Claudette Colbert Answers The Letters
I have been receiving many letters from Photoplay readers treating of problems that I am most anxious to answer. But I have not been able to incorporate them in this column,since they do not carry the writers’ full names and addresses. I should like to remind readers that in order for a letter to be eligible for an answer here it must carry a name and address— but that all names of writers are changed if the letter is published. I hope that you are finding this column helpful and that you will continue talking things out with me. Just address me in care of Photoplay, 8949 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles 46, California.
Dear Miss Colbert:
We write to you in hope that you may solve this time-old triangle problem for us. We are two young men, twenty-four and twenty-seven, in the service of the U. S. Marines stationed in the South Pacific. We were unknown to one another until we arrived here and found we were receiving mail from the same girl in San Diego.
When we found this out we talked over the situation and found that we were both very much in love with this girl, and from her letters which we shared, she professed to be very much in love with us.
She does not know that we are acquainted with one another. Our liberties in San Diego were so staggered that she was able to date both of us. We both love her very much and would still go back to her if she would choose between us.
Can you tell us what to do? Should we write to her or should we try to forget she ever existed? Out here where we frantically hold on to memories of the past this problem is very serious.
Dear Mr. B and Mr. McL:
This is only my opinion, of course, and I’m a little reluctant to “Tell It To The Marines,” but I would strongly suspect that if this girl has written so diligently to both of you boys, declaring her love, it is entirely possible that she has also been wafting her heart by mail to the Army, the Navy and even the Coast Guard. She is probably trying to do her patriotic duty by writing to every man in service whom she meets.
Aren’t you lucky, since you both say you love her, that both of you didn’t marry her before you went overseas? If I remember my daily paper correctly, such things have happened.
I think it would be a waste of time to tell her to choose between you; why don’t you just enjoy her letters and let it go at that?
Also, why don’t you look around amid some of your other letters and write to a home-town girl?
Dear Miss Colbert:
I am a girl sixteen years of age. I live with my grandmother and my sister.
When I was two years old and my sister was two months old, our mother died and our father practically deserted us. He told our grandmother that if she would take care j of us he would pay her $30.00 a month. From that day to this he has never sent her one dime.
Recently he wrote to Grandmother saying that now that we are old enough to work we should come to live with him and his second wife. We think that, as our grandmother has taken care of us all these years, it is our duty to stay here with her, as she is getting quite old.
Can he make us leave her?
Elsie Anne T.
Dear Elsie Anne:
You are quite right in wishing to remain with your grandmother.
Recently we had much the same sort of case arise here in Hollywood in connection with Edith Fellows. She had been reared by her grandmother, loved and cared for in every way. When another relative sought to take her, the case was taken to court and the judge awarded custody to Miss Fellows’ grandmother.
If this problem should become serious, simply consult your local district attorney. You have nothing to fear.
Dear Miss Colbert:
I am nineteen and a very unhappy girl. My mother and father were divorced when I was very young and mother never remarried. She has few friends and wants me to remain with her constantly.
I am a graduate of high school. My job in a defense plant is monotonous work. Being dissatisfied with my job, having to listen to constant nagging from my mother and trying to recover from the shock of losing my fiance—he was killed in action in March—I think I’ll go crazy.
I sit and cry for hours at a time. My mother says it is better to have lost Roy than to have married him and been disillusioned, but that isn’t much comfort.
Dear Miss W:
First, may I extend to you my sincerest sympathy? There are many girls like you all over the world today. You, like the others, will have to stop crying as soon as possible, put back your shoulders and try to go courageously forward. You are only nineteen, and your entire life lies before you, to be made into something fine and worthwhile.
As you are unhappy in your present work, why not apply for a transfer? Don’t give up your defense work. It is more important than ever before. You are doing, in your way, as much as a man driving a jeep through a jungle. Make it dear to your mother that you must have companionship in your own age group.
Perhaps you can improve your home-life by helping your mother to ignore her own unhappiness. Telephone her from the factory some noon and ask her if she will meet you for dinner, then go to a movie. This need not be an expensive outing. Try to think up little surprises for her on payday. Nothing expensive, but some small thing to assure her of your love and thoughtfulness. And, as mothers are noted for their response to attention, she will undoubtedly adopt a more cheerful attitude and help you through your own reconstruction period.
Dear Miss Colbert:
When I was born the right side of my face was paralyzed, and as I have grown up it is very noticeable. The kids in my class in school sometimes call me names, such as a freak, and draw pictures of me, which hurts me very much.
