When Andrew Roy Gibb fell in love with Pamela Ewing, the beautiful and dark-haired star of Dallas - he watched her on television like a lovesick teenager - he was cruising for the biggest bruising of his young life. He would eventually discover that Victoria Principal and Pamela Ewing were, indeed, two very different female characters. Even though it was, at first, the most magical love affair of his life, it was also a relationship that was going to tear his guts out, propel him into heavy cocaine use, damage his career, and end up causing a nervous breakdown and bankruptcy.
From Victoria Principal By: Tony Brenna and Riva Dryan
Chapter 7: Enter Andy
Unwitting cupid and catalyst for this disastrous relationship was talk-show host John Davidson, who introduced Andy to Victoria in a hokey sort of stunt on his show. Andy was a fairly recent arrival in Los Angeles, a fresh-faced, healthy twenty-one year-old, full of ambition to convert his teen-idol musical career into movie stardom. The youngest of the Gibb family - his famous older brothers being the enormously successful Bee Gees - Andy thought he held the world in the palm of his hand. Cuter than cute, British by birth but brought up in Australia, by the time he was nineteen he had already achieved three Number One records in quick succession. Money began to pour in, and Andy assumed that was how it was going to be for the rest of his life.
Andy had moved to Florida in 1977 to join his parents and brothers. Always fond of expensive toys, he bought himself a fifty-eight-foot Hatteras yacht, Shadow Dancer (named for his second LP), and spent months cruising the Bahamas. And when he wasnít cruising, his slight figure could be seen on postcard-perfect Miami mornings soaring 300 feet above Biscayne Bay on a parachute behind a sleek red speedboat racing over the blue-green water.
Although the Bee Gees were going from one success to another, Andyís dream of becoming a fourth Bee Gee was subsiding due to his huge personal success. Nevertheless, the brothers helped run his solo career through their management organization. He appeared on television, did club and convert gigs; everywhere he went there were mobs of shrieking young fans. Andy loved America and America loved him. And after several visits to the West Coast, he decided that the fun, beachfront Malibu lifestyle was just what he wanted and that Hollywood offered the career development he needed. Having been briefly married to an Australian girl who had his child but left him after a year, he vowed to his parents and brothers that he would not get tied down to any one woman - until he was at least thirty. His love life was enjoyable but mostly unchallenging. He had two dream girls, he told friends. One was Bo Derek, "the most beautiful thing on two legs." The other was Pam Ewing - "that girl on Dallas. Every time I see her I kind of tingle all over," he said. "Sheís so beautiful, thereís a kind of haunted look about her that really turns me on."
In January of 1981, Andy accepted an invitation to appear on The John Davidson Show to talk about his career, his famous brothers, and life in America. In preparation for Gibb'í appearance, a researcher from the show unearthed a magazine article in which Andy confessed that the only reason he watched Dallas was to see Victoria Principal. Coincidentally, January 6 was the night Victoria was booked for The Tonight Show, which was taping in the next studio. Davidson staffers made plans to sneak Victoria onto their show to surprise Gibb.
While chatting with him on television, Davidson mentioned Victoria, and Andy eagerly acknowledged his admiration for her. No sooner were the words out of his mouth than Victoria suddenly appeared and proceeded to give him a big kiss on the neck. He flipped, blushed, and managed to stammer a few words. Victoria was charmed, and the two hit it off immediately. As soon as they were off-camera, the smitten composed himself sufficiently to ask for Victoriaís telephone number.
For the next three days, Victoria and Andy were on the phone, pouring out their hearts to each other, discussing their fears and hopes for the future. It was a strange telephone marathon, an electronic mating dance between two famous people. At one point before they met, Andy came by Victoriaís home and left roses on the doorstep, calling her from a phone booth to tell her they were there.
While Victoria was charmed by her youthful beau, from what Andy had to say about it later, she was as usual assessing the pros and cons of the situation. She told him that as much as she liked him, there was the public relations problem for her to consider. She had worked too hard to escape from the stories about her new passion for younger men. She didnít want to take any more punishment from the press because a boyfriend might be eight years younger. Sheíd been pilloried over the relationship with Christopher Skinner, to whom she was still officially married when she met Andy. It was bad for her image to be accused of cradle-snatching for a second time, even though such a Hollywood double standard was quite unfair.
He told her he was just as much a man as anyone sheíd ever dated, that he wasnít a struggling actor like her estranged husband, that he was more than her equal in terms of success, that she would have to wait for him while he signed autographs for the fans. His achievements at such a young age certainly appealed to the success-worshiping Victoria, and she liked the cheeky British voice and the handsome young manís sensitivity. Most attractive of all was that he adored her. Victoria needed to be adored; behind the hard exterior, uncertainty still lurked to pull her down. When he told her he loved her, she felt great. She wanted to believe him when he said heíd been around older people all his life, that the age difference between them meant nothing, that he had always been treated as a mature adult even though he was still a teen idol. Moreover, he was changing his image by auditioning for adult film roles. He pleaded for her to at least give it a try, to discuss the situation over a meal. They decided on a quiet dinner, tucked away in a booth in an out-of-the-way French restaurant, far from any lurking photographers. There, an intense Andy Gibb charmed Victoria into taking him home with her. And, according to what Andy later told an interviewer, "I was head over heels in love. I wanted to spend my life with this woman. Nobody else existed."
