Monday, June 26, 2017

Today's Blind Items - The A+ Lister Turned Stay At Home Wife - Old Hollywood Kindness

This deceased permanent A+ list actress and screen legend is an icon. And so much has been written and portrayed about her life that most people think they know everything about her that there is to know. Maybe that's true, but I got an interesting email from a CDAN reader recently that may shed some new light on all that. Our A+ list actress (who I'll call Ms. D) had a very public image that was quite different than who she really was in private. And even the private side of her that has been out there for public consumption doesn't really do her justice in some ways. This reader told me an interesting story about this actress that pretty much proves that.

Ms. D., at one point in her career, withdrew from the entertainment business to try to focus on her personal life. In doing so, she relocated to a smaller community where she attempted to live quietly among the locals. Even though the residents there knew who she was (you'd had to be from Mars not to), they tried to respect her privacy and treat her like a regular person as much as they could. Small town people were like that back then - they really just tried to mind their own business. These folks were also mostly poor, from working class immigrant families, so they had bigger problems to worry about than whether a celebrity was living nearby.

My reader's father and his family were also living in this community during that time and got to know Ms. D quite well. Her dad was a teenager then and had an after-school job working in a small business where our actress was a regular customer. My reader's Dad remembers Ms. D as a kind, funny and very generous person, and also describes her as being much more beautiful in person than she was on screen. Ms. D was really nice to all the small business owners in the town and at this particular business, would give very generous tips to the young kids working there, including my reader's father. Again, a lot of these kids came from poor immigrant backgrounds and the extra money from those tips helped put food on a lot of those family's tables. After living in this community for some time, Ms. D was on a first name basis with all these kids and of course, as you would expect, they were all a little in love with her too.

After she'd been living there for about a year, Ms. D made one of her regular visits to this particular business and noticed that my reader's Dad was not there that day. (I'll call him Johnny.) Our actress asked the owner of the business where Johnny was, and he sadly explained that Johnny's mother had died suddenly and unexpectedly the prior day. (Since Johnny's family was also one of those large immigrant families who were poor, this made the loss even worse.) Upon being told this news, Ms. D insisted that the business owner give her the contact information for the funeral parlor handling the arrangements for the family so she could send flowers, which he did.

Not only did she arrange for flowers to be sent to the funeral parlor, but Ms. D also went there in person and paid the ENTIRE funeral bill for the family. Our actress made the funeral parlor owner promise not to tell the family who paid the bill and also asked for the address of the family's church where the funeral mass was being held. As you can imagine, the owner of the funeral parlor was gobsmacked about this whole situation, and immediately called the parish Priest and told him what had gone down and that our actress might be coming to the church too. The following day, Ms. D went to the church to see the Priest. The Priest was apparently so impressed with the visit from our actress that he documented the visit in church records.

Anyway, because Ms. D had paid for the funeral, the donation monies that were traditionally collected by the parish to help pay for the funeral were instead given to the family directly. This small amount of money enabled the surviving family to move to a new area to get a fresh start which they desperately needed after this tragic loss. This also had the long term effect of placing Johnny and his siblings in a better living situation, which made their futures as adults more stable as well. The family was told that all the funds came from the church, so they had no clue at the time that Ms. D had paid for the funeral. They just assumed that the church and community had helped, which was not uncommon in those days.

The craziest part about this story is that the family only became aware of our actress's generosity very recently. They had all heard the stories from Johnny about getting to know Ms. D. back in the day, but none of them had any idea about this huge kindness from her. My reader only uncovered this story while she was doing family geneaology research. She traveled from out of State to visit the area where the family had lived and discovered that the church they attended had been closed down in the 1970s. That parish had been merged into another one, but she was able to visit the new parish to look at the old archived records from the church, which were remarkably detailed and intact. It was there that she uncovered the journaled entry from the Priest about Ms. D making the payment towards the funeral. There was also another surprise: according to these same church archives, Ms. D also made a 'sizable" donation to the church's school at around the same time. Back then, this school had served the same community of poor immigrant families, so that money likely helped a lot of those kids continue get a decent education too. Pretty amazing.

