of the Hollywood friends of Carl Betz (seen here at home with wife Gloria
and stepdaughter Rio) are one-time "losers" who have married
a second time.
couldn't prove which ones are doing better the second time round,"
he smiles. But he does know about himself! He's happy in his second
marriage--even if it has brought some surprises.
married Gloria Stone Martin on December 14, 1963, five weeks after his
divorce became final. And Gloria herself was then a divorcee with a
4-year-old daughter. "We're happy," Carl repeats, though he
adds they'd like to have a child between them, since each already has
lean, rugged-looking star was married to actress Lois Harmon from June
1952 to November 1962, and they had been separated a year before they
divorced. When you ask him if he learned anything from his marriage
to Lois, he says, "I've learned that you shouldn't repeat a pattern.
You must change it in some way and you must be aware of what to avoid
and what you want." If you're not neurotic about profiting from
your mistakes, he points out, then you should be better at marriage
the second time around. The very fact that there are so many trying
it, in Hollywood, indicates that marriage ranks high as a very desirable
knows that he himself is so dedicated to acting he sometimes forgets
social engagements his wife has arranged for him. Yet he insists he's
really quite an easy man to get along with, and is trying very hard
to remember anniversaries and surprise Gloria with thoughtful little
gifts and unexpected treats.
want my marriage to last," he says firmly.
was while waiting for his divorce from Lois to become final that he
met beautiful Gloria Stone Martin at a party in a friend's house in
Hollywood. Gloria--sister of actress Nita Talbot and herself a talented
painter--had just moved to Hollywood from San Francisco, where she had
been living when she got her divorce. Carl and Gloria, both recovering
from the collapse of their marriages, liked each other instantly, dated
constantly thereafter, and were married that December in a civil ceremony
in Santa Monica Court.
for Gloria, her daughter Rio and Carl had instant rapport. "The
little girl immediately started to call herself 'Betz'," Carl beams.
"I adopted her legally, just as soon as I married Gloria. Of course,
Rio's father had to give approval before I could adopt her--he was in
New York and Rio hadn't seen nor heard from him, so there were no complications."
of course, there is no problem in show business for the children of
divorced parents: "Nobody in our area ostracizes a kid because
she has a new daddy. It's so common in Hollywood."
it wasn't "common" to either Carl or Rio. In fact, there was
a lovely, suprisingly emotional scene when Carl told the little girl,
"I'm going to be your real daddy now!"
means "river" in Spanish, and Carl explains: "Gloria
can speak Spanish. She studied art in Mexico City. But Rio was not named
for some exotic reason. She was named in honor of her grandmother, who
lived on Rio Street in a New York suburb."
about Carl's own son? How was he integrated into Carl's new marriage?
That, too, has been a happy surprise!
and Lois had welcomed their one and only child on May 24, 1957--after
five years of marriage--and named him Richard Lawrence. As Carl grins,
"With that name, he could be a bandleader! Ricky Betz."
Ricky is a bit older than Rio, there is less than two years difference
between them, and they liked each other right away. Weekends, Ricky
has been coming over to the Betz house to visit and play with Rio. "They're
like real brother and sister," Carl says happily.
and Gloria and Rio have been living in a rented house on Malibu Beach
because Carl (who's from inland Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is crazy for
ocean and sandy shores. Fortunately, Lois--who had resisted living at
the seaside when she was married to Carl--had also been living at Malibu
children love the beach," Carl beams. "At first, when they
didn't know how to swim, they'd just walk along the beach with Gloria
and me. They would rush to and from the edge of the water, like nervous
sandpipers, getting as close to a wave as they dared before scampering
away! But, during the summer of 1966, Ricky learned to swim, and now
Rio has been learning, too.
summer," Carl recalls, "I did a play--two weeks in Ohio--and
we drove through the Midwest in our two-seat sports car. It was a wonderful
vacation. We took both Rio and Ricky with us, installing special seats
in the small space behind the regular ones. And we put in a luggage
went up to Minneapolis to visit the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre, staying
two weeks; then to Colorado Springs and on to Aspen, Colorado. It was
very pleasant. Since most motels now have swimming pools, Ricky learned
of course, he and Rio are still very cautious about the ocean; they
know it can be dangerous."
house they like so much on Malibu is high up over pilings, which means
you have to go down a stairway to get to the beach. But when the tide
comes in, it goes swooshing under the house and it's a dramatic feeling
to know you're right on top of the Pacific!
the shore, they often join others in volleyball games. Gloria is great
at volleyball, Carl observes, adding, "I swim and I walk along
the beach, and I do a lot of riding. Indoors, I listen to music--I have
the grandest hi-fi system you can squeeze into a living room. I listen
to classics, mostly, but also Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Erroll Garner,
often go to plays and concerts," he notes. "Do I sing? Yes,
I can belt a song--I'm a baritone--but I've never made a record."
and Gloria share an intense feeling for art: "She's a painter,
but not professional. She has worked in silk-screen, charcoal, line
drawings, sketches; she designs Christmas cards and wrapping paper.
