26 May 2019

Dear Bill Holden

Fredric March and William Holden starred together in two films, i.e. Executive Suite and The Bridges at Toko-Ri, both released in 1954. March, who belonged to an older generation of Hollywood actors being 21 years Holden's senior, was one of Holden's acting idols. In September 1950, a month after the release of Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard starring Holden in one of his best roles, March wrote the following letter to his younger colleague praising his performance in the film. Holden must have been thrilled to receive this letter from March, not knowing he would be working with him (twice even) in a few years' time.


130 E. End Ave
New York 28 NY

Dear Bill Holden

Yesterday Mrs March and I saw "Sunset Boulevard", and I think yours is one of the finest performances I've ever seen. 

Some months ago, my eighteen year old daughter pointed out to me some very glowing things you had said about my work. So, even at the risk of this sounding like a mutual admiration society, I could not resist telling you what I felt about your truly superb job. 

Keep it up - (+I'm sure you will). All good wishes to you and yours. 


Fredric March

September 25th, 1950

Above: William Holden as Joe Gillis with co-star Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard.

William Holden and Fredric March in Executive Suite (above) and The Bridges at Toko-Ri (below).

14 May 2019

R.I.P. Doris Day

Doris Day has always been one of my mum's favourite singers and her beautiful, unique voice often filled our house when I was growing up. Long before I began watching her films, I listened to her songs. She was so much part of my childhood that I felt quite sad to hear about her passing yesterday.

Doris began her singing career in 1939 as a big band singer, scoring her first big hit with Sentimental Journey with Les Brown and His Band of Renown in 1945. A few years later she started a highly successful solo career, spanning several decades and recording hundreds of songs. But it was with Les Brown that Doris had her first success and in 2012 when Les was honoured at the Les Brown Centennial Festival, Doris sent the following heartfelt letter to 'Friends of Les', remembering those early days with Les and his band.

Source: Les Brown Big Band Festival


February 29, 2012

"Friends of Les" 
c/o Mr. David Miller
3 Greenview Court
Little Rock, AR 72212

Dear Friends of Les,

It's hard for me to write this letter because most of the boys in the band are no longer with us, except Stumpy Brown and Frank Comstock. I speak with them often, and we talk about the good old days that were really great. We always remember something funny that happened during our years together.

Everyone in the band was so wonderful to me, and I truly loved them all. They took care of me since I was very young, and they treated me like a sister. I miss them when I think back to those good times.

There was a good reason why everything went so beautifully, and Les was that reason. He was so nice, so considerate and so thoughtful that I just loved him, and I really miss our telephone calls that we had through the years. When I remember those band days and all the wonderful songs I sang, I smile and wish I could do it all over again. 

I know that when you read my letter, Les will be listening, so I am sending my love to him right now, this very minute!



P.S. Love you, Les!


Doris Day

With my love to all the boys in the band

D.D. x x x

11 May 2019

Joan Crawford & her devotion to her fans

When biographer Donald Spoto was eleven years old, he went to the movies with his mother to see Sudden Fear (1952) starring Joan Crawford. Afterwards young Donald told his mum that he was going to write Miss Crawford a letter saying how much he had liked the film, to which his mum said: "Movie stars don't have time to answer letters from strangers, so try not to be disappointed". Not long after, a letter arrived in the mail.

Dear Don, 
Thank you for writing such a sweet letter.  
I am so happy that you liked my new picture, "Sudden Fear". It was a challenge for me, and there were some very hard scenes. But I enjoyed working in San Francisco, and I was very lucky to work with fine actors like Mr. Jack Palance and Miss Gloria Grahame. 
I am so impressed that you read Miss Edna Sherry's book that our movie was based on. I don't think there are many eleven-year-old movie fans who do that! 
Thank you again for writing to me. I hope you will stay in touch, and that we will meet some day. Good luck in school!  
Your friend,
Joan Crawford

(Source: Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford (2010) by Donald Spoto)

Spoto's mother obviously didn't know that when you wrote a fan letter to Joan Crawford you would always get a letter back-- guaranteed. No one was more devoted to his or her fans than Joan was and I guess it's safe to say that no other actor or actress has been ever since. Joan personally replied to all her fan letters, its number estimated at roughly three million (!) throughout her career.

