Ever since the days of Alias Smith & Jones, Ben has had the label of "The Greatest Lover in the World" attached to him--which he's fast trying to live down.
"I may have been a bit of a rogue with girls," Ben admitted, "but that's no skill to be proud of. I would be much prouder of myself if I grew up to be a nice, good husband and father--of that I would be proud," he said softly. "I don't even date much anymore. There was a time when I was always surrounded by women. And I was running around the world having a great time. Now I'm tired of it and off doing other things, like playing tennis--and living in the fresh air of Malibu."
Ben was busy cutting large slices of a fruitcake sent by his mother, who lives 2,000 miles away. He offered me some as he talked.
"That playboy image is funny when you consider that when I was a kid I was taught that fancy-kissing was a mortal sin--and anything else much more! But I suppose it all started when Pete Duel and I were doing Smith & Jones, and girls would call us all day at the studio. It was all very flattering. But the crazy thing is . . . I really don't understand women. Girls: yes. I'm an authority on, maybe, getting them into bed and things like that. But I just don't understand femaleness that much.
"I guess I don't have a great deal of respect for women on the whole: I think that most women waste their own potential--they're pampered. I'm not your perfect liberated male," he admitted. "I do feel superior. I believe in women's freedom, but as a male I feel infinitely superior. There are ladies in the world who could teach me a million different things, but to the average female I feel superior. It's not just that I'm physically stronger: I'm just happy in my maleness."
Obviously content with the controversial statement he'd just uttered, Ben cheerfully finished his mum's cake, and I asked what he thought the future held for him.
"In many ways I'm still a big kid right now," he responded, "but I'm settling down gradually. At the moment, I prefer to be footloose and fancy-free, but I'm slowly accepting responsibilities. I take them seriously, and, frankly, I'm afraid of them.
"That's why I've never married; someday, I'd like to. though, because I think it's a lovely experience. Even though you know marriage may not last a lifetime, you go into it with permanence in mind--so you don't rush into it. And kids? Well, right now I can't stand the little monsters! But I'm sure if I had my own I'd love them--of course, I would. I'd be just as proud as any father would be. But for now, let their own parents keep them--and well away from me! Seriously, I would love to have children--in time. I would want the mother to be around to take care of them. Don't think I feel a woman should stay in the kitchen---heck, no! I should like to be in a financial position where I could free my wife of those responsibilities. Because if I were to marry somebody, it would be because I want to spend time with her. I don't want her to have to take care of the kids, either. I'd have a nanny living in to take care of the kids and love them--and they'd respond in kind.
"Parents should be away from the kids a lot---and the kids away from the parents. It's a mutual thing; they shouldn't always be together. Let the kids have their own domain--it's good for them. And when they need the love and the care and the discipline--which they do need---than you give it to them.
"I really can't imagine not getting married,'' Ben went on. "I need people around--I get lonely. I'm not domesticated in any way. I don't cook at all--I eat out all the time. I boil water in the kitchen, and that's all I'll do. I don't care to cook: I have to be served. And, quite frankly, when I am married, my woman will have to serve me. And if she doesn't want to, then that's fine--I'll go out to restaurants to eat, as I do now. I refuse to do anything in the kitchen; I don't have the time for it."
"So, you see," he continued, grinning and showing those perfect white teeth that set off his beautifully suntanned face, "I'd need to have very loving wife to cook and care for me in my old age. Besides, I like women too much to live on my own; I love women and have enjoyed them the world over. But even now---at the ripe old age of 34---I find I can no longer live the life I used to."
Photo Caption (Left): From his terrace overlooking Malibu: "When I was a kid I was taught fancy-kissing was a mortal sin"
Photo Caption (Right): With our female writer in his lounge:
"I don't have much respect for women...as a male, I feel
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