What I Learned from Hollywood Legends About Happiness

Doing research for this blog is kind of addictive. I'm currently reading various biographies from the Classic Hollywood era. And looking back at the important moments in their lives gets me thinking about my own... 

Carole Lombard

I began with Carole Lombard, a woman who overcame some severe stumbling blocks, including a car accident that visibly scarred her face. She was told she could never be an actress because her beauty was no longer perfect. I love that she proved them wrong, and went on to be the highest paid actresses in Hollywood of her time, which just goes to show that we shouldn't listen to our detractors -- where there is a will, there is a way! 


Sadly though, for all her success, Carole had a somewhat bittersweet life in her later years. Although she was married to the "King of Hollywood", Clark Gable, by many accounts she worried a great deal that he was cheating on her (he was a notorious player). Finally, her life was cut tragically short when she died in a plane crash at the age of 33 just outside of Las Vegas. You can still see the wreckage today, if you can make the hike -- and they say some of her jewels are still waiting to be found. 

Rita Hayworth

Now I am reading about Rita Hayworth, who had a somewhat traumatic childhood, yet found a way to rise above it. But when she achieved stardom, she said bitterly that the men she loved went to bed with the characters from her films, and woke up with her. She didn't seem to feel loved for who she really was.

I always thought that if I ever got good reviews I’d be happy. It’s so empty. It’s never what I wanted, ever. All I wanted was just what everyone else wants—to be loved.
— Rita Hayworth

Sure, we all want to feel important, loved, cherished, and that our lives will leave a mark. But reading about these women gives me a new perspective. Rita Hayworth was considered the most beautiful woman of her time, yet it didn’t make her happy. In fact, she seemed happiest when she was at her least glamorous -- at home in her rolled up jeans and plaid shirts.

The message that we can learn from these women is, yes, to strive to be better. But if the drive for success becomes the center of our lives, perhaps its achievement will feel empty. Isn't the ultimate goal to have joy, and to share that joy with others?

What can you give your life to that you know will never leave you feeling empty? 


read on for more life inspiration from the golden age of cinema: