by Felicia Lawrence; Movie World, February 1970
They thought her too big for her britches, and impossible to work with—except one man!
The sleek limousine approached the curb and stopped, and quickly the guard, dressed in a dark blue suit, tailored with braided shoulders, hurried to open the door and let the passengers out. A tiny dark-haired girl, who looked like she was twelve, stepped out. Right behind her a nice looking, thin young man, about twenty, came out of the car and smiled at the crowd, waving around as he did. Yes, there they were—the stars of the new movie, Generation, enjoying themselves for a night out on the town. Or were they?
At least Peter Deuel looked like he was. But what about his companion, Kim Darby? Why wasn’t she laughing and waving? After all, she was an overnight sensation in True Grit, and an assured success with her second film, Generation. Then why wasn’t she happy?
“Very few people know this,” a source on the Generation set confided to Movie World, “but Peter has been giving Kim a lot of trouble lately. You might even say he’s the man who’s curbed her temper, sort of brought her down a notch to reality.”
Kim, as is common knowledge these days, is divorced from actor Jim Stacy (Connie Stevens’ ex), has a daughter Heather, almost one year old, and has been seen around town with Peter Deuel very often. But what most people can’t figure out is Kim’s reluctance to talk about their so-called romance.
Director George Schaefer tried to create instant love when he suggested to his two young stars that they “really fall in love”—in other words, go out Hollywood style via pre-arranged dates with lots of photographers on hand to snap the happy couple at play. In the movie, Kim and Pete marry during the opening scene. The only thing that’s unusual about that is that Kim is nine months pregnant. Her film father, David Janssen, becomes appalled at the idea that Kim and Peter want to have their baby the natural-childbirth way.
“It’s a good thing Jim Stacy and I got our divorce before I got this role,” says the twenty-two-year-old actress. “Peter and I spent so much time studying [for natural childbirth] at the La Maze Prepatory Parenthood Method Clinic, young couples there look on us as married and expecting a baby.
“I can tell you one thing, if I had known about this method of childbirth, my baby, Heather, would have been born the La Maze way.”
Yes, perhaps it is a good thing that she and Jim were divorced before she got the Generation role. Many people were horrified at the way Jim treated her. Why, when she went to court for their divorce, she testified that Jim beat her. Never once did he deny the fact. Nor could it be denied that he was glad to be free again. Many rumors floated around that he wanted Connie back. Yet, in truth, that love affair was completely over; perhaps more finished than the romance that grew between Kim and Jim. They may be divorced, but he is still in her heart. She has said, “We parted last January, but I’ll always consider him my husband.”
Now, Kim told this to an interviewer while she was filming True Grit, in her pre-Peter-Deuel days. And, as she herself admits, she’s a hard girl to get to know. She doesn’t readily offer any information about herself or her romances, and tells interviewers that her personal life is taboo. So, from the information told to us, we can only gather that Kim has changed her mind—and is concentrating on Peter.
Peter, as you will remember, played Judy Carne’s husband on the old Love On A Rooftop series. He also played one of Sally Field’s beaus on the Gidget series, acted in some off-Broadway shows, summer stock and tour companies.
Like Spiro Agnew, Peter’s name was not a household word until he did Generation. But Peter always knew he wanted to act.
“I always wanted to go to drama school, but I thought I should get a degree first,” he says, remembering his beginnings. “I was studying at college and my father came to see me in The Rose Tattoo. He asked me if I still wanted to study acting and I said I did.
“He said, ‘Stop wasting your time and my money.’ I went to the American Theater Wing in New York, did some off-Broadway things and the national tour of Take Her She’s Mine.” The rest is all history now, and Peter has recently contracted to do a movie called Bastion next year with George Peppard. So it seems his long awaited dream to act is finally coming true.
And another dream is beginning to come true for Peter—his dream of love. Although Kim still claims to feel like Mrs. Stacy, she sure isn’t acting that way. She’s been going out with Peter more and more. Perhaps Peter’s attitude towards love and marriage has had something to do with the change in Kim. She’s more responsive now and has learned to curb her desire to flare up—friends say this is all due to Peter and his somewhat skeptical view of marriage.
“Having a marriage when you’re in show business and making it work is damn hard—it’s damn hard for anybody. We weren’t built to be with just one person all the time,” Peter says. “We were built to be with one or two people most of the time. We’ve been brought up to think we should be with just one person in order to exist. Now, mores are changing.”
