At age 10 (see my photo then), I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be either a “movie star or a telephone operator.” We had just moved from rural Utah to Los Angeles, California where my widowed mom had a new job as a telephone operator. We also lived very close to Hollywood where all the movies in those days were made. Details of the exciting lives of the famous movie stars filled the local news.
The movies were the big entertainment in those days as television was just being developed and few people could afford to buy a black and white TV set for their homes. Besides which, there wasn’t much to watch on TV, the programs started at 6 pm and ended at 9 pm with only three channels. So, movies were our main entertainment.
The first movie other than the Disney cartoon classics that I remember going to was in Eureka, Utah, a small mining community when “Gone with the Wind” came to our little town’s theatre. As a child, I was able to get a movie ticket for 14 cents and popcorn for 10 cents and still have a penny left over from my quarter. Those were the days! Sitting in the darkened theatre watching Scarlet O’Hara played by Vivian Leigh fall in love with Rhett Butler played by Clark Cable was much more fascinating than the public library’s fairy tale books that I loved to read.
To be beautiful and talented like the movie stars portrayed was so glamorous especially to a young impressionable child new to the big city life. I remember reading religiously the movie magazine PhotoPlay, and the daily gossip columns in the newspapers for the latest rumors about which movie stars were in love or dating. My favorite movie stars were: Tony Curtis, Piper Laurie, Janet Leigh and Esther Williams. I dreamed of being part of that world. If I could just become a movie star, life would be so exciting.
New movie stars were always being discovered in California in those days. Just working as a soda jerk at the local drug store or as a waitress at the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood could lead to a movie career and an exciting life of fame, fortune and happiness. I loved to ride with my mom to Hollywood to look for movie stars and see the big city sights.