Almost an Actress
“Mom, mom!!” Gail shouted as she arrived home from her job in the wardrobe department at Paramount studios. “What is it?” Mrs. Fuller asked as she found her daughter practically out of breath. “I’m going to Hawaii for five weeks to work on a picture!” “Oh my goodness, tell me all about it” Janet said excitedly. “Mrs. Bowman is going to be the main costumer but they can’t spare her for that long since she’s actually a designer but since I’m her assistant I get to go. I still can’t believe it!” “So are you the only one going from your department?” “Yes, well there are only two characters for the island scenes and they wear the same clothes the whole time except they get more worn out as the picture goes along.” “They must have a lot of confidence in you to send you by yourself. I’m so proud of you” she said giving her daughter a hug. “What’s the picture?” “It’s called Half a Bride and Gary Cooper and Esther Ralston are playing the leads.” “No wonder you’re so excited” her mother said knowing Gary was her favorite actor. “I know! Esther’s character starts off as kind of a wild girl and she answers this guy’s ad for a wife. He’s an older, rich man and he just wants a companion to travel around the world with and she thinks that sounds like fun so they get married but her dad shows up right after the wedding and kidnaps her and puts her on his yacht where Gary is the captain. After a couple days out at sea she escapes in a lifeboat and Gary jumps in the water to go after her and a storm comes up and blows them to a deserted island. They eventually get rescued and her dad has the marriage annulled and then she marries Gary because they fell in love while they were stranded.” “Sounds like a lot of fun. When are you leaving?” “Three weeks. We’re starting on the costumes tomorrow and it’s going to be a rush but I think we can get it done.”
After the wardrobe for the picture was mostly finished, the actors came in to have their final fittings. “It’s not too tight in the shoulders is it?” Gail asked as Gary tried on the jacket that was part of his captain’s outfit.
“No, I don’t think so” he said as he moved around. “Are you excited about going to Hawaii?” Gary asked as he took off the jacket and handed it back to Gail. “You know it! I’ve only been out of the state once before and that was to go to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon so this will be a whole new experience.” “It should be fun. Well, I’ll see ya” he said with a wave as he left.
It was early July 1932 and the weather in Southern California was sunny and warm. The movie business was also heating back up after a precipitous drop in ticket sales over the past two years-an effect of the Depression. While many other industries still suffered, the movies were making a comeback as the studios kept trying to outdo each other with more risqué and lavish productions. Paramount decided to feature Gary Cooper who was one of their biggest stars in a romantic drama with an island setting. To get the best bang for their buck the island scenes were going to be shot in color. They knew it was a gamble but they were banking on it paying off. When the company arrived on the island of Kauai, they began working right away to build the hut and the other very minimal parts of the set they would use on the beach. They had five weeks to shoot the scenes there and then they would film the rest back in California. The whole crew stayed in the same hotel and rooms were set up for makeup and hair, wardrobe, an office for the director and his assistant, and a projection room so they could view each day’s filming. The first night there after they got settled, Gail walked along the beach alone and thought to herself how beautiful a place this was. They were in a sparsely populated part of the island and it was perfect for their needs.
During the second day of filming, Esther began to feel pain in her side. She thought maybe it was just something she ate so she didn’t say anything about it. When she collapsed during filming the next day, they rushed her to the hospital and discovered her gall bladder would have to be removed. Production shut down as they were now without their leading lady. She was taken to a hospital in the capital city of Honolulu for the operation. Gregory La Cava, the director of the film, went with her. The operation was successful but the doctor told Greg that Esther would need at least two to three weeks of rest before she could go back to work full-time. They couldn’t wait that long so her role would have to be recast. Greg dreaded making the call back to Hollywood and giving the producer the bad news. By the time he got back to their hotel he had formed a wild idea but he figured it was worth a try and if it worked it would be a publicity gold mine. From his hotel room he called his assistant and told him, “Get the costume girl and Gary and tell them I want to see them right away.”
“Come in” Greg said as he heard a knock on his door. “You wanted to see us” Gary said as he and Gail entered. “Esther came through surgery fine but the recovery time is too long so she’s out of the picture. What’s your name again?” he asked the young woman. “Gail Fuller, sir.” “This is crazy I know but I want to try you in the part.” “Me!!” she said with total shock. “I’m not an actress” she said absolutely stunned by his suggestion. “It’ll save a lot of time if I can use someone here to replace Esther. You’re the closest crew member to her age and you have a similar look so I’d like to see how you do. Gary, I want you to pick a scene and go over it with her and then in a couple of hours we’ll shoot it and see how she does.”
As they left the room and were walking down the hall Gail decided she couldn’t go through with it. “I can’t do this. I’ll ruin the movie and probably get fired and…” “Wait a minute, wait a minute” Gary said as they stopped and he put his hands on her shoulders. “Just take a deep breath and relax. They’re not asking you to take over the studio; you just have to do a screen test. If it’s not right they’ll recast it from L.A.” he said with a smile trying to help her calm down. “I really don’t think I can do it” Gail said more calmly. “Have you ever tried?” “No.” “Then you don’t know if you can or not. Come on” he said encouragingly as they walked to his room. Gary got his script and flipped through it. He picked out a scene and then told Gail to go get her script and meet him in the lobby.
They walked down to a spot on the beach where they had been filming and they sat down on the warm sand. “We’ll try the scene on page 68.” Gail was shocked when she read down the page. “You picked a love scene!” “Well, it is a romantic picture and Greg’s going to want to see how we do and look as a couple. If you can get this, the rest will be a cake walk” he said with a friendly smile. Gail was 21 and while she’d had boyfriends in the past, she didn’t make it a habit to go around kissing men she wasn’t in a relationship with. It didn’t help either that she, like practically every other female employee at Paramount, was very attracted to the tall and handsome star.
They read through their lines a few times before they got up and into place to actually run through the scene. Gary was impressed at how quickly she memorized her part and how well she delivered the lines. “You’re a natural” he said with a big smile that made Gail almost believe she could do it. “Now let’s go all the way through it this time” he said. Gail’s heart was pumping so fast she felt lightheaded for just a moment. When he put his arms around her and pulled her to him she wriggled out of his embrace and said she just couldn’t do it. “I know how you feel. I was petrified when they told me I was going to have to kiss on camera the first time.” “You probably hadn’t been a fan of the person you were supposed to kiss since you were 16 years old” she said feeling very awkward. Gary smiled and then said, “Don’t think of it as Gail kissing Gary. It’s Patience kissing the captain. Think you’re ready to try it?” “As ready as I’ll ever be” Gail said.
She let him kiss her this time but as soon as they parted Gail began giggling. “I’m sorry; I’m sorry” she said trying to get control of herself. Gary couldn’t help but laugh too. He certainly felt empathy for Gail as she was nervous and at the moment felt quite overwhelmed. “Let’s try it again” he said after she had pulled herself together. This time after the kiss she just kind of hung there limply in his arms. “You’ve got to put a little more into it than that. Patience is falling in love with this man.” “I’m sorry. This is just weird and I feel so silly.” “I know. This time hesitate for just a minute and then put your arms around my neck.” They went through the scene and when he pulled her close and kissed her she waited then did as he suggested. “That was good!” Gary said as he let her go. “Oh there’s Greg” he said seeing the director and a few others heading their way. “Are you ready?” he asked them. “I think so” Gary said. “Get a little makeup on them and let’s shoot it” the director said with nervous anticipation.
“Just relax and do it like we practiced” Gary whispered to her as they were getting in place. Gail flubbed one of her lines and she apologized profusely when they stopped filming. “I know how expensive that color film is; I’m so sorry.” “That’s alright Gail; I know you’re nervous. We’ll do it again” Greg said calmly trying to hide how anxious he was about the production. The second time went much better and then the director made a suggestion. “That was fine but why don’t we try something different. Gail, when he kisses you, pull back and slap him, then after a slight hesitation you kiss him again.” “Okay, sir” she mumbled as that horrible nervous feeling overtook her again. When they reached that part she pulled back from Gary and tried to slap him but it was very weak and the director cut. “You’ve got to really slap him. He’s tough, he can take it” Greg said with a wink at Gary. “You’re very attracted to him and even though you want him to kiss you, you’re taken aback by his boldness. You don’t love your husband but you’re still a married woman and a man like this shouldn’t take such liberties with you. Then you decide you liked it and you kiss him right back. Okay?” he said enthusiastically. “Okay. I’ll try and do it right” she said. Gail nailed it this time as she pushed Gary away and then slapped him hard. She looked at him with contempt briefly and then she put her arms on his shoulders and pulled him down towards her to kiss him again.
“Cut! That was great! Let’s go take a look” the director said excitedly as they hurried to the projection room in the hotel. “Was it good, really?” she asked Gary. “Maybe a little too good. Are you sure you’re a fan?” he said jokingly as he rubbed his cheek. “I’m sorry. The only way I could think to do it was to imagine you were my ex-boyfriend. Believe me I did not want to hit you” she said. “I’m just teasing” he said and they followed the rest of the crew back to the hotel. Watching the scene Gail couldn’t believe that was her up there on the screen and Gary reached over and gave her hand a little squeeze as if to tell her to relax and just watch. When it got to the kiss she giggled and could feel her cheeks flush in embarrassment. They turned the lights back on and the director said, “I think you can do it Gail and you two look good together. Do you want the part?” “I want to help but what if I can’t do any other scenes as good?” “I’ll help you and I’m sure Gary will too.” She hesitated a minute and then said, “Okay, I guess I can try.” “I’ll have to get approval from the studio, but I think I can convince them that it’ll work. I’m going to get them on the line right now and I want you to do whatever you need to do to get ready to start filming tomorrow” he said with great relief at now having a leading lady again. “I’ll need to adjust Esther’s costumes a little.” “Okay, then start learning pages 34-39 and report to the set at 7:00 tomorrow morning” he said as he hurried out.
“I’m going to be in a movie” Gail kind of mumbled to Gary, still in a daze. Gary followed Gail to the wardrobe room and as she worked on refitting the costume for the scenes they would film the next day, Gary read their parts aloud. It didn’t take very long as she and Esther were about the same size. When she was done they took a break to get something to eat and then went down to the beach to practice the scenes. “Thanks so much for your help” she said sincerely as they walked back to the hotel that evening. “There were a lot of people who helped me so I’m happy to help anyone else too, if I can.” “You definitely can; you’re a wonderful actor.” “Thanks. I just hope I don’t get upstaged by a certain young lady.” “No, I wouldn’t do that” she said seriously. “I’m just kidding” he said and they both laughed.
The Paramount executives thought highly enough of Mr. La Cava’s judgment to okay Gail as Miss Ralston’s replacement. They also agreed that it would make a wonderful story and would really help sell the picture. They decided to keep this under wraps for now though and wait until the island scenes were completed and brought back to L.A. to be viewed by the producer and other studio executives. After that they would move forward with the publicity for the film. A contract was drawn up and even though she would have done it for free just for the fun of it, Gail was excited as it was quite a bit more than she normally made working in the wardrobe department. Greg let her use the phone in his room to call her parents and tell them the news. It was an expensive call and he was paying for it so she kept it brief and also told them not to tell anyone as they were keeping it a secret for now.
The first few days were challenging as Gail worked feverishly to learn her lines and practice the scenes during every bit of spare time she had. With her job in the wardrobe department she was sometimes called to the set to sew a button back on or quickly fix a burst seam but that didn’t mean that she knew how to be an actress. Gary and Greg helped her as much as they could and taught her about hitting her mark which is where the actor is physically supposed to be during each scene, and how to act during scenes done in close-ups, medium, and long shots.
