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.
I 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.