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Ever since Tyrone Power and Lana Turner broke up and Ty immediately began a whirlwind courtship of one Linda Christian, Hollywood has been buzzing like a bee at honey time: "Who is this Linda Christian? What's she got that Lana hasn't got? Where'd she come from. Who is she?"
Now it's no secret that Lana was madly in love with Ty. Nor is it any secret that Ty cooled off first. Adding two and two, one comes to the conclusion that Ty's sudden infatuation with the fabulous and mysterious Linda Christian had a great deal to do with Hollywood's number one glamour girl being left in the lurch.
Well, who is this Linda Christian? To begin with, she is at one and the same time the most talked about woman in Hollywood -- and one of the least known. There has been a great deal of gossip about her. Because of her bizarre background and because she is a girl who, up until her romance with Ty, was an unknown, she is the object of many tales, most of them untrue. Stories rumoring this and rumoring that have been published about her. But in the interests of bringing its readers first-hand the true story, Motion Picture Magazine, in this exclusive interview with Linda, can now reveal the complete inside happenings as told by Linda herself.
I was to meet Linda for lunch in the dining room of the Santa Monica hotel, where she is staying. And everyone in the room turned to look at her when she entered, for she has that effect on people. She is not conventionally pretty in the doll-faced, peaches-and-cream way of many movie beauties. She has a unique and striking appearance. She is tall and slim, but womanly proportioned. Her luxurious reddish-brown hair is worn in a long, casual bob. Her mouth is wide and full; she has a smooth, olive complexion, interesting high cheekbones, and her nose is short and broad with a slight dip at the center. Her eyes are her most outstanding feature -- they're hazel and have an Arabic upward slant. When she laughs her eyes twinkle and slant even more.
She walked into the room with the languid sinuousness of a Siamese kitten, and she wore what I learned is her favorite type of costume: a very full, long plaid skirt and a white jersey top. Linda told me later that she has always loved the New Look and wore it five years before it became the vogue. She designs her own clothes and has always had a passion for full ("gypsy-like," she calls them) skirts. A stone-marten fur jacket was draped nonchalantly over her shoulders.
The first thing you notice when Linda speaks is her slight accent, which defies localizing. "I have lived," she says, "in Mexico, Palestine, Italy, Holland, Switzerland -- all over the world -- so I have picked up the accents of many countries." Her vocabulary is extensive, sprinkled with foreign phrases, and she has a vivid way of gesturing with her hands.
I had heard, and you may have also, that Linda was a shrewd little number who deliberately went to Italy when she knew Ty would be there. That is just one of the hundreds of fables about their meeting.
"I had gone to school in Florence and lived in Italy, from time to time, for years," Linda explains. "My younger sister, Ariadna, and I went to Europe last November to enroll her in a school in Switzerland. My father, who was in Syria, wrote and asked us to meet him in Rome. If I had tried to connive to bump into Ty there, it wouldn't have worked. He was on his round-the -world flight and didn't know himself when he'd get to Italy. It was just one of those divine coincidences.
"When we registered at our hotel, the manager said, 'Someone else from Hollywood just checked in -- Tyrone Power. Why don't you phone him?'"
"I didn't want to do it. I didn't know Tyrone Power. I had met him very briefly once or twice, but aside from the merest acknowledgement of introductions, we had never spoken to each other. On the other hand, I have many friends in Rome, so why bother to telephone a compete stranger?
"But my sister, a teenager, is a fan of Ty's. 'You must phone him,' she begged me. 'I'd love to meet him.' As soon as he answered, she became panicky and handed the telephone to me. I heard a very cold voice say, 'Who is this?'
"Feeling very foolish, I said, 'This is Linda Christian. You probably don't remember me.'"
"'Of course I do,' Tyrone replied. 'What on earth are you doing here?'
"'This is my old stamping ground,' I told him. At that he almost shouted, 'Do you love Italy as much as I do? Meet me right away and let's do Rome together!'
"We met in the lobby and spent the afternoon together -- went to the wonderful old museums and to the art galleries and the funny out-of-the-way places that were so familiar to me but so new to Ty. He was enthusiastic about everything -- and so was I.
"It was such fun we made a date for the evening, too. We ate the kind of food only the Italians can cook. We danced and we walked along the river, and we rode in an open carriage.
"I had originally planned to stay three days, and so had Ty. Instead we stayed three weeks."
