Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Life, Love and Old Hollywood

Hepburn and Tracy in their first film together, Woman of the Year (1942)

I've been reading Katharine Hepburn's autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life and what makes it such a fun read isn't just that it's about this huge celebrity, but that it's about a woman who really knew what she wanted and went for it, and also had some very lovely relationships with people. The book is aptly titled, apparently, because she says that she was always a "'me me me' person"....except when it came to Spencer Tracy. How charming is that? She talks about her big family, growing up in Connecticut, her parents fighting for suffrage, birth control and public health, her father teaching the kids how to do acrobatic tricks, her tomboy childhood, her ability to do a headstand at eighty-something, her friends, her first husband who loved her so well and was always there for her even after the marriage ended. Reading it, I realize what's most fun is that people loved her and she loved them. At the end of the day, that is the best life lived, isn't it? It's such a sweet realization. I can't wait to hear what she'll say about people like Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant.

Another semi-related thought is about Jeanette MacDonald, an amazing actress and singer primarily famous in the thirties and forties, featured in early musicals with Maurice Chevalier.
I bought a record of her singing mostly opera and it got me wondering about her career and life. I looked online a bit and her life was really quite interesting, too. She was in love with Nelson Eddy, another great singer/movie actor and nearly married him, but (according to wikipedia) there was a load of drama: when MacDonald became pregnant, Louis B. Mayer ordered an abortion and she supposedly miscarried but Eddy didn't believe her. When Eddy later tried to reconcile, MGM once more pushed him away as MacDonald had already gone and married Gene Raymond and the studio thought divorce would be bad for business. So then Eddy married somebody else, too. He was at her side both times she was in the hospital close to death, and when she did die in 1965, Eddy broke down on The Tonight Show. Man, am I a sucker for romance. On that note, here's MacDonald and Eddy singing.


Desiree said...

You sound like you're having a great summer reading and learning stuff. It's a great feeling, right?

Margaux said...

Ah yes, summer has been very good to me! :)