part for Ty Power right after that -- the chance that rolled him right on the track to the stars, Lloyds of London. And it was a double thrill for young Ty Power to walk on the test stage for his Lloyds part, expecting to struggle through a camera tryout with just any stock actress around the lot -- only to find the biggest star there waiting to read the all-important lines with him, Alice Faye. It was her idea, her gesture of friendship. It paid off. And it landed forever in the gratitude corner of Ty Power's heart.

Alice has plenty of company there, because, stirring up his memory, Ty Power found plenty of Hollywood people who'd leveled the bumps in his path when Ty wasn't too sure footed. That's been a long time ago, but Ty hadn't forgotten boosters like Barbara McLean, ace woman cutter at Fox. She went out of her way to drill him in the mechanics of movie making from his first picture on. And Artie Miller the cameraman who's filmed six of Ty Power's biggest pictures, who took him aside right at the start and cured Ty for keeps of the stage hangovers he was bringing to the screen -- the exaggerated facial gestures that are swell from the footlights but louse up a lens. "Look, Ty," Artie told him bluntly, "just remember you're under a microscope now. So stop blinking your eyes every time you open your mouth!" Maybe the tips were brutally frank, but Ty knew they were honest and he was grateful --- as he's been to a double dozen people who, in their way, have tacked inches to his screen stature.

When Ty finally came back from the war, the phone at their Brentwood house rang like a five-alarm fire. The Bill Goetzes, Oleg Cassini and Gene Tierney, the Charles Boyers, the Walter Langs, Dick Whorf, Gary and Rocky Cooper -- all of them with the same idea: How about letting us toss you welcome home party?"

old acquaintance . . .

Ty was touched each time and it was tough for him to beg, "No, please --- thanks so much -- but not yet awhile." He wanted time to catch up first and get acquainted all over again with the most important person in the world to Tyrone Power -- his wife, Annabella. He was starting a new chapter in his life and before he did anything, Ty wanted that second honeymoon he'd planned ever since he knew he was on his way back home.

So it wasn't until after the Tyrone Powers had toured Canada and spent a month alone together that Ty had his welcome home parties and turned his thoughts intently to what he knew was now necessary for the second chapter of his acting life. And he had pretty definite ideas about that. That's why, when Darryl Zanuck offered him the swashbuckling part in Captain from Castile, Ty asked to be excused --- he'd had enough swashbuckling in real life of late. He read The Razor's Edge and he had it.

There's a really remarkable stack-up between Ty himself and the character he's bringing to life in his comeback picture. Somerset Maugham's Larry Darrell was a flyer in the First World War. Ty was a flyer in the Second. He's the same age as Ty is, and the physical description from the book is a dead ringer world-portrait of the postwar Power himself. And I'm venturing to add that's so in another department than mere looks.

Because the driving force of Larry --- as Ty realized the minute he cracked The Razor's Edge ---is a quest for the real, fundamental meaning of life. Ty Power's job is to dramatize that, but he'd be the last person in the world to admit that in real life he's more or less on the same quest himself these days -- like a million or more fellows you know who fought for America and had time in between to think.

But then, maybe so would they.

Webmaster's Notes

Ty and Annabella's "second honeymoon" in Canada did not help them put their marriage back together. When this article was written, Annabella was already in New York, preparing to do the Broadway play, Exit, which was performed at the Biltmore theatre from Nov 26, 1946 - Dec 21, 1946. Annabella had been able to get her career going again, at least to a degree, while Tyrone was serving with the Marines during the war. She had starred in two 20th Century-Fox movies in 1943, and also had a starring role in the Broadway play, Jacobowsky and the Colonel , which ran from Mar 14, 1944 - Mar 10, 1945 Play at the Martin Beck Theatre. (not sure if she was in the play for its entire run) . After this article was written, she made one more movie for 20th Century-Fox (13 Rue Madeleine). Her career was apparently not going anywhere in the U.S., and, in 1947, she returned to France, hoping to be able to rejuvenate her career there. Though she had been a big star in France before coming to America in 1937, she never was able to get back on track; she made a few movies in France and then retired from filmmaking.

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