As luck would have it, the elderly Parish secretary who worked at the new church was also the daughter of the now-deceased secretary of the old church. She and my reader had a lot of fun uncovering all this stuff in their research. And come to find out, Ms. D and her kindness wasn't such a big secret after all. Apparently a lot of the old timers from the old church and neighborhood had heard rumors about Ms. D and her generosity floating around for years. And of course, my reader's father and the family had no idea about any of it, since they'd moved away after their mother's death. When they were finally told this incredible story, they all cried. They were amazed and sad at the same time, not only because they had no idea about any of this for decades, but also because of the way Ms. D's life turned out later.

53 comments:

Tricia13 said...

Liz Taylor?

MontanaMarriott said...

Hmmm no mention of children otherwise i would have said Rita Hayworth so perhaps Ava Gardner?

Tricia13 said...

Mrs "D" for Diamonds? Or maybe Marilyn Monroe(Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend?

MontanaMarriott said...

NM I think this is Marilyn Monroe

sandybrook said...

Liz Taylor?

loveless said...

Audrey Hepburn?

mjm said...

First two names that popped into my head were Liz Taylor and Audrey Hepburn

david said...

Nice. True Kindness at work here.
I need to think long and hard to even venture a guess.
Doesn't say which part of the country this took place in so I will assume California maybe?
Will be interesting to read the posts!

Guesst said...

DiMaggio

cathy said...

Marilyn Monroe - Mrs. DiMaggio

hothotheat said...

Neither Liz Taylor or Marilyn Monroe left the piblic eye. I think this is Ava Gardner or Greta Garbo.

Salaam said...

I figure this is someone who was very religious despite an other-wise worldly image.

Lana Turner?

Tricia13 said...

Yep maybe(the love of her life...) by all accounts

ryan said...

i think it's norma jean too. but did she ever live in a small town? i thought she only lived in nyc and brentwood/LA?

AndrewBW said...

Marylin Monroe somehow seems like the kind of person who would do something like this. If you look at her credits in IMDB, there's a break between "The Prince and the Showgirl" in 1957 and "Some Like It Hot" in 1959.

I remember once reading a story about her, though I forget who it was that told it now. He was walking in Times Square with her. She didn't have any makeup on, wasn't dressed up or anything. and was sort of keeping her head down -- and people were completely ignoring her. No one even recognized her. This person remarked that he was amazed she could walk through Times Square without anyone bothering her and she replied basically, "I can turn it on and off. Want to see?" So she raised her head a bit, started smiling, opened her eyes a bit -- and wham! they were instantly mobbed. He said it took like an hour to escape the crowd.

I think the funniest/saddest story about her is when she returned from a trip to Korea. She was married to Joe DiMaggio at the time. She was completely astonished by the huge crowds and was telling Joltin' Joe how the crowds were cheering and screaming her name and said, "Oh Joe, you can't imagine what it was like!" And DiMaggio shook his head and said, "Oh yes I can."

sandybrook said...

Actually she was the love of Joe's life. I think flowers are still being placed at her grave under his orders when he was alive.

Tricia13 said...

Definitely sandybrook... quite a love story

Mr. Blackwell said...

I can't help thinking this might be Gene Tierney.

Do Tell said...

Bette Davis at one point did step back from Hollywood to try to become a good wife and housewife to her at the time new (and soon to be ex) husband.

Prttysmrtjokr said...

Kathryn Hepburm lived a quiet life in Old Saybrook - have friends that live in Old Lyme, Connecticut...10 min away.

Renshaw said...

"because of the way Ms. D’s life turned out later" implies tragedy so +1 on the Marilyn. guess.

Scorpiotina said...

Jane Russell. Lived in Arizona with her 3rd husband in the 70's.

Audrey L Zilli said...

My daughter is going to school in Old Lyme.

Wildguess said...

