The Reading of Genesis on Apollo 8
Joseph Laitin, a Hollywood freelance reporter in 1958, had spent a long, tough day putting together a ninety-second piece on the renowned French mime Marcel Marceau for his CBS radio entertainment program.
“Ever try doing an interview with a guy who pantomimes for a living?” Laitin says, laughing now. “It ain't easy.”
Laitin had accepted an invitation to a dinner party that evening. “But I got home, and I was hot and really exhausted and didn't feel much like going out. So I called the hostess and said, 'Look, I feel awful. Would you mind if I took a pass tonight?' She got furious! So I said, 'OK, OK, I'll take a shower and be right over.'”
Because he dealt with movie stars on a daily basis, Laitin was accustomed to being in the presence of beauty. But when he walked to his assigned spot at the dinner table, Laitin became mesmerized by the young woman seated next to him. “She was more than beautiful,” he says. “She was classy. Glamorous. I'd never seen a woman who would even compare to her.”
She introduced herself as Christine, a ballerina from Paris who was passing through Los Angeles. She had married an American, she told Laitin, but was going through a divorce. They talked throughout dinner. At the end of the evening, Laitin—a forty-four-year-old bachelor—asked the twenty-eight-year-old dancer to have dinner with him again the next night. She accepted.
Conversation came easy to them, as if they had known each other for years. “After dinner I said, 'Would you be interested in the proposal of marriage?'” Laitin says. “She answered, 'Thirty seconds after I get a divorce.'”