With a new year upon us, many of us find ourselves pondering our lives. As I reflected on my life, I was reminded of the 1947 Mercury recording by Frankie Laine called “But Beautiful.” I adore the opening lyrics: Love is funny, or it’s sad; or it’s quiet, or it’s mad; It’s a good thing, or it’s bad, oh, but beautiful . . .
I found myself suddenly thinking about the word “beautiful.” I am blessed to have my wonderful, beautiful wife, Marlene. I recall when Frankie Laine actually called her beautiful. I guess this is why I thought about that old song. I can still hear Frankie say that word.
Marlene and I met in April 2000. One of our first dates was a trip to San Diego together in July of that year. I was to be interviewed on-camera for Jimmy Marino’s fabulous Frankie Laine documentary, Frankie Laine: An American Dreamer. Marlene was willing to go along with me. We had a great time and took advantage of the ocean and beach while there.
Jimmy had arranged a meeting for us with Frankie at Frankie’s home after my interview on July 17. I was excited not only to visit my friend again, but I was eager to introduce Marlene to him. Marlene was thrilled to meet my famous friend, whom she has always referred to as “my star.”
Later that day, on Frankie’s patio, as Frankie and I were preparing to be videotaped together by Marlene, Frankie said to me, “You have good taste.” Then he added, “She’s beautiful.”
Later that year, as part of Jimmy’s documentary, I planned to interview Frankie’s brother, Phil, in Chicago. While there, I would also be interviewing actor Jerome Courtland, who starred in three of Frankie’s movies. Marlene assembled our itinerary for this trip and was delighted to meet both of these gentlemen. I loved having Marlene with me during this adventure.
Living Life Together
Marlene has always enjoyed my association with Frankie Laine. She has become acquainted with everyone I know within the Laine circle. Since we’ve met, Marlene has been by my side in all my Laine endeavors. We became a lifelong team when we were married in October 2001. Frankie sent us a bottle of champagne—Symphony Laine, as a gift. I called him to thank him, and Marlene took a turn speaking with him on the phone. Frankie told her “You take good care of him; he’s a good guy.”
We traveled to San Diego to celebrate Frankie’s 90th birthday in 2003. It was great visiting with friends.
In 2005, I published my book, Reaching for a Star. A memoir, the book details my associations with Frankie Laine. Of course, my beautiful wife is part of the book. She is even pictured with Frankie from our July 2000 visit. After initially reading the book, with tears in her eyes, she kissed it. What a wonderful true love I have!
Marlene was with me when I did a live television interview about my book and association with Frankie Laine. I am sure she found the process of the live program interesting. I relish the fact that she was there with me. She was part of my experience. We were a team.
The last time Marlene and I traveled to San Diego to visit Frankie was to attend his funeral in 2007. After the funeral, we had lunch with Frankie’s family and friends to celebrate his wonderful life and glorious legacy.
Marlene and I enjoy being together and continue to create precious memories. We look forward to a bright future together. We are truly blessed. I am so in love with my beautiful wife! And this reminds me of the last line of that old Frankie Laine song:
And I’m thinking, if you were mine, I’d never let you go.
And that would be but beautiful, I know.