Gail was beginning to feel more confident with each passing day but she was also wearing herself out. During this entire sequence it was only her and Gary’s characters on the island so she never got a break while they filmed scenes with other actors. At first Gary and Gail’s characters didn’t get along very well as he thought she was quite a strange and flighty girl. He was not rude to her but they weren’t overly friendly either. In one scene their characters were sitting on the beach in the evening talking when Gary said, “I still don’t understand why you agreed to marry that man.” “It sounded exciting.” “That’s not much of a reason to get married.” “What’s reason enough for you then?” she asked. “Most people get married because they’re in love.” “Isn’t that a bit sappy?” she asked laughing. “I don’t think so” he said seriously as they watched the setting sun. “Well two of my closest friends from school got married for love and within two years they were both divorced. I thought I’d try something different and maybe get a different result.” “So you’d rather be in a loveless marriage just to have it last?” “I don’t know. I’ve never been in love so how do I know that’s any better?” “You really are a strange girl” he said with a smirk as he got up and walked to the hut. Gail continued to look out at the water and then Greg said ‘cut’. “I think that’s got it” he said and they wrapped up for the day.
During the second week of filming Greg arranged a luau for everyone. They all met in the lobby and were going to walk to the beach together but one person was missing so Gary went to look for his leading lady. “Gail, are you in there?” he asked as he knocked on her door. “Yes, just a minute.” “Aren’t you coming to the luau?” he asked through the door. “I forgot about it” she said opening the door, “I don’t know. I really need to keep working.” He took the script out of her hand and set it down on the table against the wall just inside the door. “I’m sure you have those lines down cold. Do whatever you need to do to get ready and meet us in the lobby” he said with a big smile. “Okay, just give me a few minutes.”
The group walked down to the beach and hidden away in a little cove were a few tables covered with flowers and surrounded by tiki torches. Gary pulled a chair out for Gail and then sat down beside her. They all enjoyed the wonderful food and lively conversation. When they were done with their meal, Joe, one of the cameramen, got out his ukulele and started playing and singing. It didn’t take long for the whole group to begin singing together and doing their best imitations of a hula dance. Gail was glad she had gone as she got a chance to relax and actually enjoy their beautiful surroundings.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anybody work as hard as you on any of the films I’ve made so far” Greg said to Gail the next day during their lunch break. “The other people probably didn’t have to learn lines and do costume duty. Those others were real actors too. I doubt they needed as much help.” “Don’t sell yourself short. You’re an actor just the same as anyone else in pictures” Gary interjected. “I just hope I do an okay job.” “I wouldn’t have offered you the part if I didn’t think you could do it” Greg said. “You didn’t have much choice really without losing a lot of time and money” she said. “Stop running yourself down. You’re doing much better than you realize” Gary reassured her. “It is a lot of fun and everybody’s been so nice and helpful. The only other acting I’ve ever done was in some church plays when I was a kid. One of my favorites of those I got to play a mean girl who was working as a gift wrapping clerk in a store at Christmas time. Another girl who also played a clerk was very cheerful and she happily wrapped the stuff people bought and one person bought a set of handkerchiefs and the other girl said, ‘What lovely hankies’ and then I said, ‘What’s the point of making them so pretty when you’re just going to blow your nose in them’”. They all laughed and Gail said, “Of course by the end of the play I learned the true meaning of Christmas and turned into a happy person.” “So you’re really an old hand at this” Gary said. “Hardly, but at least I did have some experience or I don’t think I could have done this at all. I may have been the first person who attempted to swim from Hawaii to California just to get the heck out of here” she said as they laughed again.
A couple of days later they were up to the scene they had rehearsed when Gail was asked to take over the role. They got into position and were going to run through it a couple of times before committing it to film. After Gail’s slap when she reaches up on her tip toes to kiss him it seemed like Gary held her a little longer than was necessary and each time they went through it the kisses seemed to get more real with actual feeling behind them.
“Mr. La Cava” Gail said during their break just before lunch as she approached the director, “I think I’m going to have lunch in my room today.” “Okay Gail. Is everything alright?” he asked. “Sure. It’s kinda hot today and I’m just a little tired.” “Can I give you a piece of advice?” Gail nodded yes. “Don’t let that mug break your heart” he said with a smile as he patted her on the shoulder. “You mean Gary? He’s not interested in me” she said surprised that he would think otherwise. “I’m not so sure” he said and then left Gail standing there wondering if he was right.
As this entire sequence of the movie was shot outside, they could only film a few hours a day without the light changing too much depending on whether the scene was supposed to be during the day or nearer to the evening so they had a few hours of free time each day. During some of that time she and Gary would usually practice scenes for the next day and then Gail would either have dinner with Gary and some of the other crew members or order something from room service and eat in her room as she continued to work on her lines alone. She also had to spend some of that time making sure the costumes were ready to go. After they were finished with that afternoon’s rehearsal Gary asked Gail if she would have dinner with him and she agreed. When she met him in the lobby he said “Come on” as he walked towards the door. “We’re not eating here?” she asked. “No, there’s a restaurant within walking distance and I thought you might like to try something different.” “It smells so sweet here” she said as they walked down the street in the cool evening air. “It does” Gary concurred as he breathed deeply. After about a 10 minute walk they stopped at a small restaurant and were seated in a wraparound booth in a quiet corner.
“It was an interesting shoot today” Gary said as they waited for their food. Gail knew what he was alluding to but she was too shy to acknowledge it so she said, “I guess so.” “I’m not doing a very good job of it but I’m trying to tell you that I like you” Gary said giving her one of the sweetest smiles she’d ever seen. “I like you too. You’re a nice person and you’ve been so helpful.” “That’s not what I meant and you know it” he said leaning in towards her. “You don’t know what you’re saying” she said sure there was no way he really had feelings for her.” “Yes I do.” “Come on, you’re Gary Cooper-big movie star. You date glamour girls and other real actresses” she said almost laughing at the absurdity of the situation. “So because I’m famous I couldn’t be interested in a regular person like you?” he said. “I’m nowhere near being in your league and it’s ridiculous to even think about. This is a romantic place and we’re playing a couple and you’re just caught up in that.” “I wish you wouldn’t assume you know what I’m thinking” he said giving her that sweet smile again. “I’m just a last minute replacement.” “I’m glad you were. I mean, I’m not glad Esther got sick but I am glad you took her place. It gave us a chance to get to know each other and I really do like you” he said sincerely. “I like you too but this is nuts” she replied as she scooted away from him a little bit. Just then the waiter brought their food and they talked no more as they ate.
“I’d like to come back here again one day” Gary said as they walked down to the beach after dinner. “Me too. I don’t know if I’ll ever get another chance though.” “You don’t dream very big do you?” he asked. “I’m just being realistic.” “I never planned on doing all this. I started off doing stunt work and then that turned into acting. You just never know what might happen.” Gail was holding her shoes in one hand and Gary reached over to hold her other hand. When she looked up at him he smiled and she smiled too. They walked along quietly for a while and then they went back to the hotel. Gary walked Gail to her room and asked if he could come in for a few minutes. “I don’t think so” she said. “Not even if I promise to be on my best behavior.” “It’s late; we should just get to sleep.” “Alright, goodnight” he said and he kissed her hand and they went their separate ways.
With three weeks of shooting left to go, they had managed to catch up and were back on schedule. Gary and Gail had breakfast together in the hotel restaurant, the day after their romantic dinner, as was their usual custom and they were talking about their scenes for that day when Gary changed the subject. “I had a hard time going to sleep last night” he said. “How come?” she asked. “I was thinking about how after this movie is released you’ll become a big star and probably forget all about me.” “Oh my gosh; I’ve been so caught up in just getting through this I haven’t thought about that. I don’t want to be famous” Gail said a little agitated. “I’m sorry. You looked so serious I thought it would make you laugh” he said as he hadn’t meant to upset her. “Will I have to do publicity for the film?” she asked. “Well there’s the standard photo shoots and I can imagine all the movie magazines will want to interview you. It’s a great story—wardrobe girl to leading lady.” “I just hope people won’t laugh at me.” “I think they’re going to like you. This whole thing is like a movie within a movie and I can imagine women all across the country will watch you up on the screen and imagine it could happen to them too.” “You really are sweet” she said very moved by what he’d said. “Feel better?” he asked. “Yes” she replied and they finished breakfast and walked down to the beach to begin that day’s filming.
When they were done for the day Gary asked Gail if she wanted to work on the next day’s scenes and then have dinner with him again. She said that she was tired and would just go over the lines alone and that she had to get the costumes in order as well. He wasn’t sure what had changed from the day before but he could tell that she wanted to be alone so he didn’t push further. When he said he’d see her at breakfast she told him she would probably sleep in as long as she could to get a little more rest and that she would just eat in her room. He was disappointed but he tried not to let it show.
At this point in filming, Gary’s character was down to his sleeveless undershirt and during one scene he caught it on the outside corner of their hut and the side seam ripped apart. They took a break so Gail could stitch it back together. She kept her sewing basket with her on the beach to save time if any mending was needed. The assistant director gave up his chair to Gail so she could sit down and work on the shirt. Gary was standing a few feet away and at least twice he noticed her sneak a glance at him.
When she gave him back his shirt he smiled at her but she just turned away. Gail made another excuse to get out of their rehearsals together as she told Gary she needed to check the rest of his shirts to make sure the seams were secure. She had supper alone in her room and then she snuck out of the hotel and went down to the beach. She was sitting on a towel looking out at the ocean when she saw Gary walking towards her.
“Did you follow me?” she asked a bit perturbed as he got closer. “No, I just thought I’d take a walk. You’ve made it pretty clear the past couple days you don’t want me around. Well, I’ll see ya” he said and he gave her a wave and started walking away. “Gary, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude…and I do like having you around.” He turned and took a couple steps back towards her. “May I sit down?” “Sure” she said and she scooted over so he could sit on the towel too. “Going back to the city will be a real slap in the face after this” he said looking out at the blue waves turning orange as the sun began to set.
“It’s so nice and quiet here. It reminds me of home.” “You mean Montana?” Gail asked. “Yeah, I miss it there sometimes. When I was a kid I would spend hours and hours during the summers playing outside.” “I know what you mean. I grew up in the country too in the central part of California. We just moved to Los Angeles a few years ago when my dad got a job teaching at U.C.L.A.” “What does he teach?” “American history, specifically our founding through the Civil War.” “Who was Matthew Brady?” Gary asked testing her knowledge. “He was a photographer during the Civil War and his pictures of battles and soldiers are some of the most famous from the period” she said answering his question. “You know your stuff. Now me, I did alright in school but I was no whiz kid. I’d never even heard of Matthew Brady until I worked on Only the Brave and the producer showed us some of his pictures so we could see how the people looked and carried themselves.” “I liked that one; it was a cute movie.” “It was fun to make. This one has been fun too and we’re getting paid to be in paradise” Gary said with a smile.
They sat quietly for a couple of minutes then Gary spoke again. “I don’t want you to worry about what’s going to happen when the movie is done. The studio will want you to do some publicity but I know you can handle it and I’ll give you some tips on how to get through the interviews if you want. It may be they’ll even offer you a part in another film but if you don’t want to do it, you just tell them no.” “Thanks; I needed to hear that. I have loved every minute of this but I don’t think I’d want to do it as my regular job. I think I’d feel too self-conscious working at the studio with a lot of other people around.” “Will you go back to your wardrobe job then?” he asked as they continued to watch the waves roll in and out. “I suppose. I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life but I do like it and it’s fine for now. One day I’d like to get married and have a couple of kids and a nice home. I guess that’s not dreaming very big” she said looking down at the sand between her toes. “You don’t have to dream big to be happy. When I said that I really meant to say you shouldn’t limit yourself just because you think something seems out of your reach. Besides there’s nothing wrong with getting married and everything that goes with it” he said giving her a smile. “I didn’t think Hollywood’s biggest ladies man ever thought about anything as serious as marriage” Gail said teasing him. “You shouldn’t read all those fan magazines.” “So you haven’t dated Clara Bow, Evelyn Brent, Lupe Velez, and any number of others? And before you answer don’t forget that I work at the studio and I see and hear things.” “Yes I dated them but it wasn’t serious.” “You and Lupe were together for years and it wasn’t serious?” she asked. “No, it was just fun.” After he said that he was quiet for a bit and then he spoke again with a soft, gentle tone.
