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It was hard for me to believe. I kept thinking they'd change their minds and every time the postman stopped at our door my heart stopped beating. They told me the judges had picked me because I was "different" and had a unique personality.

I went back to high school and told them. The girls only laughed at me. Oh, how they laughed. They just decided that any beauty contest I could win must be a bum one. Every time they looked at me they giggled and giggled. So I decided not to go to school any more. It hurt to be laughed at. I thought maybe they would be glad.

Then began a terribly hard time. I guess all contests are like that. For weeks, nothing happened. I waited and waited. I haunted the office. Panic was growing inside of me, driving me crazy. After all I had been through, all my great joy, was this going to be a failure?

But at last I hung around so much they decided to get me a job to get rid of me. Or maybe they really meant to all the time and were just busy. Christy Cabanne was making a picture with Billy Dove as the star. They took me over to him and explained the situation and he took one look at me and almost had a fit.

"Don't tell me she won a beauty contest," he said.

It almost broke my heart.

Anyway, he agreed to give me a small part.

But there was another stumbling block. I had to have four dresses to play the part and I had to furnish them myself. I didn't have four dresses. I didn't have one dress. Dad didn't have any money - yes, he had enough to buy about half a dress. So then I did something I'd never done before. I put my pride in my pocket and for the first and last and only time I went to some of my relatives for help.

I had an aunt in New York who was rich. They had a beautiful home and one of the girls had made a good marriage and the son was in Wall Street or something. I had never been in their house, but I went. I told my aunt the whole story. I didn't need much and I would pay it back out of the first salary I got. It was my big chance and it looked like I was going to lose it because I didn't have four dresses.

She put me out of the house.

While I was walking away, just sunk, I heard footsteps behind me and somebody called my name. It was her son, my cousin. He didn't know me at all, but he had heard our conversation. He was interested in pictures, and he didn't think about them as his mother did.

"I don't think you've got a chance, kid," he said, but I like your spirit. Here's all the change I've got."

He handed me eighty dollars.

Eighty dollars may not sound much to buy four dresses. It wasn't. But it was so much more than nothing. I went to a second hand place, to a wholesale place, and I got four dresses. I know now they must have been pretty terrible. But then I thought they were magnificent.

The next day I went to the studio ready to work.

I had never put on a make-up. While I was doing the tests for the contest they had an actress who made up all the girls. Now I had to go alone. But I was encouraged when they put me in a dressing room with four other girls. I thought surely they would help me. But they didn't. They just laughed. They said, "Go ahead and learn like the rest of us did."

Sometimes I wonder about things like that. Most of the people in pictures are so kind. It seemed as though fate were just throwing everything in my way, giving me every possible obstacle. I don't think those girls meant to be unkind. They were careless and self-centered. Most of the unkindness in the world comes from thoughtlessness. I am sure of that.

I did the best I could. When I came on the set Mr. Cabanne thought I had gone crazy. I looked like a clown. I tell you I didn't have to use any cold cream to take that grease paint off. I washed it off with good hot tears. The next day I watched the other girls and learned a little and got by all right.

My part wasn't very big but I had about five scenes. In one of them I was suppose to cry. Mr. Cabanne didn't seem to think I could, but I did. It was always easy for me to cry. All I had to do was think of home. He said I had done it well and it seemed to please him. After that he was kinder, and helped me.


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