Historical story

What did the greatest actresses have to sacrifice for fame?

Hollywood stars were ready for big sacrifices. Some sacrificed their childhood or family, others gave up their pride and ambition to slowly climb to the top. Even those whose dreams came true paid a very high price for their success. Was it worth it?

When you follow the fate of stars such as Shirley Temple, Drew Barrymore or Miley Cyrus, you may wonder to what extent failures in life are related to a career started at a very young age. And if, in the case of the latter two, childhood in the spotlight resulted in an avalanche of bad events, then the adult life of the former seems to be devoid of the mark of Hollywood corruption.

The most famous child star, after a short and turbulent career, sacrificed fame for the sake of diplomatic work and motherhood. It seems that neither playing in "War Babies" or "Baby Burlesks" by a several-year-old star of roles described as "sexually suggestive", nor severe punishments inflicted on children on the set, or even an attempt to assassinate her in 1939 they did not upset the young Shirley.

She was perhaps the most famous child in the world, but her star has faded over the years. After the defeat of one of her films in 1940, she lost her contract with the Fox group, which owned a number of film studios and television stations in the USA. She later signed a contract with the US film company MGM, but the offer she received was far from her expectations.

During the first visit to the new label, producer Arthur Freed literally exposed himself to the girl . Temple described the incident in her autobiography, Child Star. Completely uninitiated in male and female matters, she reacted with a chuckle, so Freed threw her out of his office. In addition, almost all of the money she made from her films was lost by her father, and her first marriage when she was just 17 years old fell apart quickly.

On the threshold of adulthood, Shirley Temple was traumatized, her father overstretched her money, and her hurried marriage fell apart. Pictured is the actress, aged 16, next to Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Despite all the setbacks and turbulence, Shirley did not seek solace in alcohol or drugs. Her diplomatic career (she became the US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, as well as the head of the American Diplomatic Protocol) confirms that her childhood on the altar of fame did not break her psyche. Temple died at the age of 85 on February 10, 2014 in her home in California. She was killed by the nicotine addiction, which she tried to hide from the public, setting a good example for her fans to the end.

Actress with no choice

Natalie Wood was born Natalia "Natasha" Zacharenko. Her mother's goal, Maria, was to make her daughter a star. She used to say, "God made her, but I made it up." Already at the age of five, Natalie received a small role in "Happy Land". Due to her professionalism and talent, she was called "Natalie of one shot", and the mother was able to do anything to make her daughter play well. Once she tore a live butterfly to shreds in order to make her daughter cry on set .

Natalie grew, and Maria tried hard to keep her in the spotlight. Her fifteen-year-old daughter was dating then 38-year-old Frank Sinatra, and two years later she was pushed into the arms of 43-year-old Nicholas Ray. The latter was the director of "Rebel Without a Cause", thanks to which Wood had a chance to present herself as a serious young actress.

However, it was not always rosy - one of such meetings arranged by the mother ended with a brutal rape, after which the teenage star had to report to the hospital with a hemorrhage . Mother showed her no support and told her to keep quiet.

The dramatic experiences left their mark on Natalie's psyche. She drowned her sorrows in alcohol, got into loud and stormy romances. In 1966 she tried to commit suicide and ended up in therapy . After the birth of her daughters, she gave up her career and devoted herself to motherhood. She died under mysterious circumstances in 1981.

Postgalactic disorder

Carrie Fisher, born on October 21, 1956, can only be said to be ready for fame. The daughter of Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds and popular singer Eddie Fisher, she became Princess Leia by accident. Initially, George Lucas saw a completely different actress in this role. Anyway, Carrie didn't answer the first call inviting her to the casting. The meeting took place on December 30, 1975, and from that day on, the life of the young actress was to change forever. She wrote about it years later:"(...) after Star Wars I was enveloped by the fame of an actress who, by a strange coincidence, played a cinema icon. ”

A photo of the crew of the first "Star Wars", taken between shots. The photo is from the book "The Princess Diary".

In 2013, she wrote an exceptionally funny and sharp-tongued letter to Lea Organa, perfectly reflecting her ambivalent attitude to the role that defined her life forever. In it, she compared herself to Dorian Gray and complained of the "postgalactic stress disorder" she had contracted after four decades with Leia. In his book The Princess Diary she confided:

(...) the lion's share of my life - from the nineteen to the next forty carefree years until today - I was both myself and Princess Leia. (...) I was fed up with confusing us, living in its shadow, struggling with my grudge against her. (...) I wanted her to finally go away and leave me alone, but soon I wondered who I would be without her. (…) I wanted it all to pass. So that I can be back with the person I was years ago.

