(January 10, 1948 – October 10, 2002)
THE director’s voice boomed over the sound system: “Cut! Let’s try the scene again, kids. And this time, more animation. Make the viewer feel a little uneasy in his seat, as though he could be Dracula’s next victim!”
It was July 1973, and we were on location in London, England, shooting the motion picture Vampira. I was playing the female lead opposite the well-known film star David Niven. For me it was a lifelong ambition fulfilled.
From high school on, my goals revolved around becoming a successful entertainer. When I graduated in 1966, I joined a singing group called the Doodletown Pipers. We traveled around the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, performing in some of the best-known nightclubs and theaters. But in 1968 I left the Pipers in search of bigger things.
George Schlatter, the producer of Laugh-In, then the number one television program, insisted that I become a member of his family of “crazy wackos,” as he fondly referred to the cast. I was recuperating from an automobile accident in which a friend had been killed, and I was in a state of deep depression. So this was just the boost I needed. For one whole television season I became known to millions of Americans as the “Bikini Girl.”
Offers began to flood in. In 1969 Bob Hope took me on his annual trip to Vietnam, where we entertained the troops. Later I appeared in Las Vegas with such entertainers as Eddie Fisher, Alan King and Buddy Hackett. My own thirty-minute act included singing, dancing and comedy routines.
One day in 1973 my manager received a call from London. Jeremy Lloyd, one of the writers on Laugh-In, had written the screen play for a horror spoof and wanted me for the lead. He insisted that only I could play the part of Vampira, Dracula’s wife. Gleefully I accepted. This was my big chance. I had appeared in two minor movies, but nothing of any great note.
The filming was to be done in England, and was to take about two months. So, early in July I was packed and on my way. Little did I realize how profoundly my life would be affected, or the hard-to-make decisions that would result.
Beginning of a New Love
Soon I was to develop warm, loving relationships, closer even than I had with members of my own family. Don’t misunderstand, I was blessed with a wonderful, close family—with a father who supported and guided me and my brothers, and a mother who nurtured and cared for us. But there was another dimension, a spiritual one, to these new friendships. My cousin Peggy was responsible.
Peggy had also been in the entertainment field and had lived a freewheeling sort of life, as entertainers often do. But suddenly, in 1972, a great change came over her. She had become a Bible student. I was skeptical, however, and watched her for quite a while, figuring that the change wouldn’t last. But it did, and I finally agreed to study the Bible with her to find out what it was all about.
We had only had three or four studies when I got the call from London. So off I went, followed by Peggy’s encouragement, “Keep studying.” Monday, the day after arriving, I phoned Jehovah’s Witnesses. The man who answered was quite nice, taking down the information and promising that I would be contacted.
That very day Una called. “You must come over this evening,” she encouraged. “We’re preparing for our ‘Watchtower’ study.” “Watchtower” study? I really didn’t know what she was talking about, but agreed to come anyway.
There were a lot of young people there. Robin and Una have four children, three of them close to my age. They literally adopted me, although I continued to stay at the hotel. I often had dinner with them and would help to wash dishes and clean up; I was welcomed as part of the family, which impressed me.
Una studied the Bible with me, using the aid The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. To me, it was the most marvelous thing to learn that God really has a purpose, and that the benefits of his kingdom are near at hand for the whole earth. And to realize that God is a real Person, with the personal name Jehovah! (Ps. 83:18) I became so excited about these things that I started talking to everyone on the movie set.
Una mentioned an upcoming international assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses August 1-5 at Twickenham Stadium, and encouraged me to come. Strangely, those were the only days that I had off during the whole month. So I went.
Over seventy nations were represented, and the people were embracing and greeting one another as if they’d been acquainted forever. And no police officers were around. There was no trash on the ground, no pushing, shoving or cursing, and there were over 50,000 people! It was unbelievable! I had never been in an environment like that. And the talks were interesting, especially the Bible dramas.
Upon returning to work, I rushed excitedly into the makeup room, chattering about all the things I’d seen and learned. The room cleared. Undaunted, I continued talking about these things to anyone who would listen. If there was indeed a true religion, I was convinced that it would produce people like Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was beginning to love, not only these people, but also the God whom they represented.
A Different Love
“Could you move over a little to your left for me, please; I want to catch the right light on your lovely face.” This was D————, the cinematographer. Everything that you see on the screen, he captures on film.
I had never really paid much attention to D———— prior to that afternoon. He had seldom spoken to me from back of that big camera. But, all of a sudden, as he continued to poke his head from behind it, I began to “notice” him for the first time. He was really very attractive, literally tall, dark and handsome!
I have always been drawn to older, mature men—the quiet, loner types. When I think of it, D———— was about the only man on the entire set who had not made a pass at me. Naturally, then, he became extraordinarily fascinating. Moreover, he was reputedly one of the top cinematographers in Europe.
