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Claudette Colbert Answers The Letters

Dear Miss Colbert:

A fine young man has asked me to marry him, and although I’m not in love with him now (and he knows this) I’m seriously thinking of accepting his proposal. Here is my story:

My parents died when I was eighteen. I am now twenty-three. My brother and I have both inherited my parents’ exceptional good looks. Everyone said we made a beautiful family, and I have wanted to carry on the tradition. So I have always gone out with handsome men, but somehow I never became serious about any of them. And my brother, who always dated beautiful girls, married one who is rather plain, but super-delightful.

I met the man I am considering at a benefit dance. He is only one inch taller than I, if I wear flat heels, and he is a year younger. He isn’t handsome, although he is neat and rather attractive, but his personality makes up for everything.

I’m tired of running around. I want to settle down. After all, I’m at an age when I should be thinking seriously of marriage.

Do you think that through his kindness (he would do anything in the world for me) I would eventually fail in love with him, or do you think I should hold out for my ideal?

Elstrey W.

Dear Miss W:

I don’t think you should hold out for your “ideal” because I don’t believe it is a worthy one. The search for a handsome man—primarily on the basis of his helping you to produce beautiful children—is immature. The man with whom a girl builds a home, a life, a family, must offer so much more than surface appearance that the topic beggars discussion.

Furthermore, there is no law which says a girl should be married at twenty-three, at thirty-three, at forty-three, or at all. Marriage is an emotional arrangement between two people who feel that their greatest happiness is to be achieved by combining their lives. Marriage is not something you acquire like a winter coat, because the time has come for it to be useful.

Women must realize that they must bring to a marriage a love equal to that of the groom; they must not expect a man “to do anything in the world” to make them happy, unless they intend to do anything in the world to bring about a husband’s happiness, as well.

Claudette Colbert

Dear Miss Colbert:

I have written a story which I think has definite possibilities for a good movie. The name is “Though Your Sins Be Scarlet,” and it runs 11,100 words. Everyone who has read it has been fascinated by it. It is a drama of a woman during the French and Indian Wars, combining an Indian legend with a story of buried treasure. A General was court-martialed for misappropriating the money which has never been found.

I sent the story to a publisher who sent me a ton of contracts, a lot of compliments, and an offer to publish the story in book form if I paid them $600. That isn’t my idea at all. I want to sell the story to make some money which I could use to good advantage.

So will you please supply the names and addresses of all motion picture producers who are now in the story market.

(Mrs.) Racine B.

Dear Mrs. B:

So many letters similar to yours come to me that I feel I should once again print the information and the advice I have given before.

No motion picture producer dares to buy a script from an unknown writer. There have been instances in which a producer has received a brilliant story, only to learn that it was published five or ten years earlier. Such copying and resubmission is literary theft, known as plagiarism, and anyone making a picture from such a script would be subject to legal action.

If your story is good—and it sounds as though it may have possibilities—you should submit it to all the magazines you see on your local newsstand. There is never any need for an author to pay a publisher to print a book. if the story has merit, it will sell eventually and the author will receive cash for it. And the movies, as you know, often use—and, of course, pay well for— published stories which they buy from reputable markets.

Claudette Colbert

Dear Miss Colbert:

I am being forced to make a decision that will affect, not only my own life, but that of my two little boys.

Their father is a brilliant, respected man, a wonderful husband and father. I love him dearly, but I have never been in love with him.

This all started during my freshman year in high school. I met David (we’ll call him) and we were inseparable for four years. It was taken for granted that we would be married some day.

However, he went into service, and I went on to college where I met Chris, one of the instructors serving his first year in our university. We enjoyed one another’s companionship; I told him about Dave, and he told me about the girl “back home.”

At the end of my sophomore year, Chris was moved to Washington, D. C. He wrote to me regularly, telephoned about once every two weeks, and finally asked me to come to Washington to spend a weekend with relatives of his. I hadn’t heard a word from Dave for two years, and so Chris and I were married.

Then Chris was transferred to my old home town and I met Dave on the street one day. He asked me to have cocktails with him; I did, and we both discovered that the old flame was still burning. I discussed the problem with Chris and he was hurt, but said one must admit that these things could happen.

He agreed to give me a divorce, but stipulated that he was to have sole custody of the children. Such a thing had never occurred to me. I love Dave, but not enough to give up my children.

Jennifer K.

Dear Mrs. K.:

It seems to me that taking a new husband, but paying for it with the companionship of your sons is rather a poor bargain and one that would seem worse as the years went by.