When I went home crying my mother took me to a doctor but he said that it would be too dangerous to operate, as I might lose my eyesight. You see, I cannot close my right eye at all and this shows very much, especially when I laugh.
Miss Colbert, is there anything that I can do to help my face or to make me less different from other girls?
Dear Miss G:
It seems to me that it would be a shame for you to give up without consulting other doctors; why don’t you get the opinion of at least three? If all are agreed that the operation is too dangerous, then you should probably abide by their decision and build your life, no matter how difficult it may seem, upon acceptance of your problem and a calm decision to for get it as much as is possible, to refrain from all self-pity and to plan a career for yourself.
Remember that you are now going through the most difficult period of your life. It is shameful that your schoolmates call you names and lampoon you, but remember that in a few years these people will took back with burning faces upon their cruelty.
A gifted British actor has suffered from exactly your trouble. Far from proving a handicap, it has aided him in his career.
You must concentrate on developing every asset you have: Keep your hair in beautiful condition, keep your hands lovely, dress smartly and train your voice.
And, because you have suffered, you have had a far superior opportunity to develop your heart and your character than those classmates who have tormented you. You will find, as months go by, that you have gained poise and philosophy.
Dear Miss Colbert:
My mother died when I was just a tiny baby. My father had a housekeeper until the war broke out, then every housekeeper we got would leave after a few months and go to work in a defense plant. My sister, who is four years older than I am, got to running around with a wild crowd. I knew it, but I didn’t want to worry Daddy who was working very hard.
Well, my sister got into the worst trouble that can happen to a girl, and the man in the case got killed in an accident, so it was an awful mess. Daddy sent her to live with our aunt in the south, so that left Daddy and me alone. We live in the best part of town in a lovely home. I make good grades and next year I am to be sent to a nice private school because Daddy is proud of me.
But I have a great longing for friends and someone to love. I love Daddy, but he is so busy and so unhappy that we don’t talk very much. You see, the girls’ mother s in this town won’t let their daughters go with me because of what happened to my sister. Therefore I go with no girls, because if I can’t go with the best, I shan’t go with any. Could you help me?
Dear Miss J:
First of all, I think the most important statement to consider is that line in your letter reading, “ . . . I go with no girls, because if l can’t go with the Jest, I shan’t go with any.”
Whom do you mean when you say “the best”? The girls who live in the largest homes, or have the prettiest clothes? If you do, you are being as snobbish as those of whose attitude you complain. The “best” girls to know are those who believe in you and who share stand by you in an emergency, who share the same interests, and who have the same understanding of right and justice.
If you will be friendly I’m sure you will find unexpected allies. If you are as sweet as your letter sounds and if you will allow others to know of that sweetness, I’m sure your troubles will be over.
I think you should confide in your father. Perhaps, when you knew your sister was making a mistake, her trouble could have been avoided if you had voiced your fears to your father. Many boys and girls write to me, saying that they are afraid to burden their parents with this or that grief. I think that attitude is wrong; most parents are eager and proud to be the confidantes of their children.
Dear Miss Colbert:
When I was sixteen I became engaged to a boy who was nineteen. Although he wasn’t from the best of families and my parents didn’t entirely approve of him, they didn’t mind when he gave me an engagement ring—just suggested that we wait a few years to marry.
However, we ran away to another state and got married soon after I was seventeen. My folks were terribly put out about it, but said it was my life and helped us find and furnish an apartment. The next thing I knew, Paul had changed. He began to spend his time in a beer parlor; he squandered his pay check and was mean to me. I thought that a baby might improve him and he seemed happy when he knew there was going to be one. Five months before the baby came, he was drafted and I moved back with my family.
My baby was born in late May of 1943 and I nearly died. They sent for Paul and, instead of standing by me, he went to the neighboring town and was gone for several days. That killed my love for him.
At the same time Paul went into the Army another friend of ours, George, was inducted. When he came home on furlough in the fail of 1943, I told him that Paul and I were on the verge of a permanent break. A few months later George was given a medical discharge. We began to see a lot of one another and he assured me that he loved me. He said he didn’t think we should do anything until the war was over, as it would be unfair to Paul, but I don’t like to sneak, so I wrote Paul and asked for a divorce.
So now Paul is getting the divorce, but last week I discovered that George was just stringing me along. He has been dating another girl and says he doesn’t know whether he loves me or not. How does a girl recover from a thing like this?
Mrs. Evanda G.