And while Ty lingered in Rome with Linda, Lana waited for him in New York, burning up the trans-Atlantic telephone in an effort to find out what was holding him up.
From the moment he met her, Ty was openly fascinated by Linda. Their vacation over, Linda headed for Mexico City, where her mother lives. Ty had to report back to the studio, but he flew to Mexico as soon as he could.
"We saw the New Year in together," Linda recalls. "Then, accompanied by my aunt, we went to Acapulco for about ten days -- swam, went water-skiing, rode horses, ate strange native dishes. And then Ty had to return to Hollywood. I stayed behind to finish some business in Mexico, but promised I'd meet him in Hollywood very soon."
Tyrone Power is not an ordinary man. He is serious and intellectual. Naturally restless, he can't stay put in any one spot and likes to roam the world. Only an extraordinary woman could attract him for long. And Linda is such a girl. Ty said recently, "She is extremely fascinating and intelligent. It's a stimulating experience to be with Linda."
Like him, she is restless, a cosmopolite with a high sense of adventure. Ty has often said, "I have a constant urge to go places, see things. I can't stand still."
That is Linda's philosophy exactly. No wonder when they both met there was an instant attraction and a complete alchemy of personalities.
Linda was born in Tampico, an oil town on the Gulf of Mexico. Her real name is Rosa Blanca Welter, but she changed it when she came to Hollywood.
Because of my father's oil business," she says, "he traveled a lot and took the whole family with him. By the time I was 10, I had lived in Mexico, New York, Venezuela, Switzerland, France, Holland, and Palestine. I never knew what it was to call one place home." But she learned to speak seven languages fluently, including Arabic, and at 15 was chosen the most beautiful European girl in a contest held in Yugoslavia.
"Then the war came," she goes on, "and all the frontiers were closed. We managed to get out of Europe and into Palestine. I was attending college in Jerusalem when we were literally bombed out by the Nazis. I joined a convoy in Egypt and headed for Mexico.
"I had always been a rather serious girl and was encouraged by my father to read a lot. He used to urge me to study -- said I was an ugly little rabbit, and in order to be noticed I would have to be very smart.
"I arrived in Mexico with hopes of making medicine my career and took a job in a plastic surgeon's office, but other things happened to make me change my mind. We stayed at Acapulco very often and many Hollywood people came there. I used to swim and fish and go around in simple cotton things like the natives. I never thought of a screen career, but several directors and stars put the idea in my head. Raoul Walsh, the director, and Errol Flynn used to tell me. 'You shouldn't be in Acapulco. You should be in Hollywood.'
"So -- I went to Hollywood. Did some modeling, and at one fashion show an MGM executive saw me, had me tested and I was signed.
"But my screen career at that time was pretty disappointing. I had won medals for swimming, having studied ballet since I was 5 and speak many languages -- and for all those talents my first film job consisted of carrying a little Pekingese in Holiday in Mexico. I had a bit role in Green Dolphin Street but was lost in the earthquake scene. I asked for my release and finally got it."
Ty is encouraging Linda in her screen career. He accompanied her to the preview of Sol Lesser's Tarzan and the Mermaids (Johnny Weissmuller is the first named and Linda plays a sirenish mermaid). It is a small-budget picture, but Ty saw it three times. That is love. And he has told Linda, "Your possibilities as an actress are unlimited. You can go very far."
He is anxious for Linda to get ahead and reads scripts to see if there is a good part for her. He is even telling his own studio he would like to have her as his leading lady some day.
I asked Linda if she and Ty had any marriage plans.
"I can't answer that now," she says honestly. "Don't forget, his divorce decree isn't final until January. Many things can happen before then. But I do know he is the only man I have met so far whom I would like to have as the father of my children. I think he would like to have a family of his own when he marries again.
"We complement each other perfectly. In the big things -- in our cultural tastes and out globe-trotting feet -- we have everything in common. But in the little things we are different. I am impractical, and have no feeling for money. Ty has his feet on the ground about such things and through him I am learning to be more of a realist."
They don't frequent the popular night clubs and restaurants in Hollywood. This stems not so much from a desire to avoid people as it does from a mutual preference for small dinners at Ty's house with close friends.
"I have never stayed in Hollywood as long as I have this time. I have always become bored with it before. But with Ty, how can I be bored?
"In the summer he will go to Italy to make Prince of Foxes. Maybe I will go, too. My sister is in Switzerland, and it will be time for me to see her again. "That," laughs Linda, "is a good excuse, isn't it?"
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