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, Carole’s life had a bittersweet ending. 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 story 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 up Mt. Petosi -- and they say some of her most valuable 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. When she achieved stardom, she had a poignant way to describe the way she had become idolized as a sex symbol. She commented, 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

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?

So perhaps the first question when you wake up in the morning shouldn’t be how you can succeed, but rather what you can give your life to that will never leave you feeling empty? 


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