ForeverMissed
Please read Milly's biography. It was written by her extended family after she died in 1999. www.OurMillyParker.com

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her Life

Life in Japan

Although the big stars of the film had a tendency to keep to themselves, they sensed that Milly had a genuine confidence and charm that made her stand out from “needy” show biz people. As a result Marlon Brando included Milly on the guest list for his wrap party aboard a small sea yacht that took the cruisers to nearby Teti'aroa for the day, a small island that Marlon was considering buying. She brought Pike along and again found herself sitting quietly next to Pike, away from the fray, on the roof of the pilot house, the wind whipping their silvering hair into tangled messes.

With the last of the production being packed up, it was time to board a ship back to Los Angeles. Pike asked Milly to stay on to help him finish his research. He swayed her with the promise of an upcoming trip to Japan where he would be meeting up with fellow geologist Kiguma Murata to finalize their paper. Milly didn’t need much persuading since the easy flow of island life and the rigors of Pike’s research satisfied both her contrasting contemplative and analytical sensibilities.

By the time Pike was wrapping up his work on the island, Milly had transformed into a long-haired bohemian islander. Her skin had turned a tawny brown and her hair was an unruly nest that she pretended to control with beaded hair ties she bought from the locals. Since there were no commercial airports in the region, the trip to Japan was a hopscotch of small prop planes over the islands to Patpeet, Tahiti, where they boarded a French research cargo plane to Hawaii. During their short stay on Oahu, Milly’s fruitless attempt to civilize her hair ended with her shrugging to the hair dresser, “Just cut it all off.” In an era of big hair, Milly’s yet to be named pixie cut made her even more conspicuous.

Pike and Milly boarded one of Japan Airline’s first transcontinental flights that stopped in Honolulu on its way to Tokyo.

As soon as they were settled in Tokyo, Pike’s research partner, Kiguma Murata, insisted they accompany him to a social gathering of expats, university and government people. Although it sounded formal in its description the event turned out to be surprisingly casual. Among the many people Milly and Pike were introduced to that evening, was Jirō Shirasu a writer for The Japan Advertiser, an English language newspaper. When inevitably Kiguma and Pike’s conversation turned to their current paper, Jirō and Milly swapped press club stories and inevitably the conversation circled back to Milly’s extensive travels. While recounting the tale of how she convinced a police officer near Cambridge to give her a ride on the back of his motorcycle because she was running late for class.Jirō pulled on the thread to discover that Milly dated his Cambridge classmate Henry Rudd. Milly was thrilled at the connection and was happy to hear some news about her boyfriend from all those years ago.

During their time in Tokyo much of Pike’s days were spent in meetings and writing, but when they did have free time Jirō and his wifeMasako Shirasu were their first choice in companions. Masako was an artist with a cutting edge aesthetic and Milly relished their long talks when the foursome would venture out to their country home, Buaiso, on the weekends.

Milly’s time in Japan was rich with art, conversation, writing and the deep learning that comes with living once again in a new culture. The affection she and Pike had for each other took on the patina of marriage, but neither expressed a need to formalize the relationship. When Pike and Kiguma’s paper was finally published, the USGS wasted no time in assigning Pike to his next project near Tokyo at the caldera island of Nishinoshima. Pike asked Milly to go with him.

She pondered it, but felt the last several months with Pike had been so perfect that she didn’t want to add a coda and potentially ruin the perfect ending. Pike was disappointed, but understood Milly so deeply, her response did not surprise him. Milly promised to write and she kept that promise, writing to Pike regularly for the rest of her life.

The Oldsmobile Years

Once she was back stateside, Milly lingered in Los Angeles for a little while, checking in on Margaret whose mysterious symptoms had started to point hauntingly toward Parkinson's. Milly took the time to help Margaret travel back to Connecticut where she could be near her family and pursue a more hopeful diagnosis.

On her train trip down to New York, Milly reconnected with Mururi who was raising her family with her husband on a small orchard near Gardners, Pennsylvania. Milly enjoyed seeing Mururi so prosperous and happy. When asked what she might be able to do for the couple, Mururi told her she had already done it.

