On 17 Feb 1938, Grace Moore, the American Soprano who transitioned to film in the 1930s, wrote a column for the Australian newspaper “Table Talk”.
It has been long forgotten for 80 years, until now.
Moore would receive a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for ONE NIGHT OF LOVE in 1934, but die in a plane crash 9 years later. She was 48.
Below, is the article/interview reproduced.
“Well, here I am on the ‘terrace’ of my home on wheels -‘ a trailer — while the Pacific breaks lusty white waves at our front door. The sun beams down, there’s a cool, refreshing breeze – and I wonder what else could be added to make this seem a perfect way of living. The setting invites one to grow philosophical.
Valentin (Parera) and I have found that the true art of living really is the process of elimination for simplicity. Whether you live in a trailer or not, it’s a good thing to become ‘trailer-minded’ that is, basing life on only the actual things needed, and not clogging it up with unnecessary luxuries and unnecessary people.
That way, you can. keep a free and open mind for the luxury of right thinking. Additionally, your affections are kept only for the handful of real people you meet as you go along. This simplification, I believe, is more necessary for the artist than for other people. We are pursued to death, almost ‘yessed’ to death, flattered, courted.
We all love it at least some of the time – but unless we separate the real from the artificial and transient favors of fame, both we and our career go on the rocks. More professional careers are finished off by never seeing a tomorrow than by lack of talent.
As I look at life in these serene surroundings, it makes me reflect upon the thoughts of Walter Pater, who has been one of my literary loves for many years.
He said, “Not the fruit of experience, but experience itself, is the end. A counted number of pulses only is given to us of a variegated dramatic life, … How shall we pass most swiftly from point to point, and be present always at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in their purest energy?
To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life. While all melts under our feet, we may well grasp at any exquisite passion, or any
contribution to knowledge that seems by a lifted horizon to set the spirit free for a moment, or any stirring of the senses, strange dyes, strange colors, a landscape or work of the artist’s hand, or the face’ of one’s friend.
Of such wisdom, the poetic passion, the desire for beauty, the love of art for its own sake, has most. For art comes to you proposing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality
to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments’ sake.”
I feel like going on, but maybe it does me more good to think and write out these convictions than it does you to read them. So I’ll get on with some other things I want to
straighten- out. . This trailer life certainly makes one want to get right with the world.
I’m getting just a little tired of all this nonsense being written by columnists about’ ‘so-called’ temperamental opera singers in Hollywood. This is a good time to get in a little self defence for my colleagues and myself. Certainly we have temperament. We wouldn’t be successful artists if we didn’t have it.
Anyone who succeeds in any line of artistic endeavor must have temperament. Yet why should we poor defenceless girls, who try to earn an honest living chirping arias on the screen be singled out as vixens, demons and holy terrors!
Let Lily Pons or Gladys Swarthout or me enjoy a well-deserved tantrum after the twenty-fourth take of a scene when the thermometer registers ninety-eight on the sound stage, and that’s temperament. Hmmmm, Fine thing! The story appears in every column in the country, and the caption is, ‘So-and-So Goes Temperamental Again! Director Swoons. Film Bosses Fulminate.‘
All my so-called temperamental outbursts in Hollywood that have been
so widely publicised have been a fight for good music, done properly. If I must continue to fight for that, I shall tolerate my unflattering reputation of being ‘hard to handle.’
Anyway, I’ve just celebrated my sixth anniversary with my first and only husband. At this moment, he’s down on the beach hunting shell fish, which he insists are good to eat, and my caravan neighbors insist just as strongly are poisonous. To return to the point, my husband and I are very happy people.
He evidently doesn’t believe the stories he reads. He says I’m an ‘elegant’ cook, and feels that I’m a gay and home-loving companion. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what gives me the greatest joy.
Another little matter that I’d like to take up is a statement that I am the
richest singer in America, If that, is true, I pity the other singers. As a result of this printed misinformation, I have been deluged with requests for aid by people in need. Needless to say, it is impossible for anyone to meet all these requests. The fact is that – as in the case of many other stars – Uncle Sam and the State of California take such thorough care of any money I might have left after paying expenses that I’ve had to save
my pennies for years in order to build my first American home in Brentwood, out here.
And while I’m offering this defence against things in general, I might as well take up the stories I’ve been reading about my losing my voice. Why is it every time a singer gets the
‘flu.’ or a bad cold, and has to cancel or postpone a few engagements, stories circulate about her voice? I’ve just finished twenty-five weeks on the radio, and recording five operatic scenes for ‘I’ll Take Romance,’ and I’m still feeling very fit.
I get tired and get a cold at times, like other folks; and the voice must rest and gain new vitality. So I just have to conform to the rule of giving it a rest when this situation arises.
To me, my voice has always been like a religion. God gives voices, whether for speaking or singing send a message of loveliness through the words and melodies of great music, or the medium of the spoken word. I sing because it is the most natural expression I have. I pray I shall always be able to sing my songs, even when I’m an old lady, and the glory and freshness are gone. There will be deep memories and gratitude behind the words and melody, always.
Transcribed by Rhett Bartlett