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- May 04, 1981
- Vol. 15
- No. 17
Tanya vs. Glen
Even Rhinestone Cowgirls Get the Blues, Finds Tanya Tucker of Life Without Glen Campbell
During that raucous interval they were professionally and personally fused as the music world's most publicly torrid twosome. Their duet Dream Lover was a country hit, while Tanya made her suggestive smash single Can I See You Tonight? (with backup harmonies by Glen) a question that until now hardly needed asking. Playing the cabaret circuit with lucrative pauses at watering holes like Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Honolulu, they flaunted their passionate performances for the world.
Even the fussin' that came with the bussin' bespoke a roistering romance, though Tanya denies reports of brawls—"disagreements," she corrects—and scoffs at those rumors that she once slashed her wrists with a Coke bottle in a suicide attempt. "Are you kidding?" she says. "I wouldn't kill myself over Glen Campbell." The disagreements were "over silly little things"—like "the definition of 'mammal.' " Indeed, they are both hot-blooded creatures themselves, and Tanya describes Glen as "the horniest man I ever met. Men are supposed to slow down after 40, but it's just the opposite with Glen. I mean, I thought I could handle a lot..."
He was certainly profligate. Whatever Tanya wanted (and her tastes don't run to rhinestones), Glen provided. Last October he threw a 22nd-birthday party for her at L.A.'s chic Bistro. The tab: $57,000. When Glen promised to buy her the biggest diamond in one boutique, they were disappointed to find nothing larger than one carat. So Tanya settled for a pair of coral earrings and a matching ring, for which Glen gallantly shelled out $4,500. Tanya says Glen was even ready to pop for the biggest gift—marriage—last year, but she hesitated. "I said that if we really loved each other, a year wouldn't make any difference," she recalls. "Getting married is very special. I only want to do it once. Getting married is like—it's like meeting Elvis." (She did in 1973.)
Marriage for Campbell is more like meeting Zsa Zsa. Previously hitched three times, he ricocheted into romance with Tanya shortly after the breakup of his marriage to Sarah Davis (Mac's ex). Yet despite his spicy seasoning, Tanya blames the end of their affair on Glen's uncertainties. "You're talking about a man who's twice my age, who's been through three marriages, has five kids, who's been very successful, but he still has this insecurity," she explains. "People were saying things about me that weren't true. He had so much insecurity that he listened to them. I would say to him, 'Glen Campbell, you're the best singer, guitarist, musician...You're so good-looking and you have everything—I mean everything,' " she continues. " 'What do you have to be insecure about?' "
Specifically, according to Tanya, her expulsion from paradise resulted from her doing the one seemingly trivial thing she had been expressly forbidden—going without Glen to Le Dome, a dripping-with-hip L.A. restaurant on Sunset Boulevard where he frequently entertains friends like Wink Martindale and James Garner. "It showed such a lack of trust," she says. "He had no reason to suspect me, but he was paranoid, I suppose. I guess he thought there were a lot of people there who hit on me, but I reminded him that it takes two to do anything and I wasn't interested in anybody but him."
After dining there with her best friend, Beverly Hills (yes, she swears it's her real name), who was then vice-president of the Glen Campbell Publishing Company, Tanya tried to hide her Le Dôme disobedience from Glen, but a chauffeur spilled les haricots. Campbell was furious. "Glen just wouldn't listen after that," says Tanya. "He says that if I could lie to him about that, I could lie about other things." The next day, April 9, Tanya learned from her agent that she had been "jerked," as she puts it, from Glen's European tour. Beverly was fired. Glen and Tanya haven't spoken since. Says Tanya: "It's kinda heartbreaking because you think about what coulda been."
One of those heartbreaks is the Rhinestone Cowgirl, a high-fashion designer boutique that Tanya was planning to open in Beverly Hills this summer with Glen's backing. When she dreamed up the idea, he was enthusiastic, anteing up a preliminary investment of $115,000. But to finish the store in the grand style she envisions, Tanya needs $350,000 more, funds which Campbell no longer intends to invest. The lovingly planned gala opening—with Glen singing his hit Rhinestone Cowboy as Tanya rode in on a white horse—will also have to be revised. But Tanya isn't giving up. "I thought about saying, 'Screw it,' " she admits. "But you get an idea you believe in and you want to make it work. If I have to get in there with a hammer myself, I'll do it."
Although her breakup with Campbell has set back Tanya's venture into the rag trade, she thinks it may actually help her in showbiz. "For all the time I was with Glen, I woke up in the morning and cared about whether his eggs were done right, and not about my career," she says. "I cared more for Glen than for anything else." To please him, she renounced a pledge never to open the show for anyone, though, certainly, opening for Glen Campbell gave Tanya her biggest push into the fast lane. Sometimes it seems it all might have been too quick. "I'd like us to get away somewhere and just be healthy and forget about the music end of it," she said during the happy days of their romance. "I'd like just to work on being two people in love together." Now that the twain have been sundered, Tanya is trying her best to be optimistic. "Maybe it's for the best," she says. "I'm glad to do some of what I want to do—some of what I should do. I get to stay at home. I enjoy being around the house in the yard with the dogs. I've got a lot to do."
Like learning to cook—and how to act. Recently she was accepted by the esteemed Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. "One of four out of 700 applicants," she boasts. "Celebrities have the hardest time getting in." Despite her desire to attend, she had intended to bow out, because the classes conflicted with Glen's touring schedule. Now she plans to start studying with Strasberg in May—although if Campbell came back to her, she would give up her acting lessons in a second. "I still love him like my own life," she says. "The door is wide open."
Part of Glen's continuing appeal, Tanya admits, is his resemblance to her father. "I don't know about everybody, but most girls look for a guy like their daddy," she theorizes of their similarly hardscrabble Southern origins. "I finally found a man like my daddy. Glen is the seventh son, and so is my dad. In the Bible, it says that seventh sons are special." Her father, Beau, worked, she says, at "everything from selling junk iron to core drilling" when Tanya was growing up in Wilcox, Ariz. He became her manager even before her Delta Dawn became a No. 1 country hit when she was all of 13. Beau now runs Tanya's 3,000-acre ranch in McEwen, Tenn., where she raises quarter horses and registered Red Poll cattle. Her mother, Juanita, has been visiting her in the two-bedroom house she owns in Beverly Hills. Her parents heartily approved of the match with Glen. "My family really loved him and really cared," says Tanya. "And they still do." So, clearly, does Tanya. "He's the most gentle, loving, giving man I've ever met," she says. She looks wistfully at the diamond ring that Glen gave her exactly at midnight last New Year's Eve, while they were onstage in Honolulu. "I thought maybe I should take it off," she adds forlornly. "But I can't. I'm going to wear it as long as I can."
March 28, 2015
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