DO NOT be so bloody vulnerable

It was in 1935 that movie stars Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich first spoke, thanks to an unexpected phone call from Dietrich in which she complimented him on his starring role in The Scoundrel. For the next 38 years, until Coward’s death, they remained close friends and wrote regularly, the topic of discussion often Dietrich’s complicated love life. In 1956, she sent him a downbeat letter and detailed a disastrous flight with her drunken on-off lover of five years, Yul “Curly” Brynner–just the latest depressing “episode” of many. This wasn’t the first time Coward had been told of such events, and he clearly couldn’t bear to see Dietrich suffer any longer. This was his stern reply.

(Source: The Letters of Noël Coward; Image: Dietrich and Coward in 1937, via.)

The Letter

Firefly Hill
Port Maria
Jamaica B.W.I.

Oh, darling,

Your letter filled me with such a lot of emotions, the predominant one being rage that you should allow yourself to be so humiliated and made so unhappy by a situation that really isn’t worthy of you. I loathe to think of you apologizing and begging forgiveness and humbling yourself. I don’t care if you did behave badly for a brief moment, considering all the devotion and loving you have given out during the last five years, you had a perfect right to. The only mistake was not to have behaved a great deal worse a long time ago. The aeroplane journey sounds a nightmare to me.

It is difficult for me to wag my finger at you from so very far away particularly as my heart aches for you but really darling you must pack up this nonsensical situation once and for all. It is really beneath your dignity, not your dignity as a famous artist and a glamourous star, but your dignity as a human, only too human, being. Curly is attractive, beguiling, tender and fascinating, but he is not the only man in the world who merits those delightful adjectives…Do please try to work out for yourself a little personal philosophy and DO NOT, repeat DO NOT be so bloody vulnerable. To hell with God damned “L’Amour.” It always causes far more trouble than it is worth. Don’t run after it. Don’t court it. Keep it waiting off stage until you’re good and ready for it and even then treat it with the suspicious disdain that it deserves…I am sick to death of you waiting about in empty houses and apartments with your ears strained for the telephone to ring. Snap out of it, girl! A very brilliant writer once said (could it have been me?) “Life is for the living.” Well that is all it is for, and living DOES NOT consist of staring in at other people’s windows and waiting for crumbs to be thrown to you. You’ve carried on this hole in corner, overcharged, romantic, unrealistic nonsense long enough.

Stop it Stop it Stop it. Other people need you…Stop wasting your time on someone who only really says tender things to you when he’s drunk…

Unpack your sense of humor, and get on with living and ENJOY IT.

Incidentally, there is one fairly strong-minded type who will never let you down and who loves you very much indeed. Just try to guess who it is. XXXX. Those are not romantic kisses. They are un-romantic. Loving “Goose-Es.”

Your devoted “Fernando de Lamas”