Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cherie Burns's "Searching for Beauty"

Cherie Burns's books include the biography Searching for Beauty—The Life of Millicent Rogers, the American Heiress Who Taught the World About Style, The Great Hurricane: 1938, Stepmotherhood—How to Survive Without Feeling Frustrated, Left Out or Wicked, and Diving for Starfish: The Jeweler, the Actress, the Heiress, and One of the World's Most Alluring Pieces of Jewelry.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of Searching for Beauty:
When I wrote Searching for Beauty—The Life of Millicent Rogers, I believed a wonderful movie lay within Rogers’s story. Any actress would want to play the beautiful, willful, stylish Standard Oil heiress who struggled to lead her stylish life out from under the oppression of, yes, wealth and the power it bestows on families to dominate their children. Millicent lived her life emblematic of each decade of the twentieth century until the movie star Clark Gable dumped her in Hollywood in 1946. She was a debutante, a flapper, a fashion muse, an expat, and poster girl for the US war effort in WWII. Her son would have even told you she’d been a spy. Then she came to New Mexico and found a different kind of peace and beauty with the landscape and Native American men than she had been able to achieve elsewhere. She was never still, always searching and changing. In my imagination I have seen Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, and Elizabeth De Bicki, among some other leading actresses, play her. It is quite a role.

And the men! She had so many dashingly handsome men in her life. Tom Hiddleston would play Arturo Peralta Ramos, the Argentine playboy who becomes her second husband. I have always seen Viggo Mortensen as the older, Austrian Count Salm with whom she elopes to outrage her parents.

Jane Fonda, who is related to the Rogers family in real life, could be Mary Rogers, Millicent’s mother. Her strong-willed manipulatve father could be played by Bruce Greenwood. Her full story begins when she is coming out at her debutante ball and being courted by the Prince of Wales (Cillian Murphy?) and ends 30 years later with her early death in New Mexico. But flashbacks could handle this. Maybe there are parts here for two actresses. Naomi Watts would be a fine Dorothy Brett, the British aristocrat who came to Taos with the writer DH Lawrence and his wife and became an eccentric painter. Oh, there are so many characters. I haven’t even begun on the Native American men Millicent falls in love with. Tony Luhan, the Taos pueblo elder who was married to the socialite Mabel Dodge Luhan, charmed every woman from Georgia O’Keeffe on. I believe Millicent loved him, too. Now there is a casting challenge.! DH’s wife Frieda Lawrence is another great part for a character actress. Maybe I will be a casting director in my next life!
Visit Cherie Burns's website.

My Book, The Movie: Diving for Starfish.

--Marshal Zeringue