I was mesmerized and obsessed with Kim Novak. I thought she was the sexiest, most gorgeous woman I had ever laid eyes on. I was smitten.
I was in my third year with the Louisiana National Guard’s Anti-aircraft battalion. Each year we would embark by rail to Fort Bliss, Texas for 2 weeks of field training. The battalion comprised about 600 men.
Four days after our arrival at Ft. Bliss that year, my name was called out at mail-call. I got a letter. Because the envelop was pink and the embossed stationery lettering was gold, this drew the attention of many of my guard colleagues. “Hey, Leggio, that your girl friend?”, “Leggio got a love letter”, “Maybe it’s a dear John letter”, etc, etc. They crowded around me much like the sailors did when ENSIGN PULVER (Jack Lemon) opened a letter from MR. ROBERTS (Henry Fonda). I said “Hey, guys, this is personal.”
The letter was from Kim. She told me of her upcoming film projects, wishing I could be there with her, etc., etc. One of the guys, unbeknownst to me, had been peeking over my shoulder. “Hey, guys, you won’t believe this. Leggio got a letter from Kim Novak!” Many said “No sh*t”, “I thought Leggio was bullsh****g us.” All hell broke loose. I have to admit that the attention and adulation I was getting was quite gratifying and ego-stroking. Within a matter of 30 minutes everyone in the battalion had heard about my letter from Kim Novak. I was overrun with masculine praise. I was “big man” on the post.
While I truly enjoyed the adulation, admiration and envy with which I was being showered, I began to have serious bouts of guilt.
My friend, Bill LaVallee, was now living in Hollywood and he was fast moving into the film and stage spot lights. I had shared with Bill my obsession with Kim and he too agreed that she was indeed a gorgeous woman; though he wasn’t smitten as was I. I suddenly had an idea. Since I had shared my Kim fantasy with members of the 769th Anti-aircraft Battalion, I fantasized with Bill about corresponding with Kim. Bill then offered a suggestion, which I jumped at. He said he could create Kim Novak personal stationery and write me a letter from Kim and send it to my Ft Bliss address. Man, that was tempting. After giving his suggestion some thought (about 2 seconds), I said OK.
I never admitted to my National Guard buddies that they had been victims of a hoax. When 600 guys had formed this high opinion of me, phony as it was, how could I have shattered their collective vicarious Kim fantasies? This would have been cruel. Actually my real fear was having to run for my life.
My Kim obsession ended in late 1958 when I met my true love, Gloria. I was smitten again and have been ever since. The grainy picture of Gloria was taken some 3-4 months before we met.