"End of a Mystery" by Jack Wade - Modern Screen - Oct. 1948

"Because of Barbara, he's a strange, brooding man no longer. Because
of her, life for Bob Walker has a sweet, fresh flavor all over

"Last June we featured a piece called "The Mystery of Bob Walker."
We told you how Bob, who'd gone to the top overnight, had suddenly
walked out on his career, had turned into a moody recluse. Hollywood
was baffled. But almost as suddenly as it happened, the mystery has
had a happy solution. Here's how."

"Book One of Bob Walker's life has just snapped shut, bringing to an
end the phase of his career that saw him as a strange, even haunting
figure on the Hollywood scene, after his divorce from Jennifer Jones."

"Book Two begins right now. The Bob who has been floundering about,
professionally as well as romantically, is no more. The new Bob is
the one who decided that life has a sweet flavor after all when he
met brunette and vivacious Barbara Ford, daughter of the famous
director, John Ford."

"The new Bob (and it had to be a new one; the old disinterested,
apathetic Bob could never have swung it) is the one who conducted so
whirlwind a courtship of Barbara, and so quick a marriage (after
several false starts) that jarred movie columnists found themselves
stealing each other's favorite cliches in the confusion to hide the
fact that they didn't quite know what was going on."

"But they can be consoled by the fact that neither did Bob and
Barbara, most of the time. Their first idea had been to be married
July 3rd at the Isthmus on Catalina Island. There was a reason for
picking this date. As Barbara explained to Bob, it was the 28th
wedding anniversary of her mother and father. All was arranged and
it was a closely guarded family secret until, as family secrets will,
it leaked out, and it was a pretty sure bet that when Bob and Barbara
got to the Isthmus of Catalina, that end of the island would be about
the worst place in Southern California for a quiet wedding."

"But by this time the two of them had come to realize that their plan-
making had been a bit love-muddled for other reasons:

1) Since Bob was due to start a new picture at MGM there could be no
honeymoon trip if they married immediately.

2) Rennick, the decorator, wouldn't be through with the new Pacific
Palisades home Bob has purchased for at least a month to six weeks.

3) The only other place they could live was Bob's Beverly Hills
apartment, but in that case they would have to share it with a
bachelor friend of Bob's, who wished them all the luck in the world,
but was darned if he would go out house-hunting.

4) Their best friends, Dick and Joanne Haymes, could not attend
together because Dick was in New York.

5) Barbara, with a world of clothes to assemble, wasn't ready

"So they decided to wait a few months. If only they had told the
world the truth there would not have been those days of wild guessing
and even wilder conjecturing on the part of the newspaper reporters,
who seemed column-bent to predict another "miss-out" for Bob. But
it's not Bob's way to court the press and Barbara was too steeped in
plans to think of it. And when reporters phoned Barbara, when Bob
was present, she didn't know what to say."

"We just thought we'd go together a little while longer," she

"That brought on a flying barrage of questions from the always
skeptical journalists which snowed her under and away from the
telephone permanently."

"Her mother, Mrs. Mary Ford, was a little more informative. "They're
just two kids who have fallen in love, and haven't taken time to
think about other matters," she said. "They have lots of things to
work out."

"Well, what worked out was that Barbara couldn't stand the incessant
ringing of her telephone as friend after friend (and some people who
are just paid to find out about these matters) called for complete
reports on what was going on. When would they get married? Where?
Why had they cancelled the Catalina wedding?"

"It was too much. Barbara made a sudden decision. Bob agreed. It
was so sudden that even her own mother didn't know about it and had
departed for a Catalina week-end only a few hours before. Barbara
got hold of her friend, Nancy Guild, and Nancy's husband, Charles
Russell. Bob reached his ever-faithful pal, Jim Henaghan. Inside of
a few hours, arrangements had been made and the two were married at
the Beverly Hills Club."

"Well!" said those of Bob's friends who felt that they should have
been let in on the arrangements."

"Good!" said those of his friends who were so tickled he had found an
answer to his problems that they had no time to feel disgruntled
about being kept in the dark until the whole thing was settled and
all over with."

"Yes, Bob has found an answer. He has told it to his folks, to the
heads of his studio (and were they glad to see a smiling Bob, instead
of a long-faced, sober one, for a change!) and, of course, to
Barbara, when, on a week-end trip abroad her father's yacht, 'The
Araner,' he put into words what had, so far, been only a strangely
happy beating of his formerly aching heart."

"The whole story of Bob and Barbara was foreshadowed when he first
made up his mind about her a few months ago, and the best guess as to
where this happened places it in the home of a mutual friend, Dorothy
Miles, publicist at 20th Century Fox Studios. (That is, Dorothy knew
both Bob and Barbara, but they didn't know each other.) It seems
that Barbara, who frequently visits at the Dick Haymes home, heard
Dick talk about Bob when the two men were working in 'One Touch of
Venus'. Later on Barbara, idly talking to Dorothy, observed that Bob
sounded interesting. Now change the scene and we find Dorothy just
happening to ask Bob if he's ever met Barbara. She learns that he
has, but that it was just one of those fleeting introductions, so
typical of Hollywood parties."

