A DECENT PROPOSAL
Byline: Louise Farr
BEVERLY HILLS — Wendy Goldberg, Hollywood wife of producer Leonard Goldberg, is attending yet another charity affair in the chandeliered ballroom of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. She’s clad in a blue Armani pantsuit as she works the room with her customary zeal — this time, though, as co-author with Betty Goodwin of the just published “Marry Me” (Angel City Press, $18.95), about the courtships and proposals of 35 famous couples. Goldberg shares space today with Ray Bradbury, Leo Buscaglia, Marilu Henner and Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. All of them are hawking autographed books at a fund-raiser for the local Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center.
The curly-haired Goodwin, a longtime Los Angeles Times writer and author of “L.A. Inside Out” and “Hollywood du Jour,” is the one strong-arming potential buyers. But Goldberg, a reluctant salesperson, spends most of her time chatting up Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, trying to negotiate the rights to the novelist’s latest bestseller for husband Leonard to turn into a movie.
“I’m very good at extolling the virtues of everybody else,” Goldberg explained. “But when it comes to myself, I get the vapors. It’s like, get the fan out. I’m very insecure.”
Until now, “insecure” is not the word most people would have used to describe Goldberg, a former Revlon and Max Factor executive and a front-and-center fixture at Hollywood parties. But when she poses for a photographer with Goodwin in the garden of the white brick Goldberg house, Wendy Goldberg frets: Does she look fat? Is her brown pageboy hairdo too long? Is her skirt too short?
Maybe her insecurity is at a peak because “Marry Me” is clearly a collaboration between the Goodwin experience and the Goldberg connections — and Wendy Goldberg does not feel she has a way with language.
“My mind is kind of wild,” she said. “But Betty can articulate what the words are. She never yelled at me; she was very candid, but very kind.”
Whatever Goldberg lacked in writing experience, she made up for in tenacity.
“Sometimes we’d get on the phone with important people, and Wendy took over,” Goodwin admitted. “Wendy can get to anybody. Wendy can talk to anybody.”
The book does not pretend to rip the veil off couples’ marriages. But it does give some tantalizing insights into the courting styles of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays, Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mary Tyler Moore and S. Robert Levine, Norris Church and Norman Mailer, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman — plus other pairs who have worked their way into the popular consciousness.
Odd threads emerge: a number of proposals took place in cars. Martin Luther King, Lyndon Johnson and Prince Rainier knew instantly that they wanted to marry. And many of the men — including Clark Gable, Roy Rogers, Paul Newman and Carlo Ponti — were already married when they fell for their future wives.
Alison and Leonard Stern will host a party tonight in their New York residence for “Marry Me,” and the authors were toasted at Tiffany’s on Rodeo Drive last week by the likes of Barbara Davis, Linda Bruckheimer, Eduardo Ponti and Neil Simon. While Goldberg and Goodwin sat signing books, flushed with success, Goldberg still fretted.
“I said to Leonard, ‘Do not be pushy with anybody about the book,”‘ she said in an undertone. “Do not ask anyone to buy it.”