"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Girl of the Day - Gail Russell

Gail Russell was the ingenue in the great John Wayne western, The Angel and the Badman.  In the picture she played a Quaker girl of angelic innocence and goodness who tames the gunfighter Quirt Evans (Wayne) and turns him from his violent past.  In real life, Russell was so painfully shy she learned to drink to quiet her nerves on the set, and ultimately became a terrible alcoholic.   Her disease ruined her career and, ultimately, took her life, at the age of 36.  

In doing these "Girl of the Day" posts, I've had to look back at a lot of actresses from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.   I'm struck by how many of them, while glamorous on screen, led wrecked and sad little lives off the set.   It's a cautionary tale.  Charlie Sheen may think he's doing something daring and avant-garde, but really he's re-enacting the most tired old act in Hollywood -- the self-destructive drunk/addict bent on ruining his own life and the lives of those who love him.  

In any event, Gail Russell was a beautiful gal.  RIP.

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