One of the fun things about blogging is where it can take you
In this case, it took me into the life of someone named Dorothy MacKaill.
Dorothy is the strikingly pretty woman whose stocking-tops enliven the preceding post. I hate to admit it to her shade but all I was doing was looking for a bit of spice to illustrate the "pre-Code" era films and I Googled up her picture.
But from there I had a fun time pursuing Dorothy. Turns out that she was a damn fine actress and a sort of minor-A-lister in the Hollywood of the Twenties and Early Thirties. But she didn't quite make it over the bar. She wasn't re-signed by First National Pictures in 1931 and spent another six years knocking around Tinseltown before hanging 'em up.
But here's where the story actually gets interesting in a maddeningly opaque way.
Safe in Hell (which is where Dotty appears looking so fetching in those stockings) - she got married to a musician, a guy named Miller, and supposedly had decided to make a go of being a good little Thirties wife and live on hubby's income. This seems to have been something of a wash; they were divorced by 1934, with Dotty complaining that Miller had conned her into leaving the film biz.
She sort of drifted around after that for a while. She was back in Britain in 1937 where she made one of the long-running Bulldog Drummond flicks. I can't find where she spent the war years, but was presumably doing something like making O.D. paint for the War Effort. She is said to have spent time taking care of her mother, but there doesn't seem to be a genuinely reliable source for this.
She turns up in Honolulu in the early Fifties, living at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in a setting of convivial solitude. She made a couple of appearances in the old Hawaii Five-Oh series in the Seventies, supposedly as a favor to Jack Lord.
She died in her bed at the Royal Hawaiian in 1990, at the age of 87.
What intrigues me is that Dorothy seems to have been perfectly satisfied with the quiet life she led in the islands, so it must have been perfectly satisfying for her.
But what it was like, who she was like, we do not and cannot know.
That's the fascinatingly elusive things about celebrity. Here's a woman that we can "meet" on the screen. We can see her walking, hear her speak, see how she carries herself; all the sorts of things we associate with people we actually know...and yet, we truly don't know ahything about her. If she chooses - and she did - she can disappear completely. Her life outside of her films, and three television episodes, is a complete blank to us.
She spent forty years doing...something...probably all sorts of things of which we know absolutely nothing.
We have no idea how she filled her days for forty years. Don't know what she liked, what she did, whose company she enjoyed and whose she didn't. Did she love to hike into the forests of the Koolaus? Could she tell an o'hia from a banyan? Was she a regular at the Honolulu Public Library? Did she play golf, or tennis, or rugby, for that matter?
Whatever she did, whoever she did it with, or not, Dorothy seems to have had a long and pleasant time doing it.
And that seems good enough to me.