As long as Holden was discreet and his flings were passing fancies, she knew better than to make a fuss. Nor was Holden disappointed by Audrey; quite the reverse. He was captivated by her air of fragility, her huge, almond-shaped eyes, infectious laugh and impeccable manners. As it turned out, Audrey was in need of a protector.
From the very first day, it was evident to all that this was going to be a very troubled film set. The problem was Bogart.
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Although his career had hit new heights two years earlier with his Oscar-winning performance in The African Queen, he was feeling unsure of himself. Not only was Sabrina a romantic comedy — hardly his forte — but, at 54, he was 30 years older than his inexperienced leading lady and 20 years older than Holden. Nor was he happy about playing the love rival of a man he considered more of a matinee idol than an actor. A love rival, moreover, whose hair had been dyed a youthful golden-blond for the part, while Bogie had to wear a hairpiece.
Then he started picking on Audrey by sarcastically imitating her accent. Holden responded by inviting Audrey, Wilder and a few others for drinks in his own dressing-room — an invitation not extended to Bogart. Thus the battle lines were drawn. Not only was the atmosphere poisonous, but in romantic scenes with Bogart, she had to steel herself never to react when he sprayed her with spit.
Little wonder, then, that she gravitated towards the good-humoured younger actor. On set, it was noted that Audrey and Holden were always making each other laugh.
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And that her face would glow whenever he was present. Embarrassed, Lehman apologised and withdrew. It was a relief not to have to be the regal Miss Hepburn all the time; with Holden she could feel like a girl again. And Holden? He was already head over heels in love. Some of our most magic moments were there. During these assignations, Audrey would dance for him.
It was all too easy to forget he was married or — her more recent discovery — that he had a growing problem with drink. Their chemistry together was potent and she was soon wildly in love herself. There were trysts in her dressing-room. And Holden found out-of-the-way spots where they could dine and dance by candlelight, unseen by anyone who knew them. Back on set, Bogart was now complaining that Wilder was giving Audrey and Holden all the close-ups.
Keen to keep the peace, the director agreed to zoom in on the older actor in his next scene with Holden. But as Bogart spoke his lines, Holden lit up a cigarette, hoping the smoke would make his co-star cough. In romantic scenes with Bogart pictured , Audrey had to steel herself never to react when he sprayed her with spit.
I want this sabotage ended!
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He soon got his own back. He stalked off the set, shutting down production. The hush was broken by a sudden peal of laughter from Audrey. Although she was terrified of Bogart, she was thrilled that his exit meant a free afternoon with her lover. By now, the relationship had evolved into all-out passion. But as the date approached, she became nearly hysterical with nerves. How much did Ardis really know?
What had Holden told her? In fact, his wife just wanted to check her out, having somehow learned that Holden had a crush on his skinny European co-star. It was a civilised evening, at which no one mentioned what was really going on.
But when Audrey had gone, Ardis rounded on her husband, demanding that he stop seeing her outside work. Holden, however, had no intention of ending the affair. A few days later, he asked Audrey to marry him and she joyously accepted.
There was just one thing she wanted to make clear: she was desperate to have children. What could possibly go wrong? But in the end, it was Audrey herself who ended the affair. Then, one day, as she was chattering brightly about the names of their future children, she noticed a change in his expression. For the first time in their relationship, he seemed embarrassed; there was even a hint of fear in those cornflower-blue eyes. Later, Holden would recall the long pause that followed, as Audrey stood looking at him like a hurt, bewildered child.
Why had he waited so long to tell her? Holden was distraught. What a waste! As far as Audrey was concerned, her two sons would always be the greatest achievement of her life.
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His last chance came in , when they were cast together in a romantic comedy called Paris When It Sizzles, to be filmed on location in the city. He was right. Some days, he was so hungover that filming had to be halted. Later in the shoot, he was sent to a rehab clinic to dry out. Audrey was genuinely distressed to see her former Prince Charming so sadly diminished. At just 44, he looked gaunt and his once perfect nose had become bulbous from over-indulgence in alcohol.
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But something of the old spark between them seemed to revive when they filmed their love scenes. Or so Holden believed. One night, he climbed a tree leading up to her dressing-room window. Unfortunately, he made a lot of noise. As she leaned out the window to investigate, Holden leaned over to kiss her. Startled, Holden fell out of the tree and landed on the pavement below. Physically, he had only bruises, but the emotional repercussions were worse. The film was a flop and they never acted together again.
For Holden, there would be a divorce from Ardis in Continue or Give a Gift.
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