About those three months. Victoria said later: "Itís been wonderful for both of us. I finally finished decorating the house. And professionally, itís been great because weíre so supportive of each other work-wise. Iím wild to know all that heís doing. And heís been so successful in his own right, thereís no jealousy. Heís never said to me, ĎOh, I havenít seen enough of you. Donít take that job or donít do that talk show.í Itís the first time ever that someone Iíve cared for hasnít tried to suppress my work, and my workís important to me. I need to do this."
Recalling that time together, Andy told British interviewer Neil Blinkow: "They were three of the most delicious, wonderfully happy months of my life. Victoria was just as much in love with me as I was with her. We could not bear to be apart for a single second. We were like two lovers ship-wrecked on a desert island. There was no world outside our love."
"She would come to my home by the Pacific Ocean. We would cook meals and as the sun sank in those great glowing West Coast sunsets that reddened the entire sky, we would walk barefoot through the sand heads down, locked in our own thoughts, talking about our careers, our future together."
"Victoria didnít tell a soul about our love affair, nor did I. We spent time at each otherís homes, sneaking in and out like criminals, although we were so profoundly happy it was ridiculous. Then I felt outraged; I wanted the world to know that I was in love with Victoria, that she felt the same way about me. Why should we hide our feelings for one another? We decided to appear at a very public event together."
Victoria recalled their "coming out" in these words to reporter Jane Ardmore: :I had been separated from my husband for three months when I met Andy. At first it frightened me to love him, so I hid it from myself. After, we both had broken marriages. And we were doubly fearful that once we were seen together, the media would destroy our privacy."
"Iíd not been seen for so long, I could have been in a convent. Then we decided to go public with it, to make the American Music Awards our first outside date. When we emerged from the limo, photographers were so startled, they forgot to take pictures and we ran right through them. Not one photograph of us going in. But they were waiting for us when we came out." The pictures appeared all over America, Britain, and Australia.
A week later, Principal and Gibb flew to New York for some anticipated peace and quiet and time alone away from the hundreds of prying eyes and cameras back in Hollywood. No such luck. The press sniffed them out at their hideaway in the Waldorf Astoria and staked out the famous hotel. Tabloid reporters and photographers roamed the corridors looking for them, and even waited outside all the entrances. Victoria and Andy took one look outside and fled in opposite directions. The rest of their New York stay was spent futilely attempting to dodge their persistent pursuers.
Victoria was due back in Los Angeles to resume filming on Dallas and Andy had to remain in New York to discuss the possibility of taking over for Rex Smith in The Pirates of Penzance. He was scheduled to stay until after his appearance at the Grammy Awards, but he missed Victoria so badly that he cut short his stay, no matter what business problems it caused for him or his associates. And that was the beginning of a pattern that was to continue during his relationship with Victoria. To the detriment of his own career, he concentrated almost exclusively on her. This, of course, led to criticism that she was ruining his career, while in fact, the reverse was true. Victoria wanted Andy to continue climbing the slippery slope to success just as she wanted to continue growing as an actress.
Victoria was correct in her original fear: the tabloids jumped all over her for being a cradle-robber.
Soon they were quoting Victoria in a defensive posture: "People think I have been cradle-snatching since puberty. Thatís not true. I have dated men my own age and men older than me, but these relationships never made headlines some people seem to find it immoral that Andy and I should be together, with our age gap. So what?"
"We really do have a good relationship; Andy is protective and supportive toward me. Sometimes when I feel as though Iím out on the ocean on my own, fighting off the sharks, I realize Andyís on the raft too. I like a man who will let me be strong and capable in the areas where I am strong and capable, and yet who will let me lean on him when I need his support. Andyís that guy."
At the same time, Victoria said the combination of her success on Dallas and finding the perfect man in Gibb had rounded out her happiness.
She explained: "Iíve always wanted success very badly. Some people want it, get and then find they didnít want it after all - that other things were more important. But I do want success, and thatís why Iím happy now. Itís exactly what I wanted. I became more relaxed, leaving room for an ongoing relationship.
But by the spring of 1981, problems were creeping in to the chill and balmy air of their romance. Now that their love was out in the open, Andy wanted a commitment from Victoria that she would marry him. It was a subject that came uptime and time again.
Just out of one marriage and as ambitious as ever, she told him over and over that she couldnít yet give that commitment. The subject created tension.
Moreover, Andy had found out in no uncertain terms that Victoria Principal bore no resemblance to simperingly nice Pamela Ewing on Dallas that he had fallen in love with.
Victoria told an interview: "I was frightened he was onlyin love with my Pam Ewing character. Thatís one of the dangers of being attracted to a character. There are elements of you that arenít that character. The first time I did or said something that wasnít Pam Ewing, it was a shock to him."
Easygoing Andy, a winner since boyhood who had basically gotten everything he wanted (and then some), had been intrigued by this fiery Irish-Italian female who knew what she wanted and how to get it. He also sensed the anger and insecurity, later telling an interviewer: "Sometimes being with Victoria was like tiptoeing through a mine field. Put one foot wrong and everything is going to be blown sky-high. It was exciting, but often frightening. She had a terrible temper at times."
And as much as he adored her, she made him feel uneasy as a man, unsure of himself: "I could feel this strong sense of competition between us. I didnít thrust my career success to the front all the time. She did, and she was quick to point out that she got it all for herself, that she didnít come from a family that already included famous performers."
The truth was that Andy had never dealt with a woman like Victoria before. She was both strong and weak; strong in her calculation and determination to succeed, weak in her tendency to remember wrongs, and to be too sensitive to insults. He found a bit of solace with cocaine, although at first he did it behind her back.
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