I’ve cancelled my subscription to Backstage because it’s just too depressing. The article that did it for me was about Peg Entwistle (with a name like that, you’d think she would have known her Hollywood fate). Backstage explained that back in the 1930s she’d left a successful stage career in New York to try the movies. Things didn’t go so well. She starred in a couple of plays that were poorly reviewed, and RKO dropped her contract. After a night of drinking and shame spiralling, Peg crawled her way up the Hollywood hills to that famous sign (or taunt). She neatly folded her coat and climbed the ladder leading up the “H.” She did a perfect swan dive off the fifty-feet letter. She was only twenty four.
Now, Backstage included this cheery little story because after she killed herself, an offer from the Beverly Hills Playhouse came in the mail, giving her a leading role. I’m supposed to be inspired by this story–never give up, the next part is just around the corner! I can guarantee you other trade magazines, carpentry, dentistry, don’t have stories like this. The implication is that at some point in your acting career you will contemplate suicide. But Backstage, always helpful, sees her story as “career guidance.” “Believe in yourself! Have faith!” Personally, I have a hard time renewing my faith when the inspirational story involves suicide. Thanks, Backstage! Does this mean that contemplating suicide will increase my chances of getting a role?