There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that I absolutely adore Mary Astor. If you’ve ever seen me, on Facebook, you’re already nodding your head in agreement. What I love most about her, even more than the best of her film performances, is her writing. Battling anxiety, depression, and severe alcoholism with little money to pay for the help she needed, she was encouraged to begin writing her life story. What came of that was a revelation, in the form of her 1959 autobiography, My Story. Not only is she candid in every aspect, she has a way with the written word that is unsurpassed by just about any actress whose ever put pen to paper. I have a first edition (okay, I have two…) that I’ve gone through and highlighted my favorite quotes from. The best part of My Story is that it is truly about Mary’s journey. This isn’t a book of famous names, and only later would we get her delightful book of films. This is her struggle to overcome her incredibly dysfunctional upbringing, her rebellion, her hits and her misses. While our stories may not be the same as Mary’s, she inspires by showing that, even in her 50’s, she was continuing to grow as a human being. She continued to explore her vast talents, and while admitting that she was the last person anyone should take advice from, proved that one must always keep plugging along.
One of my favorite quotes is hardly an inspirational passage, but I feel that it captures how brilliant a writer she was.
If this were a script from my own fairy tale world, we would now dissolve to our wretched Hollywood Magdalene, veiled in penitent grey, walking up the steps of St. Patrick’s,with a shaft of high-wattage sunlight on her shoulders, accompanied by full chorus and MGM orchestra swelling to a triumphant fade-out.
Unfortunately it is instead the document of a woman who has had her wits blown out of her; who prays, perhaps- I don’t remember- but if she does it is for the wrong thing. And God is patient, and permits her to choose her own futile consolations.
She’s utterly fantastic, is all. Interestingly enough, a digitized copy of My Story is available free for Nook readers, and I can’t recommend it more. It’s my favorite book, of any genre, of all time.
This Thursday, I’ll try my hand at a legitimate review of The Great Lie, the 1941 film starring Mary and Bette Davis, which Mary won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for. See you then!