Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Tuesdays with The Screen Guild Magazine
AN ACTRESS’ WORKING DAY
By Genevieve Tobin
[Reprinted from The Screen Guilds’ Magazine 1934]
Promptly at 10:30, one of the maids quietly opens the door to remind me that it is time to go to work. Usually I do not feel like working in the morning, so I yawn sleepily, draw the silk coverlet over my eyes and go back to sleep.
The maid is well trained and knows without being told that she is expected to phone my director to lay the company off for the day or until I feel like coming to the studio.
At 1 or 1:30 in the afternoon, I have my perfumed bath and a Continental breakfast, after which one of my secretaries comes in with the mail.
Sometimes I go to the club for a few holes of golf, or more often, I must confess, drop into one of the Golden Salons that line Hollywood streets and risk a few thousand on roulette.
This usually tires me—so I return home for a milk bath, after which I take a nap until 7 or 8.
Then—my day really begins!
It often takes an hour to select my costume for dinner.
When my escort calls, we have a few champagne cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Sometimes sixty or seventy people drop in for dinner, or more often I go out to dine, as my place only has thirty rooms and is really too small for entertaining.
After dinner, I make the round of dancing places and unless things are particularly interesting, arrive home at about 3 o’clock, as I think an actress should not keep too late hours when she is working hard.
This, dear reader, is the accepted notion of a movie star’s routine, but is far from the cold and desolate truth.
The facts of the matter—which differ materially from the glorified popular notion—are as follows:
The conventional 9 o’clock “call: means that I must be in the hair-dressing department at 7, which in turn means that I must get up at 6, bathe hurriedly, snatch a glass of orange juice and drive ten miles to the studio. This part of my routine is the same, whether I am sleepy, tired, moody, or what-not.
From 7 to 7:45 I sit sleepy-eyed in the hair-dresser’s chair, and then go to the make-up room. This means another hour.
By 8:45 o’clock, I am in my dressing room. It takes only about fifteen minutes to get into whatever costumes needed for the first scene.
By 9 o’clock I am on the set. Incidentally, it is a matter of price with players nowadays to be prompt. It is no longer the movie fashion to keep companies waiting. The business office gets reports on those who do. Here, temperament is figured along with all other unnecessary expenses. Nowadays, Geniu$ is spelt with a “$”.
From 9 o’clock until 12:30 we work and then I return to my dressing room, where my hour of rest and refreshment consists mostly of fitting costumes, seeing interviewers or doing a little last minute brushing up on my lines for the afternoon.
Often the afternoon’s work is not over until nearly 7 o’clock, when I return to my dressing room and realize that I have eaten practically nothing.
In my weariness, I drop my clothes—rather than take them off. By 7:30 I get my make-up off and start for home.
At about 8, I open the door and from the atmosphere, to which I am keenly sensitive, I know the cook is out of patience. He cannot see why these actresses he reads about should be detained by so prosaic a thing as work.
I manage to enjoy my one and only meal of the day and gather some measure of strength from my dinner.
I leave the dining room, with the thought of how wonderful it would be to fall into bed. But I cannot.
There is still a lot of studying to do on tomorrow’s lines. Sometimes I allow myself the luxury of listening for a half hour to a radio program, to take my mind off my work.
At about 10:30, I drag myself wearily from the tub and toward the bed.
It has no golden canopy; no liveried servant wafts incense toward it with a peacock plume; no diamond-brocaded coverlet gleams in the soft light of an amethyst lamp.
It is just a plain bed—not a movie bed.
And I fall into it. I am an awfully tire girl!
Vivacious, highly stylish and a great commedienne, Genvieve Tobin was always a wonderful addition to any movie. I especially loved her in Kiss and Make-Up with Cary Grant and her last film No Time for Comedy with Rosalind Russell and James Stewart. Both movies were quite quirky and deliciously humorous. Genevieve and her sister Vivian (so ironic for me as I love both these names and if I ever have two little girls, this will be what I name them) were daughters of a stage entertainer. Along with their brother George, they all three became stage and screen performers from a young age. Considered more stylish and attractive than talented, Genevieve didn't let this deter her from taking on challenging roles such as King Lear. But much like Constance Bennett, Genevieve gave up on her career for high society and never looked back.