"Whether Dorothy knew she was starting something is anyone's guess --
Dorothy won't tell you-- but it is a fact that she invited each one
to drop in at a little affair she was giving. Barbara came, and came
alone in her own car. Bob came alone in his car. They left
separately, too, but each with plenty to think about. Because,
between their arrival and departure they had been a solid pair,
a "click" that had been evident to everyone else in the room."

"It happens that way sometimes -- even in Hollywood."

"Bob had seen a girl who was a revelation to him; a vivid, dark
beauty; petite, trim, essentially feminine in every way, yet with a
mind as sharp and clear as anything he had ever encountered. As he
warmed to the animation of her, Bob may have felt a growing
conviction that here was good medicine for him, here was one who
could help widen his interests and maintain a living pace that would
preclude any sinkings into the despondencies that have reportedly
been dogging his life and threatening to mess up his career. At any
rate, that was the way Bob had acted; as if he sensed such a girl was
all too rare for Hollywood; not just a pretty little somebody with a
mental horizon circumscribed by such matters as clothes, jewelry and
gad-abouting, but a pretty little somebody who gave every evidence of
knowing that a full life consists of much more than all those
pleasant but superficial things."

"Barbara had seen a man she had heard a great deal about from his
friends -- and who lived up to their best reports. Behind his light
kidding and in the general exchange of their banter, she detected
heart, compassion and, perhaps, a little disillusionment with
Hollywood. With it -- and all the more effective because she, as
well as everyone else, knew what he had been through -- was as easy,
mellow attitude towards life in general and his adversities in
particular that drew her strongly to him."

"Once before there had been a romance in Barbara's life -- a short-
lived one with an older man. Because of the difference in their
ages, among other things, her family had disapproved, and she had
come to see it their way. This time she felt that her father and
mother would second her choice. She was right. Mary and John Ford
like Bob very much. Their approval is a pretty good testimonial for
Bob. John Ford knows men. He has done nothing but handle men for
the best part of his life. For that matter, he knows women, and that
Barbara has not only been a daughter to her father, but a companion
as well, is as great a compliment as any that could be paid her.
Barbara Ford is everything you'd expect John Ford's daughter to be."

"That was the beginning of the new Walker story. It will continue
now, but half-hidden from the world, in a secluded avocado grove in
Pacific Palisades where stands a California ranch-house on a sloping
three acres, bounded by a whitewashed corral fence. The house,
surmounted by a shake roof and towered over by an enormous oak,
reaches wide arms out to anyone who comes up the dusty road to the
gate. The Santa Monica hills hide the ocean from it, but, in turn
they have furnished a curling ridge of land that forms as warm and
cozy a pocket of any home site has ever had -- even in the State of

"There is no pool, but there are stables, and a stream, and the
avocados are growing like sure-fire prize-winners all over the

"Inside the house all the ceilings are heavy beamed and the
decoration is Early American to match. Pine, cherry, and maple
furniture, brass and pewter ornamentation and accessories, early
dishware -- that's what Barbara had the decorator install. The
living-room fireplace is a walk-in; the one in the master bedroom,
where Rennick has set up a huge canopy bed, is only slightly smaller
and set in a corner."

"As movie-colony houses go, it is far from pretentious, but it is
comfortable and, more than that, it has an air of solidity about it.
It's there, and for Bob, who has long needed an anchor, it represents
an uncertain future turned into a prospect of long happiness."

"There remain only two more figures who must be considered as a
result of this marriage and Barbara has met them both: Bob's two
sons, Bobbie and Michael, whose custody he divides with Jennifer.
They were very much in the picture throughout the events leading up
to the marriage -- in fact they were to have attended the first
planned wedding in Catalina. Only the suddenness of the decision
prevented their being brought to the Beverly Hills Club ceremony."

"It is a pretty sure bet that the boys, whose liking for Barbara is
already evident, are going to be even more enthusiastic after they go
to sea with her on 'The Araner'. (Incidentally, John Ford insists
his 110-foot ship is a ketch, not yacht -- whatever a ketch is.)
Wait till they see Barbara hook and land a swordfish bigger than she
is -- as she has a number of times off Acapulco, Mexico. If that
doesn't win their respect, she is ready to don her jaunty blue
denims, take the wheel and show the boys how to make a 110-foot
yacht -- beg pardon, ketch -- do figure-eights on the waters of the
blue Pacific."

"The girl Bob Walker has married is a personality in her own right,
easily capable of re-shaping a man's life and making it count, where
before it had missed. It is quite possible that she has already
performed this little miracle -- the miracle that women have so often
done before. A few days after the marriage someone asked Bob how he
felt. His answer was full of enthusiasm and right to the point."

"Like a new man."

"What else could any man ask for as he gets away to a fresh start in

Copyright Modern Screen

Articles Index