Monday, February 21, 2011

Kiss and Tell with Marianna Hill

Fans of Westerns shot in Spain most fondly remember Marianna Hill for her role in EL CONDOR.
by James Bacon

One day I had lunch at the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel with a fetching young actress by the name of Marianne Hill. As is often the case when a young actress lunches with a columnist, she tried to give me news.
"Guess who I had a date with last night?" she said. I couldn't guess. "Henry Kissinger."
I knew she wasn't kidding. This was when the secretary of state, between marriages, was in his Hollywood starlet phase. He was in town because the president was in residence at San Clemente. Remember when that was the Western White House?
So I started asking her questions about Henry as a lover, not a diplomat. Suffice it to say that on a Richter scale of ten, she rated him below five. In fairness to Henry, Marianne said that Secret Service men were always present and didn't lend themselves to romantic dalliance.
"I think," she said, "that if Henry could function alone, he would be all right. But it's very hard to make love when someone is standing around holding a lantern."
I couldn't use those exact words in my column because I do write for family newspapers, but I somehow got the meaning across. By the time the column appeared in print, President Nixon and Henry were back in Washington. I knew Henry was going to hear about the column because three of Henry's other girl friends called me. All of them, as if in a chorus, all said the same thing: "Marianne Hill is just a fill-in date. Henry took her to dinner at Chasen's that night, nothing more. He promised me that he wouldn't see her again. I am his one girl out here."
I was impressed by Henry's prowess with the ladies and began to think that Marianne had prehaps downgraded him too much.
His most publicized date out here was Jill St. John, but that was a publicity front. Jill, at the time, was the mistress of someone even more powerful than Henry, and her lover liked the publicity the Kissinger dates gave her. It took the heat off at home with his wife. And, as the lover once assured me, there was no action.
Jill was not one of the three girls who called, by the way. They were all starlets whose names today would mean nothing to the general public. At least one of them told me that she had read the column over the phone to Henry in Washington.
The next night when I came home my wife gave me the astonishing news that the White House had called and would call back. To show you the ego of gossip columnists, I never dreamed it was Kissinger. I immediately assumed it was the president. Before long the phone rang; it was the White House switchboard.
"Just a moment, Mr. Bacon. I'll connect you."
The voice that came on sounded like Conrad Veidt - unmistakably Kissinger.
"Could I talk to you as I talk to the White House press?" he asked. I assured him that he could.
"It's true," he said, "that I took out Marianne Hill, but I won't again. She is the first one who ever talked about me like that. I assure you that that one date will be the only one. As you know, my job requires that I have a certain amount of dignity. The Marianne Hills don't help."
I then pointed out to Henry that he dines with some of our most beautiful actresses in the really chic places to be seen, such as the Bistro. It's bound to get in the columns.
"I like the Bistro and Chasen's," he said, "because I am known there. I don't know where else to go in Beverly Hills. It's not my town," he replied. "I don't object to your writing that I dined with Joanna Barnes at the Bistro, where you saw us the other night. I just object to Marianne Hill getting so explicit. Could I ask you to just write about my dates with Joanna and Jill St. John? It would help keep my job dignified. After all, it is very important to our country."
Since he put it on a patriotic basis, I complied.

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