Thanks, Follies of God!It’s Ruth Gordon’s birthday and the best gift I can offer is to share various samples of her unique wisdom.
So keep moving, and know that it’s gonna happen.
"I’m okay with dissatisfaction, because I look on it as a sign that I’m done with something: It’s time to move on. Life is movement, you know? There is no arriving at a place or a time and then you’re done, unless you’re dead or really stupid or lazy. You keep moving. I’m gonna keep moving. I have things to do. I can only be satisfied with something for the short time that I acknowledge that I did my best and it gave me some knowledge or perspective or pleasure or warning. And then I’m done. I keep moving."–Ruth Gordon #FolliesOfGod … See MoreSee Less
(from GARSON KANIN’s It Takes Long Time to Become Young, c 1978)
"It pays to stay alive." — Ruth Gordon
Ruth Gordon is the American actress-writer whose long career peaked in the seventh decade of her life.
If there is one subject on which I am an expert, it is the subject of Ruth Gordon. I know how she lives and how she works.
Directness and practicality are the hallmarks of her existence.
She feels that part of her strength derives from the fact that she never had an easy time of it. She reminds me that Emerson explained the ruggedness of New Englanders by saying, "From the first they had to live through those winters and become strong, fighting them."
This explains in part the physical side, and something of the sort is equally true with regard to the rest of her life. At 15, she decided to become an actress: without money, without apparent aptitude, without conventional good looks, without resources.
These debits were outweighed by a single credit: determination.
It embarrasses Ruth to be looked upon as a phenomenon. Strangers approach her on the street and inquire as to her "secret." Almost every morning the mail brings similar requests.
There is no secret. What there is, is a desire to work, to create, to stay in action, to be part of the scene.
I have never known her to be bored for as much as ten seconds. Thousands of times I have heard her say something like, "The is the greatest apple I’ve ever tasted." Or: "This is the most remarkable book I’ve ever read." Or: "Isn’t that the most beautiful horse you’ve ever seen?"
The point being that her appreciation is constantly bringing her new peaks of discovery. Whether this is true or not, she believes it. And that is what matters. She says that nothing is more important than imagination and endurance.
I have seen her, through the years, striving toward discipline and organization. I have observed the remarkable way in which she is able to scuttle the inessentials of daily life, and concentrate on the matter of the moment. She calls it "putting on the blinders."
She is and always has been an early riser. "I like to get up and get out before everybody’s used up the good air."
In her sixtieth year, she had one of her greatest theatrical successes in The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder.
It was a play he had written expressly for her seventeen years earlier under the title The Merchant of Yonkers, but because of a series of artistic differences as to its production, she did not play it. In any case, it failed.
Some years later, she and her friend Tyrone Guthrie, discussing plays that deserved a second chance, hit upon this one of Wilder’s and agreed to do it — someday.
It turned out that they were the only two who had any desire to revive it, but the more often producers and other players turned it down, the stronger became Ruth’s determination to get it on. In time, it happened.
The Matchmaker opened in Newcastle, went to The Edinburgh Festival, the British provinces, The Berlin Festival, London for a year, New York for two seasons, then a glittering transcontinental tour.
At 62, she was the only member of a large company who had played the entire run without missing a single performance.
I recall the Saturday it closed. She had played the matinee at The Huntington Hartford Theatre in Hollywood, and had returned to The Beverly Hills Hotel to rest between performances. When I came in about six o’clock, I was astonished to find her sitting up in bed, her glasses perched on her nose, studying the script! A matter of routine and the discipline of an ordered professional life. This is what she customarily did between matinee and night performances, and the fact that she was about to give her 1,048th — and final –performance in the play did not deter her from her appointed course.
One of Ruth Gordon’s principles is "Develop built-in confidence."
Also: "Never give up; and never, under any circumstances, no matter what – never face the facts."
Her youthful spirit and vitality and, indeed, appearance spring from within. She walks. She thinks. She intends. She hopes. She works. She loves. … See MoreSee Less