“That’s why you’ve been avoiding me isn’t it? You don’t think I’m looking for anything more than a good time and you’re not that kind of girl.” “Something like that” she said. “Do you know I remember the first time we met?” “Oh I doubt that” she replied with a laugh. “The hem on one of my pant legs got caught on the corner of the heel on my shoe and ripped loose and you came to the set to fix it. It was quicker for me to just sit down and put my foot up so you could restitch it there and you seemed really nervous and your hands were shaking.” “That was years ago; how do you remember that?” “I thought it was strange as you need a steady hand in your line of work.” “Good way to make a first impression huh?” “I thought you were pretty” he said smiling. “Let’s say we start dating but you get tired of waiting for…you know. My last boyfriend said he was fine without…you know…but then I found out he had another girl on the side. I don’t want to go through that again.” “So you’re just not going to date anymore?” he asked. “I will but hopefully someone with a lot less experience; a man who doesn’t know what he’s missing. This is very embarrassing…I’m gonna go” she said getting up and practically running back to the hotel.
The next day’s scenes involved their characters seeing a ship in the distance and trying to build a fire to signal them but a strong wind, provided by a fan just off screen, keeps blowing out the fire before it can get going. Gail’s character becomes quite upset thinking they will never be rescued and Gary holds her close trying to comfort her. “That’s the first ship we’ve seen and who knows how long it will be before another one comes by” she said as they went through the scene. “There’s plenty of food around and we found that fresh water spring so we’ll be okay” he said caringly as he walked towards her. “I know but I don’t want to be stuck here. I miss my family and my friends” she said. He put his arms around her and she put her head against his chest as they held each other. He kissed the top of her head as he gently stroked her hair and then said, “I promise we’ll get home.” It wasn’t in the script for her character to cry but she couldn’t help it as he very tenderly held her. When he heard her sniffle he thought maybe it was part of the scene so he went along with it as he softly said, “It’s okay; I’ll take care of you and everything will be alright.” “Cut! That was great! When did you work that out?” Greg asked. “We didn’t” Gary said a bit confused. “The fan blew some sand in my eye and it made my eyes water so I just pretended to cry to cover it” she said lying. “Well it was just what that scene needed” the director said happily.
When filming was done Gary again asked Gail if she wanted to rehearse the next day’s scenes and he was happy to hear her say that she would. “Here’s your towel. You forgot it last night” he said handing it to her as they met on the beach. “Thanks.” “I didn’t get a chance to say it before but that was really good today. It’s hard for a lot of actresses to cry and you did great.” “I didn’t mean to but the sand got in my eye and I couldn’t help it.” “You could have said you needed to stop but you didn’t. Just like a real actress you rolled with it and it made the scene a lot better.” “Thanks” she said feeling a little guilty taking credit for something she really had no control over. “The scenes for tomorrow should be fun” he said as he flipped through the script. They would involve Gary trying to show Gail’s character how to fish and as a spoiled city girl she would be completely out of her element. “I know I’ve said this a lot but I really appreciate all the extra help. I know you would normally just run through the scenes on set right before you film them” she said. “You’re welcome. I know you want the practice.”
They read through the lines but there was more action in the scene than dialogue. Gary was going to show her how to catch fish by hand. They walked down closer to the water and waded a little ways in and he stood close beside her as they snatched at the water. Gail pretended to miss several times and then Gary moved to stand behind her and took her hands in his and leaned down into the water. He was so close she could feel his breath on her neck. That same feeling overwhelmed her again and Gary let her go when he felt her trembling. “Are you okay?” he asked. “I’m sorry” she said feeling very embarrassed. “No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come on so strong.” “You didn’t. I’m just scared.” “Scared of me?” he asked. “Sort of. I do like you and I’d really like to go out with you but you’re so much more experienced than me and…” “I hope you won’t hold my past against me because I can’t change it. Being with those other women was fun but that’s all it was. I would like something more” he said sincerely. “You really mean that?” she asked now smiling broadly.
Gary dried his hands off on his shirt and then put his hand on her cheek and leaned forward to kiss her. It was much better than any of the movie kisses had been and he was glad she kissed him back. “We could have been doing this days ago if you weren’t so stubborn” he joked. She giggled and said, “I’m sorry.” She ran her hand through his dark hair and then said, “I almost wish we really were shipwrecked.” “Are you saying you want to be all alone with me?” he asked teasingly as he put his arms around her. “Yes I am.” “Why don’t we have dinner tonight in my room” he said. “Your room?” she asked with a smile. “I promise I have the purest of intentions and if I get out of line you can slap like you did in that scene.” They both laughed and then went back to rehearsing the fishing scene.
At seven o’clock Gail knocked on Gary’s door and when he opened it she could see the table with candles on it and she could hear the music playing on the radio. “You look beautiful” he said. “Thanks, you look very handsome.” “Thanks. The food should be here in a little while. How about a dance while we wait?” Gail smiled and they joined hands and she put her other hand on his shoulder and he wrapped his arm around her waist. It was very nice but it seemed so unreal that Gail couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re gonna give me a complex. You laughed when I kissed you and now you’re doing it again” he said. “This is all just so surreal; I can’t help it. I mean you’re Gary Cooper”. He pulled back so he could look her in the eye and said, “You know who I really am? I’m Frank from Montana and you’re Gail from California” he said with a grin. “I’m very happy to be with you Frank” she said and then rested her head against his chest as they slowly swayed back and forth. After a bit she said, “You don’t look like a Frank. Gary suits you better.” “I’ve gotten used to it. What’s really funny is how easily my family took to it. They don’t even call me Frank anymore.”
There was a knock at the door as their dinner arrived. The waiter set everything out on the table and they enjoyed a delicious meal. After they were done Gary suggested they take a walk along the beach. “So you’ve had the hots for me since you were 16, huh?” he joked as he held her hand. “I shouldn’t have told you that. Now you’re gonna tease me about it” she said with a giggle. “I sure am. How many years ago was that?” he asked not knowing her age. “I’m 21 so it was five years ago.” “Let’s see, that would have been…1927” he said counting back the years in his head. “Wings was the first thing I saw you in and all my friends and I thought you were so handsome. Then I saw Children of Divorce and that was it; you’ve been my very favorite ever since.” “I was terrible in that movie. You know I got fired from it and then rehired only after the guy they replaced me with was even worse.” “I didn’t notice, and I saw it three times” she said smiling up at him in the moonlight.
“Do you have a favorite?” “Oh gosh, I’m not sure I could pick one. I loved Doomsday and The First Kiss; those were so romantic. I was really excited to see The Virginian since it was your first talkie and it was great. I started working at the studio just a couple of months before that one was released. Morocco was excellent too and the way you were with that baby in His Woman was so adorable.” Gary smiled and said, “What did you think of A Farewell to Arms? It’s been my favorite so far.” “I liked it. You and Adolphe Menjou were both great. That scene near the end when you’re in the café waiting for Catherine in the hospital was so sad and so real that it made me cry right there in the theater, and I hate crying, especially in public. I didn’t think Helen Hayes was right for the part though.” “How come? She’s a good actress.” “It’s not that, I just don’t think you had as good screen chemistry with her as with other actresses. There was just something…I just couldn’t quite picture you as a real couple.” “Who do you think I’ve had the best chemistry with then?” “I loved all the movies you and Fay Wray made. You were a beautiful couple.” He chuckled and said, “I figured you’d say yourself.” Gail laughed too and said, “I guess I forgot about me.”
It didn’t take long for the rest of the crew to pick up on the budding romance between the two costars as people saw them walking along the beach together holding hands in the evenings and smiling at each other and laughing at private jokes in between takes when filming. “I can’t wait to see the whole thing when it’s finished” Gail said as she, Gary, and some of the other crew members had dinner together one evening picnic style on the beach. “From what I’ve seen it ought to be really good” Kay, the makeup woman said. “I’m a little nervous about filming the rest of it though when we get back home” Gail confessed. Once they arrived back in California they would still have quite a bit to shoot including Patience, Gail’s character, finding and replying to the marriage ad, the actual wedding ceremony at the city hall, her father carrying her away from the wedding, the scenes on the yacht, and then the two castaways arriving back home after being rescued by a freighter. “It’ll feel strange to have so many more people around and doing scenes with other actors” she said. “You’ll be fine” Gary told her encouragingly. One of the guys had bought some grass skirts and he brought them along and they took turns putting them on and taking silly pictures.
With just one week left to go on Kauai, Gary and Gail took advantage of all the free time they had to enjoy the beach and the beautiful clear waters. After going for a swim one evening they walked along the shore for a while and Gail found a couple more interesting sea shells to add to the collection she had started. “What are you gonna do with all those?” he asked. “I don’t know. I could probably mount them in a shadow box or something like that; or I could make earrings out of them” she said jokingly as she held them up to her ears. Gary laughed and said, “I don’t think so.” “If I could find some oysters with pearls in them that would work much better.” “Well there are oyster beds around here but they’re private property.” “Surely they wouldn’t miss just a couple” she said and she started to run. “You little thief!” he said and he chased after her down the beach.
Once filming was wrapped the crew sailed back to California. The trip home was very romantic and included starlight strolls around the deck at night. “I hope you won’t be disappointed once we get home. It’s easy to be romantic on a tropical island or here on the ship with the moon on the waves. My backyard is nice though and we can sit out there and watch the sun set and pretend we’re back on the beach. “Sounds good to me” she said as she didn’t really care where they were or what they did.
“I’m so glad to be off that boat” Gail said as she and Gary stood on the dock waiting for their luggage. The last bit of their journey had been in choppy waters and her stomach was still doing flip-flops. “You do look a little green” he said. Gail had decided to wait and tell her parents in person about her and Gary dating. Her father came to pick her up and he quietly walked up behind her and tapped her shoulder. When she turned around her father said, “Miss Fuller, can I have your autograph?” “Dad!” Gail said with a big smile and she hugged her father. “I missed you kiddo” he said. “I missed you too. Dad, this is Gary.” “It’s very nice to meet you Mr. Fuller” Gary said as the two men shook hands. “It’s nice to meet you too. So, do you think we’ve got a movie star here?” Bill said beaming with pride over his daughter. “She did a great job. Everybody is very proud of her” Gary said smiling about as big as her father. The porter arrived with her luggage and they were about to leave when her father spoke again. “Gary, we’re having a welcome home party tonight for Gail and we’d be happy for you to come.” “Sure.” “Good. Have you given him the address yet?” her father asked. For just a moment both Gail and Gary were a bit stunned and didn’t know what to say. “I saw your arm around her when I drove up” he confessed. “Yes sir, I’ve got it.” Gary said not wanting to lie. “Come over about six and we’ll have dinner and you can tell us all about how big a star Gail’s going to be.”