Sometimes people question why I love my public so. It's because the studio didn't make me a star. They gave me the chance to be one. It's the audiences that made me a star. I never forget them or what I owe them.
That's why I never get tired when I'm answering their letters to me, even when I have to work for more than sixteen hours doing it, even when I did it while I was waiting between takes on films or on the way to the studio in the morning, or on my way home at night.
On the soundstage, we don't hear applause the way stage actors do, so being asked for my autograph and receiving fan mail, that is my applause. As an actress, I love applause, because, after all, I'm not performing just for myself. But I did not want to be on the stage. I loved the movies, so the fan mail, millions of pieces of it, yes, that's my applause.

(Source: Not The Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, A Personal Biography (2008) by Charlotte Chandler)

In her correspondence with her fans, Joan was always very kind and very polite and always apologetic when she was late in answering ("Maybe most of them might not really care much, but there are a few, I'm sure, who are waiting for my response and will be disappointed if they have to wait too long"). Joan often sent out letters that went beyond the generic fan letters, talking about private things with her fans (both hers and theirs), at times giving them advice and with several of her fans she maintained a correspondence spanning years or even decades. Joan referred to her fans as 'friends' rather than just fans, indeed becoming good friends with a number of them (among them was Betty Barker who became Joan's lifelong secretary). 

For this post I've selected six letters from Joan to her fans, written at different times in her life, resp. 1927, 1943 and a few letters from the 1950s. The recipient of the first two letters was New York resident Dan Mahony, one of Joan's earliest fans with whom she corresponded over the course of several years. Her correspondence with Mahony meant a lot to Joan and she probably opened up to him more than to any other person in her personal life (in her letters she often called him her "best friend"). Written in the fall of 1927, the following two letters are very personal showing a vulnerable Joan, just a year before she was launched to stardom with Our Dancing Daughters.

SEPT, 1927

Dan dear,

Everything happened so fast that I didn't know anything myself till I was on the train. In two hours time I had to pack eight bags and four trunks, and catch a train with people like Harriet Underhill* in between. I know you'll forgive me, but gee, Dan I was very miserable while in New York. Perhaps it was because I was so unhappy, that you saw the real me. Please forgive for that too?

But I'm home now. Home where I can run away from everyone and hide till I want to come out of my shell. Home where I’m able to relax. Home where those dear walls know my every secret. Well, after all Dan, don’t you understand, it’s just my Home, the only place where I am able to hide, the only place in all the world I can run to and as I walk in my front gate and close it it seems as if I’m closing the gate to all activities, all human beings and deeds. I’m in my world to do as I will. Now do you know? My walls do not expect me to act, to be a woman or to be a lady. They expect only the child, who plays with her toys, or they expect my tears.

I'm so afraid this letter shall bore you for I've been rambling again. Thanks so much for the clipping. And know that your faith in me and my success will help me to attain that success.

Please never lose that faith in


[*Underhill was a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune]


NOV. 1927

Dan Dearest,

This letter is going to be a horrid bore to you I know, but I'm at the studio, have a few moments to myself so I came up to my dressing room to talk to you.

I'm low low as hell, I haven't any other term I can use but that one, for it seems to describe my feelings so, oh so well. I'd give anything if I could just stand up and scream it "I'm low as Hell", yes isn't that dreadful? I've been up since six, it's only ten, I've smoked one package of cigarettes already and have had about ten cups of coffee. I have to to keep going, don't scold me, yes I know my nerves are all shot, I know too that I'll have a nervous breakdown and also my doctor told me yesterday I had to go to the hospital right after the picture. Oh Dan, for the first time in my life I'm afraid. I'm afraid of the silliest thing, it's just this I'm afraid to relax. I've been doing three pictures at once, having more and more trouble with mother, you see she is living with me again. My home, the thing I need most to go to and relax isn't a home. I'm so tired at times. I get sick inside, I can't relax for when I do I'm going to pieces. I'm acting always each waking moment and when I go to bed I can't get to sleep till the wee hours of morning, then when I get up I'm all tired out. If I could only go away and rest. Oh God, me thinks I shall go mad at times.

This letter is rambling on and on, I told and warned you it would, if you can read it you're a miracle for I must hurry and finish for they will call me back on the set any moment now.

Dan you've been such a precious to write so often, all because I asked you to, your letters have kept me going, honestly they have, keep up the good work and help me. I'm selfish I know, but I want more poems, you see, you shouldn't be so clever and marvelous, then I wouldn't be a pest and beg for more, or want your letters.

Oh do write soon. I'm trying so hard to work and not disappoint you in my "Rose Marie" character. I want so for you to love it. I want so to have you tell me again I made you cry when you saw her on the screen. Oh I want so very many things, and have nothing. 

