By Betty Lanza
Motion Picture
November 1950
Every morning the first thing I hear is Mario asking softly, "Are you awake?"
"I'm lonesome," he adds. By the time I really am aware I'm starting one more fabulous day as his wife, he's saying, "Would you hand me the telephone?" And he's calling his manager and his personal representative in Hollywood to discover what's new.
We always have our coffee served in bed. This is one of the luxuries we dreamed about when we were living mostly on hopes. Then the baby is brought in by her nurse. In a couple of months Colleen will be 2, so naturally she feels very grown up. She has to sit right between us, with her special pillow propping her up against the back rests. She sips a glass of milk and tries to lure Mario into giving her a taste of his coffee. He plays with her enthusiastically for awhile. In a minute they have begun shrieking with laughter, and in another, I am keeping up with them.
Then we dress to go downstairs for breakfast. By this time, Terry, Mario's trainer, has arrived wearing a perpetual grin which he patiently expects will strike a response in Mario. It does, only it's a grimace. For Terry is there to give him his workout in the completely equipped gym Mario has installed next to the swimming pool.
Mario is a wonderful athlete, but admits he has to be urged into the exercise necessary to keep him in trim. When he and Terry wind up with a furious run around the block, they're certainly ready for their swim in the pool. Colleen greets them approvingly, and, as he relaxes at breakfast, Mario tells me which neighbor has leaned out of a window in astonishment as he and Terry tore by. Such racing is an oddity in Beverly Hills.
He sings spontaneously -- I still get goose-pimples whenever I hear him -- as he leaves for MGM to study with his singing coach. These lessons are a daily event he never misses.
Mario never comes home pell-mell. He has to treat himself to a little personal ritual. He must stop in front to gaze at the house. He can't believe we're actually in it. If you want to know a grateful person, Mario is your man. He's wanted so desperately to be a success as a singer, that he passionately appreciates his good fortune.
Being married to a man who is thrilled by all the possibilities in life is all any woman could wish. Until my door opened six years ago and Fate stood Mario there, I saw no signs of this story-book future happening for me. Then, miraculously we both fell in love at first sight, and neither of us has experienced one dull moment since.
I honestly didn't realize Mario could sing until we'd had three dates. In The Toast of New Orleans, Kathryn Grayson reacts to him because of his singing. I did, also, only I was already thoroughly in love with him. Maybe someday the movies will show a girl as amazed as I was. Mario didn't use his voice to impress me. But one evening he took me to the opera. Afterward, a friend of his who owns a restaurant reopened it at midnight for a supper party in honor of my brother's birthday. The candles on the cake were blown out, the champagne was wheeled in on ice, and pretty soon, to my delight, a Caruso record was played.
The magnificent jolt came when Mario went into Vesti la giubba along with the record. This still remains my favorite and Mario made a superb recording of it for me. We're both highly sentimental, as you could guess. About each other, our memories of our church wedding and all our ups and downs since, about Colleen, our parents, our friends and the places we've enjoyed.
I suppose one reason I'm such a lucky wife is that Mario has the desire to share everything with me. We have no secrets. I constantly sense I am a part of all he is doing or thinking. We talk over everything we do together or separately, and this confiding and comparing is such fun. When my husband is working at the studio on a picture, he phones me at least twice during the day to report, and to inquire what I have done, and to ask what Colleen is up to.
He likes happy faces around him. He is tremendously sympathetic to the aspirations and disappointments of everyone he meets. "Don't you feel well?" he'll wonder, sensitively, if anyone seems disturbed. His generosity has no limits. He adores company and is a perfect host. When we go visiting he'll concoct some excuse for taking a gift, even if it's just flowers.
He beams most of the time, but he has a temper. Who hasn't who's worth a darn? He gets so mad so fast, he explodes. That's because he wants to shove anything unpleasant out of his mind. And he never sulks, for he forgets whatever distressed him once it's settled. He's hurt only when a promise is broken, for that he can't understand.
He has definite ideas about women, so I pay attention to them. When long skirts came in, he objected to them. I was flattered when he said he knew why some legs should be covered, but why mine? He liked the long bob I had when we met, and when I began cutting my hair subtly, to not be too out of style, he got a tape-measure and checked on me whenever it occurred to him.
He likes me to dress in a very feminine manner, and wants me to have perfumes and jewels and furs. We both agree, however, there is no substitute for quality, so I haven't an expensive fur coat yet. But he surprised me with two diamonds set in a platinum guard for my wedding ring and a beautiful watch with an antique bracelet.
Mario can't wait for the audience reaction to Caruso Sings Tonight, for it represents his most fantastic dream come true. I am as excited about his next picture as he is. But while we're in suspense until the first preview, I'm in heaven in our own home -- for I can count on this: Mario Lanza sings here tonight!