Made For Each Other?
by Louis Reid
Screenland | January 1954.
Will glamorous Gene Tierney be the next American bride of Moslem Prince Aly Khan?
Is the exotically beautiful screen star, famed as Hollywood’s best-dressed woman, destined to move upward – in rank – from a countess to a princess?
According to European indications, it is as certain as the blue of the Mediterranean or the black and red of the roulette wheels at Monte Carlo.
Aly and Gene have been inseparable for months. As far back as last January Paris believed their marriage was imminent. When last Spring she began to sport a diamond ring which Aly put on her finger, bets were even laid concerning the date of the altar march.
Any day now is the word along the boulevards and on the Riviera. However, announcement of marriage plans has been put off “for a while,” it was said, because the Aga Khan, Aly’s fabulously wealthy father, does not want his son to marry too soon after his much-publicized marital break-up with Rita Hayworth.
The French, the English, the Swiss; yes, and the Americans, too – those in Hollywood especially – are confident Gene could and would make a brilliant go of a marriage with Aly.
Why? Because Gene Tierney has always wanted to be a princess. What is more, Aly is convinced she not only is to the manor-born, but to the manner-bred. She has the cultural, the chic and swanky and social background for the role.
Her full name for more than ten years was Countess Gene Eliza Taylor Tierney Loiewski-Cassini. She was formerly the wife of Count Oleg Loiewski-Cassini, noted Hollywood and New York dress designer and suave scion of the Italian-Russian nobility.
Gene is also a super-sophisticate – an essential attribute in the spectacular haute-monde in which Aly travels. She would be a graceful, welcome figure wherever this set assembled – be they tycoons and playboys, princes, princesses, dukes, duchesses, lords, and those currently reigning kings and queens of Hollywood who are temporarily on the loose.
Rita Hayworth, her glamorous predecessor, failed because she could not, or did not want to, adapt herself ultimately to Aly’s world, his mode of living. She obtained a divorce from the Prince last January and in April was awarded $48,000 a year from her ex-husband for the support of their three-year-old daughter Yasmin. (To date, Aly has not forked over a red cent.)
Rita and Aly traveled extensively, danced many an hour away, but not enough to suit the tireless Prince apparently, for he said she was “a homebody” and a wet blanket domestically, although a “fireball” on the screen.
Also, Rita has as much money as he, and Aly does not believe girls should have as much money as boys – not even when his money gushes from the bottomless pockets of a doting father.
Gene Tierney’s stunning beauty, her charm and stylishness and her appearance at Europe’s most fashionable places made it practically certain that sooner or later she would meet up with the roaming, roving-eyed Aly Khan.
When at last that moment arrived they became at once the Big Item in the European newspaper columns and among the gossipers of the avenues and spas.
The gorgeous Gene was one thing. But the magic name of Khan – ah . . . Allah!
The highlight of the recent Paris social whirl was Aly’s dinner at the Pre-Catelan in the Bois on the night of the Grand Prix. The party climaxing the racing season, in which Khan horses appeared, not too luckily, was hailed as the tops in a long list of Aly-sponsored feasts.
The elderly Aga was on hand to foot the bill – one of Himalayan proportions – for present were 180 guests representing the elite of the international set and of Hollywood.
Conspicuous at the long, tree-banked tables over which Aly and Gene, and the Aga and his Begum presided, were such figures as the Archduke Ferdinand of Hapsburg, the young Duchess of Devonshire, Marshal Juin of France, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, and Merle Oberon.
Paris, it was said, had never seen so many beautiful and exquisitely gowned women at one sitting, and there were souvenirs for each of them – elegant scarves from the ateliers of Christian Dior.
The echoes of the party had scarcely died than Aly was off to America to dispose of some of his father’s thoroughbreds at Saratoga’s yearling sales. Gene did not accompany him here, thus avoiding field day headlines, and Aly no sooner added nearly $20,000 to the paternal bankroll than he hurried back to France and her.
There was a new party coming up – the gala opening of the fashionable Sporting Club at Monte Carlo on the Riviera. There, again, Gene was a stunning companion for the man who has resumed his career as Europe’s “most eligible playboy.” They were acclaimed the most scintillating couple on the floor.
The 40-year-old Aly enjoys himself spending Pop’s money. He lives luxuriously wherever the mood calls him – in his Neuilly home on the outskirts of Paris, on his Irish estate, in his lavish Chateau l’Horizon overlooking the Mediterranean at Cannes.
Always the fortune of Aga Khan is the controlling factor.
Gene, now 32 years old – only one year younger than Rita Hayworth, and, like Rita, born in Brooklyn – is wise enough to know that marriage to Aly Khan could be an expensive thing, for the world knows he is not only broke, but heavily in debt.
The only person who can line his nest and keep him on friendly terms with the restaurateurs and shopkeepers is his father. From all reports the old Aga has not yet tired of that assignment
Perhaps one reason for his continued reluctance to withhold funds from his money-spending son is the fact that is has become fond of Gene. However, he was also fond of Rita, but that did not help the girl financially a bit.
Gene, in her to-the-manor-born manner as a prospective Princess, possesses the background, the diplomacy, the sure social tact, to keep her relations with the Aga firmly in an enteute cordiale.
It is difficult to picture Gene commenting as did Rita at the time she walked out on Aly in September, 1952, that he spent too much money, while she had to “work for the two of us.”
Meanwhile, Aly Khan is said to be still chagrined about Rita Hayworth leaving him. Added to his new-found love for Gene, he would like to recapture his prestige by marrying another Hollywood star.
