Friday, September 20, 2013

Vallie Belasco Martin -- Nietzsche was Right

Not even being the second cousin of David Belasco, the world famous theatre impresario, could ensure the 25-year-old Milwaukee, Wisconsin-born Martin steady work on the boards although she had appeared to good notices in Very Good, Eddie, My Lady Friends, and in the road company of Abie's Irish Rose.  Martin's literary aspirations were likewise thwarted.  Weeks before taking her life, Martin's manuscript, The Evolution Poetess, or, the Amusing Musings of a Misled Maid, had been rejected by a large publisher.  The returned manuscript arrived by post the day after her death.

Discouraged by her stalled acting and writing careers, Martin was living with her mother in a seventh floor apartment at 260 Riverside Drive in New York City.  On February 28, 1924, as her mother slept in another room, Martin swallowed a bottle of shoe polish containing a small, but sufficient, quantity of cyanide of potassium.  The empty bottle was found under her pillow.  A hastily penned note on a bedside table read:  "Mother Dear:  As you know things have gone from bad to worse.  At the beginning of the week I had several good prospects, but they have all gone bluey.  I wish that theatrical managers and agents would realize that a girl's time is worth something.  I hope they will realize it after this and not keep girls waiting.  After reading Nietzsche's book I agree with his idea of the superfluity of life and so I am going to practice what he preaches.  Goodbye and forgive me.  Vallie."  Ironically, after Martin's death several theatre people called the dead woman's mother to belatedly say that had they known of the actress' despair, they would have found a part for her.

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