Anita Page in the 1920’s. At one point she had more fan mail than Greta Garbo.
Not only am I old-fashioned in my movie tastes, but I am also pretty passe as a movie fan.
I write fan mail.
You may be thinking, “Who does that anymore?” A surprising amount do continue to write to stars like Debbie Reynolds, Tony Curtis and Elizabeth Taylor. No one writes the stars of today, though, like Angelina Jolie, Orlando Bloom or Jennifer Aniston. Why is this? Because they won’t answer…that is if you can even find an address to write to.
I get my fan mail addresses from an autograph database called StarTiger.com. On the website you can search virtually any movie star, singer or sports player. Each star has their own profile page. On this page there is a list of addresses that you can contact them.
Users comments on the address and rate them with success ratings on if they received an autograph, how fast it was returned or they note if they got an answer at all. There are messages boards for each address where autograph hunters tell what they sent (such as a self-addressed, stamped envelope with two 4×6 photos) and what they got back (such as they signed one picture and left the other unsigned).
I discovered Star Tiger in 8th grade in 2003 for keyboarding class where we were practicing our letter writing skills by writing to famous people. At the time the website was known as Star Archives and was free (users now have to pay a monthly fee). While the rest of my class chose famous rappers like 50 cent and actresses like Sandra Bullock, 14-year-old Jessica Pickens of course chose Doris Day.
This was the first of many fan letters I ever wrote. I wrote to Doris about how much I loved her movies, how she brightened my day and that I used her as a role model to try to keep a sunny disposition. A few weeks after sending off the letter, I was the only student in the class to receive an autographed picture and a nice letter from Ms. Day inviting me to donate money towards her animal foundation.
After this I made lists of stars I wanted to write. Since then I have sent off fan letters twice; sophomore year of high school sophomore year of college.
Unfortunately, there are mournful times when I have to cross a name off a list when a star dies. Some instances have been with June Allyson in July 2006, Cyd Charisse in June 2008 and Kathryn Grayson in February 2010.
Writing fan letters to 70, 80 and 90-year-old movie stars might seem greedy. I will admit that part of it is selfish. I want autographs and to be part of that classic film culture and era, but that isn’t all of it. I want classic stars to know that they are still thought about. That their films are still watched, that they are still loved and a young lady in Greenville, S.C. really looks up to them.
I am showing that I appreciate the stars with my fan mail. The classic actors also show that they appreciate me by responding with autographs. Classic film actors REALIZE that they way they became movie stars is through their fans watching their movies and reading about them in the fan magazines.
Joan Crawford might have a bad reputation from that book of lies “Mommy Dearest” by Christine Crawford. However, Crawford knew she was famous because of her fans and answered each piece of fan mail personally, according to Divas the Site.
Joan Crawford signing autographs. Photo taken by Clarence Sinclair Bull in 1933
I’ve also read accounts of people who have seen stars like Van Johnson or Walter Pidgeon who happily stop and sign autographs.
Van Johnson with fans.
Fans used to confuse Lana Turner and Betty Grable, and when either was approached and mistaken for the other, they would sign autographs with the other’s name rather than getting angry and yelling at the fans.
Betty Grable and Lana Turner sometimes were confused because of their platinum locks.
It’s hard for movie viewers of today to hear things like this while the movie stars of today are not as accomodating. In fact they are the opposite. They run from autograph seekers, scream if you call them the wrong name and do not answer fan mail.
Today’s celebrities need to realize that they would be nothing without their fans.
Autographs in order that they were recieved:
1. Doris Day (My first autograph in 8th grade)
2. Deanna Durbin
3. Esther Williams
4. June Allyson (signed notecard. I was going to send a letter with a picture but she died before I got the chance)
5. Vera Miles, along with a nice note
6. Annette Funicello (One of my favorites. She signed it herself, which was a great surprise and treat because since she has MS I had heard her husband signed them)
7. Joan Fontaine
8. Lauren Bacall
9. Ann Blyth
10. Jane Powell
11. Joan Leslie (so sweet and added cardboard to back her picture)
12. Elizabeth Taylor
13. Paul Newman (shortly before his death)
14. Shirley Temple- sent 2 pictures; one young and one teenaged signed both.
15. Van Johnson- again shortly before his death
16. Debbie Reynolds
17. Julie Andrews- pre-signed. I have read she is the worst person for autographs
18. Maureen O’Hara- A real treat and a hard person to contact. Autograph came from Ireland!
19. Audrey Totter
20. Doris Day- I wrote her again.
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