Dear Mr. Goldwyn...
By Joseph Wechsberg
The New York Herald Tribune, September 1, 1946
Young Cathy O'Donnell, pretty
starlet, gave Hollywood a jolt
with her letters to the boss...
Following the odd Hollywood fashion that has created such definitions
as The Look (Bacall), The Voice (Sinatra),
The Body (Macdonald), The Nose (Durante), and The Bottle (Milland),
we herewith present "The Letter." The Letter is 23 years old,
frail and pretty, has brown hair, brown eyes, and her name is Cathy O'Donnell.
The Letter is under contract to Mr. Samuel
Goldwyn who in addition to having many other virtues now emerges as
a full- fledged amateur of the belle-lettres. Not long ago, Mr. Goldwyn
received a letter from his new starlet. It was postmarked Boston where
Cathy was then getting stage experience as prescribed be her boss. He opened
the envelope and found in it a poem. It was titled "Once I Found a
Moonbeam" and it went like this:
Once I found a moonbeam
Which I wound around my throat
And I hanged myself one stormy night
And that is why I float.
And that is why I walk through walls
And leave no footprints in the grass
And never let you see my face
And cast no shadows where I pass.
Oh, if you long to come to me
Then find a night of storms!
I'll meet you where the lightning strikes
And take you in my arms!
"It was badly timed," a satellite at the Goldwyn
lot remembers. "MacKinlay Kantor, the novelist, had just discussed
with Goldwyn making a
movie out of the book, 'Glory For Me.' Mr. Kantor then went away. At long
last he sent Mr. Goldwyn
the book. It was written in verse, of all things!"
Cathy's nice little poem came a couple days later. No wonder people
around Mr. Goldwyn's
office were getting a little worried about poetry."
They got over the shock though, made a screenplay out of "Glory
For Me," and called it "The
Best Years of Our Lives." Poetess Cathy O'Donnell will have an
important part in the picture-- her debut.
The Letter is a veteran of Harding Junior High at Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma City University, a Gregg shorthand course, the American Academy
of Dramatic Arts and the road company of "Life With Father."
Her arrival in Hollywood was noted neither by columnists, casting
directors, nor wolves. She had saved up enough for a short stay in a furnished
room near the Sunset Strip. One day an agent met Cathy, promptly rushed
her to Goldwyn.
"He drove into the lot," Cathy says. "He knew the
doorman. That impressed me."
"What's She Talking?"
Goldwyn was impressed
too. Then Cathy said something and Goldwyn
looked blank. "What's she talking-- English?" he asked, and pressed
four buzzers. Three henchmen appeared and one henchwoman. Goldwyn
explained that he wanted Cathy to get rid of her Southern accent, adding:
"I'm giving you my best voice coach for perfect English. She's Russian."
Next Cathy found herself packed East, where she was to get dramatic
experience. She went into the road company of "Life With Father"
for four months. It was the bread-and-butter period of her life. Three
times a week she wrote to Mr. Goldwyn:
On New York ("I don't ever want to live in New York"),
on feuds ("the boy who plays opposite me has been upstaging me and
we had a feud"), on the critics ("they were kind except in Boston
where they said I was too coy").
These excerpts should convince movie-struck girls that to get ahead
you don't have to be seen in nightclubs, divorce your fifth husband or
wear a sarong.
All you have to do is write letters and poetry and address them to
the boss. If you happen to be 23, lovely, talented and ambitious, it will
© 1946 New York Herald Tribune