Dear Mrs. G;
Although I normally dislike having to say that I think a person is quite worthless, I’m sincerely afraid that such is the case with Paul. I think you are well rid of him. So much for that; charge it off as a lesson in life and you will be able to profit by it in years to come.
As for George, I strongly suspect that you fell in love with him on the rebound. He has served two useful purposes: He cured you of Paul and he taught you not to take a man loo seriously until he places an engagement ring on your finger. Have no fear, there will be another man in your life before long. However, choose more carefully—and more slowly—the next time.
I might add that you would do well to consult your family on the merits of any man with whom you become friendly. You would appear to be blessed with one of the nicest pair of parents in the world. You should be very grateful to them.
Dear Miss Colbert:
I have the bad and embarrassing habit of talking too much. For instance, when anybody says that someone else talks too much, there is always someone in the group to pipe up and say, “That’s Molly, all right,” and when anyone else says that someone should keep her big mouth shut, someone has to give out with “That would be a hard thing for Molly to do.”
I also have the problem of not being popular. I try to have personality by being gay and carefree and I try to take an interest in the other fellow, but when I direct conversation their way, they say, “Don’t be so nosy.”
Sometimes, and I hope you don’t think I’m “jerquey,” I cry about these things at night, but only a dope cries without trying to do something to change things.
Dear Miss J:
Frankly, / don’t think you are “jerquey” at all—l think you are probably too eager to please, a shade too friendly and several shades too sensitive.
It is likely that at least a part of the criticism directed at you is mere kidding. You probably show that you are bothered by it, which only stimulates your tormentors to further teasing.
However, there is a chance that you do talk too much—most human beings do, and certainly most women do. There are two remedies for this: The “What do you think?” rule and the “twenty minutes” rule. They work like this: When you are in a group of chatting schoolmates and you feel some comment arising from the depths of your need to express your self, don’t say a word. Just look around to see where the least talkative person in the group is, and say to that person, “What do you think about that?” Instead of expressing your own opinion, ask for that of someone else.
The twenty minute rule is to be used when, upon feeling compelled to talk, you can’t possibly ask for the opinion of someone else. Glance at your watch. Say what you have to say, then check the time. Under no circumstances—unless you have to scream for the police—utter another word for twenty minutes. Some very funny things will happen, but in after years, when you are a calm, soft-spoken, mature woman, you will be able to amuse your listeners with these episodes.
Dear Miss Colbert:
First of all I want to say that in most respects my parents are wonderful, but in some ways they are narrow-minded and old-fashioned. For instance, if I have a date and am not allowed to go out because it is a school night, at 10:30 my father will call downstairs and say, “It is time for that young man to go.” During the evening, someone is always calling in to say, “Turn the radio off,” or “Can’t you find symphony music instead of that jive?”
Another thing, my family is very prejudiced I am not allowed to go with a certain boy simply because he and I do not attend the same church.
Dear Miss R.:
Don’t you think that, if you had a sincere, quiet talk with your parents, you could come to some mutually satisfactory agreement about the hours you are to keep? Suppose that you agree that you will encourage your callers to leave by eleven o’clock without an upstairs call.
As for the objection of your parents to a boy of your acquaintance because of his religious beliefs, I agree with you that it is too bad for intelligent adults to cling to such old-fashioned and bigoted ideas. After all, any organized religion teaches kindness, humility and clean living—the Cardinal virtues. if, in a non-aggressive way, you mentioned these things to your parents I’m sure they would agree that there is good in every religion.
Dear Miss Colbert:
I used to go with a gang of girls I had known since grade-school days and I considered every one a close friend. Last fail I was elected Yell Queen at our school, which made me think I had many real friends.
Shortly after that they began to slip away. They were still sweet to my face, but were saying cutting things to my back and there have been several big parties lately to which I wasn’t invited. Someone told me that these girls were jealous, but it seems silly to be jealous of a little thing like being a Yell Queen.
This may seem small, but friends are worth millions to me and I would like to know a way to win them back.
Dear Miss M:
The first thing to do, I think, would be to review your conduct just after you were elected. Perhaps, more or less unconsciously, you gave the impression that you were pretty satisfied with yourself. You may have been a trifle complacent.
However, there is a distressing fact about human beings that you might take into consideration. For some reason it is great fun to criticize the successful. You may think that being elected Yell Queen is a small thing as great honors go, but you must remember that it is an important post in your school.
Just go your sunny way, Edith, being nice to everyone and ignoring slights and rudeness. You’ll develop true and loyal friends; the rest won’t matter.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JANUARY 1945