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Manhattan seemed a bit fast-paced for Milly’s sensibilities now, so she cleaned out her apartment and asked after “her” cottage on her brother’s estate. His son was running most things nowadays and assured Milly the cottage will forever be Aunt Milly’s place whenever she needed it. She settled in there once again.

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Train service into the city was becoming less frequent and to keep her independence intact, Milly decided it was time to learn to drive. Instead of taking lessons, she just went out and bought a brand new white Oldsmobile Delta Royale convertible. She sat in the dealer’s lot going over the controls remembering what she observed when Margaret drove them around Los Angeles. When she felt it was time, she “just turned the key and drove.” And drive she did. Milly drove and drove. At first it was mostly into the city to lunch with some of her press friends, but soon she was driving past the city, into the country, along the coast, over the hills and even through snow. She visited every friend, family member and acquaintance within a 150 mile radius usually keeping the top down except on the most frigid of days.Around this time Clara and Jonathan returned from India and were living in Washington DC. Milly drove down to see them while two of their grown children were visiting for Thanksgiving (a third still lived in India.)

Milly’s Oldsmobile circle ever widened and when she ran out of people to visit in the east, she began making broad loops through the Midwest. When she wanted to visit a city, but couldn't come up with anyone to visit, she would just drop by the local newspaper or women’s press club and make new friends on the spot.

After years of hard driving her Delta Royale’s drive train began to fail and so did Milly’s eyesight. After nearly 150,000 miles on the open road Milly’s confidence waned when she accidently drove off the road by miscalculating the distance to the exit ramp. Her traveling circles became smaller and eventually she was sticking to the familiar roads near her cottage. Her second driving mishap left her stranded down an embankment out of sight of the road. She sighed, got out and walked the remaining three miles home. She never saw her “great white” again, asking her nephew to sell it without towing it home so she wouldn’t have to see it.

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Unable to do her visiting in person anymore, Milly leaned more heavily on letter writing. She continuously sent notes and cards to keep up with everyone’s news. The postman always had a stack of envelopes for Milly to open. Milly got a surprise one day when one of those envelopes was postmarked Calistoga, California. Milly could not remember meeting anyone from Calistoga. It turned out to be a photograph of Milly, Richard Halliburton and Moye Stephens standing in front of Moye’s C-3B. On the back was scribbled, “Morocco. Marvelous Milly, Rich and me.” A note was included from Moye’s son. After Moye had died his children found the photo. The son remembered his father’s stories of his wild escapades that year and the “marvelous Milly Parker” was mentioned often. Though it took some time, he was able to track down the correct Milly Parker through the Halliburton family and thought she might like to have the photo. She did.

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As her body failed her, Milly kept writing. When arthritis got the best of Milly’s fingers, Mururi brought over a typewriter she had from her school days and Milly continued to slowly peck out travel articles for The Pen Women (and letters to Pike.) That is how her nephew found her one sunny morning when she wouldn’t answer the phone. Slumped in her chair, one finger still on the keyboard. The letter read, “To My Dearest Pike.”

South Pacific & Meeting Pike

Around this time Milly received an invitation to speak about her time with Annie Besant to the Los Angeles Women’s Press Club through a photojournalist friend Margaret Bourke-White whom she had met in Hyderabad when Margaret was covering Annie and the suffrage movement in India. Having been editing, writing and studying non-stop for a number of years, Milly decided a trip to slower-paced Southern California was well deserved.

Her brother’s youngest daughter (and Milly’s namesake niece), Mildred (Millie) Parker, got word of Milly’s forthcoming trip and invited her to visit on her way out west. Milly delighted at the idea of reconnecting with the wildest of her nieces who had left Philadelphia immediately after college. Determined to do everything on her own, “Little Millie” made her own way west by working in a string of train station Harvey Houses until she landed in Denver where she got a job working in the kitchen of Colorado Women’s College as she pursued a master's degree in creative writing.

