Vickie Lester follows Anita Loos’ advice (kinda) on how to avoid having a nervous breakdown

That clever, forever young, Anita Loos said a lot of memorable things. She spoke in one hilarious essay about stress relief and what it boiled down to was a suggestion to take up needlepoint or knitting. When I get stressed I like to walk with friends. Lanier of SCENTS MEMORY | There is nothing like the smell of a man is that tall presence on the right. I, small and unnaturally blonde (come on, at my age!) am on the left. We’re walking along the top of the Mulholland Dam, the concrete behemoth that keeps the water in Lake Hollywood. Moby’s former house (Wolf’s Lair) is off in the distance to the far right.

lane tibbs for vickielester.comThis is the dam in the 1930s

Mulholland_Dam3 2And this is Miss Anita Loos with her dear friend Cecil Beaton taking a walk on the beach in the 1930s. An excerpt from her work on stress management is below the photograph.

16-jan-1930-photo-shows-anita-loos-the-noted-authoress-and-cecil-beaton-artist-at-palm-beach-florida-corbis 2I worked for many years in the nerve-racking atmosphere of Hollywood and, later on, in the equally frantic environs of Broadway. But I have yet to visit a psychoanalyst or even take my first tranquilizing pill…

During the 1930s I went to California, where I spent 18 years in the scenario department at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was a period when MGM dominated the entire Hollywood scene because of the genius of Irving Thalberg, who headed the organization.

Irving was so great a perfectionist that we often used to work on a movie script for as long as five years. Most of the time was spent waiting for conferences with Irving, whose duties, both as executive head of the great studio and as inspiration to a waiting staff of more than 100 authors, were staggering.

Sometimes a writer would be forced to wait for months before Irving was available for a conference. Such periods were frustrating, and, sitting outside Irving’s office, other writers used to chafe with impatience or gradually disintegrate through boredom.

I, however, put my previous medical discovery (needlepoint) to good use. But because needlepoint required too large an assortment of yarn, I took to knitting. While waiting for conferences on a script I wrote for Jean Harlow titled “Red-Headed Woman,” I knitted a scarf which, when you consider the time I put in on it and the $3,500-a-week salary I was being paid by MGM, could have been valued at about $85,000. But as long-range therapy it was worth that sum.

Anita Loos

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    • February 8, 2014

      Because she had moxie, brains, talent, wit, and everlasting vivacity? (Okay. She’s pretty much my heroine too, but DAMN she had incredibly bad taste in men!)

      • February 8, 2014

        Oh right. I forgot about that part.

        Well, that just means she’s human.

      • February 8, 2014

        He was such a toad. But, she remained fabulous. I’m reading “Fate Keeps Happening”, autobiographical essays… 🙂

    February 8, 2014

    die mae west ever write about stress management, I wonder?

    • February 8, 2014

      “Between two evils, I generally like to pick the one I never tried before.” Mae West
      Although, I think it might have something more to do with this…
      “I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.” Mae West

        February 8, 2014

        a fave:
        “I made myself platinum, but I was born a dirty blonde”.

        she must have been a natural force of a woman. I admire her very much, and I think that she might not have noticed such mundane things like stress, in her artificial loud glory (it had such power, it had to come from inside, so she probably wasn’t easy to stress out)

      • February 8, 2014

        And this helped… “Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere.”

  2. February 8, 2014

    if she’d had better taste, she may not have been able to write for a living 😉

    • February 8, 2014

      Amen to that sister! So often great wit is born from being too close to a dim-wit.

      • February 8, 2014

        or a useful distraction so that one can get On with the business of being a writer 😉

  3. February 8, 2014

    Ah Miss Lester, what a day that was for us. The perfect walk, talk, and company. Spending time with you and Mr. Lester and the Kid was the best part of my visit to my old hometown.

  4. February 9, 2014

    Knitting, walking, stress….yes, but does anyone else think Cecil has shapely legs?

    • February 10, 2014

      And, check out their shoes! His, balletic lace-ups that compliment his calves, and hers those diagonal strap flats. I want both!

      • February 10, 2014

        Oh yes, I longed for the balletic lace-ups.

  5. February 12, 2014

    My goodness I never knew Beaton was so thin.A clear ectomorph who could have been a-before-for a Charles Atlas course.I would have missed the ballet pumps had they not been pointed out by others.

  6. March 28, 2015

    How nice to revisit this wonderful post again…. time is coming for a walk along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. It features water too.

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