The release of a Tyrone Power DVD collection reminded me of a story my parents told. To appreciate the story, you have to appreciate that Tyrone Power was so handsome that he was almost too handsome. He just skated along the edges of pretty. (He definitely lacked the assured virility Clark Gable projected.)
Back in the early 50s, when my parents still lived in Israel, they became friends with an man who was the Israeli liason to the Italian film community. They were never quite clear on the details, but I gather he was the one who arranged to have Italian films shown in Israel. This was the time, of course, of the famous post-War Italian beauties, such as Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida.
My parents said that their friend was distinguished by being spectacularly good looking, with most people comparing him to Tyrone Power — only more handsome, because he was a tad more masculine looking. Interestingly, his wife was a singularly unattractive woman, as dowdy and frumpy as a person could be.
Whenever their friend came back from junkets to Italy, every one would chafe him in a good natured way about the time spent with Sophia or Gina. His response was unvarying: “I don’t understand what everybody sees in those women. If you want true beauty, look at my wife.”
As a child, I adored that story, because I viewed it as the ultimate expression of the way we beautify the object of our affections. As a more cynical adult, I wonder whether his response wasn’t the best cover possible for someone sampling the feminine delicacies in Italy. Even if that’s the case, though, it’s a great story.