“Almost 20 years after her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936, two young women boarded the RMS Queen Mary and headed to Europe – no Let’s Go travel guide in their hands, no Eurail Pass, no backpacks, and no phones.” So begins Rusty and Kit’s adventure to Europe on September 8, 1954.
It really must be true. Kit and I just came down from the Promenade – the wind nearly blew us off!!– (overboard, that is!)
On board the Queen Mary, the girls made friends with Brits and Americans, danced on the swaying ship, watched the moon and the sun rise, and snuck from Tourist Class to Cabin Class.
From The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.
How do you get a job in New York City? Especially when you’re an actress? In 1952, Rusty found a job as an NBC Guidette (or “Page” as they’re now called) by interviewing at an employment office.
All dressed up, in matching hats and shoes, Marialyce, Evelyn, and Billie Ann went to an employment office. “We asked, ‘How do we get a job? What can we do?’ The man [in the office] looked at us, turned around in his seat (trying not to laugh), got out his phone and called NBC,” Marialyce said. “We went to NBC to become Guidettes.” It was at NBC where someone nicknamed Marialyce “Rusty” for her deep reddish rust-colored hair. …
As an NBC Guidette, Rusty took tourists on tours of NBC studios. “We had all sorts of sound effects we used,” Rusty said. “We’d show them how to make the noises of horses clomping.”
From The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.
Rusty and Kit sailed on the RMS Queen Mary from September 8 – September 13, 1954. Rusty’s daughter spent a few hours on the ship in 2013. Read about her trip and see her photos here:
On Board the Queen Mary | Snapshots and Sojourns.
What movies did Kit and Rusty possibly see in the early 1950s that might have inspired or influenced them before their trip to Europe? While I was writing and editing The Tucker – Tyler Adventure, I decided to go to the movies.
Rusty’s letters home were often sprinkled with the names of the movies Rusty and Kit saw while in Paris or Rome or even on the Queen Mary. Rusty wrote to her mother:
We walked down steps then to the very edge of the Seine. Remember in An American in Paris when Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron danced at nite along the river? And they came down the steps leading to the street, to this wide cobblestone way beside the Seine? – There we were!
I discovered that a lot of the “classic movies” I’d already seen were filmed in the 50s. Movies like Cinderella (1950) and Alice in Wonderland (1951), Singing in the Rain (1952), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), and Rear Window (1954).
So I watched the movies that Rusty and Kit wrote about: An American in Paris (1951) where two friends fall in love with the same woman in Paris; Roman Holiday (1953) where a princess falls in love with an American newsman in Rome; and Three Coins in a Fountain (1954) where an American young woman falls in love with an Italian prince in Rome.
Next time you’re looking for a movie to rent, consider traveling abroad in the 1950s and view one of the movies Rusty and Kit watched.
From The Tucker – Tyler Adventure, written by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler with Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.
When you want to be an actress, living in New York City is a dream, especially for a girl from the midwest. For Marialyce Tyler, moving from South Dakota to the Big City in 1954 was exciting. With a couple of college friends, she lived in two different apartments on the Upper West Side of New York, right near Central Park, on West 74th Street and West 68th Street.
Rusty described the apartment on West 74th Street as the old Borden Mansion. According to Rusty, they lived in what was the old library.
We were on the first floor, a 14-foot ceilinged room with a huge marble fireplace, tall windows draped in dark red velvet and then beyond a huge room that had three twin-sized beds, a very large and long dark mahogany dining table, chairs, etc., a small one-person-at-a-time kitchen, and beyond that a bathroom that had been made out of a closet.
From The Tucker – Tyler Adventure, written by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler and edited by Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft.