This is a pictorial layout that appeared in the August 9, 1938 issue of “PIC” magazine, which featured a divine shot of Carole Lombard on the cover:
Why are there so many divorces in Hollywood? The world’s greatest lovers have the world’s worst divorce record. Lasting marriages among stars are the exception. Divorce is the rule. Boy meets girl, boy wins girl, boy divorces girl is the headline career of most movie stars. And “Pardon me, but haven’t we married before” is no joke in Hollywood. Are stars different from other people” Do they need more than one wife or husband? Is Hollywood to blame for their marital failures? On the following pages, “PIC” analyses [sic] the reasons why some movie marriages are successful and most movie marriages fail. Do YOU think Hollywood has a case against monogamy?
I wonder if the author of this article would be surprised to find out that in that respect, Hollywood hasn’t changed one bit.
First they focus on the ones that didn’t work out:
Romance is Reno-bound when the husband starts slipping. An actress who is through can always become a glorified housewife, but a husband is helpless. There is nothing he can do. When giner and Lew Ayres eloped, she was a Pathe girl and he was the star Garbo asked for in her picture “The Kiss.” Then Ginger got the breaks in a series of smash-hits and Lew was lost in thrillers. They separated. Now Lew is staging a comeback in Columbia’s “Holiday.” And their names are linked again!
Lew never was a big box office star again after the 1930’s (mostly due to him being an outspoken objector to World War II) but he contined working steadily in films and television until his death in 1994. He was married to Lola Lane before Ginger and married a flight attendant named Diana in 1964. They were married for thirty years and had one son.
Lew was the second marriage for Ginger as well, and she went on to marry three more times. In her autobiography, I found she was the most wistful about Lew.
Hollywood divorces often result from an over-publicized love affair. Two stars are attracted. The studio creates a romance, and their marriage is over-dramatised. Doug [Fairbanks Jr] and Joan [Crawford]’s “ideal” love cooled in two years.
In 1939, Doug Jr. married socialite Mary Lee Eppling. They were married for nearly fifty years and had three daughters. He later married Vera Shelton in 1991 until his death in 2000.
Movie marriages break up when one overshadows the other. Masculine egos are sensitive about being eclipsed. Does Franchot [Tone] resent being labelled “Joan’s husband”? Hollywood already hints at Reno.
And Reno was beckoning. By the spring of 1939, Franchot and Joan were kaputs. She went on to marry twice more, him three times more. He had two children with second wife Jean Wallace. Joan memorably adopted four children on her own.
Falling in love with their co-stars is fatal to marital ties. Carole and Clark fell in love while marking this picture “No Man of Her Own”–and both were married at the time, though Carole and Bill Powell had drifted apart, and Clark and Rita [sic] were drifting. The madcapt Gable-Lombard romance has since taken Hollywood by storm. All the world loves these two lovers. Will their story be a happily-ever-after one? Will the present Mrs. Gable give Clark his freedom? They were sure it was love at Jock Whitney’s gag party in 1936 when Carole had herself carried in on a stretcher. Clark knew he’d found a soul-mate as crazy as himself. And they’ve kept Hollywood howling ever since with their screwball antics.
Wrong-o, PIC magazine. They did not fall in love of the set of No Man of Her Own. They were just friendly co-workers. And, unfortuantely, we all know a happily ever after wasn’t in the cards for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
Many Hollywood husbands resent their wives’ love scenes–preferring a wife they can call their own. Making love for the millions is part of a star’s career. But hwo does a husband feel about it? Too many Don Juans to compete with, besides gum-chewing John and Joe Public sharing his wife’s most intimate emotions. Dolores del Rio and Ricardo Cortez show how it’s done. Who said Latins are lousy lovers?
Um, isn’t it just as hard for a wife to watch her husband in love scenes? Just sayin’.
Hollywood has no inhibitions–no rules. Marriage and divorce are all in a day’s work. Conventions? Hollywood tosses its head with a shrug. Ruth Chatterton and her first and second husbands, Ralph Forbes and George Brent, were inseparable companions after the divorce. All three have since remarried.
