Dark Eyed Life

According to @CitizenScreen, doing yeoman’s* work daily on Twitter* relative to the Golden Age of film, today is the birth date of Mabel Normand, Hedy Lamarr, and Dorothy Dandridge —

  • Normand: New York, 1892
  • Lamarr: Vienna, 1914
  • Dandridge: Cleveland, 1922

— which makes for coupla at least interesting, if not compelling or fascinating at the early stages, observations.

First a note, which is the this-week publishing of Dark I’d Love, the second in my Brush Strokes attempts on Kindle. This gets the shill bit — the shilling, if you will — out of the way. Second off, the intersection of story and reality is a recurring and even consistent interest of mine — in fact, it forms part of the subject of the first book in BS, which is On Real. See what I did there?

The attempts, tries … essays of a sort … are less frequent than my interest in story + reality + dark-eyed women. Fortunately for most, perhaps unfortunately for the women … and not unrelated, come to write it — the more time I spend watching film and television, the less time writing. Weird, right?

So here’s the thing.

That these three women share a birthday isn’t all that notable. It’s fun and stuff, like we do when it’s someone’s birthday, the anniversary of their death, whatever. It’s a moment of memory and memory is a good thing. It’s not the worst thing on social media, given that it’s generally a time-suck and worse. Social media itself is about the connection we crave, and it’s fundamentally flawed at that but it’s why we do it.

[Aurora stopped interacting with me after I asked, in the 2020 election cycle, among the crowing about how many people had voted by mail, whether they wd’ve voted anyway. Understand I had no dog in the fight, not being a voter … I think there was another something or other just this week … but there it is. Marred forever. So much for civility, Do still enjoy her tweets, though.]

When I do watch film and television, which is too often for me but as noted perhaps welcome for you, I’m often taking notes, especially on the script, good lines, and so on. On balance, I need to cut back, as I often end up watching subpar stuff simply because it’s a detective show with capable actors and clever lines, even though the plot seems like it’s designed with holes in it, they’re so frequent. Bosch: Legacy, for instance.

Or maybe I’m wrong about that — maybe the overall story is good or important enough, or both, that I oughta overlook the tweaky bits — plot holes — because the story’s the thing. I’ve had several conversations with people on this, given the tendency of my faves in genre fiction — mystery, detective, police procedural — to be rife with such glaring [to me] gaps.

Well … one thing I also do, that is, another thing I do, is look stuff up on the actors involved in the show. The Bosch franchise, for instance, this year lost both Lance Reddick, a series regular, and Annie Wersching, who played Titus Welliver’s Bosch’s unstable redhead [pardon the redundancy; read Dark I’d Love for more] dalliance early in the series.

I look stuff up on the actors and actresses and while these don’t generally become rabbit holes, there’s a little excavating going on. Bruce Willis or Val Kilmer’s health … death of Anton Yelchin, the dude who played Chekov in a Star Trek movie [though I saw him in Odd Thomas] … cute;-as-a-button in High Road to China and also in Bosch for a bit, Bess Armstrong … people involved in Timothy Hutton’s Nero Wolfe from 20 years ago …

I mean, did you know Maury Chaykin had died?

And that’s what you find out.

Deaths of the actual actor involved, of course … but also death of a child [Bess Armstrong again, e.g.] … ways they’ve gotten in trouble [with law, banks, governments, &c] … a where-are-they-now kind of thing but with something more than a tweak: a twist.

They become real.

Sometimes only for a moment … one wldn’t expect it to haunt us forever, perhaps … but, like … these are people.

That sounds like a Duh! but we totes treat them like they’re not.

Notes on Twitter and the little-digging can get us there, sorta-partly.

  • Mabel Normand had a life — a short one, in fact, from tuberculosis, and with multiple scandals, sadness, failure, and despair. Also good things: she grew great enough to also direct films, for instance. In other words, life.

[We don’t have scandals? We’re just not famous enough for them to be scandals.]

  • Hedy Lamarr, too — exploitation from the start [read in a biography or perhaps a memoir once that she’d been told the camera was so far away nobody would see her naked in that early Czech film, and that they poked her repeatedly with a pin to generate the moans of ecstasy], six marriages in 30 years, starting in her teens, then nothing for 35 more years until her death.

[We still kinda see her, I think, as a powerful woman; do we think this pays for it?]

  • Dorothy Dandridge — Hollywood regularly tried to exploit her beauty sexually in film content and marketing, as well as in promotion — a trial against a tabloid, which publication, to be fair, also talked like that about white actress Maureen O’Hara, two marriages within about a decade, death in her mid-40s.

[Accidental overdose? Embolism? Is it OK to most recall her Academy Award nod?]

Focus above is on unhappy bits because our fantasies are of the other sort — that they’re lovely and famous and rich and therefore not unhappy. We aren’t wrong — they’re lovely, lauded, loaded with talent in many cases — but we are wrong, as well. And we know better, but we do it anyway. Until Richard Cory shows up again.

But then we forget anew. Perhaps a grace, that, as self-preservation.

But mostly it’d be better to get stronger, tell the truth, do right.

Good and bad and in other words, life.


An expression
* What it is, OK


Image compilation:
Public Domain

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