William Saroyan’s wife – Carol Marcus, who was a young, beautiful, and witty actress and author, was a lifelong friend of Oona O’Neil Chaplin – wife of Charlie Chaplin, and Gloria Vanderbilt – artist, author, actress, and fashion designer. “They were the most radiantly beautiful girls you ever saw. They all had pearly luminous skin, which they powdered pale white, and they had lively eyes and laughed constantly.” – Leila Hadley
The trio was so close that Gloria even designed and gifted diamond earrings for Carol in the shape of a grape because she knew how important the grape was for William and Carol as a symbol of Armenian immigrant life in Fresno.
And when Carol and William separated for the first time in 1949, it was Oona’s husband – the great Charlie Chaplin, who convinced Carol to remarry Saroyan. Here’s what he told Carol that changed her mind:
“Dear Carol. You are so mixed up and I understand it. I truly do. But my darling girl, you are turning your back on the great love of one of our greatest artists and I cannot bear to see you do this. I know Bill was difficult. He himself told me that, but you cannot go by that. Great love is passionate. It has raged. You’re not two people who live in the suburbs and cheat on one another. You’ve had difficulties but you’ve had love – deep, deep, beautiful love and that is how you must think about it, particularly when you think about giving it up. You can’t. It’s bigger than you are. He is an artist. Life is different with an artist. He is a poet. And when a poet loves you, it is like no other love. You will never again be loved like that.”
“I know you’ve had enough of my advice,” Charlie continued, “but it is only in your interest, darling. I’ve seen you together. I’ve seen the love. I’ve felt the love. I love the way you talk to each other. Promise me you’ll be a good girl and think hard about all I’ve said. After all, my interest is in you. You are Oona’s closest friend and we care about you. I care about Bill in the abstract, of course, but in this particular case, to see a great playwright and poet weep unashamedly in front of me and Oona -it broke my heart, Carol. You must do the right thing and there is only one right thing. Go back.”
On April 2, 1951, Oona and Charlie gave Carol and Bill a beautiful party in Los Angeles for their second marriage. They had at least two hundred people to a great dinner and there were flowers and music everywhere, and all the movie stars and celebrities of that time had come.