HOLLYWOOD--An official biography of Petula Clark distributed by her publicist of that moment a few years ago cited as her greatest ambition: "To have a son."
In September Petula may realize her dream, because that's when she and her husband-manager, Claude Wolff, are expecting their third child.
The baby's citizenship will be French, because Wolff is a Frenchmen; the birthplace will be Geneva, because Pet and Claude now live there; and the sex, Pet hopes, will be male.
"If it's a boy," she said, "we may close up shop after this one. If not. . .
"To your question, do I think the baby will be a boy, I say, 'I won't even think about it.'
"But, of course, we'd love a girl too. We're very thrilled about having another baby; though it's throwing my career into confusion."
Petula (called pet since, as an adorable moppet in wartime Britain, she became a movie, radio and recording star) was doing a guest spot on "The Lucy Show" when I ran into her at Universal Studios while at the same time, her husband was making his acting debut playing, of all things, Petula Clark's husband.
Wolff, a publicist before he took charge of his wife's career, wasn't taking to acting like a duck takes to water.
Miss Ball, a formidable talent, is also a formidable star who, on her own set, is a director without portfolio. From her own great sense of comedy timing and consummate knowledge of her business, she was giving Wolff emphatic directions as to how he should come through a door and deliver his lines.
A lesser man might have been terrified. He, however, was merely discouraged.
"I don't like acting," he told his wife
as we left the sound stage for lunch. "I don't think I want to do it again."
Pet smiled understandingly, because she's not wild about acting herself, despite her starring roles in Finian's Rainbow" and "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." Singing is more her bag.
As a recording artist she has sold more records worldwide than any other female singer.
The Wolff's daughters are Barbara Michele, 10, and Catherine Natalie, 9, called Bara and Katie respectively.
When Bara was born, Pet experienced what she calls "a moment of madness or a moment of truth" so terrifying that it changed her life and might have prevented her form further child bearing. However, to the contrary, it encouraged her to bear another child as quickly as possible to erase, hopefully, the trauma induced by her first labor.
"I was supposed to have my first baby by the natural method, without drugs or anesthetics," Petula said. "But, after I'd been in labor for 16 hours, I as too exhausted to go on, so I was given gas.
"I had something like `a bad trip'. It was horrifying! Perfectly awful. And its memory still affects me.
"I'd joined the Anglo-Catholic Church when I was 24 after giving it much thought. I was very serious about my religion, and it was a great help to me.
"But, while I was under the influence of gas - I don't know whether it was for seconds or hours - I had a horrible vision. A voice kept saying to me, `There's no such thing as God. There's no such thing as love. It's all a trick.'
When I came to. my doctor, a sweet woman, was smiling at me, and I was terrified. I thought her smile was a deception.
That's how my vision had affected me.
For a time after that, every show of affection was suspicious so far as I was concerned.
"I loved my baby, but I even wondered whether mother love was real. I thought perhaps I'd been conditioned to feel an emotion which didn't exist.
"I was miserably unhappy, and everyone around me was too."
As a result of her descent into terror, Petula drew
back from her church and has never regained full
confidence in its teachings. She has studied a number of
religions, but none has comforted her in the way the
Anglican communion once did.
On the other hand, she's no longer suspicious of every loving gesture.
"I had another baby right away," she continued,
"because I wanted very much to have a child naturally.
I had no drugs when Katie was born, and it was a
After finishing her role in "The Lucy Show," Petula
will retire except for recording until after the birth of
her third child.
She, her husband and daughters will spend much of
the intervening time in a summer home they're building
on a small island just off Corsica.
"Paul Anka told me I was pregnant this time before I
know it myself,'' Petula said. "He was in France
working with me in a televised tribute to Maurice
Chevalier and, after telling me that I looked wonderful,
said, `You're expecting a baby.'
"I told him that, if I were, I didn't know it.
"Later, when I was obviously pregnant, I saw Paul at
Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
"He said, `I told you that you were expecting a baby.
Now I'll tell you it's going to be a boy!'