Friday, December 16, 2011

The Christmas Album: Eve Arden

Our tour through Christmas past in La-La Land finds us in a rather unexpected spot in 1950. We think we know the woman above, though her true domesticated side was rarely given an outing in her film work. Those roles often found her playing everyone's favorite smart aleck--not a doting maternal figure. The trio in front of the holiday-themed hearth (complete with a Grandma Moses original) are found in the cozy, hilltop home of Eve Arden. They include Ms. Arden with her daughters Constance (left), and Liza (right), whom the actress adopted in the late '40s--on her own--as her eight year marriage to businessman Ned Bergen wound down. In reality, moments such as this were a more important part of Arden's life away from the cameras--as were the girls' eventual brothers Duncan and Douglas--especially after her 33 year marriage to fellow actor Brooks West began in 1951.  Behind the scenes, she appears to have lived a richer emotional life, marked by creativity, long friendships, deep loves, and real laughs while maintaining a unique niche in filmdom--prompting one frustrated producer to remark that the "trouble with Eve Arden is that she's got the whole field to herself."  

Reflecting on her priorities, Arden remarked that "I've worked with a lot of great glamorous girls in movies and the theater. And I'll admit, I've often thought it would be wonderful to be a femme fatale. But then I'd always come back to thinking that if they only had what I've had - a family, real love, an anchor - they would have been so much happier during all the hours when the marquees and the floodlights are dark."


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