empty bottles as her final audience

I rarely watch television.
Bored one day, I turned it on.
Flipped through the channels
for a bit and stopped on an
old classic movie.

What paralyzed my finger
was the face of a beautiful
young woman.

She was striking.

The movie was called
Seven Men from Now.
It came out the same year
as my father was born, 1956.

I was stunned by this woman’s
delicate loveliness. She was
perfect, almost. Innocently
eloquent. I watched for a while.
The camera enjoyed narrowing
in on her face often. Movie
directors are stylish, they
know what people like.

Curious, I took out my laptop
and looked her up. Her name was
Gail Russell. Apparently, Paramount
signed her with no acting experience
shortly after High School. They knew there was money
in putting this heavenly face on the big screen
and figured they’d be able to mold
her into an actor. They did. At a cost.

She was shy and quiet. Probably chewed
up and spit out. Probably manipulated
by the dreadful folks in Hollywood.
To calm her nerves while acting,
she starting drinking on set.
More and more.

Most of her movies were mediocre.
Occasionally good. She got a little boost
mid-point in her short career
by doing a movie with John Wayne.

She was still beautiful, even
after years of throwing ’em back.

Her drinking started to become a problem.
She got in a vehicle accident, sailing her car
into a coffee shop. DUI’s piled up.
Paramount dumped her and that
pretty much ruined her career.

Alcohol-induced melancholy took hold.
She became a recluse. And at
36 years old, she died alone
in her apartment.

Malnourished and saturated
with booze. Empty bottles
as her final audience.

Her striking beauty was no more.

I got a little sad when I read all this.
She needed someone, decent, to
love her. Show her appreciation. To
take her out of Hollywood.

She needed something. This
wasn’t supposed to be her life.

Today she lies buried
in the same town that killed her,
mostly forgotten.

And it’s sad to know this.



2 thoughts on “empty bottles as her final audience

  1. Mike says:

    I like your tribute to Gail, but I’m almost certain the woman you have pictured is Jeanne Crain. It’s definitely not Gail.

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