“I was waiting to tell you and Mom about us until I could do it in person” she said as they drove away. “How much is there to tell?” her father asked a little bit nervously. “Not much except that we started dating part way through the trip and he’s been a perfect gentleman.” “He’d be in for a world of hurt if he hadn’t been.” “Oh Dad. He’s really very nice and believe it or not he had to convince me to go out with him.” “Oh come on. You’ve been moony-eyed over him for years; you expect me to believe that?” “Well believe it. I didn’t think he was serious but he wouldn’t give up and one night on the beach we had a real good talk. He knows I’m not like the other women he’s been with and I promise you he hasn’t made any untoward advances and I’d set him straight if he did.” “I know how much you like him and I am happy for you sweetheart. I just don’t want to see you get hurt again; and I know you’re grown but you’ll always be my little girl.”
Gail’s mother, Janet, was at home working on all the goodies for that evening’s party when Gail and her dad drove up. “There’s my baby” her mother said coming outside to greet her. “It’s good to be home” Gail said hugging her mom. “I can’t wait to hear all about it. We got your letters but it’s not the same.” “Tell her your biggest news first” her dad said once they were inside. “I’ve got a new boyfriend” Gail said. “Is he a hunky islander?” her mother asked jokingly. “No he’s with the movie crew” Bill said. “Let’s see, is it one of the camera men?” Gail said no. “Is it the director?” Again, Gail said no. “Don’t tell me it’s Gary Cooper?” Gail just smiled and her father said, “Yes it is and I invited him to the party. Gail was going to wait until she got home to tell us but…” “But Dad saw us on the dock and he had his arm around me so there went that idea” Gail explained. “Well we’ve got a few hours before the party starts for you to tell me all about it” Janet said putting her arm around Gail’s shoulder.
“So, what do your parents think of us dating?” Gary asked as he talked to Gail on the phone that afternoon. “They’re fine with it. I think I’ve convinced them that you’re not a wolf after an innocent little lamb” she said with a laugh. “Good.” “I called to tell you if you’re tired or you have something else to do you don’t have to come over.” “I want to” he said. “Well we’ve only been dating a little while and it’s mostly gonna be my family and I don’t want you to think that you have to meet them yet.” “I’m looking forward to it. Do I need to bring anything?” “Just your smiling face” Gail said.
Needless to say Gail’s family and friends were surprised when Gary walked in the door. He was very gracious though as he signed autographs and took pictures with everyone. After dinner Janet brought out the cake that had a beach scene on it and it said “Congrats Gail – Hollywood’s Newest Star”. “I don’t know about that” Gail said seeing the cake. “I do. She was great” Gary said. They all enjoyed the cake as Gail and Gary told them about how exciting the trip had been. Later that evening after all the other guests had left Gail walked Gary to his car and they made a date to go out the next night which was a Saturday. She gave him a kiss goodbye and when she turned to walk back inside, she saw her mom peeping out through the window. “I saw that” Gail told her. “I know you like him honey and he does seem very nice but he’s been with an awful lot of women hasn’t he?” “Yes, but I told you he’s been nothing but a gentleman. He could’ve tried to take advantage of me if he wanted and he never has” Gail said trying to ease her mother’s doubt.
Gary picked her up at 6:30pm the next evening and after a nice dinner they went back to his house. “I’ve only been here a few months so it’s still a work in progress” he said as he unlocked the door and walked inside after her. “You can definitely tell a bachelor lives here” Gail said seeing the masculine décor. Gary grinned as he gave her the tour and explained that all the animal hides and heads decorating the rooms were from his trip to Africa the year before. “I did some of the taxidermy work myself” he said proudly. “I know. I read an article about it” she said with a big smile as that was kind of becoming a running joke between them.
He chuckled too and said “I’m going to have to think of something that you don’t know about me.” “Oh, I’m sure there’s a lot I don’t know.” “It’s a nice night; you want to go sit outside?” he asked and Gail nodded as they walked out into the backyard and sat down on a large wooden bench. “I’ve got it. I bet you didn’t know I came up with the design for this bench.” “I didn’t know that. It’s very nice.” “Thank you” he said as he put his arm around her. “It’s nice to be home again” he said looking up at the twinkling stars. “There’s no rest for the weary though” she replied as they were about to go right back to work to film the remaining portions of the picture.
Bright and early Monday morning Greg screened some reels of the film for the producer, members of the publicity department, and Elias Smith the head of the studio. They really weren’t expecting too much, a serviceable performance at best, and they were all pleasantly surprised. “I told you she was good” Greg said. “We may be sitting on a big hit here if we play it right” Elias said. He was already fairly confident that with a big name like Gary’s attached to the film and the fact that it was partially in color and filmed at an exotic location that they would more than make their money back but now he imagined it could be a serious money maker. They decided to finally put out a press release about Esther’s illness and that an unusual choice had been made as a replacement. That bit of information hit the entertainment section of the newspapers a day before filming was to resume.
Movies are rarely made in chronological order and that would hold true for the rest of this film as well. Now back in Los Angeles they would first film the scenes of Patience’s father literally carrying his daughter over his shoulder and putting her on the yacht after having snatched her away from her wedding. Then they would film the scenes of Patience and Captain Edmunds on the yacht, her escape from it in a lifeboat, and the captain’s attempt to go after her. They would also film the scene of the freighter which had rescued them pulling into port and them disembarking and Patience being reunited with her family. Gary picked Gail up in the morning and they drove to the dock together. Greg had let them know that some photographers would be there to get photos of them as the studio was ready to release the casting news. They went into their trailers to get into costume and to get their hair and makeup done and when they came out the photographers were ready. They snapped several pictures and a representative from the publicity department gave each one a prepared report with more information about Gail and how her casting came about. Once that was done they were ready to begin filming.
Gail got through all of the scenes on the dock alright but she only had one more part to film with Gary at the studio and she was dreading doing the scenes without him. Once home, her character confesses to her father that she loves the captain and he tells her that he had her marriage annulled and she is free to follow her heart. Upon her invitation, Gary comes to her house and then proposes to her when he learns she is a free woman and the movie fades out with a kiss. That would be the first scene they would film at the studio. It felt strange to Gail to go to the dressing rooms instead of her regular work area the first day of shooting on the lot. For the remainder of the picture she was given Esther’s dressing room to use and when she arrived her wardrobe for the day was already laid out. A couple of her friends with whom she worked in the wardrobe department came by to wish her good luck and then she met Gary outside and they walked to the soundstage together.
A couple of days later they were ready to move on to the scenes without Gary. A Farewell to Arms, his last film released two months before the current film’s shooting began, had been both a critical and commercial success garnering him the best reviews of his career. After having to take nearly a year off in 1931 to recover from being overworked by Paramount, Gary returned from a trip to Europe and Africa and worked out a new contract with the studio where he would film two movies per year and would only film more if he agreed to it. Now that his part in Half a Bride was completed he was done until around December when filming on a movie for release the next year would begin. Of course he still made public appearances to promote his films and would do interviews with magazines and newspapers as well as some radio shows but he was more or less done working at the studio until the end of the year. In order to put her at ease Gary told Gail he would still come to the set to provide moral support for the rest of her scenes and that did make her feel a little better.
“I can’t work with this girl; she doesn’t have the faintest idea what she’s doing!!” William Worthington, the actor playing her husband, shouted as Gail missed her mark during a take while filming the scene when they meet. It was a common mistake made by actors everyday but William, knowing how inexperienced and nervous Gail was, seemed to delight in over exaggerating her mistakes. He had worked on the stage in New York for nearly twenty years and had only recently come to Hollywood to try his hand in the movies. This was his first film too but he believed his stage time made him superior to everyone else at the studio.
“I liked it much better when it was just you and me” Gail said to Gary as they stood behind the cameras while Greg tried to calm William down. “Excuse my language but he’s an asshole. Don’t pay him any attention. As long as the director isn’t complaining, you’re fine.” The next time Gail hit her mark but William missed a cue and then delivered his line in the wrong place causing Gail to become confused and get lost. “Is a pretty face and nice bosom all it takes to get a job out here!” he exclaimed so loud everyone in Los Angeles could have heard him.
Both Gary and the director stood up ready to defend Gail when she spoke up to defend herself. “My pretty face and nice bosom is what’s keeping this production going! I’m just a costume girl and I know it, but I’m doing my best. I’ve worked twice as hard as everyone else because Gary and Mr. La Cava are wonderful at their jobs and I don’t want to do anything that will make them look bad. Now, if you can get your part right let’s finish this so I can go back to my real job and you can go back to whatever it is you do!” William was rendered speechless by this as was everyone else on the set. Greg turned to Gary and they gave each other a smile, happy that someone had put the pompous Mr. Worthington in his place. Greg then called for the makeup crew to touch them up which gave them both a chance to calm down and then filming resumed. “I’m really proud of you for not letting him push you around” Gary said as he drove Gail home that evening. “A person can only take so much before they gotta say something” she said still a little upset over the whole incident. “Most actors aren’t like him.” “The ones that are definitely give the profession a bad name.” “He was right about you having a pretty face and nice bosom though” he said knowing it would make her laugh and indeed it did.
Filming was finally done and Gail felt like a huge weight had been lifted. She had genuinely enjoyed the experience but it had been stressful at times and a lot of hard work. The day after the production wrapped Elias Smith called Gail into his office. “Hello Miss Fuller” he said pleasantly as he shook her hand and led her to a chair in front of his desk. “How are you?” “I’m fine Mr. Smith. How are you?” “I’m fine. I just wanted to thank you again for all your hard work and tell you what a wonderful job you did.” “Thank you for the opportunity. I had a lot of fun.” “I’m glad. Now, if we offered you a contract to make more films would you be interested?” he asked. “I’ve thought a lot about that and I don’t want to sound ungrateful but I’d really prefer to go back to my old job if I could.”
Elias sat back in his chair puzzled by this young woman. “This is a great opportunity. It means a lot more money and more prestige as well.” “I know and maybe I’m off my nut to turn it down but it’s not what I want. It was fun when it was just a few of us in Kauai but here there are so many more people around here and it’s a lot more pressure. I don’t think I’d like it.” He thought for a minute and then said, “Fair enough. I’d like to ask you a favor. Would you mind not telling anyone that until after the picture has been released?” “Sure, whatever you think is best sir.” “This is going to be a great bit of publicity for the studio and could really help us financially, especially if we keep people wondering about whether you’ll decide to keep on acting or not.” “I understand. When people ask I’ll just say that I’m still trying to make a decision or something like that.” “That would be perfect. Now it should be about two months in postproduction with a release scheduled for mid-October. I can okay it with your supervisor for you to take the next couple of months off so you’ll have time for interviews and other promotional business.” “Are you sure that will be okay? That’s a long time to leave them short-handed” she said. “I’m the head of the studio; what I say goes” he said with a smile. “Besides you had to pull double duty during the island scenes and then you still had a lot of work to do back here so I think it’s a well-deserved break.”
After their meeting Gail went back to her dressing room to finish clearing out her stuff and she found Gary standing outside waiting for her. “So, did he offer you a contract?” he asked as they went inside. “He did” she said coyly as she put the rest of her things in a box. “Well?” “Well what?” “Did you take it?” “No.” He put his hand on her forehead and then her cheeks and said, “You don’t have a fever. You must just be crazy.” “I told you I didn’t want to keep doing it” she said laughing at him. “So you’re going back to wardrobe?” “I think.” “What do you mean you think?” he asked confused by her response. “He asked me not to tell anyone yet that I don’t want to make any more films and that I could take time off until the movie comes out to do the promotional stuff but it wasn’t real clear if after that I’ll definitely go back to my job or not.” “I’m sure you’ll get it worked out” he said as he took her box to his car and drove her home.
