ZANUCK, DARRYL F. Letter to Celeste Holm regarding her role in Gentleman's Agreement, 1947.
Beverly Hills: 6 May 1947. One page typed letter signed "Darryl Zanuck" on one sheet of Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation stationery. 10 1/2 x 7 1/4 inches. Faint folds, with a large bold signature of the Studio Head.
Zanuck here checks in on his new star in advance of the film that would win her an Academy Award. Following her success on Broadway in Oklahoma! and Bloomer Girl, Celeste Holm turned her sights on Hollywood, signing with Zanuck's 20th Century Fox studio. Her screen debut came in 1946 in Three Little Girls in Blue and next she was considered for two roles in a film personally selected by Zanuck, Gentleman's Agreement, based on a challenging novel that confronted anti-Semitism in post-war America. Zanuck was of Swiss descent and raised Protestant but was frequently presumed Jewish and apparently denied membership to the Los Angeles Country Club; he took on the film against the requests of other major studio heads who were mainly Jewish. The film won Best Picture and several other Oscars and Golden Globes, including Ms. Holm for Best Supporting Performance, but Zanuck carefully watched over pre-production, and he writes to Ms. Holm that "the role you are to play of Anne in GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT is, in my opinion, the most important role by far that you have played in films... And now we come to a personal note. I understand that recently you have successfully reduced but that to give the role everything that it calls for you must reduce further.... As you know, Anne is a smart fashion designer, a gal of great taste. When we see her she must be trim and smart and we must feel that she is capable of heading the fashion department of a national magazine. For this reason more than anything else I would like to see you down at least to the weight you were in THREE LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE." The letter bears a bold signature that covers three lines of the text above. Offered with the letter is Holm's scurried draft of a response on the stationery of the Lord Tarleton hotel, Miami Beach, to which she dashes in pencil "Nothing could make me happier that does this assignment in 'G.A'!" Holm then crosses out three lines of text and continues "I shall continue my reducing to achieve even lesser proportions than those I had in 3 Little G's in Blue. Sincerely, in appreciation, C."
C The Celeste Holm Collection
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