, best known to my Glee
friends as Carson Phillips grandmother in Struck by Lightning
, died yesterday. She was a good actress -- thought she was perfect in Wouk's The Winds of War
and its sequel
-- a good torch singer, and a good business woman. She was the first woman to play the President of the United States, though it was in a sexist bit of 1960s fluff, and she tended to play people who were self-possessed.
When I was a kid, my mother used Polly Bergen cosmetics (originally called "Oil of the Turtle"). The moisturizer was fantastic and, a few years later, illegal as the turtles were put on an endangered species list. (I could also no longer get turtle soup which had been my comfort food since a trip to Germany when I was six.)
She also wrote a beauty book called Polly's Principles
which was a giveaway with purchase at one time. It was the first beauty book I ever read, since it was on Mom's shelf, and I've always been grateful.
The book emphasized things like getting exercise, eating well (even her diet tips weren't extreme), and finding ways to be happy in your own skin. There was even a chapter about sex, though I didn't understand it when I first read it. She also acknowledged plastic surgery as an option but emphasized that it could only change the exteriors and might not yield a happier life.
Moisturizer was her key beauty trick, though she also gave instructions on a three minute emergency makeup when needed. The pictures in the book included an extreme closeup with the caption "A good photo retoucher is a girl's best friend" and a then recent photo (she was in her early 40s) without any makeup on a camping trip. All of these messages were in contrast to the ones I was getting from magazines like Seventeen
, and, later Cosmo
I went through my glam phases, especially in boarding school where I wore more makeup than most of my friends, but, as I grew up and fell in love for the first time and started walking everywhere, I found myself using that three minute makeup routine as my every day one.
Since my years in Boston, I rarely wear much more makeup than a tinted lip gloss. I can still do some pretty elaborate makeup work when I feel like it, but I'm not compelled to put it on every day. I can honestly say that some of my comfort is getting older, but a lot of it comes from hearing that health and feeling good can do more for me than anything out of a jar.