seeking the truth -- 11/27/15

Today's selection -- from Marilyn and Me by Susan Strasberg. Susan Strasburg, daughter of famed acting instructor Lee Strasburg, had her star turn on Broadway originating the role of Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank. Nominated for a Tony Award at the age of 18, she became the youngest actress to star on Broadway with her name above the marquee title. Here she recounts seeking feedback from award-winning actor Sir Laurence Olivier:

"As much as I loved doing Anne Frank, it now overwhelmed me. After a year and a half the high emotional pitch of the performance had taken a toll on my energy and psyche. I was getting every germ that floated into Manhattan. I was losing weight, unable to eat. The year before, [Lee Strasburg student] Marilyn [Monroe] had brought Laurence Olivier to see the play. Afterward he'd been very complimentary. As we were taking publicity photos, all smiling our best airline stewardess smiles, I'd pleaded, "Please, Sir Laurence ..."

" 'Larry,' he'd insisted.

" 'Please ... Sir ... Larry, tell me what you really thought.' He cleared his throat. 'Well, dear child,' he'd said precisely, 'half the effort would have had twice the effect.'

"I was devastated. My smile evaporated, as did his. The flash popped, and the moment was stamped indelibly on film, and on my ego. Marilyn came to my defense. 'She does that because she cares. She wants the people who came to see her to get their money's worth.' I was grateful to her.

"It was true I'd asked, but he didn't have to tell me. He was supposed to be an English gentleman. I knew how the actress felt who had screamed at my father backstage after her opening night, 'How dare you come back here and tell me the truth?' "


Susan Strasberg


Marilyn and Me: Sisters, Rivals, Friends


Time Warner Paperbacks


Copyright 1992 by Susan Strasberg


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