After Ralph and George, Ruth was married to a fellow named Barry for nearly twenty years. Ralph had two marriages after Ruth, both ending in divorce. I read somewhere that him and Ruth were such close friends that his third wedding took place in Ruth’s living room! George seemed to have a thing for actresses but didn’t have much luck with any of them! He had a tumultous affair with co-star Bette Davis, and his marriages to Constance Worth and Ann Sheridan both lasted less than a year. He had better luck with model Janet Michaels; they were married over 25 years (until her death) and had two children.
They can’t stop playing Great Lovers off the screen. Play-acting is the thing. Stars love wisely, but too many! After making passionate love on the screen to many of the world’s handsomest mena nd women, they keep right on acting in private life. And one love is not stimulating enough. The love lives of these public romancers are sometimes as unreal and fantastic as their screen roles. Above is the Garbo-Gilbert technique or “What Every Young Star Should Know.” The loves of John Gilbert are legendary, for in real life he was just as great a heartbreaker. Leatrice Joy, Ina Claire, and Virginia Bruce were “among those married” to him. Even Garbo, the aloof, melted in his fiery embrace.
John Gilbert died in 1936 and had had four wives. Greta Garbo never married–her one chance was with John, whom she notoriously left at the altar.
Now it moves on to marriages they are sure will work out:
Stars can and do stay married in Hollywood–when the wife’s biggest role is being a good housewife, and her career is making her husband happy. Jimmy Cagney and his wife were sweethearts for 15 years–and still are! No question who’s boss here, and no conflicting careers. The Pat O’Briens and Bob Youngs are other happily one careered households.
His heart is in his home when it’s a happy one. So scenes like this don’t keep Mrs. Cagney awake nights. For she has time to make Jimmy’s home a restful refuge after a hard day’s work at the studio. Hollywood’s hectic pace takes its toll in ragged nerves. Domestic marriages are a movie star’s (and producer’s) prayer!
Despite the cringe-worthy sexism written here, the Cagneys did have what it took to make a marriage last and were married from 1922 until his death in 1986. Pat O’Brien and his wife were married for 52 years, until his death. Robert Young and his wife–sixty years, until his death. I think the key here is that all of these women knew their husbands BEFORE they were stars.
There’s sure to be a happy ending when the husband has no movie ties and can laugh at Hollywood’s foibles. And there’s no vying for the best write-ups when your husband is a dentist! Dr. Griffin is proud of Irene [Dunne]’s work.
An actor would smoulder with jealousy, but not a professional man. Dr. Griffin enjoys watching his lovely wife act. Men of letters and science feel superior to movie glitter. But an actor takes it all very seriously.
Irene and her dentist husband, Dr. Francis Griffin, were married in 1928, before she became a star. They were married 37 years, until his death, and adopted one daughter.
Children often keep the stars together. No rift rumors between Eddie [Cantor] and Ida. Here are four of the five little Cantor girls. Crooner Crosby’s luck runs to little Bings–four of them now–all with lusty lungs!
Eddie and Ida were married from 1914 until his death in 1962. Bing Crosby and wife Dixie were married for over twenty years, until her death. Crosby later married Kathryn and had three more children; they were also married twenty years.
Movie marriages last when both are on the downswing. Falling stars are ready to settle down, and “get away from it all.” Clara Bow, the “It” girl, now lives on a ranch with handsome Rex Bell and two brand new babies.
Clara and Rex were married thirty years, until his death in 1962, and had two sons.
A marriage will last when both are born and bred in the theatre, and can take fame or failure in their stride. Helen Hayes and Charles McArthur are famous for their “Act of God” baby and successful marriage.
Does playwright Charles MacArthur object to seeing his wistful little wife cling to other manly shoulders? Not if she does a good job of it! Charlie studies her love scenes with the eye of a critic and playwright.
Helen and Charles were married from 1928 until his death in 1956. They had one daughter, Mary, who died at age 19 in 1949 of polio. Their adopted son, James, is in the picture with them…not sure why he is an “Act of God” baby. And not sure why Mary is mentioned.
I have to admit that I was a little surprised that this magazine correctly guessed the marriages that did indeed work out. Usually they are quick to hop on the hot new romance and proclaim it everlasting from conception…and then say they knew it wouldn’t work out when it didn’t. Only wish Clark and Carole could have appeared in such an article in 1958 about their lasting Hollywood marriage…