Monday, 25 August 2014

A Little Glamour: From the Golden Age of Hollywood

"I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want the girl next door, go next door".

She was born plain Lucille Fay Le Seur, but she was to become Joan Crawford, the ultimate Hollywood Diva.

She had been dancing for pennies since childhood and she'd had to drop out of college to scrub floors and wash dishes just to put food on the table.

She had got to the top the hard way (though, some would suggest it was the easy way) but either way having got there she wasn't going to let it slip.

Bette Davis was to say of Joan Crawford: "She was the good time had by all".

Unlike Joan she was the daughter of a rich New York Attorney, and had never had to work merely to make ends meet. So did she resent Joan's pretensions to grandeur? After all, she was the polished young lady.

Or was it the rumoured attempt Joan had made to seduce her at a Hollywood party the rejection of which Bette believed may have imperiled her career.

We may never know, but when it came to Joan Crawford the gloves were rarely off.

"Why am I so good at playing bitches? I think it is because I am not a bitch. Maybe that's why Joan Crawford is so good at playing ladies".

"One should only speak good of the dead. Joan Crawford is dead, good".

"Every man I knew went to bed with Gilda, and ended up with me".

Rita Hayworth, or Margarita Carmen Cansino, is most famous for the role of the seductress Gilda, and for a time it seemed that every woman in the world wanted to be Rita Hayworth, but then so did she.

"All I wanted was what everyone else wants, to be loved".

But a successful career and the title the World's Most Beautiful Woman did not mean happiness and neglected by her husbands and abused by a string of lovers she took to drink. Indeed, people were to remark upon the toll the alcohol had taken upon her physically whilst she was still only in her thirties.

She died alone, aged 68, having suffered from Alzheimer's disease for many years, the effects of which may often have been mistaken for drunkenness.

"You could have put all the talent I had into your left eye and stiff not suffered from impaired vision".

Veronica Lake, or Constance Frances Ockelman, was to have a brief if spectacular career, appearing in a series of classic film noirs the role in which she had only got because at just 4'11" she was the only actress the Studio had who was significantly shorter than her co-star Alan Ladd.

Her appearances also spawned the famous, and much copied since, peek-a-boo hairstyle.

But she was always considered a bit strange and difficult to work with, so much so that somewhat unkindly but out of earshot, she would often be referred to as Moronica Lake.

They were unaware of the schizophrenia she had been diagnosed with in childhood.

Within a few years her career was over, t was revived briefly in the 1960's when she was discovered working as a waitress in Los Angeles, but by this time she was already an alcoholic.

She died in 1973, aged 50, of kidney failure.

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