Wedding Bell Blues: The Power of the Pen

Is reading believing? Photo by: brody4

One advantage celebrities have over everyone else is name recognition.  In divorce situations, this means they can tell and sell their story from their point of view, reaping revenge with a capital “R.”

Eddie Fisher didn’t have too many kind words for his ex in his autobiography Been There, Done That, depicting Debbie Reynolds as a self-centered, totally driven, insecure, untruthful phony and “the antithesis of sex.”

She complained so much that Eddie “would leave the house praying for a miracle – that by the time I got home she would have disappeared.”

Fisher didn’t spare her mother either, describing her as “the human equivalent of chalk scratching on a blackboard.”

Reynolds, in turn, in Debbie: My Life, portrayed Fisher as an uncaring, moody, son-of-a-gun who, if he wasn’t playing cards with the guys, wanted to be left alone, except when it came to Elizabeth Taylor.  As far as their troubled marriage, “Things would get better,” she wrote.  “He’d go out on the road for a week or ten days and come back in a friendlier frame of mind.  And when we went out with others, he could be very nice.”

Over thirty years later another Hollywood golden couple were the talk of the town with their good looks, their successful careers, and their perfect marriage, but when Burt Reynolds sued Loni Anderson for divorce, it was obvious it wasn’t so perfect after all.   Anderson took the high ground, keeping her mouth shut until she had written her account of events.  Reynolds couldn’t wait, heading straight to the National Enquirer to recount his tale of woe before he, too, settled down to pen his memoirs.

In 2008, a year after Whitney Houston divorced Bobby Brown, his autobiography, Bobby Brown: The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But, hit the bookstores.

“I never used cocaine until I met Whitney Houston,” Brown declared, putting her habit squarely on her doorstep.  He believed his marriage was doomed from the beginning, not because he slept around, but for the reason that he and Whitney had different agendas: she wanted to be transformed, to have an urban, gritty edge; he wanted to be loved and have children.  He further blamed the media for making him out to be “like Ike Turner, when that wasn’t my character.”

Houston reserved comment.

Although Houston never put pen to paper, she got her turn in a two-part interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show the following year. Concerning the end of her marriage, she stated, “I wasn’t going to be in an unholy matrimony.  I wasn’t going to be living with a man who decided that he didn’t want to live the same way I did or thought about marriage or me the same way.  Being loyal.  Being dedicated. Being true.  Being faithful.  All those things.”

Now whom do you believe?

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


40 Years Ago During the Sexual Revolution: A Man on a Rug

Looking fine in 1991. Photo by: Alan Light

The April 1972 cover of Cosmopolitan magazine looked like any other under the editorial leadership of Helen Gurley Brown.  It was designed to appeal to young and not-so-young women, promising tips on health and beauty and advice on love, life, and, of course, sex.  An attractive model in a low-cut dress took center stage, and teasers of the topics inside ran on the side.

“A Sure Way to Win a Man – Zap Him When He’s Down and Unsure of himself” declared one blurb.

Another announced, “You Don’t Have to be Popular or Beloved to be Happy – Au Contraire.”

For the politically-minded, one story described “What a Woman Can Do in Congress,’” featuring Bella Abzug.

But the star of the issue was 36-year old Burt Reynolds, who had just received rave reviews for his macho, but vulnerable, performance in Deliverance, splayed on a bear skin rug in all his glory, his arm casually covering his privates.  The photograph spoke volumes about the Sexual Revolution.  If women weren’t interested in men the same way men were interested in women, it wouldn’t have happened, pill or no pill.

Brown had been contemplating a male nude centerfold for quite some time, but she just hadn’t found the right guy.  One night on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson she shared the couch with Reynolds.  His deprecating wit and good-natured teasing were a turn-on, and she thought, “He’s cute. Why not him?”

Burt thought it would be a kick, and he readily accepted, but he was nervous during the session.  Photographer Francesco Scavullo remembered giving him something to drink, so he’d be more comfortable and take off his robe.  Whatever. It worked.

“There wasn’t one bad picture of him,” Scavullo later recollected. “I photographed him with a hat in front of it, a dog in front of it.  I photographed him with his leg crossed so you couldn’t see it, I photographed him with his hands, his arms, and we photographed him also, completely, everything showing.”

Upon its release, there was a stampede on newsstands, and all 1.6 million copies of the issue sold out.  The foldout was hung in college dormitories and taped on refrigerator doors to the dismay of boyfriends, husbands, and lovers.

Reynolds wasn’t the only newsmaker to bare his soul.  Later that year Henry Kissinger appeared nude in the Harvard Lampoon.  It was a parody, however.   The editors had attached the face of the National Security Advisor to the body of a 50-year old taxi driver.  Oh, well, we can always fantasize.

It’s not too late to get in on the action.  Copies of the special edition can be bought on Ebay.  Or, if you’re interested in the articles, Cosmopolitan is still available wherever fine monthlies are sold.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


To see how the covers of Cosmopolitan evolved from 1896 to 1976, go to: