Voulez-Vous Foucher Avec Moi? Asked Bernard; Mellow, Said the New, Mature Margaux

updated 07/16/1979 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/16/1979 01:00AM

For me, the Hemingway heritage was to live through my energy—living life to the fullest and all that crap," says Margaux, who, in her grandfather's exuberant spirit, hotdog-skied in Sun Valley, crooned impromptu ballads in the saloons of hometown Ketchum, Idaho and partied coast to coast, dusk to dawn. That was in the old, immature days.

"Now I'd rather read," says Margaux, 24, who's serious enough about her intellectual growth to experiment with lecithin "because it's supposed to make you smart."

What happened? Ask the new gent in her life, businessman-filmmaker-boulevardier Bernard Foucher, a mature 40. "I just opened the door to culture and intriguing people and she got interested," he shrugs.

Now Margaux, like Papa, knows for whom the bells toll. She and Foucher plan a spring "cowboy wedding," with square dancing, in Ketchum.

First they're taking care of business. This fall Foucher will direct his first feature film, an adventure called King of the Amazons, starring six-foot Margaux. (Her first film, Lipstick, was smeared by the critics; her second, The Treasure of the Piranha, with Marisa Berenson, Karen Black and Lee Majors, opens in October.) "Margaux is not a heavy dramatic actress," Foucher concedes. "But she can fit into any situation, from the jungle to Maxim's."

It helps that she's a habitué of both. While not modeling for Fabergé—with whom she has a five-year, $1 million contract—Margaux roams the globe with Bernard. A Frenchman who spent part of his youth in Venezuela, he seems especially fond of showing her off in South America. Last year they ventured into the Amazon basin for three weeks with Margaux's father, Jack, on an Amazon fly-fishing expedition that was televised in March on ABC's The American Sportsman.

"He handles people well and knows what he wants," says Jack of Foucher, who directed the show. Nonprofessionally, too, Dad approves, though his prospective son-in-law is thrice-divorced and the father of three. "He's such an improvement after her first go-around," Jack says. The reference is to husband No. 1, hamburger king Errol Wetson, whom Margaux divorced in January 1978 after a two-and-a-half-year marriage.

Foucher works to keep in the family's good graces. He writes billets-doux about Margaux to Jack and his wife, Puck ("Margaux is like a lion; she supports me when I'm down and keeps me together when I'm out of hand"), and plans to ask formally for her hand. "You don't marry a girl; you marry a girl and her family," Foucher says. To learn more about them, he has taken Margaux on pilgrimages to such Hemingway haunts as Venice and Cuba.

Margaux now says, "I'd like to do a movie of one of Grandfather's works, like The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber or A Moveable Feast." Meanwhile she's capitalizing on her first name. When Les Vins de Margaux, a French winery, asked her a few months back if she would represent their product, she was thrilled. "My father said, 'Don't ask for money. Go for the wine. Don't blow this one,' " she smiles.

Actually, Foucher is the oenophile. While he was co-owner of the Gazebo, Caracas' first and only nouvelle cuisine restaurant, he selected both wines and cooks in France. When he invited 12 French chefs to prepare a meal for 20 at either Maxim's or at a private home, as a kind of elimination trial, the bill came to nearly $100,000. "It was like La Grande Bouffe," he grimaces. The winner was Robert Provost.

Foucher met Margaux during a 1977 trip to New York to choose restaurant china at Tiffany's. A mutual friend introduced them at the Plaza Hotel's Palm Court, the same spot, ironically, where Margaux met Wetson. "Bernard was wearing a white double-breasted linen suit and looked wonderful," she recalls. "He kissed my hand and I kissed his hand back. The chemistry just went Ssssss."

Rendezvous in Acapulco, Caracas and the French château country followed. Then in June 1977 Margaux left Wetson ("I nerved out on the whole thing," she says) and arrived on Bernard's Venezuelan doorstep. "I'm so goddamn in love with him it's not even funny," she bubbles. "Everyone in Caracas said it wouldn't last. You know, Bernard the Playboy. But we've been together ever since. He's very masculine and sensitive and he understands women. Nobody else interests me now." Bernard coos, "I used to be more paranoid. Now nothing bothers me. Margaux is very motherly, yet one of the boys."

Foucher, the son of a tropical medicine specialist in Caracas, studied business administration at Kansas City (Kansas) Community Junior College, then returned to Venezuela to work in marketing and advertising (he has won two Clio Awards for foreign commercials). In 1968 he managed the political promotion campaign of Rafael Caldera, Venezuela's liberal president from 1969 to 1974. Later he turned to filmmaking and lived among a group of Amazon Indians doing documentaries for the government. He studies Jungian psychology in his spare time.

Margaux is of course the middle of the three Hemingway girls. Older sister Joan is a writer; baby Mariel (who still calls Margaux for big-sisterly advice) is the current sensation of Woody Allen's Manhattan. Margaux dropped out of Oregon State after two months and left Idaho at 19. She was soon dazzling Manhattan with her preteen lexicon—"Yippie skippy" was a favorite expression of delight. Big-time modeling and marriage to Wetson followed. "I'm not a money-monger, but I fell for his act," she admits. "He was the first man I met in New York. I was naive." Soon after they split, Margaux flew to Santo Domingo for a quickie divorce. "There I was with all those crying women wearing my cherchez la femme T-shirt," she giggles. Back at the hotel, Bernard was waiting.

A few months later Foucher got a divorce from his third wife, an aspiring Venezuelan clothes designer. He and Margaux were already sharing a funky, antique-filled pied-à-terre in Manhattan. A billiard table dominates the living room. At home he calls her "Bumper" because she careens into things. She calls him "Woofer." "I guess he howls," she explains.

Since meeting Bernard, Margaux explains, "My life has taken a 360° turn from the parties and Studio 54. I'm happiest now reading, listening to music...and making love." While Bernard writes in their apartment—he was coauthor of King of the Amazons and says Luis Buñuel is his "mentor"—Margaux struggles to keep her troublesome weight down at the gym. "I get stuffed up and constipated—not the bowel kind, the mind kind—if I don't exercise," she says.

Margaux and Bernard plan to build a log cabin in Sun Valley and are buying a 40-foot sailboat they'll moor off the coast of Caracas. "Grandpapa would have loved Bernard," says Margaux dreamily. "They would have had great conversations together." Ernest's widow, Mary, agrees. "Bernard," she says, "is a dandy fellow."

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