"Does Bob hope to get his wife Jennifer back? Everyone in Hollywood has been
asking that question, but this famous reporter dared to put it to Bob directly.
This is his answer."
"I said, "Bob, do you want Jennifer Jones back as your wife?"
in my house a clock struck ten. Dinner was long since finished and
the others had wandered away to gin rummy games."
from me, in the candlelight, sat young Robert Walker. He was in
"civvies" but he still looked ridiculously like the sensitive young soldier in
'Since You Went Away.'"
as I asked the question I was amazed at my own audacity. Everyone in
Hollywood, of course, had been wondering the same thing, but so far, to my
knowledge, no one had dared to put it in words to Bob. If I could get a frank
answer from Bob tonight, it would certainly be a scoop -- plus!"
since he and Jennifer played those poignant love scenes together in
"Since You Went Away" Hollywood has been sold that they are still in love --
that, at least, the flame still burns in Bob's heart and that he is carrying a
torch that any number of other "dates" cannot put out. I had even heard that
after the preview he went to pieces."
true," I asked him, "that after the premiere you went back of the
theater by yourself and wept?"
for heaven's sake," exclaimed Bob, "are people saying that? It's
ridiculous. I was standing back of the theater, very upset -- but for an
entirely different reason. I was waiting for my manager who also handles Ward
Bond. We had just learned of the terrible accident that befell Ward when his
leg was almost torn off in an auto accident after he left the theater. I
suppose I was doing a lot of nervous pacing back and forth. But as for being
overcome by seeing myself with Jennifer --"
a moment. His face looked very boyish and serious. It was as
though he had taken a mental sigh and decided to plunge into something he had
not heretofore talked about. When he spoke he looked at me very straight and
deny I felt pretty upset at first," he said, "when we broke up. We
had such a happy marriage. And there were the kids. But you can't go on
forever being sad and unhappy even where children are involved. After the
definite break came between us it was something of a relief -- like knowing
that an axe hanging over your head has finally fallen."
"And are you happy now?" I asked."
young eyes crinkled. "I would say I am content -- or I would be if I
could get a cook! It's no fun to live in a house all alone and do your own
housework. You see, I stayed at Jennifer's house with the two boys while she
was in the East on a Bond tour and, believe me, it was wonderful having my
as I suspected my young guest of getting me slightly sidetracked.
But I'm not a girl to be put off. "There was a very special quality about
those love scenes, Bob," I persisted. "Even to my professional critic's eye
they seemed to be played with a great deal of heart."
"Perhaps that is because I would rather act with Jennifer than any
other actress. I think that she is a great artist -- and she thinks I am good,
too," he said with that shy, little-boy manner that has captivated so many
women and made them want to mother him."
Jennifer and I have had our success in motion pictures we want to go
back to Broadway and appear in important plays just as Lunt and Fontanne have
done. I want to be her director and to see her become the greatest dramatic
actress on the stage."
"Oh, then," I said quickly, "you plan to reconcile?"
necessarily," he was quick as I to reply. "We are still the best of
friends, you know. And there hasn't been any legal action taken yet. She is
still my wife."
paradoxical statement made me look closely at young Bob. I wondered.
Why was he so eager to say that they weren't divorced yet if he didn't care any
more? Why does he speak so glowingly on their future together on the stage if
his personal plans no longer include Jennifer?"
reporter, I believed his words. But as a woman I couldn't help but sense
the undercurrent that lay so close to the surface. When a man is as young as
Bob it is very, very hard to put a first, and perhaps more important, love out
of your life."
only nineteen when he married Jennifer. They were both poor at the
time -- but not in the dire straits that have been hinted and printed. Their
families were in comfortable and even affluent circumstances. Bob's aunt is
Mrs. Floyd Odlum who is married to one of the richest men in the country. She,
herself, was for many years president of Bonwit Teller."
