A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

A Lesson From Viveca
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Guest Blog by John Lekich
A Lesson From Viveca.


Recently, Alex asked me if I ever wrote letters anymore. I told him I rarely do – barely enough to keep in letter-writing shape. Still, it’s a beautiful form of communication and I miss it. Deeply felt letters of any kind tend to stand up well over the years. Even when the ravages of time have altered the sentiments on the page. This is why I can never throw out an old love letter or a note of thanks – many from absolute strangers who have been kind enough to admire something I’ve written. After all, someone has taken the time to craft their feelings in a way you don’t find on social networking sites. A way where words grow into sentences by virtue of patience and trust.

Not long ago, I watched a documentary called Trumbo. It was based on the life of blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo who, among many other accomplishments, wrote the original story for Roman Holiday. The documentary consists largely of archival footage and hundreds of letters Trumbo had written over the years. They’re read with great conviction by the likes of Donald Sutherland, Liam Neeson and Michael Douglas. The correspondence during Trumbo’s long, dark years of unemployment brought me to the edge of tears.

It reminded me of the brief correspondence I shared with the late Viveca Lindfors – a veteran actor whose long career encompassed the Hollywood blacklist era of the fifties. I came to recognize her as a woman of extraordinary passion. Brought in from Sweden by Warner Brothers to become the new Garbo, she simply refused to be pigeonholed. Starring opposite such leading men a Ronald Regan and Errol Flynn, she would later work with a list of directors that included Fritz Lang, Robert Altman and Woody Allen. When Alex and I met her, she was working on a low-budget Canadian film. “They’re nice,” she said. “But they’re treating me like an old lady.”

This from a woman whose Actor’s Studio classmates included Paul Newman and Marilyn Monroe. When I asked her why she kept working, she looked at me as if I were too young to understand. “What am I going to do?,” she said, gently. “An actor acts.” We got to talking about Sterling Hayden. A co-star of hers who was deeply affected by his decision to “name names” in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee. She told me she had never read Hayden’s The Wanderer. To my mind, the most heartbreaking biography ever written on the guilt-ridden compromises of a Hollywood life. It was long out-of-print but I became determined to find a copy and send it to her.

A week later, in one of those serendipitous moments, I found a pristine copy in a used bookstore. Later still, I was rewarded with a note in the huge, handwritten letters of someone with failing eyesight. “Thank You!” she wrote. “I thought I knew him but...” There were other letters, always ending with: “Remember, an actor acts...and a writer writes!” I sometimes re-read them, just for the wisdom of that last line. The older I get, the more I appreciate exactly what it means.

Here are three more guest blogs by John Lekich

One

Two

Three



     

Previous Posts
A Moment Of Silence For The Passing Of An Era

Thanksgiving With Hydrangeas

The Black Celica

Facebook - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's Noosphere ...

The Real Life Of Mario Vargas Llosa

Live Art - Acto Vivo

Raymond Chandler - Just About Perfect

Dulcinea, Oclupaca, Duke Ellington & The Rocket At...

If It's Difficult It Must Be Worth Doing - Malyshe...

Letty García's Mexican Salsa & Sun Chips



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10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17