She's such a talented girl!"
started out to be an artist, too. "I had a certain amount of talent
in sketching. Even now, when I'm about to do a new character, I always
sketch him before I start to act him out."
March 9, 1921, the son of Mary Leona Malenfant and Carl W. Betz, young
Carl did not follow his father into chemistry. He suspects he became
an actor during early childhood, when his grandmother conned him into
cleaning up her basement by promising he could use it for a theatre.
He and five buddies put on their own plays there, passing around a school-type
notebook for each boy to write his own lines.
high school, Carl joined a group which called itself The Theatre Guild
and put on plays in a church basement. He won a four-year scholarship
at Duquesne University, but, after one year there, he played a season
of summer stock, then transferred to Carnegie Tech. And after another
year, in 1942, he was drafted into the Army.
spent more than three years in North Africa and Italy, ending up a technical
sergeant with the Engineer Corps. Then he resumed at Carnegie Tech.
graduation, Carl picked up radio work, then did 65 weeks of stock along
the East Coast. He had his rough times! He worked as a doorman at the
Radio City Music Hall, lived on hamburgers and dreams in New York for
a while. It was there that he met Lois Harmon, and they were later married
on the Coast, in Beverly Hills.
really put Carl Betz on the map in show business was his eight-year
run on The Donna Reed Show, portraying Donna's husband, a pediatrician.
He didn't think the role taxed his acting ability: "Most of the
time I was seen hanging around in the background, with egg on my face."
those were happy years. He got along well with Miss Reed and their children
on the show, played by Paul Petersen and Shelley Fabares. In fact, up
until the time Carl got too busy with his own series, Judd,
all four used to get together for monthly luncheon reunions.
whole new life
while still doing the Reed show in 1963, Carl tried to use
more of his full talents by appearing in a double bill (Krapp's
Last Tape and The Zoo Story) at The Stage Society, a local
little-theatre. It proved a great showcase for him, since he delivered
a 45-minute monologue in the first play. He did this for $40 a week
($10 a performance) for four and a half months, while putting in full
time at the TV studio.
feels that this was the turning point of his career in Hollywood, for
it was here that producer Paul Monash saw him--and later remembered
him, when he was planning Judd.
very much enjoys playing the title role in his present series, mining
a rich vein of his character in that dynamic lawyer. But his real
life, he makes it clear, is his personal life--the many delightful surprises
found in his second marriage.
is wonderful!" he rhapsodizes. "Brilliant cook! She loves
to cook, she loves food and she makes every meal a masterpiece!"
She goes out to the Santa Monica Pier to buy fresh fish, he tells you,
and often uses exotic French and Mexican recipes to prepare a dish fit
for a king.
Carl finally completed his eight years on The Donna Reed Show, he took
Gloria to Europe for a month's vacation. But not until after they had
barely survived one of those typical home crises we've mentioned! As
he recalls most vividly, "The morning Gloria and I were to take
the plane for the polar flight to London--it was a charter flight arranged
by the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences--there was a thud, and
then a howl.
had fallen on a box. But he didn't make a sound--until he felt the back
of his head and saw blood on his hand. Then he howled. You
can imagine the excitement getting him to a doctor!
when Gloria and I finally got on the plane, we were still in an uproar."
They couldn't begin to relax until they phoned back home and learned
that Ricky had already forgotten the accident as soon as it happened.
are problems, Carl and Gloria have found, when you face them together--secure
in the knowledge that nothing unexpected can shake the true happiness
you have found.
knows he has a good marriage now. Gloria gets up at 6 A.M. to make him
a hot breakfast, so he can get off to the studio feeling happy. She
is bright and sunny early in the morning, and Carl adores her for it.
And when he comes home, she is ready with a warm hug and cheerful talk--and
one of those gourmet dinners.
couldn't ask for anything more," he says. "I am so happy."
And that, of course, is the best surprise of all!