"Oh, I see," said Bill Robinson, her manager and close friend. Kim had been going with Peter Deuel for about a year, and Robinson had been expecting the news.
"Are you sure you're in love with him?" he asked. "Oh, yes, ecstatically. I've never been in love this way before in my life."
Knowing how sensitive Kim is, he asked, "Are you sure he's right for you? Can you be happy married to him forever?"
"Oh, yes, I was never as sure of anything in my whole life as I am that James and I can be happy for a lifetime."
"James? Who's James?" exploded the manager. "I thought you were talking about Peter."
"Oh, no," said Kim, laughing softly. "It's James I'm going to marry. James Westmoreland. I met him two weeks ago but we're absolutely in love, and I know, I just know, he's the man for me."
"Two weeks!" The manager was dizzy by now. "And you're that sure?"
"Absolutely, positively sure. Knowing you're in love isn't so much a matter of time as it is of--well feeling."
Kim's close friend wasn't the only one reeling at the news of Kim's sudden decision to marry a man she had known such a short time, and even more people were amazed when she married James one week later--three weeks after she'd first met him.
Kim is considered pretty much of a recluse in Hollywood. An inordinately private person, shy and withdrawn, she's not one to give way to sudden impulses. Particularly in marriage. Particularly since she'd hardly gotten over the hurt of her divorce from Jim Stacy. And most particularly since she has a year and a half old baby daughter.
As though to convince everyone that the romance, brief as it was, had substance and quality, Kim went all out in her hurried preparations for her wedding to be sure that the ceremony was beautiful and dignified.
"Since she and James were in such a hurry to get married, they could have rushed off to Vegas and gotten it over with in one night, with no bother about preparations," said a close friend of Kim's, who was one of the few at her wedding. "But Kim told me she didn't want a Vegas ceremony. Too much gilt and clap-trap.
"There was so much she had to do in the few days she had to whip up the wedding preparations. Three days before the wedding, she was discharged from the hospital where she'd had minor surgery. She and James had to dash down to the Los Angeles County courthouse to get their blood tests and get the license--all that takes practically a full day. The morning before the wedding I phoned her and she said, 'I can't talk, I'm in a hurry. James is here and we're dashing out to get the wedding ring.' Her wedding dress had to be delivered at the last minute, just as she was about to leave her house in Beverly Hills to drive to Malibu for the marriage ceremony."
If Kim had planned for months she couldn't have had a more beautiful wedding. A friend of Kim's, Samantha Karp, has a house in the Malibu colony, with a living room that has a large picture window facing the ocean. Kim had once exclaimed over the breathtaking view. When Samantha heard of Kim's plans to marry, she phoned her.
"Would you like to be married in the living room in my house?" she offered.
"Would I?" breathed Kim.
So on a sunny day in February she and James stood before that glass window, the roaring surf whipping up curly white rollers.
Outside the house in which Kim was being married, a very different scene was taking place in the house of her ex-husband, Jim Stacy. His face was filled with hurt and anger. He had been trying for quite a long time--almost since the divorce--to win Kim back. When a columnist had published the news that he had been seeing another girl, he had called up and said, "How could you foul me up with Kim that way? That girl was just a secretary at a business dinner. I love Kim, and only Kim."
Up until three weeks before the wedding, Kim seemed utterly unable to make up her mind about love and marriage. When she was on location, making The Strawberry Statement, Jim Stacy was a frequent visitor to the set, and columnists reported they were "nuzzling and hugging."
Which would win her, friends wondered, Jim Stacy or Peter Deuel, whom she'd met while they were making Generation together? Most of Kim's friends thought Peter had the edge. A sensitive girl, she could never forget the humiliation and unhappiness she'd suffered with Jim Stacy. When she got her divorce from him, she said in her small, little girl voice that he'd said he didn't want to be married to her or anyone. And she seemed to be really gone on Peter. When he went to Europe she followed him there, and when he went to Monterey to work in the film, The Psychiatrist, she went to Monterey, too. Asked about Peter, she told a friend, "I like him very much. He played my husband in Generation and I say that with a happy grin."
But when the friend said, "Then you might get married?" she answered, "I don't know. I don't think I've known him long enough. That was my mistake with Jim Stacy. I married him before I'd known him long enough. I'll never do that again."
And then to complicate matters, there was Bruce Davidson, her co-star on The Strawberry Statement. While she was seeing Peter Deuel, she was also secretly dating Bruce. And when the secret dates became known, she admitted to a friend, "I seem to always fall for my leading men."
And then one evening she went to dinner at the home of two dear friends, Michael and Vicki Anderson. She had come to the dinner with her date, Bruce Davidson. That night Michael and Vicki had also invited James Westmoreland, whom Michael had become friends with when they both did the TV series, The Monroes. Vicki introduced James and Kim in her living room and instantly it was as though a strong chemistry flowed between them. Kim took her eyes off her date and stared in fascinated interest at James who is tall and handsome and loaded with sex appeal. As their eyes met, she distinctly felt all the cliche emotions that are generally associated with love. She could even hear bells ringing!
