In 1941 actress Gene Tierney eloped with costume designer Oleg Cassini much to the dismay of her family. In this vintage newspaper article written only 4 months into their marriage, the couple respond to people’s criticism and each take a turn discussing their relationship.
Gene in the exclusive article on these pages, not only tells why Count Cassini is her ideal mate, but for the first time, Count Cassini himself refutes the gossip which has enveloped him since he fell in love with the beautiful Gene and made her his wife.
The young Count and Countess Cassini invited me to attend their first party given in their modest little canyon home in Beverly Hills. Gene, in a simple cotton apron, was arranging little supper tables on the patio. Colored lights had been strung in the trees. Their guests were their own intimate circle of friends, who heartily approve the marriage. Ann Shirley was there, and so were Linda Darnell, Constance Moore and others.
In a brief interlude the Count and Countess took me inside their home where he and Gene had painted the floors, made drapes and recovered furniture to make it gay and new, though inexpensive, and in a direct, simple manner discussed their marriage.
COUNTESS GENE SAYS…
by Gene Tierney
It is unbelievable, the unkind things that have been said about my marriage and about my husband Count Oleg Cassini. Why he should be made a target for such gossip and persecution I do not know. But I do know I love him all the more deeply for his courage in keeping himself above the gossip and not permitting it to spoil the happiness of our honeymoon.
Everything that has been said against him has no foundation of truth. He has even seriously considered, for my sake, changing his profession as a dress designer. But we decided it takes more courage not to give in, to ignore the allegations that have maligned him. Oleg is an established designer, and just because he has been out of a job for a month, is no sign he isn’t a capable young fellow with plenty of courage and fight to ignore the gossips who have kept at his heels to destroy him, ever since he married me.
I am entitled to my happiness and my marriage just like any twenty-year-old girl. And if I have to fight to keep it – it only makes me realize all the more how much it means to me.
I was first attracted to Oleg by his consideration of me. I wasn’t very happy in Hollywood. I had been here for two years. I went out a lot and had many friends – but there was no one who I felt really cared about me.
Oleg seemed to sense my moods. He seemed to know when I was hurt or sad or needed encouragement. When I was ill for a long time with eye trouble, my other friends would drop notes and say, “See you soon’s you’re well.” But Oleg was there all of the time to comfort me. Even when he couldn’t see me, he’d be waiting to see if there was anything he could do for me. I began depending on his interest in me.
Oleg’s the dependable sort – not like so many men who put a girl and a boy on a 50-50 basis. If you were in a boat with the average boy, and it began to sink, he’d probably dive over and fling back, “Sorry, Dear, I’ve got to save myself. I’ll see you on land – if you make land!” But Oleg would drown himself first in trying to save me if need be. I know I can always rely on him.
Every morning Oleg arises with me at six and helps me get ready for the studio. Then he takes me and calls for me at night. Most girls’ husbands here never think of rising early in the morning to take them to the studio. They’re more interested in their own personal comfort. Oleg puts my well-being and happiness ahead of his own. In every little way he thinks of me. He is completely devoted. No wonder I love him!
Oleg comes from one of the finest noble families in Europe. He was born in Paris where his father, Count Alexander Lolewski, was in the Russian diplomatic service. He mother, Countess Marguerete Cassini, was the daughter of Count Arthur Cassini, Russian ambassador to Washington during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. She was a great belle in those days and a close friend of Alice Roosevelt and Cissy Patterson.
When Oleg was three the Russian revolution broke. He and his mother and brother escaped to Switzerland, where his father rejoined them and the family went to Rome.
Countess Cassini, noted for her lovely clothes, established a dressmaking shop in Rome. Oleg studied art at the Rome University. The masters told him he would never make a great painter, but pointed out that he had talent for designing which he should follow. Oleg took their advice.
When he came to this country he didn’t speak English well. He opened up a shop in New York and later sent for his mother and brother and father. Merry Fahrney come into his life. She persuaded him to quit his business and offered to back him in a larger establishment. When their marriage ended, Oleg had neither a business nor a job. He came to Hollywood without a nickel in an old jalopy to seek work. One day he went to a loan company to get enough money on his car on which to live. The very next day luckily, he obtained a position as designer with Paramount Studios. Oleg worked on sixteen pictures, his latest being the gowns for Veronica Lake who overnight became a sensational new star. Her gowns brought him praise.
Right now Oleg is about to start work as a free lance artist on two pictures. This is him home. I am his wife and I intend it to be this way always.
Count Oleg Says…
by Oleg Cassini
It was the appeal of a wholesome American girl without affections or pretense, as well as her beauty that attracted me first to Gene. Hollywood and success have not turned her head.
Although there is not much difference in our ages, I have travelled considerably, and Gene used to turn to me for advice. I began to be a frequent guest at Gene’s home. Her mother approved of me then – apparently she did not consider me a serious suitor for Gene’s hand. In fact, her mother seemed to like me until she suddenly realized that I was in love, and wanted to marry her screen-star daughter.
Gene’s parents become strongly opposed then, not only to me, but apparently to anyone who might want me to marry Gene. They seemed to consider her still as a child. I don’t think they realized Gene was a young woman with a mature mind, who wanted to assume her own responsibilities.
After we’d known each other for three months, we planned to marry. But I wanted Gene to be sure. I was sure, but I had to be certain she was.
The Tierneys asked us to wait. They wanted me to prove that I wasn’t marrying Gene because she was a film celebrity with a large salary.
I was making $200 a week in my own profession, which if you compared it to the average American working man’s salary, instead of to Hollywood salaries, would be considered more than adequate to support a wife.
They asked me to sign a community law property release, proving that I was sincere in wanting Gene because I loved her, rather than for any monetary motives. I did readily.
Gene’s father had formed a corporation which was guardian of Gene’s career. he did not handle her money.
When we married, she had no money, only her car and her personal clothes. Our home is my home, bachelor quarters, which Gene’s womanly taste has made into a real home for us both. I have been out of work for a month at the time I write this, but already have excellent prospects. I have saved quite a bit of money and I can take care of my wife and all our household expenses. We live simply. We pay but $50 a month rent.
Since Gene’s marriage, the movie salary has been paid to her directly for the first time.
Gene only uses her money for her personal maid and clothes. I take care of all other bills, as a husband should.
Gene’s parents have objected to our marriage. But now they have invited us both to come to New York.
I think, perhaps, I won Gene because I understand her. I studied her nature and her moods. I do not cater to her or “yes” her as many Hollywood men do. I believe that a woman must look up to and respect the man she loves. Gene knows that I am honest with her, because I am interested in her welfare.
Too many men try blitzkrieg tactics in romance, which cannot be condoned by a girl of Gene’s sensitive nature.
I used to send her three gardenias every day with little messages of remembrance. Mutual thought, considerations, companionship and love are the basis of our marriage, and my whole ambition in life is that of any young husband in love with his wife – to make her life secure and happy.