Tabloid says Zora marries 'Joe'

"I think it's hilarious," Zora Andrich says of the 'Globe' story.

January 31, 2003

From the very first episode of "Joe Millionaire," Zora Andrich has been the only woman who just doesn't fit the image of a gold digger.

When the 19 other contestants pushed and shoved each other on the first show to get to choose their evening gowns for that night's affair, Andrich stood quietly by and got stuck with an ill-fitting dress.

While the other women oohed and aahed over French chateaus and pondered ways to spend the star of the show's alleged $50 million inheritance, the statuesque beauty kept quiet.

And when three of the other finalists crashed her hot-tub date with hunky construction-worker-turned-pseudo-millionaire Evan Marriott Monday night - wearing bosom-bearing bikinis - Andrich (who wore a demure tank top over her own bathing suit) calmly got out of the tub and went to bed. Alone.

All that classiness may have paid off.

In the latest issue of the Globe, the supermarket tabloid, has a front-page story that cites two "insiders" who claim the leggy brunette gets her man - and the pair got married at the French chateau where they met.

The tab's cover has a picture, which appears to have been digitally altered, of a beaming Andrich in a wedding gown sitting on the lap of a grinning tuxedo-clad Marriott.

Reached by telephone at her Lambertville, N.J., home Wednesday, Andrich sounded warm and friendly, a contrast from the shy, socially awkward woman she comes off as on the show. She just chuckled when asked about the Globe story.

"I think it's hilarious," said Andrich, 29, who was most recently a substitute teacher in the town located about 40 miles north of Philadelphia. "I'm like, 'Where do people get this stuff?' "

She apologized profusely, but declined to comment further, citing a contract she signed with Fox TV that forbids her from talking about the show or herself without the network's approval.

However, other signs don't bode well for her being the winner. At a recent party for television critics in Los Angeles, Marriott claimed he didn't even know where Andrich was from.

And on the show's own Web site, in a section titled "Zodiac sign compatibility," astrologers claim a Cancer (Marriott) and a Sagittarius (Andrich) are not a good match.

"One-night stand - definitely," an unidentified astrologer wrote. "Long-term prospects - not so much. Cancers love Sagittarius. But Sagittarius can't really be tied down to a nice home and a simple lifestyle. Bottom line, it'll start out great but be careful about opening up, Cancer, because your heart just might get broken."

"Joe Millionaire," which details the escapades of 20 women vying for the attention of a man they think is worth $50 million but really is a $19,000-a-year construction worker, has been a ratings bonanza for the Fox network.

Its debut on Jan. 6 drew 18.6 million viewers - the network's biggest audience for a series premiere since "Malcom in the Middle's" debut three years ago. Last week, "Joe Millionaire" ranked No. 8 and had 20.3 million viewers. Each week, Marriott chooses who he wants to go on to the next level with by doling out expensive necklaces. Andrich, catty/slutty Sarah, and domestically inept Melissa are the three finalists. The finale is Feb. 17.

If Internet chatter is any indication, Andrich appears to be a favorite of viewers.

"She's America's sweetheart and my bet is she'll be around for a while," wrote isabella19. "I've no idea why she went for this show, but she's there to set the others off in their shallowness and bitchery."

Details about the raven-haired beauty are few. Her bio on the show's Web site gives her favorite colors (white and aqua blue); her favorite flower (calla lilly, although she loves the scent of lilacs); her favorite cocktail (a Cosmo or apple martini but she is also happy with a bottle of beer) and her favorite dining-out food (Italian or Japanese).

She describes herself as "compassionate/kind, silly and imaginative."

Andrich graduated from Boulder (Colo.) High School in 1991, where she was voted "homecoming queen" by the student body.

Underneath her homecoming-queen picture in the yearbook she wrote, "I feel extremely honored to be named queen but I feel the others deserved the honor just as much as myself."

Tamsen Meyer, who taught Andrich in her leadership class and described her as "gentle" and "nice," said those humble sentiments are quintessential Zora.

"All the boys were in love with her because she was so beautiful, but she was a very, very nice girl with a capital 'N,' " she said Wednesday. "They were all a little bit in awe of her."

Andrich left Boulder to attend Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., which she paid for herself, friends said. Somewhere along the line she moved to Lambertville. Andrich graduated from Rutgers in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in sociology, a representative for the college said.

When she was 19, Andrich answered an ad in the local newspaper and got a part-time job caring for Mary Cortina, an elderly Italian woman who'd suffered a stroke, couldn't walk and was mostly blind.

"I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful person to take care of my mother," said Gloria Ramsey, of Morrisville, Pa., who hired Andrich. "She loved my mother and my mother loved her. She's a joy to be around. She's a very lovely, kindhearted person."

Andrich learned some Italian so she could speak to Cortina in her native language, Ramsey said, and the two often sang old Italian songs together at the top of their lungs.

"She just loved my mother and spent time hugging her," she said. " She bathed her, dressed her, curled her hair, did her makeup."

On the show, Andrich said she doesn't like to talk about her past because she comes from "extreme poverty."

Ramsey, who considers Andrich part of her own family, said she doesn't know much about that because Andrich never talks about herself.

"She's very private," she said.

Andrich cared for Ramsey's mother for eight years. Cortina died in May 2001 and Andrich now cares for another elderly person, Ramsey said.

Ramsey thinks Andrich decided to do the show because she's been trying to launch a career in acting after years of studying the craft and dabbling in modeling.

"She's not a gold digger," she said firmly. "She doesn't care about money. I think she's doing it for the fun of it."

Ramsey said she and her husband, Ed, haven't seen Andrich since the show debuted but have talked to her a few times and corresponded by e-mail.

They claim they don't know if Andrich wins and said the only thing Andrich has said about Marriott is that he is "sweet." They watch the show religiously every week and tape it, too.

Ed Ramsey said he's not sure Andrich would marry Marriott if he does choose her.

"There are two sides to Zora," he said. "One side might decide to be successful in show business, but the other side doesn't like too much public attention. You can't have it both ways. Celebrity status is hard to live with."

Zora and Evan fake wedding photo from tabloid

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