Don't Step Out of Character
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Actors and actresses sometimes lose themselves in the land of make believe. But character actress Virginia Sale has come to grips with the realities of everyday life. Offstage she is Mrs. Sam Wren of New York City, mother of 15-year-old twins. Now she states her creed.
On a plane flying from Chicago to New York recently, my seat companion was a young girl who gave me a friendly smile as I sat beside her, but whose young face showed great sadness. Hesitantly, she told me she was on her way to the funeral of her 17-year-old brother, who had been killed in Korea. She also told me that her only other relatives were two brothers, both in the service, and that they had
lost their oldest brother in the War in Europe. I wanted to say something to comfort her. I felt so useless. All I could say was, I’m so sorry.” And I thought, Well, just what can I do to help bring order and hope into the world today? And the thought came to me: I can pray and my prayers will tune in with other sincere prayers to create a mighty force for good and for peace in the world.
As a young girl, I was fortunate in having old-fashioned, religious parents, and I often think of the old hymn my good father sang so lustily as I stood beside him in church: “I need thee every hour.” As I’ve grown older, my philosophy has changed—in a way. I don’t think of God now as an old man with a long gray beard sitting up on a throne. I believe in a practical religion. What good is it unless I can
use it to help solve my daily problems, large or small?
I am grateful for what to me are the most worthwhile things in my life—a happy marriage, a good husband, and a son and daughter who become infinitely finer as they grow up. Success in my theatrical career has come second to these. However, no matter what my material blessings may be, I realize that my happiness must come from within myself. I can’t get back anything that I don’t give out. Anybody knows that a sure cure for the blues is to get out and do something nice for someone else.
I’d had a wonderful opportunity on my tours with my one-woman show to meet fine, good people in every one of the seven hundred towns I’ve played. From them, I know that good people predominate in every
part of this country. I love my work. I believe that laughter is a great soul cleanser, and I pray that my audiences may somehow be better off for having seen my show.
I believe in blessing everything and everybody along the way. Sometimes, I may let stage fright and nerves rob me and my audience of my best performance. I have failed if I haven’t, beforehand, blessed everyone in my audience, everyone backstage; and, when I’m working in television, radio, or motion pictures, everyone in the studio—my fellow actors and the director and technicians. I admire their courage, their goodhearted, generous qualities.
What do I mean by “blessing”? Well, I first have a deep sense of gratitude to an audience, and a
feeling of goodwill and good wishes, so that I know there is complete harmony between them and me, and I know they will like me because I really like them—that we will tune in together.
My late brother, the great character actor and comedian, Charles “Chic” Sale, said to me one time when we were talking about spiritual things and about being perfect channels for expression: “The thing to do, kiddo, is to stay in character—be God’s child.” And I try never to forget this.
That was Virginia Sale, who has played character roles in almost every dramatic medium from summer stock to television, but who casts herself first of all as a sensitive citizen of the world.