Oh Dan I do ask so little of Life, why can't I get that little bit that I do ask for.

People keep rattling their rotten tounges [sic] about me when I broke my engagement to Mike Cudahy, they talked not that I care, but why can't they keep their vile thoughts to themselves. I hate people, I loathe them. The only thing in the world I do ask for is love, tenderness, sincerity, beautiful friendship. I can't find it, you give it to me, yes. Oh, I don't want to become hardened, I won't for I believe in dreams, oh but it's hard to keep building up those dreams, when they are torn down so often. 

I'm sorry I'll stop now, you see I know I've surprised you terribly. You didn't know I'd put down my thoughts like this, did you? Well here they are, try and read between the lines and really see the true heart and soul of


According to the website Legendary Joan Crawford, Joan and Dan Mahony never met. However, the letter dated September 1927 (shown above) seems to indicate that they didAlso, it looks like Joan referred to a meeting in another letter dated July 1928: "We practically know nothing about each other, yet one Sunday we seemed to have known each other all our lives".

Joan pictured above with Michael Cudahy

Fast forward to 1943, when Joan was sixteen years older, already an established actress and obviously much surer of herself. The following letter was written to fan-turned-friend Pearl Pezoldt (with whom Joan maintained a correspondence spanning several decades), followed by three more letters that I like, with Joan giving advice and replying to fans who had asked her for a favour.

December 14th, 1943.

Dear Pearl:

Please do not ever think it's an intrusion whether it's 4:30 A.M. or not. Of course, we have to have someone to unburden to and I'm delighted that I'm the one. I hope by now Joan and Charles are much better and don't you worry about Marshall-Fields cancelling the balance of the order. Of course, it's dreadful that you have so much money tied up in the materials.

Yes, Pearl, I do think we gain in character from experiences and trials. Try not to get to the point where you wonder why. I found that, with my self, at least, if you keep saying why- why did it have to happen to me- that that's the first stages of a very depressed condition and if it goes on long enough it can become quite a bad case of self pity. Just know there's nothing presented to us that we cannot cope with. That there is a power much greater than any one of us, who created us and who continues to give us strength and courage - not only daily, but hourly. Learn to depend on that and lean on it.

I don't know what religion you have -- every one has one -- but it's the only thing one can really depend on when one is in great need and I repeat to you what I said in my last letter, don't even think of us at Christmas time. You have done enough with the lovely handkerchief and card.

Do keep me posted on everything and write whenever you feel you need to. 

Signed 'Joan Terry'*

Mrs. Hanford C. Pezoldt,
1452 Whitcomb Avenue
Des Plaines, Ilinois

[*At the time Joan was married to actor Phillip Terry, her third husband]


November 11, 1951

Frances M. Egan
810 Hanna Building
Cleveland, Ohio

Dear Frances, 

Thank you for your sweet letter and your interest in writing to me.  I am so sorry to be so delayed in answering, but I am in production now so that means a very crowded schedule and most of my day is spent at the studio.

I do wish to thank you for all the lovely things you expressed about me and my work. It is pay for all the long hard hours required to give a successful production. It is a joy to add your name to my list of friends. 

Regarding your inquiry as to a position as a script girl in a studio, I am sorry that I cannot give you that information as I am not acquainted with the requirements and method of hiring. I would suggest that your [sic] write to the employment office of several of the studios and ask them the proper procedure of applying.

Best of wishes to you and your daughter. I do hope you will be able to fulfill your desire to move to California. Do have a joyful Thanksgiving Holiday. 


(signed 'Joan Crawford')


March 12, 1953

Dear Mrs. Emerson:

Thank you so much for your nice letter. I am deeply sorry to know that your life has been upset recently. It is a hard adjustment to make, when a home is broken and there are children in it.

I think it is fortunate that your children are old enough to allow you the freedom necessary to start a career. I feel it is essential at a time like this to keep busy with something you are most interested in.

You ask if you are too old to go back to studying dramatics. I do not think anyone is too old to study, and I do not consider 39 old. Nowadays a woman can keep herself attractive and young-looking. Naturally, it will take time to make the readjustment, but I am sure you will find the happiness you seek, if you go about it with courage and determination. 

I hope I have helped you a little, and do write me again and let me know how you are getting along.