I don't think its still being done. If you want to check, the florist that he used when alive is still in business. Parisian Florist on Sunset Blvd.

Joe said...

One thought maybe: Judy Garland? "D" for Dorothy - and of course the way her life turned out would be relevant.

Do Tell said...

Downvote it all you want, she did, lol.

Angela6 said...

Bingo! Married a Texas millionaire W. Howard Lee. Died in Houston 1991.

pk491 said...

Gene Tierney seems to make the most sense to me as well

French girl said...

Ava Gardner?

John P. said...

I'm going with Marilyn Monroe when she was married to Arthur Miller and they lived in Roxbury, CT, a small town in Litchfield County in the NW corner of the state. She tried valiantly to live the small town housewife life but wasn't able to adapt terribly well.

pk491 said...

You are probably correct http://www.ctmq.org/canfield-corner-pharmacy/

Ldybozz said...

Could it be the Camille, Greta Garbo?

Sunspirit said...

Natalie Wood or Audrey Hepburn

Tink said...

Marilyn

Marlin said...

Bette Davis

Allison said...

Marilyn. She didn't have a mean bone in her body.

police dog said...

this is without a doubt in my mind marilyn monroe.

I truly believe she was killed. the people surrounding the kennedys didnt want her alive. she was a 'liability'

fuck them. she was more than an iconic blonde. she had an amazing heart.

Scandi Sanskrit said...

This is amazing. She changed the life of an entire family long-term. ♥

B626 said...

Liz Taylor when she was married to Warner?

Carol said...

Definitely Marilyn. Even though she was married to Miller when living in CT, she always called Joe Mr. D. So she is Mrs. D.

jooolie said...

Yup--I thought immediately that this sounded like my corner of CT--one town away from Roxbury

Scandi Sanskrit said...

That "I can turn it on and off, want to see her?" line was featured in a scene in the film "My Week With Marilyn" (except the setting was in England at some sort of church, and she said it to Eddie Redmayne's character—maybe she showed the trick to many people, it's fascinating).

Norma refers to MM in the third person ("her") which is also interesting...

hey said...

yes, i think you have it. also there were surrounding towns that were very working class and had a lot of italians and irish families who were immigrants or one generation out from the boat there back then. those areas outside of westport/roxbury were not affluent at all.

hey again said...

milton greene also had a home in weston connecticut where marilyn visited a lot

Lil said...

Audrey Hepburn. Ms D being her married name of Dotti. Moved to a small place in Switzerland.

Anne said...

I DOUBT this was Marilyn-- they way enty describes the town and people as "poor immigrants villagers that kind of thing.

I want to say Ava Gardner in France, but I don't think that's right

Emeraldcity said...

Doris Day or Jane Russel ?

TellMeLies said...

What about Joan Crawford? She had a pretty bad image and died lonely, poor, and alone. She had several breaks in acting.

Alliebabycat said...

My great aunt lived in the same town of in Connecticut when Marilyn was married to Arthur Miller. She would see her in the grocery store all the time with her hair in curlers wearing her slippers as she went grocery shopping.

Kmmmmm said...

Marilyn Monroe
http://jacksonville.com/community/st_johns/2010-01-30/story/raised_with_the_rat_pack_famous_photographers_son_looks_back

aemish said...

Nice! I was wondering how the 'D' would fit..

Prunie said...

I think it's Marilyn Monroe but the D stands for DiMaggio. She lived with him in San Francisco for a while in the mid 50s on beach street in what used to be a mostly Italian neighborhood. Probably spent time in North beach which had a lot of Italians though it wasn't a poor neighborhood.

Prunie said...

Joe DiMaggio married his first wife in San Francisco at Sts Peter& Paul Church North Beach, the Italian neighborhood. Ther's a school attached to it. The playground is named after him. He also married Monroe in SF but obviously notin a Catholic Church. His best friend Reno Barsocchini was his witness and had a restaurant in north beach. DiMaggio hsf deep ties in the Italian community and Monroe probably met this poor family that way.