It isn’t often that I get more than a chuckle out of snide comments clearly made about me. Oh, there’s the eye roll, too, but that hardly seems to count, as I eye roll about nearly everything that comes from the place this did. However, I feel like I have some insight, this week, or perhaps just a new perspective, and I’d like to share it because I love it, I love the person who said it, and I positively adore the people who made it possible for me to hear it.
Betty Jane Young, or as we know her, Sally Blane, was a beautiful, talented actress who formally retired from the screen, in 1939. I have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with her son, Robert, about her life off screen, and the picture is nothing short of wonderful. She was a caretaker, a protector of those around her, family, friend, and stranger alike. There was one thing that happened to her husband, actor and director Norman Foster, that really hit home with me, as did her reaction. On television, someone was introducing the film Journey Into Fear, which Norman Foster directed. It starred Joseph Cotten, Dolores del Rio, Agnes Moorehead, and in a small part, was Orson Welles who, along with others, including Joseph Cotten, wrote and produced the film. In the introduction, however, it was said that Welles, himself, directed the picture.
Now, imagine that. Imagine that you’re walking into a room, and someone is taking credit for your husband’s work and giving it to someone else. What was Sally’s reaction?
Well, who the hell are you?
That phrase, to me, is so brilliant, in this instance. Who are you to insinuate that, because a film’s style is similar to Welles’ future endeavors, that Norman Foster was not at the helm? Is it just a feeling you get, deep inside, that wants that to be the case? Wouldn’t it be nice if everything could be laid out so easily, about the past.
Sally’s quote has been running through my mind, since I heard it. It’s so simple, but so meaningful, at the same time. There wasn’t a tone of, “I’m better than you, I have more power than you…” Rather, it was spoken as someone receiving a direct blow to everything they’ve known to be true, by way of facts and, in her case, actual living of the situation, defending the truth.
These Young girls, they’re going to either ruin me or make me brilliant, yet. I looked at myself, at my various projects and people I defend. All my life, I’ve been of the idea that I am nothing, that what I say is nothing because I don’t matter. But… that’s not the case at all, is it? Thanks to Sally, I can look at all these lies that surround me and say to those people telling them, “Who the hell are YOU?” None of us are any better than anyone else. I am no less. You are no less. We start at an equal playing field, and it is what we do with facts that determines our meaningfulness and ability to create, to feel, and to write with passion, in defense of our subjects. Long, short, picture or no, it is not me or you or the really smart guinea pig that runs the computer lab up the street. It is how much you are willing to let people see, without leading them, without making speculation that it’s an illusion. These wonderful actors, actresses, directors and producers are, for the most part, gone. We were never supposed to reinterpret their truths, but rather help to let them be known. There is nothing wrong with investigation or with verifying stories. Often times, you find things that support and even add to it. Once that is done, though, and once a multitude of people have repeatedly proven a lie is just that, the lie needs to be cut loose. It can’t be held on with a bandage of feeling like it’s supposed to be true. Lies, plain and simple, cannot be forced into becoming the truth.
Elizabeth Jane Young Foster, I adore you. Thank you.
A million thanks to all of the Young family, both here and beyond. I can’t even begin to express how much all of you mean to me. ❤