“Aren’t you about due to lower your neckline?” I asked Debbie Reynolds. “Haven’t you reached the stage in a young star’s career where she makes the big decision, kicks over the traces and goes on an all-out glamour kick, complete with deeply cleft evening gowns and all the other sex-pot trappings, like Jane Powell and Terry Moore?”
Sweet lil old homespun Debbie just sat there and batted those saucer-sized eyes at me, innocent as all get-out. She had been sitting in the M-G-M commissary, this particular lunchtime, trying to decide which of three photos of herself to send to the 2,400 West Point cadets who had voted her their “Dream Girl of 1954.” She hadn’t been able to decide which of the three to send. Worse yet, how could she autograph the chosen photo and make herself sound happy over being so honored without sounding egotistical too? And here was old Nosey Connolly disturbing her train of thought with a stupid question! After all, why should Hollywood’s All-American Girl-Scout type, Debbie Reynolds go off on a sexy kick that would peg her as something entirely different from what those 2,400 cadets had pegged her? And isn’t there an old Hollywood adage that you can’t be both glamorous and homespun?
Debbie sighed, very seriously, and said. “Nope, I won’t be lowering my neckline. At least, I don’t think I’ll be pulling a Powell or Moore. Oh sure, I agree we have to be glamorous to some extent because people expect movie stars to be glamorous. But I also think there’s a place for those of us who don’t glitter and gleam. I believe that some people are born with more glamour than others.”
Marilyn Monroe, we both agreed, has glamour in abundance. Said Debbie, “Some stars, you see, are known for one thing, others are known for others. I don’t think the fans would like me doing that sort of thing. I have a sneaking feeling, and I say it with all humility, that if the public hadn’t liked me the way I am, I wouldn’t still be under contract here at M-G-M. So why should I change?”
At this point Debbie seemed to be arguing with herself.
“People say Jane Powell and Terry Moore have changed,” said Debbie, “but maybe they should stop and think that one over. Maybe they—the people who say those things about Jane and Terry—are the ones who are changing! Maybe their tastes have changed and they’re looking for something new. And, because of that, maybe Jane an Terry are changing right along with public taste—sort of automatically, without sensing it.
Who knows, maybe I’ll be forced to change some day too! This is a funny town, you know. People will tell you today to be natural, stay the way you are, but then tomorrow, they’ll turn around and tell you to accept an offbeat role in a movie that completely changes your type.
“That’s why you have to weigh everything so carefully in Hollywood. What it boils down to, actually, is finding ‘out who your real friends are, finding out who’ll tell the truth about you to your face and who-won’t.
“It’s my studied opinion that glamour comes to anyone who just lets it happen naturally. If you work at it, it turns out phony.”
Debbie, throughout our interview, had been sneaking a peek every now and then at the three photos of herself that she had shoved aside when I arrived at the table. Two of the photos were of the homespun genre, one was glamorous. Which should she choose?
You guessed it! Debbie picked the glamour shot!
Like any teenager, the Girl-Scout actress put her most grown up foot (or rather photo) forward.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MAY 1954