Hortense," said Bob, "is my mother's sister and paid my tuition through
military school. Later, when I was bitten by the acting bug, she sent me to
the American Academy."
know, that's where Phyllis and I met," he said. (He still calls Jennifer
'Phyllis,' her real name.) "We were terribly ambitious and not at all awed by
appearing in such shows as "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" and all the other
dramatic plays young students take on."
I've always been restless and when I failed to get big breaks on Broadway
immediately -- I thought there was no future for me on the stage. So I decided
to take a trip around the world -- and hopped a banana freighter. By this
time, my aunt was pretty fed up with my whims. She said if I took that trip
she hoped I would have character enough to stay out for the whole two years I
had planned. When I returned to New York after just a few months, she was no
longer interested in my dramatic ambitions."
"It wasn't a girl named Phyllis who brought you back, was it?" I suggested.
have been," laughed Bob. "Anyway, I lived on $10 a week given me by
my brother and Phyllis was being supported by her family who was living in
Tulsa. She really got the first important break in our careers. She was
offered a job on the radio in Tulsa and took me along as her 'leading man.'"
married," Bob went on, "in the Catholic Church in Tulsa. Her mother
is a convert -- and our two boys are being raised Catholics although I am not
laughed at the memory of their first visit to Hollywood. "Phyllis had a
$75 a week job at Republic. She played in 'New Frontier' and in a 'Dick Tracy'
serial. I managed to land a job as a reader -- but things weren't too bright
for us. We finally said 'phooey' to the movies and went back to New York."
in an apartment in Greenwich Village until Bobby was on the way --
then we took a better apartment. We could afford it because we were both doing
pretty well in radio by that time."
that," he said, "things happened very suddenly. Phyllis changed her
name to Jennifer Jones; she was given a contract to come West for pictures; and
on the same day I made a test in the East for M-G-M which Louis B. Mayer
here just a day when I was put into 'Bataan'. She had thought she was
going to play Nora in "The Keys Of The Kingdom" but when that was delayed she
was given "The Song of Bernadette." It was an extremely difficult and
nerve-racking role for an actress who had not had much camera experience."
"Do you think the strain she was under is what caused your break?" I asked."
know," he said honestly. "I do know that we had never had any trouble
or any words until we came to Hollywood. But I also know that I have made an
agreement with Jennifer (he had slipped back from the old familiar 'Phyllis' to
her screen name again) never to discuss what caused our separation."
this -- it always takes two to break up a marriage. She is a grand
girl. We are both nervous and high-strung and somehow I can't help feeling
that we are closer today -- apart -- than we were together in the last year of
every day about the children. I can see them whenever I want to go to
her house." He is extremely grateful to his boss, Louis B. Mayer, for the fine
breaks he has had. "He upped my salary after 'Bataan,'" Bob relayed proudly,
"and again after 'See Here, Private Hargrove'". He is enough of an actor to
rejoice in the fame that has come to him and for that reason it is silly to
think of him as sad or moping."
own words: "It isn't possible for Jennifer and me ever to feel
bitterness toward each other. We had too much happiness together. We were
both very young when we married." Nineteen is very young for a man to marry
and while Jennifer might have been older in her actions she was still only a
girl. When I asked him if Jennifer was older in years he said: "No gentleman
ever discusses a lady's age" -- and it served me right!"
me that he considers Judy Garland the nearest thing to Jennifer as an
actress. "She is such an exciting person to work with. "The Clock" which we
are making together is almost like a poem -- Judy puts so much into it."
he swears his interest in Judy is only as a friend, that there is no
expect to marry again," he said flatly. "My two boys need me --
although I know they are better off in Phyllis's care. She is a wonderful
of an interview I had had with Jennifer just a few weeks ago and she
sounded just as idealistic about Bob as he does about her. If it is true that
at twenty-five they do not love as they did at nineteen, they have found, in
place of the young passion, a beautiful understanding and a mutual respect for
"The clock chimed eleven -- and the others were calling for us to join them."
"Does Bob Walker want Jennifer back as his wife?"
do you think?"