One afternoon not long afterward, D———— invited me to join him for a cocktail in the nearby “pub.” Actually, a more accurate statement would be that I invited myself; I was quite bold. The man was incredibly shy, another attribute that attracted me. Day after day we would enjoy lunch together, laughing and talking about the most insignificant things—it really didn’t matter, so long as we were together. Meanwhile, I continued my Bible studies at night.
So my conversation began to include Bible subjects. Each day I would eagerly tell him about the wonderful things that God promises those who serve Him, and how He purposes to restore this earth to a paradise. D———— would always pay close attention and nod his head affirmatively each time that I asked whether he would enjoy these things.
We dined at the most expensive restaurants in Europe. Money was no object. And there were always the beautiful, exquisite gifts for me to open. The man was an absolute jewel! He was kind, generous, loving, thoughtful and warm. His mild sense of humor was typically English—charming. I had never met anyone like him. For the first time in my life I found myself seriously considering marriage. Whenever I was with him I felt completely happy.
It was a Saturday afternoon in August, while we were sailing slowly down the river Thames, that D———— proposed marriage. My first thought was, “Won’t it be absolutely wonderful to live together in paradise forever!” The Bible’s promise was close to my heart: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Ps. 37:29.
Both Loves Grow
The film was completed in September, and I returned home to Los Angeles to get my affairs in order. We corresponded regularly, at least three times a week. His absence only made me realize how much I was in love with him. But, at the same time, I became more involved in Bible study and with the fellowship of the Witnesses of the local congregation.
Frank and Annette, the couple who studied the Bible with me in America, were in the full-time preaching work, and soon much of my time was spent with them in this activity. I really enjoyed it. So the tenor of my letters to D———— came to focus primarily on the things I was talking to others about.
How fine it will be, I would write, when God’s kingdom does come and God’s will is really done on earth, even as Jesus taught his followers to pray! (Matt. 6:9, 10) The coming of God’s kingdom will mean the end of all present-day forms of rule, I explained, even as the Bible says: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. . . . It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Dan. 2:44) Then, after the establishment of his rule, God “will wipe out every tear from [people’s] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Rev. 21:4.
These promises had come to mean so much to me, and I wanted so badly for D———— to start studying the Bible and also come to learn and believe them. I sent him Robin’s address and phone number. However, periodic checks with Robin revealed that D———— never made an attempt to get in touch with him, and this grieved me.
On January 5, 1974, I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah God by being baptized. About three months later D———— arrived in the States. He was working on a film and, upon its completion, he had intentions of taking me back with him to live in England. He had purchased a castle and had made other postmarriage living arrangements.
I went into shock at the prospect of meeting him again. I didn’t know what to do. I literally begged Frank to accompany me, for it had really begun to disturb me that D———— manifested no interest in spiritual matters. Frank tactfully explained that I would have to resolve the situation myself, based on my knowledge and love for God’s righteous laws and principles. He assured me, though, that Jehovah would be with me.—1 Cor. 10:13.
It was exactly as I had imagined. The moment that I set eyes on D———— my heart began to beat fast and loud. I felt sure that everyone in the room could hear it. (Song of Sol. 4:9) That feeling was still there all right! Suddenly he reached for me, motioning for a warm embrace. I immediately extended my right arm . . . and we shook hands. Such a puzzled look appeared on his handsome face!
Making Clear Where I Stood
D———— invited me to join him for lunch in order for us to finalize our plans. I made absolutely sure that the restaurant was well lit and full of people. In fact, we wound up sitting outside in a sidewalk café.
“A great deal has happened since last we were together,” I said. “I wrote you about my newly found religious beliefs, and how Jehovah’s standards must be met if we are to have his favor. So, I’m going to talk now and I would appreciate it very much if you would allow me to finish all that I must say to you, without interruption.”
I then proceeded to explain how marriage is a divine institution, authorized by God, and so his laws must be respected in order for marriage to be a real success. (Gen. 1:27, 28; 2:22-24; Matt. 19:4-6) I also told him that if I wanted to be obedient to Jehovah, I could marry only one who was himself a servant of the true God. The Bible commands Christians to marry “only in the Lord,” and also says: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness?”—1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14.
Furthermore, I reemphasized the Bible’s standard of conduct for single persons. They are not entitled to sex relations; this privilege is reserved for married people. (Heb. 13:4) Also, I explained how the Bible warns against uncleanness and loose conduct.—Gal. 5:19-21.
The whole morning I had been praying for God’s help to explain these things. And now how grateful I was to have been able to call back to mind what I wanted to say! But it was time for D———— to go back to work. “Please have dinner with me tonight,” he said. “We’ll talk some more. There is so very much I still do not understand, darling.” He seemed so sincere.
