Rosalind Russell and Frederick Brisson were married for 35 years, a record for a Hollywood marriage. As we have all observed over time, Hollywood marriages aren’t always the easiest to keep together, and who knows what factors are the cause of these breakups? Even though Roz and Freddie (as he was usually called) had their song, which their good friend Frank Sinatra sang to them in 1940 (“I’ll Never Smile Again”), I have a song in mind for them. Frank was a new sensation at the time and only about 25 years old, but he became good friends with the Brissons after that. But I digress. I made a video about a year or so ago celebrating the marriage of Roz and Freddie. I used the song “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Michael Bublé. It seems to fit them perfectly. And whenever I hear this song, I think “Roz and Freddie.”
It was about 1940 that Frederick Brisson and Rosalind Russell first started dating. A funny story was that when Freddie was on his way to the United States in 1939, all they played on the boat was “The Women,” and after he saw Rosalind’s insane antics over and over again, he thought, “I’m either going to kill that woman or I’m going to marry her.” And marry her he did. But it was difficult going at first. He begged and pleaded with his good friend Cary Grant to get him a date with her, as Cary was filming “His Girl Friday” with her at the time. And Roz said, “Every day Cary would come to the set and say, ‘Do you know Freddie Brisson? And I’d say, ‘No, what is that? A sandwich?’” Eventually, however, they ended up going to the races (at Santa Anita Racetrack) together and as most fairytales go, they fell in love and got married (the following year, 1941).
When I gushed about his parents in a letter I sent to Lance Brisson, I was thrilled to receive a response. And he said something like (because I do not have the letter by my side at the moment) “My parents had a good marriage, albeit one that had them traveling a lot.”
I think one of the reasons they had such a long lasting marriage was because they knew how to laugh with each other, at each other when the time warranted. They had a lot of fun together and they loved each other very much. As Roz said at their 25th wedding anniversary in Las Vegas, “25 years is a long time. But it’s also a very short time when you love someone.”
Roz usually radiated a love of life all around her, and I am sure Freddie just loved that about her. And I am sure they were both very happy that she made it to her 35th wedding anniversary. That is a milestone year and when Freddie gave her a little gold bracelet that had “35” encrusted in diamonds, she was so delighted that she said “I’ll never take it off.” She died the following month that year in 1976, and as Freddie wrote, she never took that bracelet off. Theirs was a bittersweet ending, but they had 35 years filled with joy and laughter and who wouldn’t want that?