7 April 2015

You should be dancing in the streets, baby!

By 1946, Rita Hayworth was a big star with a number of successful films to her name, including "The Strawberry Blonde" (1941), "You'll Never Get Rich" (1941) and "Cover Girl" (1944). But despite her success Rita was very insecure (she was an innately shy person and suffered from an inferiority complex). So when "Gilda" --the film that was to be her signature film-- was released in February 1946 to several bad reviews, she naturally felt downheartedHearing about how the reviews had upset her, Harry Cohn, head of Columbia and Rita's boss, wanted to boost the confidence of his number-one star and wrote her the following letter:

source
Source: heritage auctions (reproduced with permission)

Transcript:

March 19th, 1946

Dear Rita:-

Virginia tells me that you were discouraged by a few of the New York reviews. In the first place, you should only be discouraged if they don't notice you- a personality can only be the subject of criticism after they have been the subject of much conversation. And a person is not a personality until they have been the subject of much conversation. In the second place, why would you weigh the opinion of a couple of probably impotent guys against the hundreds who have seen the picture and told you that you were absolutely great?

If you don't believe me on this score, here are some of the opinions of critics from some of the greatest thinkers of all times. 

"Critics! - Appalled I venture on the name, those cut-throat bandits in the paths of fame." Robert Burns.

"A poet that fails in writing becomes often a morose critic. The weak and insipid white wine makes at length excellent vinegar." William Shenstone. 

"Critics in general are venomous serpents that delight in hissing." W. B. Daniel.

"Reviewers are usually people who would have been poets, historians, biographers, if they could; they have tried their talents at one or the other, and have failed; therefore they turn critics." S. T. Coleridge.

"Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race. As a bankrupt thief turns thief-taker in despair, so an unsuccessful author turns critic." P. B. Shelley.

"For critics I care the five-hundred-thousandth part of the tythe of a half-farthing." Charles Lamb.

"He who would write and can't write can surely review." J. R. Lowell.

"Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented her authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left." C. W. Holmes.

"The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all." Mark Twain.

"Insects sting, not in malice, but because they want to live. It is the same with critics: They desire our blood, not our pain." Nietzsche.

"Criticism is easy and art is difficult." Destouches.

"The pleasure of criticism deprives us of that of being deeply moved by beautiful things." Jean de la Bruyere.

"Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at very small expense." Samuel Johnson.

"They who write ill and they who ne'er dare write, turn critics out of mere revenge and spite." John Dryden. 


"Critics are like brushers of noblemen's clothes." Henry Wotten.

"Critics are like eunuchs; they can tell you what to do, but they can't do it themselves!" Harry Cohn. 


I am very excited by your performance in GILDA. Pretty soon everyone in the country is going to be. You should be dancing in the streets, baby. I am,

Harry (signed)

Rita Hayworth with Columbia boss Harry Cohn who ran the studio like a dictator, making him one of the most unpopular men in Hollywood. In a 1968 interview, Rita said about him: "I was under exclusive contract, like they owned me... I think he had my dressing room bugged... He was very possessive of me as a person, he didn't want me to go out with anybody, have any friends. No one can live that way. So I fought him...  You want to know what I think of Harry Cohn? He was a monster." [via]

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