A fascinating article appeared on the Bahá’í Teachings Website on Wednesday. Like many others I never realised that the movie star Carole Lombard was a Bahá’í. Her example resonates particularly strongly as a corrective to current acquisitive and ego-driven patterns of stardom. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.
You may know Carole Lombard as an icon of cinema, one of the greatest actresses of all time—but do you know anything about her spiritual life?
The American Film Institute named her one of the greatest American female screen legends. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress before her stellar career was tragically cut short at 33 in an airline crash. Today you can find hundreds of videos, websites, books and blogs that celebrate not only Carole’s famed career, but also her devoted marriage to Clark Gable, her indomitable spirit and admirable character. While many people know Carole Lombard for her artistic skill, her integrity and her legendary kindness, few people know that Carole Lombard was a Baha’i.
That will change now, because a just-released documentary about her remarkable life—called “Carole Lombard”—reveals new discoveries about the great actress’s inmost reality.
Carole Lombard’s star shone brightest during some of the darkest days in world history. In the 1930s, while millions of people around the globe struggled to survive under the crushing weight of the Great Depression and the rise of dictatorships, movies became a favorite escape from life’s trials and tribulations. At the top of the public’s must-see list: screwball comedies and Carole Lombard, the queen of the comedic genre.
During the Great Depression, issues of money and class rose to the forefront of the world’s consciousness. Screwball comedies addressed those issues by playing with class differences—elevating the poor, satirizing the rich and letting them mix in ways they rarely did in real life. Elegant but accessible, beautiful yet unpretentious, lovable and wacky, Lombard fostered a strong sense of identification with her audience. Her fans recognized in her the small-town girl who had made good despite the odds, and, by 1937, their embrace of her made Carole one of the world’s most popular actresses and the highest-paid star in Hollywood. The press widely reported on her unheard-of and heavily-taxed salary of $450,000 a year from Paramount. Carole said:
I get 13 cents on the dollar and I know it. So I don’t figure that I’ve earned a dollar, I figure that I’ve earned 13 cents. And that is all right with me, too. We still don’t starve in the picture business after we’ve divided with the government. Taxes go to build schools, to maintain the public utilities we all use, so why not?
Carole’s comments earned her effusive praise, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent her a personal letter of commendation for her stand on the fairness of taxing the wealthy, which, he said, would serve as an example and inspiration for millions of taxpaying Americans.