Gail’s first interview was with New Movie Magazine and they used a space at the studio to do it. “I’ve never done one of these before so forgive me if I’m a little nervous” Gail said to Mary Purcell, the interviewer. “I promise it won’t be too rough. Explain to me in your own words how this all came about.” Gail explained and then Mary asked her what her emotions were throughout the process. “I was terrified at first and I was sure I couldn’t do it. Gary and the director just kept telling me that I could and they gave me a crash course in acting as we were filming. Practically every bit of spare time I had I spent learning my lines and practicing my part. I’ve loved going to the movies since I was a kid and it was a lot of fun to get to be in one and really see how they are made. Working in the wardrobe department I got to see a lit bit of the process but obviously you see a lot more actually being in a film. It’s really hard work though, more so than it looks. This whole experience really gave me an appreciation for how hard everybody works to give us entertainment.” “It couldn’t have been hard to be on a beautiful tropical island for five weeks with one of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors. What was that like?” “Gary is a fine man and a great actor. Part of the reason I worked so hard was because I didn’t want to make him look bad if I did a bad job. He really knows his stuff and he helped me learn how to act well enough to at least get by, I hope.” “That’s not exactly what I meant. You’ve been seen out with him quite a bit recently. Can we assume that a real romance bloomed while you were filming?” Gail was speechless for a bit and then she remembered what Gary had suggested she say if they asked her about them. “He’s become a very good friend and we enjoy spending time together.” Mary tried to get more out of her than that but she could tell it wasn’t going to happen. After getting some background information about Gail such as where she grew up and things like that she asked if she had plans to be in any more films. “I haven’t made a decision on that yet but I’ll let you know when I do.”
“How’d the interview go?” Gary asked as she arrived at his house for dinner that evening. “I think it went okay. She asked me what it was like to be in paradise with such an eligible bachelor.” “What did you say?” he asked. “I kind of panicked and I told her the truth--that it was absolute heaven and the nights were filled with romantic pleasures beyond any description.” He turned with a stunned look on his face until he saw her start to smile. “You had me going for a second” he said relieved. “I told her that you were a fine man and that we are friends who enjoy spending time together.” “Good; they’ll figure it out soon enough anyway and it just seems strange to tell interviewers about our dating habits” he said as he got the meat out of the fridge to make their hamburgers.
Gail sat down in a chair on the patio while Gary tended to the burgers on the grill. His parents were coming over for dinner and Gail was looking forward to seeing them again. They had met once before when Gary took her to their house for Sunday dinner a couple weeks earlier. His mother Alice had told Gary how much she liked Gail and he was happy to hear that as she hadn’t felt too fondly about any of the other women he had dated since beginning his film career. When his mother and father Charles arrived the burgers were just about done and they sat out on the patio and enjoyed their dinner. “Gary told us you decided to turn down the contract the studio offered you” his mother said in the English accent both she and her husband still retained. “Yes ma’am. It was fun but I’m not cut out for that. I’m much happier to work behind the scenes.” “That’s good that you know what you want” Alice said. “I hope you won’t let them pressure you or push you around like they did with Gary” Charles said remembering how much they overworked him in 1930 and into 1931. “I wouldn’t let them do that to her” Gary said. Gail smiled at him and his parents felt very hopeful about this new romance.
Over the next three weeks Gail, on her own and sometimes with Gary, gave interviews to all the major movie magazines. They also took a lot of publicity pictures for the movie and Gail was given copies of them as a thank you for her work on the film.
Gail and Gary spent quite a bit of time together during those weeks as they were both on hiatus and had plenty of free time. She felt a bit embarrassed as her parents asked her to have him come over to their house instead of her going to his home most days in this early part of their relationship. Gary understood though and he didn’t mind. One afternoon when he came over she had just received a batch of fan mail delivered by a messenger from the studio. “The movie hasn’t even come out yet and people are already writing me letters” she said excitedly as they sat in the living room. “Well are you going to open one or just stare at them?” he asked. She opened one and began reading it aloud, “Dear Gail, I just read the article about you in my local newspaper and thought it was so exciting that I had to write you a letter. I’m the same age as you and I can imagine how I would feel if that had happened to me. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie and I bet the island scenes will be beautiful in color. What was it like working with Gary Cooper? Is he as nice as he seems? I bet he is. I know you’re probably busy so you don’t have to write back I just wanted to congratulate you for getting to live so many people’s dreams and I wish you good luck in the future. Sincerely, Mary Kroft.” “Here, open another one” Gary said picking another letter from the stack. “I need to write a reply to this one first. Hand me that notepad” she said of the pad and pen on the table beside the sofa near the phone. Gail wrote a letter saying how much she appreciated the support and that this was the first fan letter she had received. She also got Gary to write a little something and they spent the rest of the evening reading and replying to the letters.
When the magazines came out that had her interviews in them, that surreal feeling overwhelmed her again. She had been reading these magazines since she was 13 and never in her wildest dreams did she ever imagine she would be in them. “I’m so nervous” Gail said as she talked to Gary over the phone the night before the premiere. “I know but I’m telling you, you did good.” “I hope you’re right.” She was able to get tickets for her parents to also attend the premiere but they wouldn’t be able to sit together as she and Gary would be seated in the main section of the theater in front of the screen with all the other celebrity attendees. Her mother and one of her cousins who was a beautician helped her get ready and they made her look like a bona fide movie star. Her parents left before Gary came to pick her up so they could get in line to watch all the celebrities arrive. “Wish me luck and let’s hope it’s not too bad” she said as they left.
“You look beautiful” Gary said as he walked with her to the limousine that would take them to the theater.
“Thanks, you look wonderful too.” Gary got her an orchid corsage and he helped her pin it on while they rode to the theater. She was very nervous on the way there but as soon as they arrived, excitement over took nerves. The driver opened the door and Gary got out first. When the crowd caught sight of him they clapped and cheered. He gave Gail his hand and helped her out. It almost seemed like it was happening in slow motion as her feet hit the red carpet. She looked up into the crowd and smiled. She could hear some of the people calling her name and she waved to them. Gary gave her his arm and together they walked down to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. “I told you they’d love you” he said with a big smile as they continued to wave and stop for pictures. Once inside the theater they were guided to their seats and then watched as their movie flickered on the screen.
When it was over the lights came back up and the audience clapped enthusiastically. Gail felt completely overwhelmed. Gary took her hand and kissed it and said, “That’s my favorite movie so far-no contest.” “I just know I’m going to wake up any minute” she said as she smiled from ear to ear. The people around them told them how much they liked the film and what a great screen couple they made. There was a party at Mr. La Cava’s home afterwards and they took the limousine to his house. “As fun as this was I’m glad it’s over. Now I really feel like I can relax” Gail said. As soon as Greg saw his leading lady he gave her a big hug and said, “There’s my girl. I’m so proud of you. You worked hard and it really paid off.” “Thanks. I couldn’t have done it without you and Gary’s help and lots of patience; no pun intended” she said as that was also her character’s name. They had a fun time at the party but they left early as she was anxious to get home and get her parent’s reactions. They were of course waiting up for her and as soon as she came in they both rushed to hug and congratulate her. “You were so great” her mother said. “I could hardly believe that was my baby up there” her father said as it was his turn to get in a hug. “We got lots of pictures of you on the red carpet and I’ll have to take the film in first thing tomorrow to get them developed” Janet said excitedly. “I’m just so relieved that it turned out okay” Gail said. “It was much better than okay” Gary said. “I guess it was pretty good” she said with a big smile.
Gail excitedly skimmed through the newspaper the next day to find the review of the film. She was happy when she read the following:
“Paramount’s newest offering ‘Half a Bride’ premiered yesterday to much fanfare not only because of the star Gary Cooper or because of the great expense as it was partially filmed in color and on location in Kauai but also because of the unusual casting of the lead actress. Gail Fuller, who works in the wardrobe department at the studio, was on location when the film’s original leading lady Esther Ralston was sidelined by a medical emergency. The director Gregory La Cava chose Miss Fuller to take over Esther’s role in a bid to save the studio time and money and his unconventional choice seems to have been the right one. Miss Fuller, completely new to pictures, does a fine job as the young lady who is lost at sea along with the captain of her family’s yacht, played wonderfully by Gary Cooper, when her father sends her away after she entered into an ill-advised and hastily arranged wedding. Veteran stage actor William Worthington who has a small part as Miss Fuller’s husband, is also new to pictures and gives a serviceable performance. The captain and the new ‘half a bride’ end up stranded on an island together where after a few hardships, a romance blooms. The two leads make a fine couple on screen and seem to have a relationship off screen as well. Novelty value aside, Half a Bride is a fun romantic picture that is well worth your time.”
Gail added this article to the scrapbook she had started and she hoped other reviews would be as kind. Most were as she continued to collect newspapers for the next couple of days. Calls and visits from her friends and family continued to come in as well as they all got a chance to see her film.
A few days after the film’s premiere Gary and Gail went to a Halloween party at Frederic March’s house and they dressed as a cowboy and cowgirl. They went way over the top though with oversized hats, toy guns, and shiny, sparkly shirts with lots of fringe. As with the party at Greg’s house, Gail was at least acquainted with many of the guests as several of them were under contract at Paramount or had been during her time there. “I am having so much fun” she said. “Me too” he replied with a smile as the evening wore on. Gail went to the bathroom and when she came back she saw Gary and William Powell with his wife Carole Lombard sitting at one of the tables outside together talking. They were a couple of her favorite actors and were like Gary, genuinely nice people. They had both been away on holiday and had just recently returned.
“Here’s our star” Carole said in a very animated manner as she got up and gave Gail a hug. “We just saw the movie yesterday and it was great. Who knew our little wardrobe girl was such a great actress” she said letting her go. “Thanks.” “It really was very good” William said as Gail sat down. “That really means a lot coming from you two” Gail said happily. “I see how it is. I tell her she’s good and she still doubts it but you two tell her that and it’s a different story” Gary joked. “You’re just a little biased” Gail said joking back. “Have they offered you another job or a contract yet?” William asked as he lit his pipe. Before answering she looked at Gary and he said, “It’s okay to tell them.” He had been friends with both of them for years and knew they could be trusted. “Mr. Smith did right after we finished but I don’t want to be an actor. Nothing against it; it’s a perfectly fine profession, but it’s not for me. He asked me not to say anything though until after the movie was out.” “What are you going to do now then?” Carole asked. “I’m hoping to go back to my job in wardrobe. I’ve got a meeting with Mr. Smith next week to talk about it.”
“Miss Fuller, how would you like to go to work as a designer for Dalton’s?” Elias asked during their meeting. “Can’t I come back to work here?” she asked surprised by his offer. “Dalton’s is one of the fastest growing high-end fashion houses in L.A. Wouldn’t you rather move up and work there?” “I’m not a designer. I wouldn’t know what to do there. Is there any way I could stay here and keep working my way up?” “I’m going to give it to you straight Gail. It just wouldn’t look good for you to come back to work here toting costumes around the lot after costarring in what has turned out to be a very successful film. You’ve got a certain status now and that would be beneath you. If we promoted you right away it might seem like we’re playing favorites and I can’t cause friction in the whole wardrobe department over one person.” “I don’t mean right now but after I’ve earned it” she said. “That’s the thing; it would take a while and in the meantime you’d go back to being a wardrobe girl and that just won’t work. I had to pull a lot of strings to get you this position. They are willing to train you and give you every chance to prove yourself.” “I don’t really have a choice do I?” she said as she now became quite serious and tried not to show her unhappiness at this turn of events. “They are really looking forward to you joining them. I’ll let them know to expect you at 9am Monday morning” he said as he got up and shook her hand and wished her good luck. “I do appreciate you finding me another job.” “You’re welcome. I hope you will like it” he said sincerely.
She stopped by the wardrobe department to say goodbye to her friends and tell them the “good news”. They were sad to see her go but were happy for her as it was a great opportunity. When she got home she broke down in tears and her mother asked what was wrong. “I just got fired.” “What? What happened?” “Mr. Smith basically told me it would be embarrassing for them to have me go back to work there because a movie star can’t be seen toting costumes around the lot.” “It’ll be alright” Janet said trying to comfort her daughter. “He got me another job at Dalton’s” Gail said sniffling. “What’s that?” “It’s a high-end shop and I’m sure it’s a great job but it’s as a designer and I don’t know how to do that. I was happy before and now that’s been pulled out from under my feet.” Her mother had always been the voice of reason in her life and as was typical of her she was able to put a positive spin on this. “I know you’re upset but maybe this will be a good thing. You didn’t think you could do the movie and you were great. And look what you got out of that.” “You mean Gary?” she said as the tears stopped. Janet nodded yes and said, “I can tell how happy he makes you and you just light up anytime he’s around. Maybe this new job will turn out as well as that.” “He did say they were willing to train me.” “There, you see? I bet it will work out and you’ll like it” she said giving her daughter a warm hug.
The next day when she saw Gary she told him all about what happened. She didn’t cry this time but he could tell she didn’t seem very happy about it. “I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that they politely kicked you to the curb like that especially after the way they treated me and some others before.” “I wouldn’t say that. I can see his side of it. I’m just disappointed. I really liked it there.” “I’m sorry” he said reaching over to hold her hand. “You want to go for a drive?” he asked hoping this would cheer her up. “Okay.” They took Gary’s flashy yellow and chartreuse Duesenberg and drove for a while around the city. They left the top up as it was a fairly cool afternoon in mid-November. When they came to Beverly Hills Gary slowed down so they could admire all the big, beautiful homes. “I wonder what kind of people live there?” Gail wondered as they passed a large two-story Tudor style house. “Wealthy ones” Gary replied. Gail laughed and he was happy to see her smiling now. “I bet it’s a very dignified older couple whose grandkids come to visit every weekend” she said going off into a bit of a daydream. “I bet I know what type of person lives in that one” he said as they came up to another two-story home with reddish-brown brick, a balcony off the window above the front entrance, and a beautifully landscaped lawn. “Okay, what are they like?” “It’s just one person, a sad old lady with a bunch of cats.” Gail laughed again and said, “Boy you sure got that one wrong. It’s obviously Romeo and Juliet’s house. Look at the balcony and the beautiful garden.” “So they didn’t die after all, and they moved to Beverly Hills, and they’re a few hundred years old” he said teasing her and making her laugh quite loudly this time.
A couple of days later on the Sunday before Gail was to begin her new job, Gary joined her and her family for dinner. Before they ate however he had a present to give her. Not long after they began dating Gail wanted to make sure that Gary knew she wanted to be with him because she liked who he was and not because of his fame or money. She talked about some of the extravagant gifts he had given other girlfriends and she told him that she wasn’t expecting anything like that. He was glad to hear that and so far he had refrained from giving her anything expensive and had instead brought her flowers on many occasions and a couple of new hats just for fun. He couldn’t resist any longer though and he handed her the beautifully wrapped gift and when she opened it she saw the blue box with black letters identifying it came from Tiffany and Co. She looked at him surprised and he smiled and said, “Open it.” She opened the box to reveal a pearl necklace with matching earrings. “Oh Gary, they’re beautiful.” “I remember when we were on the beach and you said you wished you could find some oysters so you could have the pearls. Well, now you have them.” He took the necklace out and helped her put it on. Then she put the earrings on too and went to look at them in the mirror hanging on the living room wall. “Thank you so much” Gail said as she sat back down beside him and gave him a hug and kiss. “You’re starting a new job tomorrow so I wanted to get you something nice to celebrate. Actually the job was an excuse; I just wanted to spoil you a little.”
Gail put most of the money she made from the movie aside as savings but she did use a little to buy her parents each gifts and herself some new clothes. Her father had a good income and she could have had store bought clothes but she enjoyed making her own dresses. However she had been wanting some of the new dress suit outfits that were popular and so she bought three of them. She also bought some beautiful satin in different colors and had made some lovely gowns to wear on her dates with Gary. That was another of the things he liked about her; she had good taste and liked nice things but she wasn’t too materialistic and she also managed her money well. In her new suit and pearls she felt ready to begin a new chapter of her life.
Mrs. Dalton had moved to California with her husband, a lawyer, from New York City in the early 1920s and within the past couple of years her young fashion design business had really taken off and her client list was continually growing. She offered a service where women would come to her shop and with the help of a designer, they would put an entire wardrobe together custom made for each individual. Mrs. Dalton was surprised when she received a call from the head of Paramount studios inquiring if they had any positions available for Gail who was hoping to become a designer. She was of course familiar with the young woman who had made quite a splash in Hollywood with her so-called rags to riches story. Elias’s wife was one of her best clients and she agreed to take Gail on as she thought it was a great way to get more attention for her business.
When Gail arrived at the shop on Rodeo Drive she was taken right away to Mrs. Dalton’s office. She was nervous but was soon put at ease as her new boss, a lovely woman in her late 30s, had a gentle manner. She explained exactly what they did and how happy they were to have Gail with them. “The first thing we are going to do is get you a new wardrobe” Mrs. Dalton said. “This is a new suit” Gail said hoping she wasn’t underdressed. “It’s very lovely but it’s not a Dalton” she said with a smile. Mrs. Dalton herself spent the rest of the day with Gail deciding what colors and what type of materials would be best to go with her coloring and her individual style. Mrs. Dalton also assured Gail that the service and the new clothes were complimentary. “If you treat all your employees this well I’ll bet you don’t have an unhappy one in the bunch” Gail said once all the decisions were made. “To tell you the truth, I’m making an exception for you. You’ll be a wonderful walking advertisement for the business so it’s worth it to me.” “Thank you very much, and thanks for this opportunity. I think I’m really going to like it here.”
Her boss told her that when the clothes were ready she would let Gail know and then she could officially start working. It didn’t take too long as Dalton’s had a staff of very skilled seamstresses and the clothes turned out beautifully. They were mostly clothes she would wear to work such as dress suits but some afternoon dresses and more formal outfits were included as well. She had been working for a few days when the Thanksgiving holiday came around. Gail and Gary spent most of that day with their own families but Gary did visit with Gail and her parents for a couple of hours that evening.
In December Gary began filming his next movie, One Sunday Afternoon, and Gail was getting settled into her new job. So far she had been sitting in with the women who worked as designers at the shop while they did their consultations with clients. Quite often the customers would ask for her autograph and even though she didn’t feel like a celebrity she was always more than happy to oblige. She still received fan mail as well and she had set up a separate post office box for them as she was no longer working at the studio. One day due to the filming schedule, Gary got a longer break than usual so he planned to take Gail out for lunch. “It feels kind of weird going back to work without you” he said as they ate. “You’re sweet to say that.” “I mean it. Working with you was a lot of fun.” “Don’t have too much fun with Fay and Frances” she said of his current co-stars Fay Wray and Frances Fuller. “I’ll try not to” he said giving her a smile. “At least you don’t have to give acting lessons anymore” she said. “I liked it. You were a very good student.” “I had an excellent teacher.”
“Do you want to come over this evening?” he asked as he drove her back to work. “Sure, if you won’t be too tired” she said knowing that movie making was hard work depending on the type of scenes filmed on any given day. “No, we’re not doing anything too tough today.” Gail went straight to his house after work and she arrived a bit before Gary but she knew his cook would be there to let her in. She was a sweet older woman who went to his mother’s church. He didn’t mind fending for himself in between films so she cooked breakfast and dinner for him mainly while he was working. “That sure smells good Mrs. White” Gail said as she came in and took off her coat and hat. “Thank you. There’s another beautiful outfit” Mrs. White said with a smile as she could see Gail’s camel colored jacket and matching skirt with a ruffled ivory blouse. “Thanks. It’s one of my favorites.” Soon Gary arrived and when dinner was ready Mrs. White headed home.
“I don’t think I could get used to having a cook. Don’t get me wrong; she’s very nice and an excellent cook, but it just seems strange to have somebody who’s not family or something like that come into your house and make your meals” Gail said. “Well, if I had a wife to come home to I suppose she could cook for me.” He looked up at Gail and then started chuckling. “What?” she asked thinking she had food on her or something. “Your whole face just turned bright pink.” She laughed a bit too and then they went back to eating. A minute or so later she said, “What if your wife didn’t know how to cook very well but she could make sure that you never lost a button and your socks didn’t have any holes?” “That would be alright; I could just keep Mrs. White on” he said giving her a little smile. “You’re blushing again” he noted. “So are you” she said back.
There was a nip of cold in the air and after dinner Gary made a fire in the living room and they sat close together on the sofa enjoying the warmth of the flames. They had been dating for almost five months now but it didn’t seem that long as time was really flying by. Soon they both fell asleep and didn’t wake up until the phone rang. “Hello” Gary said a bit groggy. “Hello, this is Mrs. Fuller. Has Gail left yet? She said she’d be home around 9:30 and it’s 10 now.” Gary looked at the clock to confirm the time and said, “No she’s still here. We were sitting on the couch enjoying the fire and I guess we fell asleep. Do you want to talk to her?” “No I just wanted to make sure she was okay and not broken down on the road or something. I’ll let you go” her mother said. “Okay, goodbye” he said hanging up the phone. “My parents, huh?” she asked as she yawned and stretched. “Your mom; she just wanted to make sure you were okay. You were supposed to be home half an hour ago.” “I better get going then.” “Are you awake enough to drive?” he asked concerned. “I’m fine.” He helped her put on her coat and then walked with her to her car and kissed her goodbye.
When she got home her father had gone to bed already but her mom was waiting up for her. “I’m sorry I’m late. We had kind of a heavy meal and….” “That’s okay. I was just getting a little worried because you normally always get home when you say you will.” “I’m glad you called. It would have been bad if we’d stayed like that all night. My neck already feels like I’ve got a kink in it and we were just asleep about an hour.” “Yeah and you can’t go to work tomorrow wearing the same clothes you wore today” her mother joked. “No, that would not be very seemly” she said as she went to get ready for bed. Gail thought about what Gary had said when they were talking about his future wife and even though it was just in fun it still made her heart flutter a bit.
Gail was anxious to work with clients on her own and when she would ask Mrs. Dalton about that she would just say that she was coming along fine but still needed more time. She was really looking forward to getting to the point where she would actually be pulling her own weight at the shop instead of just being an observer. Gail and Gary had quite a bit of fun going to Christmas parties together later in the month. When they were at the Paramount party Elias took Gail to the side and apologized for not being more diplomatic about her moving on. “In hindsight I realized I probably could have handled that better. We’re just finally beginning to get solidly back in the black and it’s been very stressful. I really do hope you’re enjoying the new job.” “I am. I was upset at first but the more I thought about it, it made sense. Thank you though for saying that.”
They were planning on spending the holiday together, Christmas Eve at one house and Christmas day at the other, but it didn’t work out. Quite a few of Gary’s relatives had moved from England to the U.S. over the years and one of his uncles who lived in Utah invited him, his parents, his brother Arthur and his family to spend the holidays with him and his wife and kids. Gail was invited as well but she as she had a smaller family she didn’t want to be away from them for the holiday so she decided to stay home. The day before his trip Gary invited Gail over and they were going to exchange their presents. She got him a new hunting rifle and she was glad that he liked it. Before he gave Gail her gift he told her to close her eyes and then he led her into the living room which he had closed off so she couldn’t see in it. “Okay open your eyes” he said. She saw a projector set up and a large white screen at the other end of the room. “What’s this?” “Just sit down” he said and he started the movie. “You got a copy of our movie” she said as the title came up. “I got you a copy of our movie” he said correcting her. “Really, it’s mine. I can keep it?” “It’s all yours.” “Thank you” she said as she hugged him and then kissed his cheek. She put her arm around his and rested her head on his shoulder as they watched themselves on the screen.
