Loretta Chase on Dumb Blondes in Born Yesterday
The very best thing about writing romance is that I sometimes get to meet someone who changed my life. Someone who made me love romance and love writing and dream of someday, somehow, getting to write a romance myself. This time last year, I had that chance in Boston, MA, when I had dinner with the incomparable, unbelievably talented Loretta Chase, who wrote my very favorite romance novel, Lord of Scoundrels. Mainly I stammered and hemmed and hawed, and I made a general fool of myself, but Loretta was very kind and very patient and pretended not to notice my general fangirling stupidity.
And now she's offered to be a part of Girls Who Wear Glasses, my monthlong celebration of ladies in lenses in honor of the heroine of One Good Earl Deserves a Lover...and she's chosen the very best kind of GWWG -- the dumb blonde who's not so dumb after all.
In Born Yesterday, Judy Holliday plays Billie Dawn, the dumb blonde mistress of junkyard millionaire Harry Brock (played by William Holden), who’s come to Washington, DC to corrupt a few congressmen. Wanting to make the ex-showgirl fit into Washington society, Brock hires journalist Paul Verrall to decrease her stupidity and increase her refinement. It’s a Pygmalion story, yes, and Holliday makes it one you want to see over and over again.
Where to begin with her fabulousness? How about the New York accent and the amazing voice that goes up when you expect it to go down, and deep when you think it’ll go tinny. How about her direct approach to wooing Verrall—and his resisting her advances with the sweetest manly stoicism. Then there’s her self-awareness and lack of pretense. And the sharp, funny dialogue. But for girls who wear glasses, the great moment comes the first time she puts hers on, to read something to Verrall. It’s a seismic shift, in her, in the story, with the simplest message: She’s ready to see.
“You have to be smart to play a dumb blonde over and over and keep the audience's attention without extraordinary physical equipment,” Holliday said. I think she was the best dumb blonde ever, and she was really, really smart.
Thank you so much, Loretta, for joining me! Your turn, readers! We're offering up a copy of Loretta's Silk is for Seduction...for a chance to win, please tell us your favorite classic film in comments! We'll choose one winner on Friday (US Only)!