Article by Noele Gordon, News of the World, July 5th, 1981
Millions of my fans have been wondering for years why I have never married. It's not that I haven't had any proposals.
There was one broken engagement and four other serious proposals.
I turned these down because they came at a time when I was involved with the big love of my life. A romance that
lasted for 20 years, but until last week had only existed as a rumour, except among a few intimate friends.
It seems useless to deny or pretend any more. There need no longer be any mystery about my not being married.
I've done nothing of which I'm ashamed and I want my fans to know the truth.
My secret love for 20 years was the man who launched me into commercial television and a new career. That was when
it all started - in the mid-fifties.
He was Mr Television himself, ATV's first chief executive and Lew Grade's old boss ... London Palladium star maker and
super show-man Val Parnell.
My association with Val was plain and simple - we were lovers, although we never lived together. We were in love.
This I can't deny, nor would I wish to ... I'm proud to have been head over heels in love with a most marvellousman, a true
I'm happy to have given him 20 years of my life. And if it was to happen all over again tomorrow I would do the
same.I don't need to make any excuses.
But first, a little about my four unsuccessful suitors.
There was New York stockbroker Sumner Walters who fell madly in love with me - or so he said - after meeting me at a
cocktail party. He wanted to marry me and live on Long Island. He was a millionaire and expected me to give up
I wouldn't have minded that, but the trouble was he wanted to turn me into someone else. He wasn't prepared to
accept me as I am. So I turned him down.
There was also a Hollywood agent. I've forgotten his surname but I'll always remember him as Ben - the man who
proposed to me on Broadway one summer's evening beneath the neon lights of Times Square.
When I returned to London he used to phone me every night from California. It must have cost him thousands in phone
calls. Every call was a proposal. I never said 'yes.' I just didn't love him.
There there was Frederick Loewe, the American composer. I had just auditoned for him for Brigadoon, singing
a couple of songs on stage. When I'd finished, Mr Loewe stood up in the stalls and said: "Will you marry me?"
"Are you married?" I replied.
"Yes, but I'm not working at it."
"Why do you want to marry me?"
"So that you will always be there to sing my songs."
"In that case," I told him, "you'd better see my agents."