It’s an odd thing about the way in which the two genders deal with their sexual experiences. Early on, it’s most often males who do all the bragging, even if they have to lie about it. However, as the years go by, it tends to be the female of the species who does most of the boasting. I’m not sure whether that’s because as women age, they’re anxious to remind everyone that once upon a time they were hot stuff or whether it’s just that women have better memories and are far more likely to keep diaries.
What brings this to mind is that Barbara Walters, in order to hype her new book, is blabbing all over the place about an affair she and former Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke carried on during the 70s. That is, the 1970s, not their seventies, although, in my opinion, that would have been far more newsworthy.
Apparently, the in-crowd in Washington, D.C., was well aware that they were a twosome at the time, just as most people here in Hollywood knew that Rock Hudson was gay and that President Kennedy wasn’t just coming to Southern California to work on his tan. It was a far different time, though, and except for Confidential magazine, sleazy gossip hadn’t yet turned into a major American industry, and most folks, if asked, would have guessed that “paparazzi” was an Italian entrée.
In terms of values and mores, much has changed over the years, and rarely for the better. Once upon a time, unless, like Errol Flynn, you had built a career on being a scallywag, it behooved actors and actresses to behave, in their public lives at least, like seminarians. Thanks to the famous morals clause that was boilerplate in all Hollywood contracts, careers could be short-circuited at the snap of Louis B. Mayer’s fingers.
Back in those days, every alcoholic leading man and every round-heeled leading lady had to deliver a better performance for Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons and the fan magazines, than they did for the movie cameras. These days, it often seems like actors and actresses would rather vie for ugliest mug shot than for Oscars.
Several years ago, in my carefree bachelor days, I dated a fairly well-known actress. Being that she was bright, very funny and quite literate, I wasn’t too surprised when she decided to write her memoir. Perhaps because she was still in her 30s, I was taken aback when I read the as-yet unpublished manuscript and found that she was going public about a brief affair she’d had nearly 20 years earlier with a certain married actor. I was already aware of the relationship because she had told me about it. But I couldn’t see the point of writing about it, and I asked her why she felt it was necessary.
“Because it’s true,” she said. “It happened.”