GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT HOBSON, LAURA Z. Letter to Celeste Holm in advance of filming and Holm's copy of the novel.
Two items, comprising a typed letter signed, 14 April 1947, one page, on one sheet of Hobson's stationery, 10 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches, fine; and the book Gentleman's Agreement, Simon & Schuster, 1947, third printing, cloth; slight lean, toned, lacks jacket.
A charming letter from a star struck author to a star as they undertook the making of Gentleman's Agreement, Hobson's novel which attacked anti-Semitism in America head on and included several prominent female roles. Celeste Holm won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for her role in Gentleman's Agreement as Anne Dettrey, the smart and fashionable art director for a liberal New York magazine, but at the date of this letter in April 1947, Ms. Holm was still under consideration for the lead role as Kathy (eventually played by Dorothy McGuire). Here the novelist writes Ms. Holm: "Getting a fan letter from you is a wonderful reversal of things and so your letter about 'Gentleman's Agreement' particularly delighted me. I'll return the compliment by saying to you that I found your letter perceptive and articulate too--as well as warm and human. I guess I'd better be honest and admit that it kind of astonishes me that anybody with a voice and face like yours should be interested in these matters of prejudice..." and that she may be guilty of an unconscious 'antiactressism' to which she will "re-examine her attitudes towards the much maligned minority of actresses!"
It is important to acknowledge the weight of both the novel and film versions of Gentleman's Agreement to Jewish Americans at this time and later. Hobson was motivated to write the novel partly on the anti-Semitic name-calling that plagued Jewish columnist Walter Winchell. Head of 20th Century Fox Studios Darryl Zanuck faced anti-Semitism on the assumption he was Jewish when he wasn't and took up the adaptation of Gentleman's Agreement as a result. Starring Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield, and Celeste Holm, the Best Picture winning film was a national success of lasting importance.
C The Celeste Holm Collection
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