“It’s very hard to find yourself in love with two women at one time. We’ve been brought up to think of it as ‘cheating’ and through the guilt we feel from it, we wind up hating both women. We’re taught it by our family, our church, even through the things we talk about and the jokes we tell our friends when we’re kids.”
Now, this kind of talk can frighten anyone. But it frightens Kim more than the average girl because she’s already through a love that left her cold and lonely. The man she married turned from her and walked out. No matter that Jim’s feelings are for Kim, she is still a divorcee today, with a child to bring up. She doesn’t want a repeat performance with Peter Deuel; so she takes heed of whatever Peter says. Perhaps she would like to have him as her husband—if that’s true, then she better learn to be careful with him and walk cautiously. For Peter, although not the biggest of Hollywood’s playboys, could easily go that route.
Kim does have one thing to keep in mind and hope for: Peter has said he would like to marry and fall in love. And if he did, he offers to “give up fooling around.”
Most men in Peter’s position would find it hard to consider marrying a girl like Kim. After all, despite who was at fault, she is a divorced woman, which means she has failed at one attempt at marriage. Now, in today’s society, with divorce becoming so common, this does not make her a marked woman. Yet, when it comes right down to it, most men would be hesitant to marry a divorcee—especially a man who has never been married and who might find it hard to understand what goes on between a wife and husband that could cause divorce. Peter, a bachelor, has never been married, and these thoughts could be holding him back from popping the question. Is he ready to take on the responsibility of a ready-made family? Is he ready to offer his love for a lifetime? And what of Heather, Jim and Kim’s baby girl? Would Peter be able to call her his little girl, knowing that she has a father?
We can only guess at the answers to these questions, for Peter himself doesn’t discuss these things openly, but there may be a clue to his feelings when he says: “Right now I’m trying to decide whether or not to have a personal mission outside of myself. I’m in knots. I have the feeling anything could happen. I may even find a person or something that fulfills me more than acting and leave the business.”
This statement undoubtedly makes Kim very happy. She, like Peter, is not part of the Hollywood social scene and can’t understand actors and actresses who are. She has said that nothing could make her happier than to settle down with her child and a man who loves her.
Perhaps this is one reason she chose Peter. They’ve a common need for quiet and order. Just because they are actors is no reason to want to be someone’s breakfast news!
Peter has tried to shield Kim from bad publicity about their relationship and even though he feels, “I don’t see how it (publicity) can hurt us, I know what I say, so if I read something, I know the source. The only thing that can influence Kim and me in our relationship is our own feelings,” he still cannot deny the fact that Hollywoodites are breathlessly awaiting an announcement from them.
Our source on the set told us that, although Peter likes to talk a lot about dating many women, he really and truly loves Kim. He feels by treating her nonchalantly she may come around to his way of thinking. “But this whole business with Jim Stacy really has him shook. I guess he feels when you make a commitment, you should stick with it, no matter the consequences. He also doesn’t like the way Kim’s divorce was handled, smeared over all the papers, everyone making it their business.”
Peter has said about divorce, “If you remember who the person is and if you can remember what you once felt for the person, you won’t have problems: If you respect them and their feelings, you don’t have a big court battle. You don’t hear about the quiet divorces that go on in Hollywood, but there are lots of them.”
When we told our source what Peter said about divorce, they answered, “Can’t you hear the bitterness ringing in Peter’s voice? Yes, there are many, many quiet divorces here, and Peter feels Kim’s could have been one of them. If the same situation ever happened to him, you can bet no one would ever know about it until the divorce was final!”
Yes, if Kim wants to keep her man, she better change her tactics. Discretion seems to be the key word when it comes to describing Peter Deuel. And although Kim claims she wants the same thing, it has become obvious to Peter that she didn’t practice what she preached. Rumors have reached his ears lately that Kim’s been seen dating her ex, Jim, again and this leaves him not knowing where he stands.
When Peter recently gave an interview, he wound up discussing marriage and divorce with a sad, wistful look in his eyes.
“You can choose not to get involved at all, to stay outside of the whole thing,” he said.
But when you’re in love, as Kim and Peter feel they are, it is better to iron out your problems, get involved, and try to make a marriage work—for a lifetime.
This article misspelled Deuel as Deull throughout, so I fixed it.
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