About Rex Harrison, cont'd.


The Foxes of Harrow, 1947, with Maureen O'Hara

Unfaithfully Yours, 1948, with Linda Darnell

Escape, 1948

Despite the success of his 20th Century Fox films, Rex was not too enamored of Hollywood. Having just come from war-torn England, the lifestyles of the rich and famous seemed incredibly wasteful to him. Also, he had no interest in playing the publicity game nor following most of the unwritten rules of the business.

One such rule was the deferential behavior required toward the Queens of the Tabloids, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons. These two gossip columnists held enormous sway over Hollywood folk of the day, and were supposed to be treated very, very carefully. Rex not only refused to play this game (grovelling, he called it), but tended to speak his mind openly. He lashed out at Hedda Hopper for printing nasty comments about his "Ghost and Mrs. Muir" co-star, Gene Tierney, whom Rex held in high regard. (Gene's "offense" was having the temerity not to inform Hedda she was newly pregnant.)


Pals in Hollywoodland:
Douglas Fairbanks Jr., David Niven, Rex, and Robert Coote
But, given his social nature, Rex was caught up for awhile in the Hollywood party scene, especially when he wasn't working. He and Lilli made a lot of new friends and renewed old acquaintances.  "It was really quite a jolly period, the parties and the drinks and the camaraderie, but it was all so luxurious and so tempting I thought I'd be swallowed up by it and nobody in the real world would ever hear of me again." 

 

The bubble would burst in 1948. As Lilli Palmer put it, "Hollywood is already a great strain on any marriage, and Rex did not always find it easy to resist the many attractive ladies who pointedly made themselves available to him." Lilli naturally found other men attractive: "Gary Cooper (her co-star in 'Cloak and Dagger') was like hanging a lollipop in front of a baby...but I was, I hope, a little too wise to throw it all away for the sake of a fling. But one woman wasn't ever enough for Rex. He just couldn't be faithful."

Rex had an affair with a starlet named Carole Landis. When she committed suicide, the resulting scandal swept through the press, many of whom were quite gleeful to smear a non-conformist they'd already labeled as rude and snobbish.  Lilli stuck by Rex through it all. They were present at the inquest and the funeral, but very soon after, the Harrisons departed for New York, effectively closing the door on Hollywood for a good many years to come.

 

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Rex and Lilli attend Carole Landis' funeral, 1948


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