During the scene where she slapped him they both laughed and Gail said, “I was so nervous when we first rehearsed that. When I realized I was going to get kiss you I thought I was going to faint dead away.” When the movie ended Gail clapped and Gary turned the projector off and put the reels back in the film cans. “Can I keep it here? I don’t have a projector at home.” “I know, that’s why I bought you the screen and projector too” he said as he sat back down beside her. “You are so thoughtful. Thank you.” “I knew you’d need them and I don’t want to give you something you can’t enjoy anytime you want.” “That’s why I got you a new gun and not an antique” she said as she knew people had given him guns in the past that weren’t actually usable and he didn’t like things he couldn’t get some use out of so he donated those other guns to local museums. He smiled at her then put his arms around her and kissed her. She hated to say goodbye but it was late and she had to work the next day. When she got home she showed her parents the gift from Gary and they were as excited about it as she had been.
Gary called Gail from Utah on Christmas Eve to tell her and her family Merry Christmas and they made plans to get together when he returned. He was coming home on a Friday and they planned to spend that Saturday together. They stayed at his house the whole day and she helped him put his Christmas decorations away and he told her all about his trip. They received many offers to attend various New Year’s Eve parties but they decided to spend the holiday alone at his house instead. They had a fun time playing several games of pool in the game room he had set up and when it was close to midnight Gary opened a bottle of champagne and they made a toast. “I think 1933 just might be the best year yet” he said as the clock struck midnight. “I think so too.” Gail told her parents she’d be home around 1am and a little after 12:30 she told Gary it was time to go. “Why do you always have to leave? Why can’t you stay curled up right here in my pocket?” he said pretending to pout a bit as he put his jacket on to drive her home. She pulled his pocket back so she could look in it and then said, “I don’t think I’d fit.” “What if I took the handkerchief out?” he said with a big smile. “I still don’t think it would work. Besides I’d get pretty lonely in there all by myself.” “What if I had a pocket big enough for two?” he said as he opened the car door for her. “If you find a jacket with a pocket big enough for both of us, we’ll see.”
A couple of days later filming resumed on One Sunday Afternoon and Gary invited Gail to the studio. She was able to get an afternoon off and she waited outside the soundstage until the red light went off to indicate a break in filming. Fay Wray, one of his costars, saw Gail as she walked in and she waved her over. “Gary said you were going to come by today. He should be back in a minute” Fay told her. “I love your costume” Gail said of the late 19th century style dress and big hat with feathers that Fay was wearing. “Thanks. I love your suit.” “It’s from Dalton’s where I’m working now” she said turning around so Fay could see the whole thing. “I know; Gary told us. He’s very proud of you” Fay said. Gail smiled and then Gary came back. “Hi!” he said. “Hi” she said and started to giggle. “What?” he asked. “It’s just funny; she’s wearing such a beautiful, fancy dress and you look so raggedy” she said comparing his and Fay’s costumes. Fay laughed too and Gary said, “I’m not supposed to be as dressed up as her. These are my work clothes. They’re better than my worn out island clothes” he said referring to some of the costumes from Half a Bride. “That’s true” Gail said.
She watched them filming the rest of the afternoon and then Gary went to her house to have dinner with Gail, her parents, her friend Jennifer, and her boyfriend Bill. At first her friends were a little nervous around Gary but he usually put them at ease quickly. After dinner they all played cards for a while and Gail told them how good his new film looked. Gary feeling a bit embarrassed by the compliments said, “Don’t take her word for it. She thought I was good in Children of Divorce and I was awful in that one” he said and they all laughed and got back to their game.
One Friday evening near the end of January, Gary invited Gail to his house for a surprise. She saw that he had his own projector set up in the living room and she happily said, “We’re watching another picture!” “I thought we would after dinner.” “What are we watching?” “It’s a surprise” he said. When they were done eating they went into the living room and he picked up the film can and showed it to her. “Oh, Children of Divorce!” she said reading the title written on the container. “Now I don’t have the sound discs so this will really be a silent movie” he said as he put the first reel into the projector.
Gary made sure to point out all his flaws as they watched the film. “I was so scared you can see my knees shaking.” “I wouldn’t have noticed it if you hadn’t pointed it out.” “Oh come on; I was bad in this one will you just admit it?” he said almost laughing. “You were a little raw but the talent is still there. Look, look at your face right there” she said during one particularly dramatic scene. “You’re supposed to be heartbroken and you are; it’s written all over your face. That’s why you’re such a good actor. You can do more with a look or a gesture than most people could with a 100 lines of dialogue. You give your characters real depth and humanity.” “Thank you” he said sincerely. “You’re welcome” she said and they both leaned back and relaxed to watch the rest of the film. A few minutes later Gail couldn’t help it and she started to laugh. “I told you it was bad” he said thinking she’d finally realized it. “No, it’s not, but now I can’t stop looking at your knees to see if they’re shaking.”
When the movie was over Gary put the projector and screen away and when he came back into the living room he found Gail standing in front of the fire. He stood beside her and said, “You know what?” “What?” “We’ve been together six months and we haven’t had one argument.” “I don’t have anything to argue about” she said reaching over to hold his hand. “That’s probably because we’re both easy going people. You’re a very nice to change from what I was used to” he said referring to his prior relationships, especially the years he spent with the fiery actress Lupe Velez. “I could pretend to get mad about something” she said as she let go of his hand and put her hands on her hips. “You haven’t kissed me nearly enough today” she said trying to act upset. “I can take care of that right now” he said and he put his hands on her waist and pulled her to him. He kissed her and then they moved over to sit on the sofa. He kissed her neck and then undid a couple of buttons on her blouse. She lay back onto the sofa and he kissed her where the skin was exposed. Gail could feel her whole face flush hot. He pulled away from her and then ran his hand through her blonde curls and tucked her hair behind her ear and said, “Gail, I love you.” “I love you too” she replied and he kissed her again. He moved his hand down to her hip and she said, “Stop it! You know I’m ticklish there” as she started laughing and squirming. “I know” he said now putting both hands on her hips. “Stop it!” she said continuing to laugh. “I’m not doing anything” he said innocently as he kept tickling her. She sat up and managed to get away but as she took a step from the sofa he grabbed the side of her blouse and it ripped.
The laughter stopped as they both looked at her shirt and the three to four inch long gap where the side seam had come apart. “It’s okay; you can fix it” he said standing up to look more closely at the damage. “Yeah, but it won’t look quite the same on the inside.” “Who’s gonna see the inside?” he asked. “My mother when she does the laundry.” “Oh” Gary said as he hadn’t thought about that. “You can explain it to her” he said now smiling. “I’ll have to. But don’t be surprised if I have a chaperone the next time I come over.” “If that’s the case we should make the most of this evening.” He picked her up and carried her back to the sofa and sat down with her in his lap. They had fooled around a little bit like this before but it hadn’t gone too far. He undid a couple more buttons on her blouse and slipped his hand inside it and gently caressed her waist. He wanted to feel her skin but he couldn’t through her underclothes. “How many layers have you got on?” he asked as he moved his hand around to her back and kissed her neck again. “More than you’ll get through” she teasingly whispered in his ear. “They could rip just as easily as your shirt” he said in a low, sexy voice. “Well I can’t have that” she replied and she took her blouse all the way off. She then pulled the tucked in part of her camisole out from the top of her skirt and Gary put his hand underneath it and ran it slowly up and down her back. This made the hair on her arms and the back of her neck stand on end.
They spent the rest of the evening cuddling close together on the sofa and when the clock struck half past 11 she knew it was time to go as she told her parents she’d be home around midnight. Gary picked up her blouse and his shirt that were laying in a crumpled heap on the floor and Gail laughed as she put her blouse back on and said, “You’re going to get me in so much trouble. But I guess you’re worth it.” “I hope so” he said putting his shirt on as well and then he got her coat and hat. “I love you” he said again as he kissed her goodbye. “I love you, very much” she replied and she felt like she was flying through the clouds as she drove home. Her parents were still up working on a jigsaw puzzle and when she came in and took her coat off her father saw her wrinkled clothes and asked, “Who won the wrestling match?” “I’m not sure. My blouse definitely lost though” Gail said with a chuckle and she showed them the tear on it. “Now wait a minute” her dad said getting upset until Gail spoke up again. “It’s really nothing. Gary was tickling me and I jumped up and he grabbed my shirt and it ripped.” “Don’t scare your father like that dear” Janet said teasing him and then Bill said, “Oh like you weren’t thinking the same thing.” “I do have some news.” “What?” her mother asked. “He told me he loved me.” “Oh sweetheart, that’s wonderful. Judging by that smile I guess you told him you feel the same” Janet said. “So are you going to come home ripped and wrinkled all the time now?”her dad asked. “One can only hope” she said and they all laughed.
“I’ve got a new roommate. I want you to meet him” Gary told Gail as they had lunch a couple of days later. “I know it’s not a human roommate so what is it?” she asked as he was unable to fool her. “You’ll find out. I’ll pick you up around 6:30” was all he would say. Gail knew he loved animals and he had a dog before he went on his trip to Europe. His brother watched it for him and his niece and nephew got very attached to him so he let them keep him. When she got to Gary’s house he took her out to the backyard and she saw the brand new dog house. “I figured it was a dog. Where is it?” “He’s over there” he said pointing to the dog house. “I don’t see him” she said as they got closer. “He’s in there. Come here boy, come here boy” Gary said as he knelt down in front of the opening. “Oh!” Gail said with surprise when the animal finally showed himself. “What happened to him?” she asked. “My guess is he was in was in a fight with another dog. I found him a couple days ago when I was driving home. He was staggering down the street and I damn near ran him over. I took him to the vet and he got him all fixed up, didn’t he boy” he said as petted the dog and scratched him behind his ear. “They couldn’t save his left eye but other than that everything else will heal. What do you think?” he asked as he looked up at Gail. “I don’t know.” He was a medium sized dog and almost solid white. He had short legs and looked very sturdy and like he could be trouble.
“I know he doesn’t look so good now but…” “It’s not that but he looks kind of mean and if you said he’d been fighting; I don’t know.” “I didn’t say he started the fight, besides sometimes dogs just fight. He didn’t have a collar so I’m going to keep him. He may not look it but he’s very gentle.” Gary picked him up and said, “Biff meet Gail. Gail meet Biff.” She took his paw and shook it and said, “It’s nice to meet you Biff.” “It’s nice to meet you too. My new dad has told me all about you. You’re even prettier than he described” Gary said in a gruff voice pretending to be the dog. “Thank you” she said playing along. “Biff suits him better than it does you” she said as that was the name of Gary’s character in the movie he was filming. “That’s what I thought too.” He put Biff down and he stumbled back into his dog house. “Poor baby” she said. “After a while he’ll adjust to having just one eye and he should be able to get around better” Gary told her.
