Kim Darby seemed like another person. During the filming of Paramount's True Grit, she had been trying her best to put on an "everything-is-all-right" air, but she hadn't carried it off completely. Her marital problems with Jim Stacy were plainly weighing on her mind.
But that was in December. Now, almost a year later, on the location set of her latest film, Paramount's Norwood, Kim was as genuinely happy as a young woman could be...especially a young woman whose very first movie had catapulted her into the ranks of Hollywood's top stars. Before, Kim had always been preoccupied--and somewhat aloof. Now, she was as playful as a colt. No one could have been more outgoing. No one could have been friendlier. The naturally sunny nature of this lovely actress was finally breaking through and the effect was enchanting.
All the troubles that seemed to be pressing down on Kim several months ago have, indeed, been swept aside. She is no longer new to the movie-making business, so she's much less tense on this second film in which she and Glen Campbell star. Her marriage to Jim Stacy has been settled, too--in the divorce courts. Painful as that parting was, it at least solved the problem with finality.
But most of all, Kim, at the end of her 21st year, has found someone new to care for her, and that is enough to make any woman sing. He is Peter Deuel, whom Kim met while both were making the David Janssen-starrer, Avco Embassy's Generation. Now their relationship has gone beyond the professional--so much so that Kim keeps Peter's picture in plain sight in her trailer-dressing room. It stays smack on top of the refrigerator--which in that dressing room is the one place where it can always be seen.
Only the night before Kim's 22nd birthday, Peter had driven two hours from Hollywood to be with Kim at the Norwood location at Lake Elsinore, south of Hollywood. There was a celebration for Kim, with a big cake cut on the set. But the real party took place after the hard day's work was done, at the nearby Travel Lodge where 18 of Kim's closest friends gathered to honor her.
It was a lovely party, and Kim, who doesn t drink, even got brave enough to down a couple of grasshoppers. Peter was right there beside her, as were her mother and stepfather. There also were Paul Nathan, who has been so vitally important to her career, Jack Haley Jr., who is directing Norwood, and Glen Campbell, along with "Broadway Joe" Namath who s making his film debut in the picture. There were othersmost of them from the production personnel of Norwood and True Grit, individuals who have grown especially fond of Kim.
She was still beaming like a kid the next day at work, despite the heat and dust and other discomforts. Perhaps she still had the sound of "Happy Birthday" singing in her ears. Or perhaps it was the sweet taste of Peter's kiss, given right in front of everybody. But, eyes sparkling, all Kim would say at first was, "Yes, Peter was here last night for my birthday party." And, "Yes, Peter is very close to me and very dear to me and very good to me. And I like him very much."
Photo Caption: Kim and Peter (l.), first met while co-starring on Avco Embassy's Generation w. Andy Prine, David Janssen and Brenda Scott.
Yet, Kim seemed at a loss when asked plainly, "Well, are you just friends, or is there actually a romance? Are you just dating, or what? Come on, the truth, Kim."
Looking up in mock desperation at Pete s picture perched on the refrigerator, Kim pleaded, helplessly, "Pete...." Then, laughing, a lovely flush rising to her cheeks, she said softly, "We re very close. It s very private--and it's very nice. And that s all I want to say now."
It s no wonder that young Kim Darby wants to keep her life private these days. Ever since the rumors of trouble between her and Jim Stacy started, she'd had far too little privacy. She could hardly weep for her disintegrating marriage, for the loss of a man she loved deeply and whose child she bore, without it becoming public knowledge. All during the shooting of True Grit, she was beset not only by the difficulty of the part, but she was worried, as all new mothers are, about her baby daughter, Heather. And she was even more worried, as it turned out, about her relationship with Jim.
Now she could explain calmly, "You see, Jim was my first husband--I' ve had only one--and I had a child by him. There was a great emotional tie to him, and there will be for years and years and years to come.
"There's no strain in our relationship now," Kim went on. "We have a great understanding, and everything is fine." But then, hesitating briefly, she added, "Sometimes it takes one man to make you forget another--or remember another. But that latter is not true in this case.
"I like Peter," she grinned, then, losing her cool completely, she half-protested, "and I...I have his picture up there...and what can I tell you? Oh, for heaven's sake, let's talk about needlepoint!"
Kim was much less jumpy, however, when it came to talking about love and marriage in general. Despite her own unhappy initial experience, she still insisted, "I feel fine about marriage--very fine about marriage. I like being married. I believe in it. If people don't want to get married and want to live together, that's groovy, too. But for me--I like being married."
Furthermore, with no hesitancy whatsoever, she conceded that she liked the feeling of security which marriage gives her and that she feels that she is an insecure person. "Yes, very much so. I think marriage is something so private and so nice," she added with a note of wistfulness. "It can he something so wonderful between two people."
Kim's knowledge of marriage, before she went into it herself, was a rather paradoxical one. She saw her own parents fly apart and the two of them divorced by the time she was two years old--not a very good recommendation. Yet, on the other hand, she saw the marriage of her grandparents, who reared her, last decades. Mabel and Clyde Zerby had one of the happiest unions on earth, and it did not end until death took Clyde early this spring. That must have been an encouraging sign to Kim when she met Jim Stacy and wed him.
Yet, not even the birth of the child they both wanted so badly could salvage the Stacy marriage. They tried--both of them. But it split at the seams, and in February of this year, a tense, sick-at-heart Kim went into court and called it quits. Jim has the usual father's visiting privileges, and, Kim said again, "Everything is fine. I didn't want alimony. He's just paying child support."
Heather, a big girl of almost one year, is trying to get on her feet like everybody else and walk. This time, she is not with her mother on location. "I have a nurse who takes care of her when I m not there," Kim said, adding with an affectionate chuckle, "and when I am there, we spend all of our time with each other.
"I call her French Fry," Kim said. "She's huge, like a football player. But she's crisp and very salty, too. When you look at her, you see a French Fry. So that's what I call her." Throwing back her head, Kim laughed as I had never heard her laugh before--all freedom and joy and delight.
Kim is plainly ready for joy again, although she admits that "I get very sad sometimes. Because my marriage didn't work...and because it was very important to me. It was my whole life. I think I've grown up quite a bit," she added, laughing once more. "And yet, I'm a lot younger in ways, too, because I was so sheltered as a child. Being brought up by my grandparents, I wasn't exposed to much of anything at all. The last five years of my life have just been incredible...about growing...and being exposed to things...and being subjected to things...."
Within the last five years, Kim has come from an eager, unsure, albeit talented teenager to an accomplished, sought-after, noted performer. In that time, too, she has experienced emotionally all the love and heartbreak that goes into making a girl a woman--including marriage and motherhood. It's a lot to pack.....
The next page has been torn out of the magazine. There's probably no more about Pete, anyway.
Photos Caption: Divorced from Jim Stacy last winter, Kim began the spring with new love Peter. By summer he was visiting Kim on the Lake Elsinore location of Para's Norwood (w. Meredith MacRae, above) to help celebrate her 22nd birthday (top w. half-sister Anna.) At party, even teetotaller Kim drank to Peter and her happiness.
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