"It was just a job. All the kids in my neighborhood went over to the studios, Jimmy and Larry, and Carol and me. We walked over or were taken over by our moms, trying for crowd scenes or other work to make a little money.”
But after her film work ended, she grew up fast. “My mother died when I was 12, and right after my dad died in a car crash. I was 15 and had no family. The court sent me to live with my uncle and aunt in Missouri,” she said.
“They were kind of nutso religious fanatics who didn’t believe in movies, dancing, singing, that kind of thing,” she remembered. “I don’t think they believed in laughing, either.”
Soon she was married with two daughters, then divorced, and the girls’ father died in a hunting accident. Remarried, she had a son and daughter and helped raise her second husband’s three children from a previous marriage. Then her 18-year-old son committed suicide, and her husband died of cancer. She retired to take care of her teenage daughters, two of whom became single parents.
“My life has never been wonderful,” she offered quietly. “Maybe when I was a child, but not after age 15.”