My Latest Affair with Shirley MacLaine

From “The Many Loves of Writingbolt”



Ah, Shirley MacLaine. I hardly know you. But, please accept the Terms of my Endearment. I know you’re considerably older on paper, but don’t turn to Steel, yet, Magnolia. [I know I wrote something earlier about Irma la Douce but can’t–for whatever reason–find it.]

As I sit here gazing at your picture, I ask myself…what IS your natural/real hair color?  And, why haven’t we met sooner? Or, maybe we have. No, I think I’d remember that unique face of yours, those smiling, cunning eyes, that pixie nose and those delicate lips. Yet, I can think of one person I met in high school who now reminds me of you.

When I first became acquainted, you were a small sprite with short reddish hair and a nice voice, already showing signs of aging and talking about reincarnation. Coming from my religious background, this, of course, sparked stern stares and muttered judgements which steered me away from your movies. Cripes. I was a just a kid when you were romancing Jack Nicholson. And, I had no interest in seeing you with the guy who I last saw chasing people through a haunted hotel.

But, within the past year, I have exposed myself to two of what may be new favorite movies. In both, you don’t seem small, at all, and have dark brown hair most of the time. You could say I’ve fallen for you twice. If nothing else, they are glorious catalogs of colorful costumes and some odd hairdos, two of my favorite subjects to share with women.

You are quite the mistress…a nymph, Geisha or prostitute. At least, on film. You flutter in and out of famous men’s lives, ever the enchanting companion with zany bursts of wit. And, you do it all without the gratuitous sex scenes of more recent films. By the time the story ends, I forget what I am doing and fear for my sanity. Are you the Blossom of my Bliss? Or, have I been Bewitched?

Oh, Shirley, that name does not suit you. But, seriously, without it, who would you be? Obviously, someone else. Maybe a Jean. Maybe a Kelly (though I’d prefer the former).

I get scared when I see the way you describe yourself. One of the Used People? A Desperate Character? What was the Turning Point in your life? Are you so lost that you’re just Waiting for the Light, sending Postcards from the Edge?

Surely, Madame, you have the capacity to make me feel like a creative Newman. Or, are the characters you portray nothing like the real you? If what I read of your astrology is accurate, the characters I have seen are not far off. I know you were not Winterbourne, Ms. Taurus Dog. But, what the movies seem to miss or make light of are the negative aspects, the potential for possessiveness, judgmental/fickle behavior, stubbornness, distrust and hypochondria. Traits that could manifest in myself. Does that make us mirror enemies or sympathetic soul mates?

If I were to get swept up in your whimsical essence and end up just one of many lovers, I might be blessed with stories of traveling the world and fulfilling our wildest dreams. Or, I might be a sad, penniless Lemmon on some street corner in France. But, What a Way to Go.

Send a little Sweet Charity my way, please. Paint me a masterpiece. Put on one of those wonderful costumes and join me for a spin on the dance floor. Fly me to the moon. Pour me a champagne glass overflowing with your bubbly charm. Color me pink with joy. Sit with me on the chaise longue beneath the Evening Star and share your fantasies. Remind me the importance of being humble before we strike it rich with love.

Writingbolt, your newly infatuated fan

P.S. Stop Wrestling Ernest Hemmingway and step into the ring with me.




Images (from left to right):  Relatively how I first recall seeing her as a kid…How I fell in love with her from my first movie viewing of her earlier years in film…How she recently appeared on Downton Abbey

What a Way to Go, 1964, featuring Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, Dean Martin, etc. In this film, Shirley is an eccentric widow telling a male therapist tales of all the husbands that died and left her rich. Paul Newman is a crazed painter who uses machinery to make his masterpieces according to the records he plays. Shirley has a fabulous collection of costumes and some odd hairdos.

Irma la Douce, featuring Jack Lemmon. In this film, Shirley is a bubbly, semi-naive prostitute in France, known for her straight face. She crosses romantic paths with a cop. Their interaction eventually costs him his job, forcing him to adopt a secret identity, elude a dangerous pimp and win her back from himself with the help of a mysterious bartender.

Sweet Charity, 1969, featuring Ricardo Montalban and Chita Rivera (among others). In this film built around a Bob Fosse musical, Shirley is a somewhat naive redhead, a diehard optimist and “hostess” at one of the lesser “gentleman’s clubs” in New York who likes to tell tall tales when life throws her another lemon. After being pitched off a bridge by the man who tattooed his name on her arm, she hooks up with a wealthy Italian actor and, later, a complicated shy guy in the insurance business named Oscar who almost marries her. [Oscar and I seem quite similar. There’s an alternate ending on the DVD I found, along with a few other interesting bonus features.]


2 Responses to “My Latest Affair with Shirley MacLaine”

  1. December 3, 2015 at 4:29 am

    I love Shirley MacLaine! Most recently I saw her in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty- I think she’s brilliant and hilarious, although I haven’t seen any of her older stuff! 😀

    • December 3, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      I wasn’t sure about that movie. I thought it might be depressing.

      You gotta check out the older films. She has plenty more energy and charm. In her later films, she has slowed down substantially but still has that sparkle of warmth and wit.

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