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Another Marriage, More or Less

The marriage to Jutta lasted four months. I found myself drinking to keep up with her, an unhealthy situation. As it had to, things came to a head. In a drunken rage, she threw a heavy cigarette lighter at my head one night. It made a dent in the bedroom wall. I packed a bag and left, sent for my things the next day and stashed them at a friend’s house.

I lived in a hotel for a week or so until my friend suggested I look up a real estate lady in Beverly Hills named Shirley Johnston who would be able to find me a house. Shirley was a whiz. Within two days she showed me almost exactly what I described to her I wanted. It turned out to be a fixer-upper on a good-sized piece of land in Benedict Canyon, just a mile-and-a-half up the road where years before a six-year-old had tried to will his way through a silent movie star’s gates.

All this happened while I was shooting the show. I still had some vague idea there was somebody out there to spend the rest of my life with. Six months after buying the house, Shirley and I were married.

She knew more people in the picture business than I did. My third time at bat lasted a year-and-a-half. I paid alimony for two years but I kept the house. By the time of the divorce, I’d completely rebuilt it and it was a showplace. I’d converted, among other things, a small basement into a first class wine cellar. My "project" was one of the main things that caused our split-up. She hadn’t believed me, before we got married, when I said it would be like a war zone living in the house while I redid it. She refused to have anything to do with the remodeling plans. She’d stay in bed all day drinking coffee and chatting on the phone. Once in a while she went to lunch with a couple of girl friends.

When the house was finished, I filed for divorce and moved into my guest house. Several months later, her lawyer got me to leave the property, so I moved to a friend’s guest house. Muriel Seligman invited me to dinner one evening. She has a quick sense of humor and over cocktails she observed, "You know, Rick, if you take a girl out to dinner, when you take her home it’s not mandatory you propose marriage."

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