In light of International Women's Day, I wanted to write a mini blog post about the women who inspire me, except I had no idea how much I loved those women and it turned into a huge blog post, Bettie Page, Lucille Ball, just to name a few have had such a huge impact on my life. Bettie Page, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, Page lived in California in her early adult years before moving to New York City to pursue work as an actress. There, she began to find work as a pin-up model, and posed for dozens of photographers throughout the 1950's.
At a young age, Bettie had to face the responsibilities of caring for her younger siblings. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old. Bettie and her two sisters lived in a Protestant orphanage for a year. During this time, Bettie's mother worked two jobs, one as a hairdresser during the day and washing laundry at night.
As a person who aspires to be successful in everything I do, Bettie Page's early life is very important to me. Bettie was a great student and a member of the debate team at Hume-Fogg High School, she was voted "Most Likely to Succeed". On June 6, 1940, she graduated as the salutatorian of her high school class with a scholarship. She enrolled at George Peabody College, with the intention of becoming a teacher. However, the next fall she began studying acting, hoping to become a movie star. At the same time, she got her first job, typing for author Alfred Leland Crabb. Page graduated from Peabody with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1944.
In 1950, while walking alone along the Coney Island shore, Bettie met NYPD Officer Jerry Tibbs, who was an avid photographer. He suggested she'd make a good pin-up model. It was Officer Tibbs who suggested to Bettie that she style her hair with bangs in front, to keep light from reflecting off her high forehead when being photographed.
I could go on about Bettie Page for hours, but really what is the most inspiring to me is really just how intelligent she was. Beauty and brains, she wasn't just a pretty face and I love that. she broke the rules to be who she wanted to be. Lucille Ball, another absolutely stunning woman with intelligence just radiating out of her is someone I think about on a daily basis.
CBS executives were reluctant, thinking the public would not accept an All-American redhead and a Cuban as a couple. CBS was initially not impressed with the pilot episode produced by the couple's Desilu Productions company, so the couple toured the road in a vaudeville act with Lucy as the zany housewife wanting to get in Arnaz's show. The tour was a great success, and CBS put I Love Lucy into their lineup. The I Love Lucy show was not only a star vehicle for Lucille Ball, but also a way for her to try to salvage her marriage to Desi Arnaz, which had become badly strained, in part by both having hectic performing schedules which often kept them apart.
Lucy was the first woman in television to be head of a production company: Desilu, the company that Arnaz and she formed. After their divorce, Lucy bought out Arnaz's share of the studio, and she proceeded to function as a very active studio head. Lucille Ball was quoted as saying, "You cannot teach someone comedy; either they have it or they don't."
During the mid-1980s, Ball attempted to resurrect her television career. In 1982 she hosted a two-part Three's Company retrospective, showing clips from the show's first five seasons, summarizing memorable plot lines, and commenting on her love of the show. A 1985 dramatic made-for-TV film about an elderly homeless woman, Stone Pillow, received mixed reviews. In February 1988, Ball was named the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year.
Lucy's last public appearance, just one month before her death, was at the 1989 Academy Awards telecast in which she and fellow presenter, Bob Hope, were given a standing ovation. Lucy is one of my biggest acting inspirations since it's something I truly love doing. She lived a full life doing what she loved at that is something else that inspires me, similarly to Audrey Hepburn.
Audrey Hepburn was a British actress as well as a humanitarian. Recognized as a film and fashion icon, Hepburn was active during Hollywood's Golden Age. She was ranked by the American Film Institute as the third greatest female screen legend in Golden Age Hollywood and was inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.
In the Italian-set Roman Holiday , Hepburn had her first starring role as Princess Anne, an incognito European princess who, escaping the reins of royalty, falls in love with an American newsman. While producers initially wanted Elizabeth Taylor for the role, director William Wyler was so impressed by Hepburn's screen test that he cast her in the lead. Wyler later commented, "She had everything I was looking for: charm, innocence, and talent. She also was very funny. She was absolutely enchanting and we said, 'That's the girl!'
In her last years, she remained a visible presence in the film world. She received a tribute from the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 1991 and was a frequent presenter at the Academy Awards. She received the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. She was the recipient of numerous posthumous awards including the 1993 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and competitive Grammy and Emmy Awards. Much like Audrey Hepburn, another woman I adore was a wonderful Humanitarian, Elizabeth Taylor.
Much like Audrey, Elizabeth Taylor was also a British-American actress, businesswoman and humanitarian. She began as a child actress in the early 1940's, and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950's. She continued her career successfully into the 1960's, and remained a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. The American Film Institute named her the seventh greatest female screen legend in 1999.
Elizabeth made the transition to adult roles in 1950, the year she turned eighteen. Her first mature role was playing a woman who begins to suspect that her husband is a Soviet spy in the thriller Conspirator. Taylor had been only sixteen at the time of its filming, but its release was delayed until March 1950, as MGM disliked it and feared it could cause diplomatic problems
Taylor's next film release, George Stevens' A Place in the Sun (1951), marked a departure from her earlier films. According to Taylor, it was the first film in which she had been asked to act instead of simply being herself, and it brought her critical acclaim for the first time since National Velvet.Based on Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy (1925), it featured Taylor as a spoiled socialite who comes between a poor factory worker and his girlfriend. Stevens cast Taylor as she was "the only one ... who could create this illusion" of being "not so much a real girl as the girl on the candy-box cover, the beautiful girl in the yellow Cadillac convertible that every American boy sometime or other thinks he can marry."
Elizabeth Taylor said "I decided that with my name I could open certain doors, that I was a commodity in myself—and I'm not talking as an actress. I could take the fame I'd resented and tried to get away from for so many years—but you can never get away from it—and use it to do some good. I wanted to retire, but the tabloids wouldn't let me. So I thought, If you're going to screw me over, I'll use you." Taylor was honored with several awards for her philanthropic work. She was made a Knight of the French Legion of Honor in 1987 and received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993, the Screen Actors' Guild Lifetime Achievement Award for Humanitarian service in 1997, the GLAAD Vanguard Award in 2000 and the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001.
Those are just a handful of the amazing women who inspire me everyday. I could write for hours, days, if not weeks or months about all of the women who have helped to sculpt me into the person I am today, even if they don't know what they've done for me.