For Valentine’s day, Gary and Gail, her parents, his parents, and his brother and his wife all had dinner together at one of their favorite restaurants. Gary gave Gail a dozen red roses and a big box of truffles and she made him his favorite type of chocolate cake. The next week Gail and Gary spent all day Saturday together at his house and then she cooked dinner for them that evening. She knew how to bake fairly well and she had been getting her mother to help her learn how to cook regular meals. “Why the sudden interest in learning how to cook?” Gary asked as he helped Gail in the kitchen. “One of these days a man just might ask me to marry him and I’d like to know how to cook for him” she said very nonchalantly. “I told you we could have a cook” he said playing along. “That’s all well and good but what if some other man snatches me up first? Unless we can borrow your cook, one of us will need to know how to do it.” “So I’ve got competition huh?” he asked. “Not at the moment but you never know.” Gary walked up to stand behind her and he put his arms around her waist and rested his head on her shoulder and said, “Well you just tell any other guys who may come around that I have a large collection of guns and I’m a very good shot.” They both laughed and then finished cooking their meal.
At the beginning of March, Gail had been at her job for three full months and she still felt like an outsider. The other women were always courteous to her but in a superficial way. One morning she got stuck in traffic and was a little late. As Gail walked down the hall to her office she approached the employee lounge and could hear a couple of the other designers talking. “I guess Miss Movie Star is too important to grace us with her presence today.” “It’s almost sad how she thinks she’ll eventually be a designer. Let’s see, I spent two years taking classes and then another two years as an apprentice and she thinks after three months she’s going to be at our level.” They both laughed but that stopped when they turned and saw Gail standing in the door. “I’m late because I got stuck behind an accident and couldn’t get around it. I know I don’t have the same education and qualifications as everyone else here and I told Mrs. Dalton that when she hired me but she still offered me the job. I was hoping I could learn from you and be more than window dressing but I guess that’s all I was hired for.” Gail spoke very calmly and the women felt so bad that she had overheard them all they could do was put their heads down and stand in silence.
Instead of going to her office and continuing to study over the design books like she did every morning she went straight to her boss’s office. “Can I talk to you?” Gail asked. “Of course. What’s on your mind?” she said politely. “You hired me just for the publicity value didn’t you?” Mrs. Dalton hesitated for a moment and then said, “Well Gail, it takes specialized training and experience to be a designer and…” “Yes or no is all I’m asking” Gail said interrupting her. “Yes.” “I should have realized this weeks ago but I kept thinking I was going to get a chance. That explains why everyone has been polite but kind of standoffish. I guess they all knew what my real role here was.” “Gail, I…” “I won’t be made a fool of and I won’t be used. How much do I owe you for the clothes?” she said angry inside but maintaining a calm exterior. “They were a gift” Mrs. Dalton said. “How much?” Gail asked more forcefully. Her boss quoted her a figure and Gail wrote out a check. She laid it on the desk and said, “Thank you for this opportunity.”
Mrs. Dalton did not see this turn of events coming and she was so stunned she was speechless. Gail went to her office and cleaned out her desk. As she was walking back down the hall she passed one of the women who had been gossiping about her that morning. “I’m sorry for what I said Gail. Are you leaving?” “I never belonged here. I don’t want to stay somewhere where I can’t do my proper share of the work. It’s not fair to everyone else.” “Good luck” the woman said as she put out her hand. “Thanks” Gail said and they shook hands. She turned and saw Mrs. Dalton walking towards her with the check in hand. As she got closer she tore the check into pieces. “You more than earned those clothes Gail. You brought in a lot of business and it’s the least I can do for deceiving you. I’m sorry.” “Thanks.” “Are you sure you won’t stay?” “Like I was just telling Sarah, I never belonged here and I don’t want to be the person to upset the applecart so to speak.”
When she got home she went straight to her room and took all the Dalton clothes out of her closet and folded them up neatly on her bed. Her mother came in from grocery shopping and called out to her daughter. “In here” Gail replied. “What are you doing home?” “I quit.” “What happened?” Janet said surprised at this news. “I heard a couple of the women talking this morning about how I was never going to be a real designer and Mrs. Dalton admitted she hired me just to get publicity for her business. They must have been having a good laugh at me studying over those books and really trying to learn everything knowing it was useless.” Gail broke down and began to cry a little bit and her mother hugged her and tried to make her feel better. “I’m sorry sweetheart. What are you doing with your clothes?” “I can’t keep them. I wrote Mrs. Dalton a check but she wouldn’t take it. She said I had brought in so many customers that I had earned them. I couldn’t wear them now though.” “This one is messed up anyway” Janet said picking up the blouse that Gary ripped that night. Gail laughed and remembered how funny that had been. “Maybe I’ll keep that one—for sentimental reasons.”
She had plans to spend the evening with Gary and she arrived at his house around 6:30p.m. “Is that another new suit?” he asked as he didn’t recognize her outfit. “No, it’s one I bought a while back with some of my movie money.” “You won’t get in trouble for not wearing your Dalton clothes?” he asked teasing her. “No seeing as how I quit today and on my way here I gave the clothes to a charity shop.” “Why? What happened?” he asked stunned by this bombshell. They went into the kitchen and sat down at the table. Gary got them something to drink while Gail explained. “They were just using me for publicity and never had any intention of letting me actually do any real work.” “Did they tell you that?” “I overheard a couple women laughing about how I thought I would be a designer like them and I confronted Mrs. Dalton about it and she admitted it. I told her I wouldn’t stay to be made a fool of and I tried to pay for the clothes but she wouldn’t take the money. She did apologize but I left anyway.” “And you didn’t want to keep the clothes?” he asked. “No. They’d just remind me of being a joke and other people who need them more than I do will get use out of them.” He reached across the table and held her hand and said, “I’m sorry sweetheart. I know how excited you were to have that job.”
Gail didn’t want to cry again and she was struggling to keep the tears inside but when she was angry her natural reaction was to cry. “I’m just so mad” she said loudly getting up and pacing around the kitchen. “I loved my job at Paramount; I really did. I looked forward to going to work every day and working on all those beautiful clothes and then seeing what I helped make up on the screen. But now I’m too good for it and I’m politely shoved out the door! Okay so they get me another job but now I’m not good enough for that one! So I’m used as a cheap ploy to get people in the door and then patted on the head for being a good little stooge. Well now what do I do?! I’m too good for the jobs I’m qualified for and not good enough for anything else. I can’t just be a bum; I have to do something. But what! What can I do now?!”
Gary walked over to her and put his arms around her and held her tight. She hadn’t cried but she was sniffling and he pulled his handkerchief from his pocked and handed it to her. She wiped her nose and then sat back down at the table. “Feel any better?” he asked sweetly sitting down beside her. “Not really” she said smiling weakly. “Instead of going out why don’t I call the restaurant and get them to deliver something and we’ll just stay here and relax” he said. “That sounds great.” While they waited for their food, Gary and Gail sat together on the sofa cuddling and listening to the radio. After dinner they went outside to enjoy the sweet spring air. Biff was sitting outside his dog house peacefully sleeping as they walked around the large yard hand in hand. “There is one good thing that came out of all this” Gail said smiling up at Gary. “Those pearls?” he asked as she was wearing them that evening. “No, silly – being with you” she said. They both smiled and he raised her hand that he was holding and kissed it. After a brief pause Gary spoke up saying, “You wouldn’t need a job if we were married.”
She stopped and let go of his hand and then turning to face him asked, “Are you serious?” “You oughta know me well enough by now to know I don’t say things just to hear myself talk.” They were close to the bench in the yard and so they walked over to it and sat down. He took her hands in his and said, “I love you Gail and you love me and I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.” “How long?” she asked with a smile. “How long have we been together?” he asked. “Eight months” she replied. “Eight months then.” “You’ve wanted to marry me for that long?” she said not quite believing him. “Heck, I knew practically right away that you were the right one. You’re real and genuine and that’s a rare quality in this town.You wanted me for me not because of what I could give you or to ride my coattails.” She pulled her hands from his and put them on his cheeks and pulled him close to give him a kiss. “I have thought about how great it would be if we were married but we haven’t even been together a year.” “Does that really matter?” he said putting his hand on her shoulder and gently caressing her arm. “It’s a big step and we have to be sure we’re ready. I don’t want to say yes now just so I don’t have to try and find another job.” “Sometimes I think you’re too smart for your own good. You are right though. I don’t want you to say yes for the wrong reason.” “You won’t rescind the offer if I wait a while to answer?” she asked. He put his arms around her and held her close and said, “No, it’s open-ended--no expiration date.”
Gail told her parents about Gary’s proposal and that she told him she wanted to marry him but wasn’t quite ready yet. Her dad was surprised it happened so quickly but her mother wasn’t. “He’d be a fool to let you get away” she said. “He was so sweet and he said he’s known I was the right one for him since we started dating in Hawaii. These eight months have gone by so fast though and I’m just not sure that I’m ready yet for marriage.”
A couple of weeks had passed since Gary proposed and nothing had really changed. Gail still didn’t know what to do with herself and she was getting really bored without something meaningful to occupy her time. One of her friends had a birthday coming up soon so she went out shopping for a gift. She noticed a woman staring at her in the shop and as the woman came closer she recognized her as Mary Purcell from New Movie magazine who had done the first interview with Gail. “I thought that looked like you Gail. Do you remember me?” she asked with a smile. “Of course I do Ms. Purcell” she said as they shook hands. “Oh please, call me Mary. How have you been?” “Fine, and you?” Gail replied. “Can’t complain. You’re working at Dalton’s now aren’t you? That’s quite a step up from wardrobe girl.” Gail hesitated and Mary could tell from the change in demeanor that something was wrong. “Are you sure everything’s fine?” Mary asked genuinely concerned. “I don’t know if I should be telling my troubles to a reporter” Gail said. “I’m no gossip columnist. If you say it’s off the record then my lips are sealed.” Gail new Mary had a good reputation so she confided in her.
“I left Dalton’s. They only wanted me for the publicity. I studied every day, reading all their design books cover to cover and they never had any intention of letting me do any real work. Now I don’t know what to do and I’m bored to tears.” “You know what? I may have the perfect thing for you. Ann Topper, who writes fashion articles for us is leaving, they haven’t filled the position yet. You’d be perfect for it!” Mary said excitedly. “Do you really think so?” “Absolutely! My lunch break is almost over, why don’t you come back with me to the magazine and we’ll talk to the boss and see what we can do.”
A few hours later Gail returned home. “Didn’t find anything?” her mother asked when she came in. “Huh?” “You went out to do some shopping and you came back empty handed.” “Oh yeah, I totally forgot about that. It all happened so fast.” “What happened?” Janet asked. “I ran into the woman from New Movie magazine who interviewed me back when we were making the movie and we started talking and she said there was a fashion writer position open at the magazine and then the next thing I knew I was in the editor’s office and they gave me the job” she explained still a bit stunned by this turn of events. “I knew something would work out” her mother said happily. Gary was also happy to hear Gail’s news and he took her out to dinner to celebrate.
Gail loved her new job and she had fun going to fashion shows and writing up articles about some of the beautiful costumes featured in films. Her contributions were very well received and she also offered tips on how to dress like a million dollars on a small budget, how to make your own clothes, and interesting stories from her time as a wardrobe girl at Paramount. She and Gary had a fun summer going to the horse races, having barbecues with family and friends, and sometimes they would rent a boat and spend a day out on the water.
The first weekend in September they again rented a boat and Gail made a picnic lunch and they had a wonderful day sailing along the blue California coast. “I love Montana, the mountains and everything, but this is sure hard to beat” Gary said as they dropped anchor and took a break to eat. “I’d love to see Montana. Maybe we could go there for our honeymoon.” Gary nearly choked on his sandwich and then with a full mouth he asked, “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” “Ask me again” she said with a big smile. He chewed fast so he wouldn’t have to propose with a mouth full of food and Gail giggled at him while she waited. He reached over to hold her hands and asked, “Will you be my wife?” “Yes” she said happily. They hugged and kissed and laughed. As the sun began to set, they headed back to the dock, ready to begin a new phase in their lives - one they would spend together.