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Anne Bancroft Tells Her Secret (The Spokesman-Review, December 1960)

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington); 18 Dec. 1960; pg. 40.

Author: Lydia Lane

NEW YORK–When I remarked at a cocktail party that I was visiting Anne Bancroft the next day, my hostess said, “I’ve seen The Miracle Worker seven times. I think she’s the greatest actress since Sarah Bernhardt.” A producer said, “Annie is kookie but not a kook.” While a young actress standing with him said, “She certainly goes out looking as if she hadn’t looked into the mirror.” 

With my head full of these remarks, I arrived at Miss Bancroft’s apartment to find her wearing a chic purple suit with a green and purple blouse, which matched the lining of her jacket. She seemed to have a radiance about her that she didn’t have the last time we met. 

“Five years ago in our last interview, we discussed a bad skin. It looks beautiful now,” I exclaimed.

“I have found the great products,” Anne revealed. “They come from France and regularly, once a week, I have a facial. With this method, you must study the muscles’ structure and the skin, and you vary the preparations with what the skin needs. I think you have to be careful about facials, because if they are not given the right way, they can do more harm than good.”

“It is so good to find you happy and contented. What’s happened to you?” I asked.

Discovery of Self:

“I have matured, and I have worked for the ‘discovery of self.’ I have had the help of a wonderful analyst,” Anne confided, “and he made me realize that many of my problems arose from prolonged adolescence. In becoming an individual, you have to find out what you enjoy, not what you think you enjoy. All kinds of conflicts arise from not really knowing what you want. You have to train yourself to be aware, to examine the activity in your life and eliminate as much as possible what does not bring you joy.”

“Getting to know yourself, facing yourself with honesty, means you have to adjust to reality. A lot of unhappiness comes from demanding more of yourself than you can give. There comes a great deal of peace in realizing your limitations.”

“I’m beginning to learn to be wise with my energy and not to think it is limitless. I used to waste it, like letting a water faucet run without turning it off. I had to educate myself to recognize signs of tension. I was tense all the time but I didn’t realize it. I was always in a keyed-up state. I have a long way to go, but as the old saying goes, ‘If you can’t stop the rain, you can dress for it.’”

“You know you’ve been criticized for going out in public without seeming to care about the way you look,” I mentioned.

“I am quite aware of it,” she replied. “It wasn’t a defiance as many people think it was. It wasn’t that I didn’t value good grooming. I do. I’m interested in fashion, and I buy with a plan and I try as chic as I can and still be comfortable.”

No Glamourous Hair-Do:

“But every night during Miracle I get a pitcher of water thrown on my hair. If I go out after the show, I cannot have a glamorous hair-do. I simply must pull it back as neatly as possible. All this talk about my being sloppy started when I was working on Two for the Seesaw. I had gained weight after my unhappy period in Hollywood and I couldn’t wear the clothes I had and I didn’t care to buy any in a larger size. I was so full of the play, of giving every bit of my concentration and energy to my job, that I had no time for grooming. I was aware of this, but I believe in doing first things first.”

“You are very slim now. How did you lose?” I asked.

Lost 30 Pounds:

“It took me three months to drop 30 pounds. I didn’t eat after a show. The food you eat before you go to bed is fattening. I have discovered that I feel well and keep the same weight by having one good well balanced meal at 5 o’clock.”

I told Anne that I liked the perfume she was wearing, and that the scent seemed familiar to me.

Her face lit up and she said, “It’s the first time I’ve found something I like well enough to wear all the time.” 

“You have had so many honors,” I said in parting. “How do you keep from being affected by your success?”

Anne laughed modestly and replied, “To rest on your laurels, you have to believe in them. The things of value, such as self-discipline, self-respect, tenacity, generosity, giving of yourself, cannot be taken away from you. I keep these things in mind and they keep me level-headed.”

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