Friday, August 22, 2008

A Deep, Deep Peace...

Here we see, at the height of her distinguished career, the very last of the great actresses to retain the seventeenth-century affectation of being called only by her married name. Although born Stella Tanner, she was known the world over as Mrs. Patrick Campbell, despite the gentleman who bestowed that name on her having played only the equivalent of a walk-on in her colorful life.

She comes to mind today as the originator of one of my favorite quotes about marriage. Wedlock, she said, is "the deep, deep peace of the double bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue." And it really is.

I was pleased to discover, in checking the wording of the above, that she also came up with two additional contributions to the canon.

To a young actress, who had complained of the predilections of two of the gentlemen in their troupe, she said, "Does it really matter what these affectionate people do - so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses?"

And she more than earned her reputation as a scatty troublemaker, during her brief career as a second-string Marie Dressler at MGM, by sweeping into a party and trilling out to her studio's star producer, "Dear Mr. Thalberg, how is your lovely, lovely wife with the tiny, tiny eyes?" (Another version has her saying, in her usual stage-whisper, as Mrs. T. passed by, "Sweet Norma - she has such lovely little eyes - and so close together!").

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