A few years earlier, before The Wayward Bus, Marc Newman (a
sub-agent at Charlie Feldmans Famous Artists) had approached me about a TV series
called, Tightrope. The producers were willing to give me twelve-and-a-half per cent
ownership of the show, besides a fat salary.
"What about my contract at Fox?" I asked
"I can get you out of it."
Up to that point, Id been offered about thirty series, but never
with a piece of the action. Television was considered a great comedown from feature films.
Of all those who starred in series in the early days, only four come to mind who were able
to segué into features: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Clint Eastwood, and Burt Reynolds,
who had two series under his belt before he hit the big screen.
I still wanted to make it in feature films, so I passed on Tightrope.
Mike Connors starred in the short-lived series, and late became a household name for
starring as Mannix in the hit TV series.
I never went to see Buddy Adler to talk about what had happened to his
great faith in me, but I did find out later from Frank Tashlin that one of the main
reasons hed lost interest was that he couldnt stand Aria. She stuck her nose
into everything I did. When Frank told me about Buddys dislike of her, it was
several years after she and I were divorced. By then, it was history.
Once my option was dropped at Fox, Famous Artists got me some guest shots on Movies of
the Week, two-hour stints that paid pretty good money. I did one of them on location in
San Francisco. The afternoon I arrived at the hotel, there was a message in my box
inviting me to the executive producers suite for cocktails. I walked in to find our
director, executive producer and a couple of CBS vice presidents having drinks. There I
was introduced to the wife of one of the V.P.s Jutta (pronounced you-tah) Parr, a
long, lithe blond. She was one of the most beautiful and sexy women I had ever set eyes
on. She spoke English with a charming German accent and had the slightly husky sound of
Marlene Dietrich. Everything about her exuded sex. I would look up periodically to find
her large blue eyes following my every move, as if she were devouring me.
Itd been decided that everyone was going out to Ernies for
dinner, one of the outstanding dining places in Frisco. I had already planned on Cioppino
at Fishermans Wharf and a dozen or so clams before dinner, so I begged off. I also
had feelings about this woman that I didnt want to face.
At any rate, I had a delightful meal and a bottle of good wine and then
leisurely walked back to the hotel. As I entered the lobby, a couple sitting at a small
table near the cocktail lounge waved to me. I walked over to find Jutta sitting with the
executive producer. They invited me to join them for a nightcap. A few minutes later, the
producer excused himself, said he had a big day coming up, but I wouldnt be needed
on the set until afternoon.
Jutta and I sat and talked and had a few drinks. No woman had ever come
on to me as charmingly and as sexily as she was doing. I took her up to her suite to say
goodnight. We were all billeted on the same floor. As I started to turn away, she stepped
in front of me and against me, put her hands on my shoulders, and planted a kiss on my
mouth and her tongue partway down my throat.
We went to my room.
The next day, she and her husband left for Los Angeles, they had a home
in Brentwood. Shed given me her phone number and begged me to call her. I had a
feeling that once I contacted her again, thered be no turning back. I tried to
figure this whole thing out. Nothing would figure, so I put off calling her for about ten
days. Shortly after I finished that show, I moved to another. One day after lunch, before
returning to the set, I stepped into a pay phone on the lot. Shed been waiting for
me to call. When could we see each other again? I told her to meet me at a little
out-of-the-way place for drinks the next afternoon, we had something to discuss.
As she walked toward me, every mans eyes in the room turned to look at her. She
was five-feet-nine and had won a beauty contest after the war, becoming Miss Germany of
1946. Shortly afterward, she married an American soldier who took her to live with his
family in Brooklyn. The marriage didnt last a year. Jutta found a
job as a model in New Yorks garment district. It was there she met her next husband,
Alan Parr, an up-and-coming executive at CBS.
She loved working in the garment district. Shed never known any
Jews in Germany, and now she was surrounded by them and thought them to be the greatest
people in the world. So she married one. She was ten years old when Hitler came to power
and, as did most children and pre-teens in Germany, she became an active member of the Jungenfreund,
where she was taught all the anti-Semitic crap that the Nazi machine churned out.
She and Alan had two children, boys, and before his time, her husband
suffered a major heart attack. He almost died, but the doctors pulled him through. The
result of his illness was that he went to work each day, took his medications regularly,
went home to dinner, was in bed by nine every night, and became so protective of his
health that he ceased being both a husband and a father. Jutta, left to herself every
evening, spent the hours before her bedtime playing solitaire and sipping a little Grand
Marnier. Eventually, she was downing a bottle a night.
We talked about what we were getting into. Juttas marriage was as
unfulfilled as mine. And, like me, she had never been unfaithful to her spouse before she
met me. She didnt know what had come over her. Several of Alans colleagues at
CBS had tried to hit on her over the past three years and shed turned them all away.
For both of us, it was as if we had no control over what we were about to do. We began to
meet two, then three times a week, at a motel in Santa Monica, always in the early
From the moment we began our affair, I never approached Aria again and
it bothered her not at all. Wed rented, and later bought, a house at 707 North
Linden Drive in Beverly Hills. Aria finally moved in among the picture people, had gotten
herself a mink coat, and we went to a lot of the premiers and black tie affairs
what she most desired.
She had what she wanted in her life, and, to some degree, so did I.