Turn Of A Career
I had just finished a practice session on the bar when one of my studio friends came by. I was hot and tired and my hands were blistered. “You’re a real living wreck,” he grinned. “Why in the world do you work so hard?”
“It’s a long story,” I said. And it is. It began one day at the turn of a career. Mine. But to best explain it, perhaps I’d better begin with the events which led up to that day.
It’s always been my theory that if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it wholeheartedly and try to do it well. There’s no holding back. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a gym teacher. I was working toward that goal. Then along came the Miss Burbank contest. I worked up a routine, pantomiming my way through a Betty Hutton record. I had a ball. And lo and behold, I almost fell over—I won.
I also won a contract at Warners. At first my folks were kind of skeptical about the idea of my entering show business.
I figured it would be a lark while it lasted—and surely it couldn’t last long. Meanwhile, I’d have some fun and earn some money. As it turned out, Warners did drop my option. And my agent took me over to M-G-M to audition for a specialty number in “Three Little Words.” M-G-M offered me a seven- year contract.
The turn of my career came the day I sat down, all by myself, and thought things over. Did I really want to be a movie star? Did I want to be a star badly enough to work hard for my stardom? Up to this point, things had gone so easily for me. I’d just breezed through. But watching other stars putting everything they had into their work, learning the requirements of attaining stardom and holding onto it, I knew I’d have to work as I’d never worked before.
At this point, I gave a lot of thought to my previous ambition. If I decided to become a teacher, I would have to forget movies completely. I knew what going ahead with my picture career would mean from then on: long hours of hard work, practice sessions until I was ready to drop, endless rehearsals, lessons, lessons and more lessons.
I made my decision that day. I’ve never regretted it. And I’ve never worked so hard in my life as since. But I love every minute of it.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE AUGUST 1955