Have you ever asked yourself what Dave’s interests were during the years you heard nothing from him? If you were so important to him, why didn’t he keep in touch? You might ask yourself who it was who interested Dave so much that he didn’t even drop you a postal card.

I wouldn’t be so foolish as to deny that there can exist between a man and a woman a type of animal magnetism which makes everything else in the world seem pale and unimportant by comparison. Yet Don Juan—his conquest made—can of ten be cruel and intemperate.

Why not hesitate for a year or two? Why not run away with your own husband?

Claudette Colbert

Dear Miss Colbert:

I am a French war bride and the mother of a baby girl now sixteen months old.

Because I have learned to speak English quite well since I have been in this country, I have always talked in English to my daughter. My husband and his parents tell me that it is better this way.

But I know several French war brides who have children and they all speak in French to them. They say the children can learn English in school, and they disapprove of my speaking only English to the little girl.

I want my daughter to speak French, of course, but I am afraid that if I use this language when I talk to her now she will have a French accent. She is an American Citizen and will be going to American schools, so I think she should feel mostly at home in English.

I would like to know if the way I am doing is better.

Jacqueline N.

Dear Mrs. N.:

Children who are learning to talk have the ability to learn two languages at the same time without confusion. The daughter of a French actor whom I know, learned French from him and usually spoke to him in French. Her mother was Spanish, so mother and daughter conversed in Spanish. The little girl’s nurse was American and talked to her in English.

Why don t you speak French and English to your daughter? The ability to speak and to think in two languages could be an invaluable asset.

Claudette Colbert

Dear Miss Colbert:

I seem to have a problem that I cannot solve for myself. I am twenty-nine years old, married and have two children.

My problem: I am homely. You might almost say ugly. People have made awful remarks such as “he could have done better than that—anybody could.” My husband’s mother and sister have told me how crazy some beautiful girl was about him, and what a shame he didn’t marry her because our little girl looks like me.

My husband says beauty is only skin deep and that a homely person with personality can still he nice looking, but just the same I feel terrible. I think my husband is getting ashamed of my looks although he tells me not to worry, and that when he gets rich he will have my face fixed ’with plastic surgery.

I love him a lot and hate to think of his living with me when I’m sure he could get a better-looking wife. How I hate my face!

Can you give me the name of a good plastic surgeon who could rebuild me entirely?

(Mrs.) Mickola S.

Dear Mrs. S.:

How do you remember the mother you loved? As eyes, hair, a nose of a certain shape, a mouth, a double chin? No. You remember the way she laughed, what she did when she was startled, the little tunes she hummed. You remember her as a warmth, a glow. In retrospect, it is always difficult to recall in detail the appearance of those we love or have loved.

Once I had heard a great deal about a wonderful woman: Friends used to tell funny stories about her, repeat her witticisms, profit from her wisdom. When I met her, I almost gasped. She was emphatically not attractive. Yet, after I spent time with her, I too fell under her spell. She radiated friendliness, courtesy, knowledge of the world, the arts, and people.

Forget the package in which your spirit has been placed. Look around you for others who may feel as forlorn as you do at times. Devote yourself to making life more comfortable for others and you will find your own happiness. Remember, not one of us really knows how the sun looks, but we live in its radiance.

Claudette Colbert

Dear Miss Colbert:

I am fourteen and feel very burdened for my age. My mother, who is thirty-six and still very attractive, is the cause of it.

About a year ago, she fell in love with another man. He also loved her. They realized that it could never work out as they both had a family to consider.

This last year my mother had an operation, followed by a nervous breakdown. She becomes so despondent at times that she drinks. Her drinking is very had because she is frail and cannot stand much. It is also a had influence on my younger brother and sister.

I believe she has a great future as a painter because she has sold several pictures—landscapes and some portraits recently.

Please tell me what to do to help my mother forget this man. I know that once she forgets him she will stop drinking.

You are the only one I can turn to. I cannot tell my father the real situation because Mother made me promise never to tell anyone.

Estella J.

Dear Estella:

You seem to realize that your role and your mother’s have been reversed.

Since your mother is the child in this instance, you will do well to use child psychology on her. The way to keep a child happy, when some dangerous toy is to be taken away, is to offer an interesting diversion.

Luckily, you live in a large city where there are several art galleries. If you can persuade her to “take” you to a different gallery each Saturday for a while, and if you ask her to explain her work, she may be kept busy and diverted. You might try to learn to paint, because many painters find ifs fun to go on field trips with an understanding fellow workman.

Above all, don’t lose patience. Frequently a drinking person loves to be a martyr, but will remain sober for long periods if given no excuse for martyrdom.

Claudette Colbert



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