“There’s nothing tragic about being fifty. Not unless you’re trying to be twenty-five.”*
I suggest we watch Sunset Boulevard (1950) in her honor. Gloria was 51 (!) when she made this movie about a has-been silent movie star. You know: “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”
Gloria is pretty great in it. She plays the part of Norma Desmond with great gusto to be sure. She was nominated for an Oscar, but lost out to Judy Holliday in her first movie–quelle ironic. Also nominated that year was Bette Davis–also chewing the scenery as a fading star in All About Eve. It’s funny how that works out sometimes.
Anyway, William Holden, a favorite of mine, is also in the film playing the part of a hack screenwriter who writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity. He was nominated too, along with Erich von Stroheim and Nancy Olson in supporting parts. Billy Wilder won for story & screenplay, but not for direction. The film won for art direction and for music. It lost the Best Picture prize to All About Eve.
Side note: The Third Man won that year for cinematography but nothing else. This was also the year The Furies–another favorite of mine–was nominated for cinematography. Quite a year for black and white movies! And whoever said they didn’t write good parts for women in mid-century America? All the aforementioned films had dynamite parts for middle-aged actresses.
So a toast to Gloria Swanson, actress and Episcopalian (although a lifelong Lutheran, she is buried at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest on Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side.)
Have a great weekend!
* Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard (1950)