Fifties film stars were glamorous and well turned out These women had hourglass figures with tiny waists and rounded hips. They wore conical bras which gave them pointy breasts. Every man’s fantasy. They appeared perfect in every way and lit up the screen with their charms. But what of their personal lives? Did they really have it all? In ‘How To Marry A millionaire’ three very popular stars Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe and LaurenBacall represented ideal women in an ideal world where everything was possible if you had looks, class, brains and , let’s face it, some good old fashioned cunning. But was this enough even then?
Marilyn’s trials are well documented. Here was this beautiful, vulnerable girl woman who could not carry a child to full term and was obsessed with father figures having been abused by men all her life and abandoned by her own mother. Yet there she was burning up the screen with her unique combination of sex appeal, innocence and quirky good humour in film after film. Bacall, on the other hand, was sultry and fiesty. Actually known as ; ‘ The Look’ , a term invented especially for her to describe the way she looked up into the camera lense , Betty Bacall was all class. Her personal life was also one of ups and downs although a little more triumphant than most. Married to Humphrey Bogart in 1945 and widowed in 1957 when Bogey, the love of her life, died of throat cancer. Bogart was twenty five years older which suggests that she also was in need of a father figure having
been abandoned by her own at a young age. Bacall being made of very strong stuff, however went on to marry again, win two Tony Awards for her work in theatre and write two autobiographies still widely read today. As for Betty Grable, an actress and dancer whose legs were insured for one million dollars, life was not always rosy. Grable’s career had been hugely successful during the 1940s when she was also the major pin up girl for the armed forces but began to wind down in the 1950s. She married band leader Harry James in 1943 and their life together was marred by alchoholism. Again a marriage to a much older man. What is it with this father thing? Both drank, gambled and had numerous love affairs. They divorced in 1965. and Betty began a relationship with a man much younger than herself. In ‘ How To Marry A Millionaire’ they set out to marry millionaires but end up falling in love instead with men financially challenged. Just as they all three come to accept that they won’t ever have it all a miracle happens. One of them really has found a millionaire. Guess which one?
© Renee Dallow (Hybiscus Bloom ) 13/10/2013