Carrie never got away from Lea . She died on December 27, 2016 at the age of 60. A day later her mother passed away.

Carrie Fisher never managed to break free from Princess Leia. Pictured with Mark Hammil and Harrison Ford during a snack on the first Star Wars tour. The photo is from the book "The Princess Diary".

Unhappy Carmen

Dorothy Dandridge, who in the 1950s was considered one of the five most beautiful women in the world, became one of the most tragic victims of Hollywood. She was born on November 9, 1922 in Cleveland. The mother and her friend, who turned her and her sister into money machines, ignored the exhaustion of the children and the reluctance to perform again. The Dandridge Sisters appeared in the Paramount studio musical in 1935, and two years later in the Marx Brothers' Races Day. In 1938, in the comedy "Going Places" they sang "Jeepers Creepers" to the accompaniment of Louis Armstrong on the saxophone.

After the war, Dorothy began her acting career, refusing roles usually assigned to African-Americans at the time:savage, slave, or maid. At 19, she got married and finally freed herself from the influence of her possessive mother. The unfaithful husband and daughter's illness made Dandrigde depressed and addicted to drugs . When she finally left her husband, not wanting to give up her career and out of the necessity to care for her daughter - she had to return to her possessive mother.

The road to fame of the beautiful Dorothy was difficult and bumpy - she performed in nightclubs in sensual costumes, she was not allowed to use the same toilet, lobby or swimming pool as other actresses, she was forbidden to talk to the audience, often had a brush compartment for a changing room. The sacrifice paid off and there were offers from Hollywood. The woman, however, had to give up her ambitions - she accepted the offer to play the queen of the jungle in "Tarzan's Peril" in 1950. Two years later, she landed the role she had longed for in MGM's "Bright Road".

The well-received production paved the way for Dandridge's role as life in 1954's Black Carmen. Huge success of the film and unforgettable creation brought her Life cover and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress alongside Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Jane Wyman and Judy Garland. At 32, she achieved her dream star status, but was not able to enjoy it for too long.

Intelligent, talented and beautiful Dorothy was unable to win new roles to the best of her ability. Even getting a Golden Globe didn't help. Worse yet, the actress misplaced her feelings again, and as a result she lost all her money, fell into alcoholism and drug addiction.

She died on September 8, 1965 at the age of 42 from an overdose of antidepressants. Her last wish was to give her mother everything she had. It wasn't much - after several decades of career and hard work, she had only $ 2 and 14 cents left on her account .

Dorothy Dandridge as a singer in 1962. Though successful, she died in poverty six years later.

All for art

Ingrid Bergman remains one of the greatest actresses of the big screen to this day. He owes his star status of the 40's and 50's above all to his turbulent personal and professional relationship with the great director Roberto Rossellini. It was for him that she left for Italy, abandoning her husband Petter Lindström and her daughter Pia.

She was already pregnant on the day of the premiere of the first movie she made with Rossellini, "Stromboli, the land of God". Roberto was born before his mother finalized her divorce with her first husband. Of course, a scandal broke out - the actress was cursed in the press and surroundings, calls were made to boycott her films.

Although the story of Ingrid Bergman seems like a fairy tale about the love of two people from different worlds, the reality was quite different. Rossellini was as possessive of a husband as a director (he did not want his wife to play for anyone but himself), a man difficult in cooperation and living together. As the actress told her biographer Charlotte Chandler:

He didn't like actors. He regarded them as vain jesters who want to look their best, even though they are expected to look the worst possible. He did not want a "game", he expected naturalness. This is why actors didn't get their lines early, gave them to them at the last minute and then only took one or two takes .

Ingrid Bergman in one of Rosselini's films, "Fear", from 1954. Next to her is Mathias Wieman.

For professionals, working on such conditions was very difficult, but Bergman was helped by his extraordinary talent and ability to show the entire spectrum of emotions and internal conflicts. Rossellini managed to turn his wife's life drama and dedication into artistry. By dedicating her life, marriage and family to the arts, Bergman played herself as best she could .

Fame at the cost of life

Hollywood knows many stories of actresses who made many sacrifices in their pursuit of fame and ultimately failed to bear the burden of celebrity status. Unhappy romances, tragic addictions, bad decisions or mental disorders of many of them destroyed their lives. Carrie Fisher, overwhelmed by the fame brought by her role as Leah, wrote about it in her The Princess Diary :

The fame can be incredibly severe, now I know it (…). One would have to be a unique Hollywood medium to predict that there is an ambush waiting for us to fall into and the characters we play will turn into famous brands.