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About this time Frank Lloyd, the great director, was looking for a girl to play the flapper in Black Oxen. He had looked at everybody almost on the screen and tested them, but he had not found exactly what he wanted and finally somebody suggested me to him. I shall never forget the kind way he received me. He didn't do as most people had done in Hollywood, try to make me think I didn't have a chance and that they were doing me a favor when they let me work in their pictures. When I came into his office a big smile came over his face and he looked just tickled to death. And he told me instantly that I was just what he wanted.

Of all the people in motion pictures I owe the most to Frank Lloyd, for the chance he gave me to establish myself as the screen flapper in Black Oxen, for the direction he gave me which showed me entirely new vistas in screen acting - and to Elinor Glyn, for the way she taught me to bring out my personality, and the way she concentrated her great word "It" upon me.

All this time I was "running wild," I guess, in the sense of trying to have a good time. I'd never had any fun in my life, as you know. And I was just a kid, under twenty, with a background of grief and poverty that I've tried to make you understand, even though I've had to bare my whole soul to do it. Why, I'd never been to a real party, a real dance. I'd never had a beautiful dress to wear, never had anyone send me flowers. It was like a new world to me, and I just drank it all in with that immense capacity of youth for understanding and loving excitement, I tried to make up for all my barren, hungry, starved-for-beauty years in no time at all.

Maybe this was a good thing, because I suppose a lot of that excitement, that joy of life, got onto the screen, and was the sort of flame of youth that made people enjoy seeing me. A philosopher might call it the swing of the pendulum, from my early years of terror and lack, to this time when all the pleasures of the world opened before me.

Just about this time I met Victor Fleming, who directed me in several pictures.

Victor Fleming is a wonderful man. You have no idea how wonderful he is because the public scarcely knows about directors at all. But he is a man, older a great deal than I am, and very strong. He knows the world, he has cultivated a great sense of values through living, and he is deeply cultured. I liked him at once, though I didn't feel in the least romantic about him.

But soon we became great friends and he had a tremendous and very fine influence on my life. He grew fond of me at once. And he began, with his strong intellect and understanding of life, to guide me in little ways. He showed me that life must be lived, not just for the moment, but for the years. He showed me what a future I might have as an actress, because I had made a place for myself that people seemed to want. He was very patient, and he taught me a great deal. He formed a lot of ideas that were running around in my mind.

Mr. Shulberg had gone into Paramount and taken my contract, which he had signed a while before, with him. So I was working for Paramount, and they were beginning to do things for me and I could see that I was important to them. If looked as though if I made good in the chances they gave me I would be a big star. So I began at that time to be subject to flattery, to people who had never paid any attention to me coming around to tell me how wonderful I was, to getting a salary that I didn't in the least know how to spend or invest.

Under all this I use to feel a little lost. I'd wake up in the morning and like the old woman in the nursery rhyme I'd wonder if this "could be really I." I think that sense of things kept me from ever getting fatheaded, as the youngsters I know say. But it all had to be coped with.

And in this crisis I learned to find the advice and companionship of a man like Victor Fleming invaluable. You couldn't deceive him with any false glitter. He steered me straight a lot of times when I was going "haywire."

And gradually our friendship seemed to deepen until it became the great thing in both our lives. I think he cared for me because he knew how much I wanted to get happiness out of life, and yet how frightened, in a way, I was of it, -- and still am for that matter. Life has been so good to me. And yet, even now, with all I see before me, I cannot quite trust life. It did too may awful things to me in my youth. I still feel that I must beat it, grab everything quickly, enjoy the moment to the utmost, because tomorrow, life may bludgeon me down, as it did my mother, as it used to do to the people I lived with in Brooklyn when I was a kid.

I had had a pretty good education, in spite of lacks in other ways, and while Victor Fleming and I were engaged - we became engaged about that time - I began to read again, and to enjoy music, and to grow calmer about many things.

I was very happy. I was gradually growing more and more successful in my work. I loved it. There is one thing I must say about my work as a picture star. I have worked very hard. I've been at the studio terribly long hours. I've had very little time between pictures. It would probably amaze anyone to see how much of my life the last four years has been spent on a motion picture set. But I've loved it.

Perhaps the difference in age brought about the severing of the tie between Victor Fleming and me, though we are still the best of friends. Perhaps the feeling I had grown so gradually and under such circumstances that there wasn't quite enough romance in it. I was young and I needed romance. Perhaps even he found that I didn't give him the sort of companionship he needed.

Anyway, our feeling for each other became more and more that of close friendship and less and less that of lovers. Until finally we agreed that it would be best that way, to be friends, nothing more.


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