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Me and Miss Germany

A few years earlier, before The Wayward Bus, Marc Newman (a sub-agent at Charlie Feldman’s 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, I’d 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 seguĂ© 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 he’d lost interest was that he couldn’t stand Aria. She stuck her nose into everything I did. When Frank told me about Buddy’s 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 producer’s 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.

It’d been decided that everyone was going out to Ernie’s for dinner, one of the outstanding dining places in Frisco. I had already planned on Cioppino at Fisherman’s Wharf and a dozen or so clams before dinner, so I begged off. I also had feelings about this woman that I didn’t 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 wouldn’t 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. She’d given me her phone number and begged me to call her. I had a feeling that once I contacted her again, there’d 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. She’d 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 man’s 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 didn’t last a year. Jutta found a job as a model in New York’s 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. She’d 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. Jutta’s marriage was as unfulfilled as mine. And, like me, she had never been unfaithful to her spouse before she met me. She didn’t know what had come over her. Several of Alan’s colleagues at CBS had tried to hit on her over the past three years and she’d 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 afternoon.

From the moment we began our affair, I never approached Aria again and it bothered her not at all. We’d 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.

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