SOMETIMES, IT WOULD BE NICE,
GENE TIERNEY'S BROTHER-IN-LAW THINKS,
NOT TO BE BOTHERED
WITH THOSE QUESTIONS: "WHAT'S GENE REALLY LIKE?
IS SHE GLAMOROUS?" AND HERE'S THE ANSWER . . .

by CHOLLY KNICKERBOCKER
Modern Screen magazine, January 1947



This whole thing springs from a telephone call I got one morning at nine o'clock. I had been dreaming that a fire engine had burst into my
flat and I woke up. It was the telephone.
I reached over, sleepily, and grabbed the receiver.
"Yes?"
"Is Gene there?" a feminine voice squeaked.
"No," I said. "She's gone back to Hollywood."
"Oh, then this is Oleg?" the voice said."No. Oleg has gone back to Hollywood, too." And with that I was ready to drop the receiver.
"Well, then this must be Igor?" said the tiny voice, hurriedly.
"Yes," I replied. "And, by the way, who are you?"
"You don't know me," she answered. "But I know you. Won't you let us come up?"
"Us?"
"Yes, I have a friend. It's very important that we see you."
"Look," I said, stifling a yawn,
"I'm not even out of bed yet."
Igor Cassini, Gene's
brother-in-law, is better known as New York's society reporter, Cholly Knickerbocker.
 

If I hadn't been awake before, this did it.
"Look," I said, stifling a yawn, "I'm not even out of bed yet. In fact, I just got into bed. Some other time, please."
"But it is so important, Igor, Please!"
"All right," I said. "Come on up." I got out of bed, slipped into a pair of trousers and a shirt and washed my face. When they came in, I found myself star ing at two young girls, neither of whom, if you totalled their ages, was over 17. "Igor?" the tinier one with glasses asked.
"Yes. Could I help you ladies?"
"We just wanted to see what Gene Tierney's brother-in-law looks like."
price of fame ...
In fact, this brother-in-law situation offers both advantages and disadvantages, some of which are slightly on the humorous side. 1 found that out when I joined the Army. I had hardly finished casting off my civilian clothes when a tough sergeant called me forth from a formation and said: "Aren't you married to Gene Tierney, Private Cassini?"

"No, sergeant," I began. "I—" "Then you're her brother," he added
quickly. "Well, not her brother either, sergeant. You see, it's this way. I—" He cut me off again with: "Oh, a phony, eh? I've seen guys like you before. Posing as something you're not."
"Then you're her brother," he added
quickly.
"Well, not her brother either, sergeant. You see, it's this way. I—" He cut me off again with: "Oh, a phony, eh? I've seen guys like you before. Posing as something you're not." I could tell my sergeant was getting mad, and I happened to have been one of a few millions of soldiers who didn't like to make sergeants mad.
"I've been trying to explain, sir—" (rookies always called sergeants "sir") "—that I'm Miss Tierney's brother-in-law. Not her husband, not her brother. But only an in-law."
"Oh, I see," he said. "So you're not a phony after all. I knew you were connected some way."

After which his expression changed to one of friendliness, and friendly, too, was the pat on the back he gave me. And from that day on I was in big with the sarge. But there was a catch. He wanted (and got!) a picture of Gene, autographed especially for him.
Similar incidents occurred frequently during my Army days. Such as that day in basic training at Camp Lee when the regimental C.O. heard that Gene Tierney's brother-in-law was stationed in his outfit.
A couple of nice handshakes followed— colonel and private—and from this emerged the idea that it would be swell to have Gene visit Camp Lee, watch a parade or so, then be guest of honor at a nifty officers' dance. Meanwhile, excitement over Gene's arrival (already they had figured it to be a sure thing) ran pretty high, and I confess I felt the slightest trace of a hint—threat, rather—as to my future plans unless I urged Gene to comply with their plans.

Anyway, Gene couldn't make it—which was somewhat unfortunate, because I spent many an hour over the kitchen pots, whereas I figured I should have rated a "B" for trying.   Gene, at the time, was following Oleg around from camp to camp, just as other wives followed their husbands. Had this not been the case I'm sure she would have come to Lee.
Oleg, too—by the way—felt some of the brunt. He had just become a second lieutenant at the Cavalry School at Fort Riley (I was still a private), and was being reminded by the glad-handers that he was Gene's husband. At least in his case it was excusable. Her husband.
But I found it disappointing to know that my success as a soldier hinged more on the fact that I was her brother-in-law rather than on my ability.
It was always interesting to me to know what others thought about Gene. Some invariably put their question this way: "What is she really like?  In one movie she was a terrific siren—and in the other she was a slinky murderess." Well, film roles fool you. Stars are flesh, blood and nerves just as is anybody else. They most generally like or dislike the same things you do. Of course Gene is not a "siren" or a "slinky murderess."   She's a wife and a mother, and her home comes first.   She doesn't "live" the actress once she leaves location.   Like other stars, she might well like dancing, or picnicking or movies—in short, they're human. They are not far-away celluloid mannequins.
Gene isn't particularly fond of Hollywood.
I mean as a place to live. She reminds you that she's an Easterner, born in Dodgerland and raised in Yankee Connecticut. She loves New York, too.
What does she do for a good time?
Take a spin or so at the night spots with husband Oleg; or perhaps visit friends in Long Island where she may attend a party; or go window shopping. About shopping, Gene is not a foolish spender. She's well aware of the value of a dollar and she possesses the keen wit of a Yankee horse- trader when it comes to doling out cash.

Gene also leans toward antiques. This, by the way, is genuine, and not affected. Her favorite style is Early American, and she's one of the few "amateurs" who can spot the difference between, say, an American Windsor chair or one of the Louis Quinze period.
At home she's lots of fun. When she arrives she kicks off her shoes and romps about in bare feet—an old habit. She is very much attached to her family, and takes deep pride in the fact that she could send her young sister, Pat, to school.

I was asked if Gene really likes games.
She does. She can hold her own at swim- ming and plays a whale of a tennis game. Originally she disliked tennis because Oleg played it so much, and he had a habit of getting home late for dinner. Finally Oleg introduced Gene to the courts, and now he can hardly drag her away.
Like most of us, Gene has her favorite film stars. Spencer Tracy stands high on her list, along with Clifton Webb and, of course, Sweden's gift to Hollywood, scintillating Ingrid Bergman, who, she agrees, is a great actress.
Among her many habits is that of reading at night before dropping off to sleep. She's a stickler for having windows open while she sleeps, and likes orange juice and eggs for breakfast.
fence sitter ...
If you want to argue politics with Gene, you must go elsewhere.  She doesn't use them.  She won't line up on either side publicly, and her ideas remain secret.  As for languages, she holds her own with French—which she and Oleg use to engage in heated arguments (and who doesn't have them?) while the servants are nearby.  Gene learned her French in Switzerland, and I'm quite sure at that time she never dreamt she'd be the Gene Tierney of movie fame.  And I'm even more sure that I never dreamt I'd be a brother-in-law to such a swell girl.

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