Later that evening she whispered to Vicki, "What a man! I would rather be with him than with my own date."
James had a similar reaction. He confided to Vicki, "I hope she's not serious about her date. I think she's wonderful."
Later that evening, she and James made a date for the next night. The next night and the night after and the night after that passed in mind-boggling friendship and closeness. Everything Kim had ever wanted a man to be James Westmoreland was. She liked the fact that he was not only an actor but also a businessman. He had invented an eyelash applicator, and was starting to market it. Friends say it is a clever device, which will probably net him a fortune.
Kim had once said about the man she hoped to marry some day, "he must be strong and not afraid of being gentle. He must like just being with me, and not be afraid that he's missing something." She found James to be strong and yet gentle. Just being with each other was happiness for them both. All the things she loved, he loved--everything from the color yellow to the trees that grew near her home.
When she told him that she had studied the philosophy of Jiddu Krishnamurti, the Indian philosopher, he was fascinated and read a book she recommended on this philosophy.
He laughed gently when she showed him the mad assortment of things she carried in her bag: construction nails from the set, miniature playing cards, an ashtray and a book of light verse. Like herself, he liked the light verse.
The happiest moment of their swift courtship
came when little Heather, her baby daughter, toddled up to him
and nestled in his lap. Some men might have objected to a girl
who is as maternal as Kim is. They might have feared that she
would find little place in her life for
them because she is such a dedicated mother.
Wanting him to understand how much the child meant to her. Kim told James "Till you came along, my child was my principal companion. I do have a few intimates I talk with, but mostly I live quietly and don't make friends easily.
"My baby is my life. When I was offered True Grit and told we would make it on location in the Rockies, I refused to make it if I had to leave her. The only reason I agreed to make True Grit was Mr. Wallis promised to let me take little Heather out to the location site in Colorado. We set up a nursery at the motel, and I had a nurse with her constantly while I worked on the set."
She told him a little about a subject she rarely mentions to anyone: her feelings about Jim Stacy. "I've been in analysis for over two years," she admitted. "Jim Stacy played a tremendous part in my life, and for that I'm grateful. But that's over."
And he told her he understood--he himself had been married about twelve years previously--his marriage had lasted about three or four years and hadn't worked out. "And since then," he said solemnly, "there's never been anyone I've loved as I love you."
One of Kim Darby's directors said once, "Meeting Kim and getting to know her is like peeling the layers off the skin of an onion. She gives off an awful lot of vibrations.
But for James, the layers of skin were peeled off quickly. And they got to understand each other so well it was as if they'd known each other nearly all their lives.
James learned that Kim was the daughter of the Dancing Zerbies, a successful vaudeville team. Known as Darby Zerby, Kim had the sad experience for a child of having her parents divorce two years after she was born. That was when she went to live with her father's parents. Her father used to visit her periodically, but it was not the same as having a father in the same house with you all the time.
"In high school," she said earnestly, "I was the schizophrenic girl next door." She wanted to be an actress, to find joy in the world of make believe, but somehow didn't manage to land a part in any of the high school plays. So she went to the Desilu Workshop in Hollywood, and made her first TV appearance on Mr. Novak.
"Just to be able to work, just to be needed was very important to me, and it still is," she said emphatically.
Aside from her work, her childhood was a lonely one. She got so wrapped up in her TV work that when the time came to leave the set and the people on it, she would sit down and cry. An emotional, sensitive girl, she had a mad crush on a married man when she was eighteen. He told her--gently that if he weren't married and she weren't so young, he would have fallen in love with her and married her.
Then she met Jim Stacy. It was his job to kiss her on a Gunsmoke episode, and he enjoyed his job thoroughly. So did she. Jim had been a loser in love, having lost Connie Stevens to Eddie Fisher.
But to Kim, Jim was the epitome of sex appeal and desirability. They were married a few months after they met.
Kim has refused to talk to anyone but her psychiatrist and James Westmoreland about why the marriage had to go on the rocks. It's been said that during their marriage, Jim Stacy was not too gentle with her and those who know him well say he is a man of mercurial moods.
At twenty-two, Kim was an unhappy young woman. She had been married and divorced and had a baby. She didn't feel like a mature young woman, but more like a girl who had grown out of childhood too suddenly and sharply.
Kim wanted a man to love her as a man loves the woman to whom he wants to commit himself for life, completely, whole heartedly. She wanted someone who would love her so much he wouldn't be afraid of making a commitment, of getting married, of having children. And she found all that in James Westmoreland.
"In all the time I've known Kim I never seen her so ecstatically happy," said a friend.
Friends of Kim's believe that though she
married James Westmoreland hastily she followed the most basic
instinct a woman knows--her emotions. "I love him. loved
him almost from the moment I saw him," she said softly to
a friend just before her marriage. Her smile was as soft as voice.
It was the smile of a woman who hadn't let the disillusionment
of her first marriage shut her out from the hope of a lasting
love. She went on, "I loved him so much during the time we
saw each other that I didn't need any more time to know how I
felt about him. I was just bursting with love for him. We need
each other. Isn't that enough?"
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