After what she had termed a “pretty rough time” in Hollywood, Gene is currently having a whirl for herself. When she filed suit for divorce from Cassini in January, 1952, and asked for the custody of their two daughters, Daria, nine, and Christina, four, she was a lonely and wretched girl.
She wondered if she would ever be able to care that much again for a man.
The screen suddenly proved a stimulating tonic – the screen and Paris, that is. While sojourning in the French capital she got a chance to make pictures in South America and London. The assignments took her away from unhappy scenes and memories.
The romance with Aly started in the Fall of 1952 in Buenos Aires, where Gene had gone to make “Way Of A Gaucho.” By the time she had returned to Paris for her next picture it had become so serious that a trek to the altar was looked for as soon as her divorce from her husband was final.
Gene rented the apartment in the French capital that the Louis Jourdans had been occupying, and sending for her mother to join her, she announced she was in no hurry to return to America. The action convinced Hollywood she was not planning to come home soon.oHol
The romance was going full tide last New Year’s Eve. The gay Riviera set at Cannes – the gayest in Europe – got a big eyeful when the clock said midnight at a swank night-club, Prince Aly took the lovely green-eyed Gene into his arms and kissed her ardently for a full minute.
The orchestra, appropriately, struck up “Let’s Start The New Year Right,” and Aly and Gene danced in the new year. They were for even the most blasé visitors a most affectionate couple, and there were people who recalled how Aly’s kisses were reportedly described by one of his admirers shortly after the break-up of his marriage to Rita.
Greek actress Irene Papas, from Rome, was said to have asserted that Aly’s kisses “speak for themselves.”
Throughout the night-long celebration, Aly and Gene basked in what some guests called “the benevolent gaze” of the old Aga as he peered at the couple through his thick glasses and the hazy smoke. Others thought the look he gave the pair was “inscrutable.”
Whatever his inner feelings were about them, no one was the wiser – not even in the confidential, confessional atmosphere of a New Year’s Eve.
This much is known, however. The Aga tossed the party and presided over a table of fourteen, to which Gene and Aly occasionally repaired between dances for a draught of bubbly water.
Upon returning to Paris, Gene hardly had time to unpack her luggage than she flew to London for work on the picture, “Personal Affair,” opposite Leo Genn. News that she and Aly were devoted to each other preceded her, and there was a rush of newspapermen to the London airport.
They wanted to know all, and Gene was reasonably frank and friendly.
“Of course, I see a lot of Aly Khan,” she told them. “I am a single girl and I go out with lots of men. I like him very much.”
Aly, it was noted, also turned up in London by plane on what he called a business trip.
What had, hitherto, been only romantic conjectures, prefaced by “My word!” “Oh, I say!” on the part of the reporters now became to them definite hints of early wedding bells.
Then Aly and Gene bobbed up in Ireland for a “quiet” holiday at the Khan farm in County Kildare, where Aly and his father raise horses. “Quiet” meant they were not talking publicly about marriage.
At Curragh House, which Aly had bought and furnished for Rita soon after their ill-starred union, he declined flatly to say whether he planned to make Gene his second bride from Hollywood.
By then Hollywood was lifting its expressive eyebrows and bristling up its eager ears at the increasingly spectacular news of the Gene Tierney-Aly Khan romance. Because Oleg Cassini was still designing her chic wardrobe, the film town had been inclined to think Gene was contemplating making up with her former husband who had been the first man in her life.
Such notions were rapidly dissipated, however, when Gene received her final divorce. Hollywood realized she had no intention of leaving her present environment.
Europe is more exciting than ever to her. The social life of the Continent appeals to her, and when the Summer is over in Paris and Britain and the Riviera, there is the Winter fun at St. Moritz to give her new adventure. Living in Switzerland is no novel experience, however, for Gene. She went to finishing school in Lausanne in her teens.
Meanwhile, Gene exulted in the pleasure her new diamond ring from Aly gave her. Though it was not as big as the Ritz, it was a dazzler. When the eyes of observers lifted to Gene’s face it was startlingly apparent she wore no lipstick. Aly, it seems, likes his girls free of it. Or, rather, he wants to be free of it if, and when, he kisses them.
Gene received her uncontested divorce decree from her 41-year-old husband on April 9. Married June , 1941, at Las Vegas, Nevada – she was madly in love with him at the time – they separated on their 10th wedding anniversary after having previously separated in 1946, only to reconcile in 1947.
In the divorce action, she testified Count Cassini preferred the tennis court to courting her. She said he never contributed to the support of their two children. Under the decree, she asked for no alimony, but she was awarded their custody. Under the terms of the property settlement, Cassini agreed to pay $63 a week for the support of the youngsters, plus 10 per cent of his annual earnings over $10,000.
Gene Tierney belongs to Fifth Avenue, the Rue de la Paix, and Mayfair and smart cafes, just as she once belonged to select girls’ schools and debutante parties. She was once one of New York’s important debs.
She has traveled far since her early Hollywood days when she was a lonely, bewildered girl, fresh from the Broadway hit, “The Male Animal.” So little versed was she in the atmosphere of Hollywood that she was cast in a succession of Oriental characters. The film producers believed because she had an exotic beauty she was most suitable for exotic parts – native girls in hula skirts and Chinese robes. She longed to have a real American role. She has played many since those days.
So enraptured is she with her new Continental life that only some wonderful picture opportunity that she really wants could tempt her to leave Europe now.
“Prince Aly is charming,” Gene declares. “But,” she insists, “it’s just a very nice friendship. Let’s say he’s had unhappiness in his life and so have I.”
Gene, above all, craves happiness, and she is finding it – with Aly Khan.