Ingrid Bergman was a so-so typist. Katharine Hepburn's signature was indecipherable. Marlene Dietrich signed her letter to Ernest Hemingway as "Your Kraut."
A collection of letters, memos, telegrams and other written communiques from the golden age of Hollywood are collected in a new book. Letters from Hollywood, edited and compiled by Barbara Hall and Rocky Lang, is a delicious peek into very famous people's private lives.
Take Audrey Hepburn. On screen, she was perfection: the bangs, the long cigarette-holder in Breakfast at Tiffany's, the lavish hat at Ascot in My Fair Lady.
In 1963, after seeing the My Fair Lady script for the first time, she wrote the director (in perfect schoolgirl penmanship) of her delight.
It's MARVELLOUS, I am beyond myself with happiness and excitement! It is all so good and so solid, warm funny and enchanting. I just pray every day to be as good as the role, or is that too much to ask for? All the wonder of the musical and the play are there, it's just smashing!
But perfect Audrey, it seems, had bad feet. Hepburn asks for the designer's sketches of her shoes so that her private bootmaker in Paris can cobble them for the movie.
One is an awful lot on ones feet when working—and since my days in the ballet I have had "trouble with me feet" unless properly "shoed." ... It does make all the difference.
"I think it's the kind of thing that it's great to learn about an actress," co-author and film historian Barbara Hall says. "We think of them—sort of put them on a pedestal, but really, she was a regular person, and obviously a very charming one."