Since Little Millie refused any monetary assistance, Aunt Milly thought she could give her niece a leg-up by connecting her with the few Denver Women’s Press Club members she had heard of through her work at the magazine. Aunt Milly insisted on sharing some of Millie’s writings with the ladies of the club and soon after Milly’s visit, young Millie was taken under the wing of several members of the club. They encouraged Millie and offered help in ways that allowed her to keep her fiery independence.

Suffering from undiagnosed fatigue and malaise, Margaret Bourke-White had rented a house in Playa Del Rey in Los Angeles for several months. Milly fell-in easily to Margaret’s breezy lifestyle on the water. They visited many art openings, salons and movie premieres. Margaret quizzing Milly about her time in India working with Annie and Milly countering with endless questions of Margaret’s coverage of the war.

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During one of their jaunts into Hollywood, Milly was recognized by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. at a movie premiere. He had met Milly a time or two when he traveled east with his father. He hadn’t seen Milly since his father died and he was anxious to know if all the wonderful things his father had said about her were true. He invited Milly and Margaret over for dinner with a few friends.

At that dinner Milly met Robert Surtees an accomplished cinematographer who was recently signed to be Director of Photography for an upcoming Arcola Pictures film. He was particularly interested in Milly’s vast travel experience as the production crew was about to set off for several months of shooting in Bora-Bora and Robert had never traveled abroad. Robert and his wife Maydell wanted to hear more and asked Milly and Margaret over for a nightcap after the dinner. A friendship blossomed and Milly found herself invited to the Arcola Pictures lot for a tour and lunch. It was there that Robert mentioned that due to the extended shooting schedule the studio was offering to bring his family along for the duration. He asked Milly if she might be willing to help Maydell with their two young children in exchange for a tropical vacation. Having already taken so much time away from her assistant editor duties in New York, Milly hesitated. She conferred with a melancholy Margaret who was discovering whatever ailed her was not being cured by sunshine and moist ocean air. Margaret reminder her that women like them “are not meant to be still.”

Fueled by Margaret’s wisdom, Milly explained to her publisher it was time for someone else to have the opportunity to work on such an impactful and important publication. They only partially accepted her resignation, insisting that she forever stay a member of the writing pool. Milly agreed.

Once again Milly found herself on a long ocean voyage, but this time across the warm Pacific. The staff onboard provided respite care for the children, so Milly’s duties were minimal. But even after they arrived in the Pacific Islands Milly discovered the Surtees’ had overestimated their family’s need for additional help.Maydell asked Milly to do less and less and eventually their time together became more social than anything else.

Milly loved watching the hustle and bustle of the crew and actors, but her charisma and uninhibited nature didn’t allow her to blend in on the edges of the crowd. Before she knew it she was being included in conversations, lunches and even after work revelry. Although still compelled to be a part of the action Milly surprised herself as she began to feel drawn to the quieter people and smaller groups and even occasionally found pleasure in walking the secluded nearby beaches all by herself. With so much time on her hands, she crafted her writings more precisely and uncharacteristically took time for rewrites before mailing her articles back to New York.

During one of her early morning writing sessions a gust of wind lifted the papers from her lap as she sat outside the Surtees’ palapa. A gentleman that was walking by the row of stilted houses rushed to help Milly recover her papers. His name was Pike Emory, Jr. and he was a geologist from the US Geological Survey sent to Bora Bora to study the chain of volcanoes along the Leeward Islands. He had, of course, heard there was a Hollywood movie being shot on the island, but didn’t know much about it. Milly offered to take him to the set and show him around. Milly (as well as everyone he was introduced to) was charmed by Pike’s quiet, yet radiant demeanor and his sparkling aqua colored eyes. Pike had to attend to his research, but as often as he could he found reasons to be “coincidentally” walking by Milly’s hut or drifting near the set.Very little of the hours they found together was spent talking to each other. Their companionship possessed a quiet understanding. They were perfect company and didn’t need to work at explaining why.

Looking for more opportunities to spend time together, Milly began accompanying Pike on some of his research treks near the dormant volcanos nearby and she proved herself valuable by being a quick study with Pike’s theodolite and other surveying tools. She did not mind making the exacting notations in his voluminous research journals and found she had a head for geometry. 

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