“Get Me a Mary Astor Type.”

Today is Part 1 of a piece on Mary Astor, an actress I have always loved.

I loved this bit:

Mary Astor always conveyed a sense of having lived in the real world, as opposed to those who were just play-acting. When she came through the sound-stage door, she brought an aura of reality with her. A lot of that may have been the luck of a face that bespoke experience, or a manner that suggested past hopes ended in disappointment.

astor.jpg

Yes. Yes.

Also (and this is not covered in the essay – although maybe it will be in Part 2) … it’s rather remarkable that the enormous scandal about her sex journal (chronicling her affair with George S. Kaufman) being found and published in the tabloids left her relatively unscathed. It was a feeding frenzy. But she went on, and it’s so wonderful (and funny) to see her performance in Meet Me in St. Louis and to know that she had once upon a time been held up as the Hester Prynne sex maniac of Hollywood, marriages ruined, words like “fuck” being printed in the newspaper – and it was in HER journal, not HIS – shocking!! A lady using words like that? In her own private diary? What is the world coming to? But after all that … there she was in Meet Me in St. Louis, glorious hair up in a pompadour, voice mellifluous, part of a great ensemble, graceful, funny, specific. Her acting is superb. She IS that Victorian-era woman.

Survival. She’s a great example of it.

She’s the one who said the famous thing which has been attributed to so many people that who the hell knows who actually said it. I’ve heard that Kim Stanley said it as well, but she may have been quoting Astor, who certainly had a long enough career to go through every phase:

Mary Astor said:

“There are five stages in the life of an actor: Who’s Mary Astor? Get me Mary Astor. Get me a Mary Astor Type. Get me a young Mary Astor. Who’s Mary Astor?”

Smart cookie, that one. Didn’t have a smooth road … but she survived.

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9 Responses to “Get Me a Mary Astor Type.”

  1. Lisa says:

    Was that the diary where she talked about him “plunging into [her] again and again”?

    Scandalous, a womsn enjoying sex!

  2. red says:

    The diaries are definitely X rated. Ha!!

  3. red says:

    Oh – and it was also scandalous because they were both married. And I believe that George Kaufman dropped her like a hot potato when the scandal broke, breaking her heart.

    I hope Stevie shows up and can tell me the whole story. I know he knows it.

  4. red says:

    Oh, and I know that she was also in a sexless marriage with Howard Hawks’ brother – who died very young, leaving Mary Astor a widow. But she had affairs all the time – because he refused to sleep with her.

    I need to read her autobiography – it’s apparently amazing.

  5. That’s the actress a friend of mine swears I look like. I kinda don’t see it but hey, I’ll take it. She’s gorgeous.

    Woo hoo!

  6. red says:

    I can definitely see that, curly. You have similar bone structure, coloring, and hair.

  7. steve on the mountian says:

    And Bogie turned her in just because when a guy’s partner gets killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. The way Bogie says ‘supposed’ is my favorite part of the dialogue.

  8. mitchell says:

    …I’m afraid to see what your father will do…he may strike that Truitt boy”…she was an awesome dame!!!

  9. red says:

    hahahahaha One of the best line readings ever – and I can’t even say why. It’s just so real and so specific.

    “He may strike that Truitt boy”