(signed 'Joan Crawford')

Mrs. Ruth Emerson
7304 Kester Avenue
Van Nuys, California


September 27, 1952

Miss Bettie Smith
520 Grant Avenue
Cambridge, Ohio

Dear Bettie,

Thank you for your letter which was waiting for me upon my arrival home from my tour and then a few days vacation with the children before they returned to school.

I am very sorry to hear of your illness. The death of your father would be a shock to you all since he was the earning power of your family. It is wonderful that your sister is sharing so much responsibility and is to be admired. 

I only wish I could help you buy a television set. The demands of my family increase each year as they grow older and it does take much to keep them. I have so many desiring a similar favor that I cannot possibly grant them all. Have you ever tried any of the contests which offer prizes? It would be fun for you and a chance to get your desired set.

Best wishes and I do hope you are better by now.


(signed 'Joan Crawford')

This post is my contribution to the JOAN CRAWFORD: QUEEN OF THE SILVER SCREEN BLOGATHON, hosted by PALE WRITER and POPPITY TALKS CLASSIC FILM. Visit either blog for links to all the other entries!

4 May 2019

There is only one you

In his 1996 biography on Audrey Hepburn, Barry Paris stated that Audrey was not only a biographer's dream but also a biographer's nightmare. A beloved actress and a passionate advocate for children's rights, Audrey was (and still is) só admired and revered that practically nobody had anything negative to say about her. Paris found that the worst thing Audrey seemingly did was her failure to mention Patricia Neal at the 1965 Oscars (read more about that here).

Audrey is and has been an inspiration to a lot of people, even long before she reached her icon status. One of the people she inspired in the early 1960s was Cherylin Sarkisian, an insecure teenage girl who became later known as Cher.

A teenager who didn't really fit in, Cher hated high school but loved to watch movies. In 1961 she saw Breakfast at Tiffany's with Audrey Hepburn for the first time leaving her completely awestruck. At that time most of the female stars were blondes with whom Cher couldn't identify (e.g. Doris Day and Sandra Dee), but now seeing Audrey --a brunette portraying an eccentric, free spirit like she was herself-- she had found her role model. Cher became fascinated with Audrey, dressing herself and behaving like Audrey's character Holly Golightly and getting herself into trouble at school in the process.

It wasn't until many years later, after she had become an actress herself, that Cher finally got to meet her idol. The occasion was the 1988 Academy Awards Ceremony where Cher was awarded the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in Moonstruck. Audrey loved Cher in Moonstruck and told Cher that night that she had wanted her to win. (Cher was in fact one of Audrey's favourite contemporary actresses and Audrey admired her for her "enormous scale of emotions and total lack of inhibition.")

Three years later, on 22 April 1991, Audrey herself was honoured at a gala tribute in New York. Seeing how much Audrey loved Moonstruck and the performance of leading lady Cher, Audrey's then-partner Robert Wolders suggested that Cher be a surprise guest at the tribute. Cher was invited but then two days before the event she got sick. Heartbroken that she wouldn't be able to attend and tell Audrey in person how much she meant to her, Cher took pen to paper and wrote Audrey the following letter.

Source: Christie's


April 20, 1991

Dearest Audrey,

This is a very hard letter for me to write, because what I had dreamt of doing all my life was to be able to tell you all of this in person- or at least in front of hundreds of people Monday night! I bought a new dress (something I thought you would love) and was completely ready to tell my innermost feelings about you because of the profound effect you have had on my life.

On the night I won the Oscar you touched my hand and said you were glad I'd won..... you can never imagine what that meant to me. Since I was a little girl you have been my idea of a "star" and it was partly because of you that I became an actress.

You were a brilliant light for me in a sometimes dark childhood. I so wanted to be like you in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" that I put my hair in 2 ponytails, bought huge sunglasses, and wore the closest thing to "you" that I could put together. I got suspended from school for the sunglasses but never mind- I was on my way to being just like you. But as I started to grow up I realized I couldn't be you because there is only one you.

(There is no better argument for being an individual than you, being you, living your life as you do on screen (I could never presume to know the private you by your image alone))

Someone once said to me that I was like a "3rd world Audrey Hepburn"- I'm not sure how they meant it, but it's one of my favorite comments regarding me. Your work is so beautiful that it has inspired me again and again.

I love you and respect you and you will never know how sad I am to miss this golden opportunity to say it in person. I send you my love,

This post is my contribution to the AUDREY AT 90: THE SALUTE TO AUDREY HEPBURN BLOGATHON hosted by SISTER CELLULOID. Be sure to check out all the other entries here!!