The 60s
Family Life

For me, happiness begins in Klosters.

Translated from original French article: “Pour Moi le Bonheur Commence à Klosters”
By Jacques Peuchmaurd. (Paris Match)

Deborah Hugs Peter in Klosters
Deborah Hugs Peter in Klosters

Peter has built this chalet as a shelter to their Love. The mountain and the silence surround it. To call Peter who is skiing down the hills nearby, Deborah uses a small trumpet. It’s time for work: She must study with him the script from her newest film. However, being in Love, why not mix fun and work?

Deborah Kerr, kindly and nicely, has just announced the good news: “Peter and I are getting married”. An autograph hunter would have stared mouth agape: every face around the table has a name that has made the columnists quite merry for quite some years now – Irwin Shaw, the author of “The Ball of the Damned”, Deborah Kerr, Gene Kelly, Yul Brynner, William Wyler, the director of  “Ben Hur”, Anatole Litvak and his young wife Sophie, Françoise Sagan… but the reason why they are all comfortable sitting around that table, under the sunny terrace of Chesa” is precisely that there are no autograph hunters in Klosters.

Deborah in her Klosters home
Deborah in her Klosters home

And for the skiing teacher who comes to shake everyone’s hand and tells them the bell for the today’s lesson has played already, these celebrities that Hollywood movie directors fight for, are just “the gang” –  a gang of people quite famous who don’t enjoy the autograph signing and who after discovering this little Swiss willage lost a few kilometers away from Saint-Moritz, have adopted the Klosters. A gang? A family, above all, since the only ones accepted are those who gather the requirements to be considered « International set » : A certain class, a certain elegance, a certain way of doing things and deal with their success. Jayne Mansfield would neer be part of this family.
Deborah Kerr was adopted into this family immediately – Hollywood, so little used to shyness and personalities kept to themselves, baptised her as  « the duchess», yet she is nothing but a happy woman, spontaneous and filled with wonder.
She is filled with wonder by this new life that Peter Viertel has discovered her. The man who broke all the taboos that had kept the famous English actress prisoner through all these years.
They first met ten years ago in Vienna.
Deborah was filming “The Journey” by Litvak, with Yul Brynner. Peter Viertel worked with the script. Peter has been living off the cinema since always. His father, Berthold Viertel, had already been one of the first directors in Hollywood in the 30s, and his son is considered one of the best script writers of the new American generation.
Calling Peter
Calling Peter

At the beginning, Peter didn’t pay much attention to Deborah. When he went to the set was to meet with his friend Yul Brynner. And Deborah is not one of those actresses who will claim for eveyone’s attentions.  Married since 1945 to Anthony Bartley, a Television producer she met while he was a R.A.F, mother of their two daughters, she tried to live as far away from scandal as her profession allowed her. About her, Peter only knew that she was the actress sensitive and refined in “Tea and Sympathy” on Broadway and who starred in twenty films, from “King Solomon’s Mines” to “Separate Tables” and “From Here to Eternity”.
Peter discovered Deborah because of a dinner that had them both accompanied by Litvak and Yul Brynner. It was then that Peter found out about Deborah’s real self, this secret fire hidden by her shyness. He felt strangely at easy around her and he spoke of Klosters, of the life he had in that little village lost among the mountains of Grisons,  and also of his passions: The Ski, tennis, bullfighting. And about his friends Hemingway and Luis-Miguel Dominguín. He had just finished the adaptation for film of Hemingway’s novel “The sun also rises” and it had a part perfect for her.
Deborah kisses Peter
Deborah kisses Peter

She listened with vivid interest, paying attention to all of him. From his eyes to his thin lips, full of happiness. The next summer, they meet again in Spain – Peter has set his mind on introducing her to the mysteries of bullfighting.  Like a good English woman, Deborah is shocked by the sacrifice under the sun in the ring. But Peter explains the whole thing, and Dominguin in his traje de luces*. The first times, she would cover her eyes with her hands when the time came to kill the bull. Then, her fingers would part a little to take a little peek. One day, Dominguín honoured her with his wictory ower the bull and mocked her pose – her hand on her face. The following day, with a fast beating heart, she kept her eyes opened: she was conquered. And not just by the bullfighting… also by Peter, who had made her look at life in the face and enjoy it’s spectacle. At 36, she feels like a different woman. She refuses to lie to herself and files for divorce.
It’s all peaceful now, she is free, and after her return from Australia where she had been shooting “The Sundowners”, in a role of a courageous wife of a shepherd who follows her husband month after month throughout the vast deserted land. She has won her way back to Klosters.  For her, Peter left the old chalet he had been living in for the past ten years and has had a new one made, surrounded by solitude.
Having Fun
Having Fun

Here, there is nothing but peace in the air. A record plays, the writing machine “clicks”. Deborah knits or reads, Peter works.
“You see, says Deborah seriously, I have discovered that one can live without taboos… It’s not easy when one has been raised under a Victorian education. That there is nothing else to love than the flowers, the autumn, the porcelain that all good English man wishes for. The world is full of wonders and, thanks to Peter, I can see them today.”
When she says Peter’s name, a little flame burns in her eyes and when it appears, her whole face lits up. He just left his skis on the door and his heavy boots and comes to get his big white woolen shoes. It’s time for work already.  There is a book to write about the matters of bullfighting and a script to polish that Litvak asked for. But without Deborah’s trumpet, the time to put the skiing down would take longer, being as he is a well know skier; He is also an excellent tennis player like his friend Irwin Shaw and it was him who first introduced surfing – the art of gliding on the waves –  in France.
But this summer, it will be two married people who’d come to the Basque countries, when, in July, in front of the gang, the new Deborah will marry Peter.
*Traje de luces is the costume a bullfighter wears in the arena.

– Note: This is may own translation of the article and I am not so good at French so please, bare with the mistakes.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *