When the playwright Charles McCarthur met Helen Hayes, he gave her a bag of peanuts and said, "I wish they were emeralds." When he became a big success, he gave her a bag of emeralds and said, "I wish they were peanuts."
McCarthur and Hayes were one of the great couples who loved each other through a long married life. I met Helen, stayed several times in her house in Cuernavaca and she was kind enough to let me interview her for The Toronto Sun. McCarthur had been dead for many years when Helen told me:
"I could no more have remarried than I could have been unfaithful."
Helen was just one of many public figures who spoke to me about love, marriage and sex.
Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy: partners in life, on the stage and in film. Asked about the secret of their happy marriage, Hume quoted Dorothy Parker:
"If you want to keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup
When you are wrong, admit it.
When you are right, shut up."
Barbara Cartland, known for wearing pink dresses and masses of diamonds while she stretched out on a chaise lounge to dictate her very successful romance novels over her shoulder to a secretary, was also famous as the step-grandmother to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. In an interview at the St. Regis in New York, she spoke about marriage:
"What in many ways is far worse than a single act of infidelity...is a habitual lack of good manner between a husband and wife and an indifference which comes from familiarity."
"A woman tells a man he is a good lover and then hopes he will become one."
Jihan and Anwar Sadat were also lovers and partners in a great marriage. I interviewed Madame Sadat twice at her home in Cairo, the last time shortly after her husband had been assassinated. Like Helen Hayes, she vowed she would never remarry.
"I will never marry again. Who can replace Sadat? The comparison is very difficult and I don't think anyone deserves to be in his place. Just to live, just to think about him with my children and my friends is a pleasure."
I met Clare Booth Luce, author, playwright, muse of Life Magazine, former U.S. ambassador to Rome, femme fatale with the startling blue eyes, in her apartment at the Watergate in Washington:
"Love in marriage is a combination of lust and friendship and it's the friendship that is the durable part."
But then, she added:
"In the end, love is the most important of all human emotions. One can love people first, one's work, one's country, but to love is a very important thing."
And I met Dolores Hope, wife of the comedian who travelled during the war with a bevy of beauties, at her home in Palm Springs:
"You've got to face the reality of what a man is. Now, in the beginning, when everything is a big romance, a woman might say, 'If he does this or that, I will leave him.' But as time goes by, you begin to mature. You find out what real life is about and what other people are about; you realize that these things are not the end of everything, that a marriage is more than that. And anyway, Americans are the only ones who are so hung up about it; in other countries, a man has his mistress and he has his wife, and it is understood."
Jerry Hall stopped traffic coming into our New York apartment for an interview, where she tucked those long legs underneath her and then expressed candid views about men:
"I tell girls who are upset about their guys, who say they are going to leave them, 'They're all a bunch of trouble. The next one will be more trouble than the last one. If you can't straighten out one guy, you're never gonna straighten out the next one. You have to step in and deal with the problem. There's no such thing as a fairy tale romance and, if you're waiting for Mr. Right, you're going to wait forever. He's not out there. If you find a guy who makes you laugh, who you have a good time with, he's as good as the next one.'"
Helen Gurley Brown, former editor of Cosmopolitan, and author of several lively books about life and men could always be counted on for a controversial quote:
"With the exception of my job at Cosmo, I have never worked anywhere without being sexually involved with someone at the office.... As for sleeping with the boss, why discriminate against him?"
And Barbara Amiel, now Lady Black, was one of many people I interviewed over lunch at Winston's in Toronto:
"I am led around by my hormones. If that part were cut out I suppose my life would be easier but it is, on the whole, a glorious way to live."
Giancarlo Giannini, also at Winston's in Toronto:
"What is love? Acceptance of defects. You say you love my eyes. But if you love me, you must accept the rest. Which is all defects -- except for one part and I won't tell you which part! You must take my word for that."
I took his word for it.
Actress Viveca Lindfors:
"Love affairs move in stages. At first, in the flush of a fantastic love, I am my most creative, do my best work. Then a woman gets to the stage where either the man makes demands on her or, worse, she makes demands on herself in his behalf, because she is a woman in love. In that second stage, we discover whether the relationship is strong enough to support two different selves who can co-exist. If it is, the relationship can grow -- if it isn't, it can't. "
And from Nancy Reagan:
"There is a certain segment, especially among young journalists, who will never understand my relationship with Ronnie. When I say my life began with Ronnie, I am speaking the truth. These young journalists feel sorry for me. The think I am missing something. I feel sorry for them. I know they are missing something."
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