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530   Barbara O'Neil Typed Letter Signed  $200 $267 $294 4 You must login to place a bid.
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#530 - Barbara O'Neil Typed Letter Signed Estimate: $200+

Barbara O'Neil on a Hollywood strike, Stella Dallas, and co-star Barbara Stanwyck

Oscar-nominated American actress (1910-1980) best remembered for her role as Scarlett O'Hara's mother in Gone with the Wind. TLS, two pages, 8.5 x 11, no date. Letter to "Miss Smith," offering fascinating autobiographical details about her career and her relationship with Barbara Stanwyck. In part: "I've lived an interesting life in the Theatre and the acting procession and find many rich and joyous experiences available for recall…I think Miss Barbara Stanwick won't mind being called either a sane element—or a very attractive life raft in that miasmic tension-ridden atmosphere of strike plus Goldwyn. More of her as I go along. Stella Dallas was my first picture. There was a strike and a picket line to be crossed every morning which I hated. Being made up by a stranger during a strike in the early morning (instead of making myself up in the privacy of my dressing room back stage in the evening) was not a peaceful way to start the working day for me.

I recall the head of UA make-up Department a Mr. S—. He kept the curtains drawn, peering out occasionally to see if the bomb would explode during my moments in his chair. He told me all through the operation just how dangerous it was for him to be doing my face at all. I sense now that was most likely a Russian gentleman and therefore knew more about strikes and revolutions and bombs than I did.

By the time I landed on the set in the presence of Miss Stanwick, Mr. Vidor and Rudi Maté, I was an already shattered New York imported commodity. Rudy Maté would look at me sadly, but encouragingly. He could see I hadn't slept very well. He was the dearest man out there and his only mistake had been that when he made my original screen test he had made me look beautiful. His problem was to repeat that accomplishment each day! He was an artist—among the best in Hollywood, and he cared very much about his work.

Mr. King Vidor was kind and respectful and very patient, and like a knowledgeable animal trainer carefully managed to get a shot of me now and then that he could use. One day, when things were particularly rough and my ignorance of film technique was probably costing time and money—Barbara came over to my dressing room and in a serious and friendly way encouraged me to keep in there pitching and to try not to let Mr. Goldwyn bother me.

She is a marvelous warm hearted person. I knew it then while working with her, and recently watching a rerun of Stella Dallas I understand the depth and strength of her work. She is an inside actress—works from the inside out—and this privacy will make her pictures—but more particularly her performances—last with the new generations of audiences. Robert Taylor would frequently be on set with her at the end of the days shooting.

The last beautiful scene outside the windows was done at night and I remember meeting him then as we all waited for the wedding sequence. By that time I'd had it, and Mr. Taylor was a truly beautiful and refreshing sight. Much later after I had parted company with Mr. G and was back on a stage with Walter Houston, I was invited to play Helen Morrison again on the Lux Radio Theatre.

Life is fascinating—because Miss Stanwick had a bad moment before going on stage in front of a 'live audience' and she let me encourage her. I told her to keep in there pitching and not to let that live audience bother her (as she had done for me). A couple of pictures later I was in the hospital having my tonsils out. She sent me a big glass bowl full of talisman roses—I think of her that way."

She adds a handwritten postscript, signed "B. O'N.," in part: "Sorry I can't recall many morsels about Miss B.—But if you care to know about me & what I thought of Mr. Goldwyn—you can call me up and write another book!" In fine condition.

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