I love you. I love you for so many reasons, for more reasons than I could put down on paper in a reasonable amount of words. But I’m going to try, I mean, I’m going to try to tell you how much I love you, how much you mean to me, how thankful I am for you within a decent amount of words.
Missy, I love your smile. When you smile, I smile – it’s gosh darned contagious! And to be quite perfectly honest, I think you had the prettiest smile in all of Hollywood. At the same time, I get choked up when I see you smile, because, gosh, I’m such an over-emotional wreck. How could I not be a wreck, though, when seeing you smile reminds me of the little girl – Ruby Catherine Stevens, prettiest girl in the world – whom I adore with all my heart? That’s why I love your smile, because it’s the smile of a girl who knew what it was like to cry, who knew what it was like to have her heart broken, and who knew what it was like to be abandoned. But despite that you still smiled – and laughed – and kept a wicked sense of humor (gosh, how I love your sense of humor!).
I love that light in your eyes – the light that sparkled when you laughed, and burned like a forest fire when you were mad. The source of that light was a flame within you. Something within you that was decent and clean and bright. Your flame, I imagine, was a lot like the flame people say burns inside of me – maybe it’s because we’re both Irish. It was a flame that could ignite at the slightest injustice (like that time when you got mad because Harriet wasn’t going to be allowed to stay at that hotel in Chicago with you) or could just go on glowing and beaming and making me want to cry because you’re so adorable.
I love the photo shoot you did at Marwyck in ’38. I love it because those photos show the Barbara Stanwyck I love – not the Hollywood star, not the best actress never to win an Oscar – just a simple, real, sincere, humble, sensitive, lovely girl. I think that’s a part of you that most people miss. They see you on screen and they see Sugarpuss O’Shea or Lily Powers or Phyllis Dietrichson and they think that’s you, but they never see Ruby Stevens, the girl next door. I guess some people wouldn’t want to see that, some people are more attracted to the larger-than-life and the super-glamorous, but I’ll take make-up-less, honest-to-goodness you any day.
Barbara, I love you because you never lost touch with Ruby Stevens. You never forgot what it was like to have nothing, which made you more appreciative of what you were given later on. You never forgot who you were and it kept you from getting delusions of grandeur. Missy, I love you because you were completely unpretentious. There was not one phony bone in your petite body. If you felt something needed to be said, you said it. If you wanted to do something, you did it; if you didn’t want to, you didn’t. Your hair went gray when you were 40, but you wouldn’t dye it. Why pretend to be something you’re not?
And I love seeing you on screen. You were the best actress America ever produced, you know I believe that don’t you? You brought such sincere emotion, such passion, and such natural talent to your roles. Whether it was comedy or drama, western or noir – you could do anything and you could do anything darned well. I’ve been watching your movies for over two years now. Two years! And I’ve seen nearly all of the movies now: the good, the bad, and the brilliant. You were so fantastic. Your presence could turn the worst plot/script/direction into a nearly watchable film. And when you were actually given something wonderful to work with, well, you turned it on!
Why you never won an Oscar will continue to baffle me as long as I live. Of course, you got that Honorary Oscar, but you deserved more. You’ll always deserve more than you get. You deserve more love than you receive from your fans, and more appreciation than you receive from critics.
Missy, you’re my hero and my role-model and my inspiration. There are very few reasons why I wouldn’t want to be like you in every way, and those few rough spots are completely outweighed by the loveliness of your personality anyway. You were the kindest, most generous woman in Hollywood. Everyone loved you. You were un-temperamental, selfless, humble, hard-working – I know you had flaws, but you were such a wonderful human being! Why wouldn’t I want to be all these things and everything else you were? You’re an unfailing pick-me-up when I’m feeling down, and a constant leveler when I start to get a little high on myself. Thank you for that.
I’ve come to realize that there is an immeasurably large difference between having a favorite actress and having a favorite person who happens to be an actress. You’re both of the above: my favorite actress and my favorite person. The actress part is easy to explain, maybe I like your characters more than others’, maybe I like the way you played the characters better, or maybe I just like the way you made yourself appear on screen. In any case, I like you better than all the other actresses I’ve seen, and that’s that.
But when it comes to talking about how you’re my favorite person it gets significantly more difficult, because I love a lot of people. I even relate to a lot of different people and in a lot of different ways. You’re different though, because when I say I relate to you I mean that I feel that part of us is the same. I relate to your ideals (and, to be sure, you had a lot of them), I relate to your gratefulness to God, I relate to your innate shyness, and I relate to your disgust towards anything not completely on the level. I feel that something in our brains, something in the basic fundaments of our personalities works the same way. This feeling of knowing you is both intangible because you’ve been gone for twenty years, and completely tangible because anytime I want to I can see you in film and it’s almost like you’re still alive. Through film, I see you as my best friend, my closest confidant, my big sister. For all practical purposes, my mother, and I say that only because it’s the only relationship on earth that captures how much I love you.
I wish you had written an autobiography, because no matter how much I read about you, it’ll never be the same as if you had told me yourself what you were like, what you thought, why you did what you did, what influenced you, what you loved, yourself. It’s especially tragic because you’re the kind of person who would have told me the truth, not trying to hide anything or put yourself in a good light, and it only would have made me love you more. I understand why you didn’t write the autobiography though. You were a “tomorrow woman” in your own words, let the past be passed. It would be completely against your nature to write down your whole life for other people to read – you were such a private person. And I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like for you to relive the experiences of your younger self.
I can’t help imagining all you must have went through. You were the girl whom never heard the words “I love you” while you were growing up. And my whole being wishes that my love for you today could make up for some of what you missed when they still called you Ruby. But it can’t.
I read a comment the other day on Youtube and that’s what I’m going to finish this letter with. The comment read, “God, I love that girl from Brooklyn…”. Can the sentiment be put any better way? Why do I even bother trying to write so much, trying to sound so impressive? I think you would appreciate seven words as much as seven hundred. So let me finish here: Missy, Stany, Barbara, Babs… prettiest girl in the whole world, my darling Ruby in the rough… I love you. And I always will.
So, there's my letter for the blogathon. Pretty corny, huh? Remember, if you want to join up you can leave a comment for Marcela, here: on this post
Don't know yet who's hosting which letters, but that doesn't really matter because as soon as you've finished your letter and posted it you can send it to: email@example.com
Until Later On~