As I slowly drove homeward, I felt quite pleased with myself. But I was very disappointed in D————. I had been hoping that he would say, “When do I start my Bible study?” So I asked Jehovah in prayer that, if need be, he would just completely remove from my heart the desire and love I felt for this man.
Grateful for My Decision
At seven-thirty D———— phoned and wanted to come by and pick me up. Well, I was determined to find out just what his intentions were before I made another move. So I insisted that he tell me exactly why he had never contacted Robin to study the Bible, and why, in all his letters, he had never responded regarding the spiritual matters about which I had written so much. I told him that he must tell me, or else forget the whole matter—our relationship and all. There was a long pause.
Finally, he said: “If I told you the reason, you would hit the ceiling.” The conversation teetered for a moment or two until, upon my persistence, he blurted it all out: “I attend a spiritistic church; I have for years.”
He went on to relate that for the past twenty years he has been in close and constant contact with his deceased father. He believed that his father had survived in some spirit form, and that the frequent communications he carried on were with his father. He said, in effect, that he didn’t really believe in God.
I was stunned! For all these months he had kept from me his true beliefs and feelings about God, apparently realizing that I wouldn’t marry him if I knew! I felt like a victim of deception. How close I had come to entering a relationship that could never bring what I wanted from marriage—what Robin and Una and Frank and Annette had! As I quietly sat and listened, every vestige of feeling that I had felt for him began to vanish.
Then I started to talk to him as I would to someone I had just met at the door in the preaching work. I explained the grave danger that he was in spiritually, describing the source of spiritism. I told him that his dead father was unconscious, and that no part of him was alive somewhere. The Bible says: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.”—Eccl. 9:5; Ezek. 18:20.
So, I explained, it was not his father with whom he was communicating, but it was with an evil spirit who was impersonating his father. (2 Cor. 11:14, 15; Eph. 6:11, 12) And particularly did I stress that there is, indeed, a true God, and that no matter what he had done in the past, if he turned to Jehovah with the desire to serve Him, God would gladly accept him.—Isa. 55:7.
When I said good-bye and hung up, immediately I thanked Jehovah for the wisdom of his principles that protected me from making a grave mistake that I would regret the rest of my life. Although D———— made attempts to continue our relationship, I never saw him again. And how grateful I am that I have held to my decision to obey the Bible principle to marry “only in the Lord”!—1 Cor. 7:39.
An Unexpected Development
It was about this time that I received a call from the American Broadcasting Company, ABC television. Months before, prior to my baptism, I had done a pilot show, and now they wanted it as a regular-feature program. So I found myself under contract to play the character role Christie Love. Since I was legally bound, I fulfilled my obligation, but I refused to play any scenes that violated Scriptural principles. The New York Sunday News commented about this:
“When the series swung into production, she refused to carry through the concepts of the swinging, slugging Christie Love character. She demanded violence be kept out of the scripts. She wouldn’t be a party to lying on the show, even though Christie Love as an undercover cop required deception to be effective. She wouldn’t raise her voice to a superior. She insisted on being modest at all times and subdued her natural sensuality.”
The show ran for twenty-six weeks on national television. Sometimes the schedule was hectic to produce the weekly one hour show, but it was understood by all that on my nights for Christian meetings I was to quit at 5 p.m.—no matter what. It was in my contract. I never missed meetings, and despite the heavy schedule, I was able to spend much time in the preaching work.
A Full, Happy Life
I can truthfully say how delightfully happy I am today. I have many loving friends, and have had marvelous experiences. One of these was being able to share in publicizing the terrible persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi, East Africa, and in Benin. And since last year I have enjoyed being a regular pioneer, as full-time preachers of Jehovah’s Witnesses are called. What a pleasure it has been to see three persons with whom I have studied the Bible dedicate their lives to Jehovah and be baptized!
I am convinced that heeding the counsel of God’s Word is the best way to live. Most importantly for me, it has resulted in a good, clean conscience before God. Indeed, Jehovah is faithful, and by following his loving direction we can only benefit.—Contributed By Teresa Graves.
*On October 10, 2002, Graves' home caught fire. She was found unconscious in a bedroom before being rushed to the hospital where she later died. She was 54 years old.
Here is information about the convention and a copy
of the program below to show the Bible based talks that
were so delicious to me :)
NEW YORK—Jehovah’s Witnesses announce the start of their 2012 “Safeguard Your Heart!” three-day conventions and warmly invite all to attend. The first four of these conventions begin on May 18 in the following locations: Brooklyn, New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Portland, Oregon. Continuing through mid-September, there will be a total of 385 conventions in 103 cities throughout the United States. The program will be held in English, Spanish, and 18 other languages, including American Sign Language. The total projected attendance for the United States is over 1,700,000.
