Versatility Keeps Irene Dunne Beautiful, Popular, Ageless
by Lydia Lane
HOLLYWOOD, Feb.21 -- Irene Dunne is frequently referred to as the first lady of Hollywood. Her career has been a long one and she has remained a star -- no secondary roles for her. Her marriage has been equally sucessful. Her interests outside of her career have been varied and exemplary.
How does she manage to do so many things so well and remain looking beautiful and ageless? A producer, who was running some of her old films, told me, "It's amazing but she is younger and more attractive now than she was 20 years ago."
I repeated this to Miss Dunne one chilly afternoon as we sipped tea in a cozy room of her stately house.
"I'm sure you are weary of people asking you where you have hidden the foutain of youth," I said.
Here's the Secret
Miss Dunne smiled, "The secret in one word is VERSATILITY -- mentally and physically. Keep your spine flexible as well as your point of view. There is nothing which will age you like a rigid mind and a rigid body. It's taboo to say or even think 'I can't do this at my age.' There is something for every age."
It is obvious what Miss Dunne does keep her mind fexible but I was eager to know of a routine for a supple body.
Miss Dunne exclaimed "Part of it is to get an image of your spine - picture it as something not adhering to your body but as a chain of flexible vertebrae. And learn to stand on your head.
"Too many people confuse youth or the lack of it, with wrinkles. But to me it is more than a smooth complexion -- it is an expression on a face which includes vitality, enthusiasm and participation in life.
Interests Mean Youth
"Accent your interests and you can't miss accenting your youth," Miss Dunne said, explaining that she has worked out what she laughingly refers to as the seven deadly sins. "If you don't want to grow old you have to avoid these."
"When you look back on your life what has been most helpful in your climb to the top?" I asked.
Irene arranged the folds of her sapphire velvet hostess gown before she said, "Concentration. You begin with yourself and a desire for expression. Dig in and find out what YOU want. Don't let others influence you. Be realistic and recognize your limitations. Don't aspire for grand opera if you have a night club voice. Once you KNOW what you want you are ready for hard work and discipline. With application, concentration and horse sense, you should achieve your goal. But to stay on top you must be natural. You can't allow success to have destructive influences."
I wanted to know how she managed success in marriage.
"You get out of a marriage what you put into it," she said. "The most valuable lesson is to give as well as to take. It is up to a wife how successfully she can combine activity in the home and outside of it, how much her husband becomes interested in her activities."
As Miss Dunne sat there so poised and serene I wondered what she would answer to: "What is the biggest thing you've to overcome?"
"When I was a student, I had a violent temper -- I would get into such a rage I would throw things."
"How did you conquer this?"
"By being objective, by trying to see how silly I must seem every time I lost my temper."
"What alienates you in others?" I asked.
"A superficial point of view -- a person who takes up your time with talk which amounts to nothing but air."
"What is the most valuable lesson you've learned in Hollywood?"
Gossip Is Vicious
Miss Dunne took time out to think before she answered: "The viciousness of gossip. I'm not interested in tearing down anyone's reputation or in listening to someone else do it." Irene smiled, "I have one friend who is very nice in many ways but she claims I exasperate her because I will never let her tell me the latest gossip. 'Don't you have any curiosity?'she scolds."
"What do you consider your top glamour secret?"
"Not being aware of glamour," Irene quickly replied. "Once you have left your dressing room, forget yourself. A famous designer in Paris told me that the most effective models have almost a disdain for the clothes they are wearing. If the enter a room thinking how wonderfully they are dressed, they make a very bad impression."
As my final question I asked: "What compliment do you cherish the most?"
After a thoughful pause Miss Dunne confinded:" It's something Monsignor Sheen once said introducing me. 'I have often wished Mrs. Griffin would tell me how old she is.' The audience was horrified until he added: "Because then I would knew at what age a woman becomes most beautiful."
(Oakland Tribune, Sunday, Feb. 22, 1953)