Polly Bergen & the Newmans

Polly Bergen Bel Air California

Roger Asquith and Polly Bergen

Just a Bel Air neighborhood afternoon. Actress Polly Bergen passed away a short while ago at age 84. I met Polly Bergen on the set of MOVE OVER, DARLING, with her co-stars Doris Day and James Garner.  Polly plays the 2nd wife of James Garner. His first wife, Doris Day, is presumed to have died in a plane crash … but she didn’t… and thereby hangs the tale!!! My associate and I had been invited to Polly’s Bel Air mansion to talk about the film and also the new beauty products being added to her successful new business POLLY BERGEN COSMETICS. Arriving at the entrance to her home, I pressed the intercom and announced our arrival.

The huge decorative iron gates swung open and we crunched along the driveway to the house where Polly was there to greet us. Ten minutes later we were appreciating a frosty glass of ice cold Margaritas on the patio with a fantastic view of the various multi million dollars homes nestling between the Palm trees. Polly told us Bel Air was a very close knit neighbourhood where everybody was very friendly. Elizabeth Taylor lived very close by and next door was the home of her friends, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Just like movie magic, a few minutes later, Paul and Joanne came walking across the lawn to bring Polly a belated birthday present. Obviously they didn’t announce themselves at the huge iron gated entrance. “They live next door,” whispered Polly “and take a short cut across their lawn then squeeze through a  gap in the fence. It was hard to believe Paul Newman having to squeeze through anything, but here he was stalking across the manicured lawn like HUD the tough cattle rancher in the film he was making on location in Texas.

Paul and Joanne sat down with us on the patio while Polly served up another round of Margaritas.  Being Hollywood, the talk was all naturally about movies. Joanne was filming WOMEN OF SUMMER. She had taken over the role after the tragic death of Marilyn Monroe. Paul took the role of HUD very seriously and trained as a cattle rancher in Texas until he could rope a steer like an expert, furthermore, he had the calloused hands to prove it.    Co-star Patricia Neal won the Oscar for Best Actress in the film HUD even though she was only in the film for less than twenty-five minutes.

The Hollywood chatter continued and we had another round of Margaritas, then my associate signalled she had to leave for another appointment. Reluctantly we left Polly, Joanne and Paul to finish their drinks. Driving back to Hollywood, my friend was more interested in the bag of cosmetics that Polly had given her than talking about Paul Newman whom she had just met. “He’s quite a short guy, isn’t he? I thought HUD is supposed to be a tall hunky Texas Rancher,” she said, sniffing some cold cream “I guess he has to stand on boxes like Alan Ladd in in the film SHANE.”

I stared in horror at my associate, how could she be so crass as to tell the truth when writing about a film star?!

Well, I guess THAT’S HOLLYWOOD.

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