All sessions of the convention are open to the public and are free. For the date and location of a convention near you, please click on the link below or contact Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area.
‘SAFEGUARD YOUR HEART!’
of Jehovah’s Witnesses
“As for Jehovah, He Sees What the Heart Is”
—1 Samuel 16:7
9:30 Song No. 52 and Prayer
9:40 Chairman’s Address:
Why Must We Safeguard Our Heart?
(Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:5-10)
10:10 Acquiring “an Obedient Heart”—Is It Possible?
10:30 Do You Have a BalancedViewofYourself?
10:50 Song No. 57 and Announcements
11:00 Symposium: Beware of Dangerous Heart Conditions!
“Cunning of Heart” (Proverbs 7:10)
“Double Heart” (Psalm12:2)
“Halfhearted” (Psalm 119:113)
“In Want of Heart” (Proverbs 7:7; 10:21)
11:40 Keynote Address:
Let God’s Word Reveal the Intentions of Your Heart
(Hebrews 4:12; James 1:22-25)
12:10 Song No.113 and Intermission
2:00 Song No.106
2:05 Questions About the Heart Answered
(Deuteronomy 4:39; Philippians 1:7, 8)
2:25 Avoid Testing God in Your Heart (Psalm78:18,19)
2:45 Sound Drama: Fortify Your Hearts to Be Witnesses
(Matthew27:32–28:15; Luke 24:8-53)
3:15 Song No.116 and Announcements
FRIDAY Afternoon (continued)
3:25 Symposium: Prepare Your Heart for . . .
Study (Ezra 7:10)
Meetings (Deuteronomy 16:16)
Informal Witnessing (1 Peter 3:15)
Persecution (1 Peter 4:12-14)
4:25 Do You Have “a Heart for Working”? (Nehemiah 4:6)
4:55 Song No. 98 and Closing Prayer
“Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth
9:30 Song No. 96 and Prayer
9:40 Symposium:Motivate Righthearted Ones to Love . . .
Their Spiritual Father (Acts 13:48; 16:14)
Their Spiritual Mother (Proverbs 6:20)
10:10 Symposium:Guard Your Heart Against
“the Works of the Flesh”
Idolatry, Practice of Spiritism (1 John 5:21)
Enmities. . . Envies (Psalm141:3)
Drunken Bouts,Revelries, and Things Like These
(2 Peter 2:2)
11:10 Song No. 68 and Announcements
SATURDAY Morning (continued)
11:20 “God Is Greater Than Our Hearts”—How?
(1 John 3:19, 20)
11:40 Baptism:Give Your Heart to Jehovah (Ephesians 3:20)
12:10 Song No. 58 and Intermission
1:45 Song No. 67
1:50 “Jehovah Is Near to Those That Are Broken at Heart”
2:10 Symposium: ‘Do Just as You Have Resolved
in Your Heart’
Showing Generosity (2Corinthians 9:7)
Widening Out in Love (Romans 15:7)
Forgiving One Another Freely (Ephesians 4:32)
Remaining Faithful to Your Marriage Mate
Reaching Out in the Congregation (1 Timothy 3:1)
Living Up to Your Dedication (Daniel 1:8)
3:10 Song No. 95 and Announcements
3:20 Full-Time Service Helps Safeguard the Heart—How?
3:40 Listen to Those Who Love You From the Heart
4:00 Rejoice in Your Youth! (Ecclesiastes 11:9–12:1)
4:20 Inculcate God’s Word in Little Hearts
(Deuteronomy 6:4-7; 31:12)
4:55 Song No. 89 and Closing Prayer
‘Serve Jehovah With a Complete Heart’
—1 Chronicles 28:9
9:30 Song No.110 and Prayer
9:40 Symposium: Serve Jehovah With Your Whole Heart,
as Did . . .
Hannah (1 Samuel 1:18)
Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26)
Abigail (1 Samuel 25:32, 33)
Elijah (1 Kings 18:42)
Jonah (Jonah 3:4; 4:1)
Mary (Luke 1:34, 38)
Martha (John 11:25-27)
Peter (Proverbs 24:16)
11:00 Song No. 61 and Announcements
11:10 Public Bible Discourse:
“The Former Things Will Not . . . Come Up Into the
Heart” (Isaiah 65:13,14,17-19, 21-23)
11:40 Summary of The Watchtower
12:10 Song No.134 and Intermission
1:35 Song No. 73
1:40 Drama:What Is True Love?
(Proverbs 22:3; 1 John 4:8)
2:45 Song No. 36 and Announcements
2:55 Never Let Your Heart Become Terrified!
(2Chronicles 20:15,17; 1 Peter 5:8, 9)
3:40 Song No. 49 and Closing Prayer