It's a way fun ride and her writing is very direct and conversational. And there is, of course, that wonderful Russell wit. Chaper seven is titled, "The Night I Slept With John Wayne". It then says, "All right, I never slept with John Wayne, but people expect a Hollywood chapter to be filled with sex and big names. Now that that's out of the way, ....."
The anectodes are plentiful with lots of insight into how she worked, crafting the many performances I've loved since I was a kid. One of my favorites is the following:
After Take A Letter Darling, I went to Columbia for My Sister Eileen. Janet Blair, the girl who was cast as Eileen, started out trying to upstage me. She was new and nervous, the same way I'd been when I started, so I invited her into my dressing room and delivered a short speech about the inadvisability of the course she'd embarked on.
"Look," I said, "you're not going to steal the picture from me because I've got the better part, the sympathy comes to me. And you're not going to get anyplace with what you're doing. I know all those old tricks. When you upstage me, all I do is turn my back on the camera, and then they have to come around on me full-face for my close-up."
I said I'd teach her these things if she wanted to learn them. "When I pass out on the floor, you be the first to hold my head, to say, 'Oh Ruth.' Don't stand back, or the audience is going to hate you for being mean to me."
She gaped. "How wonderful you are to do this!"
"I'm not doing this because I like you," I said. "I don't know anything about you. I'm doing it to get a good picture."
"It's just I was terrified," she said, "and I was warned you'd garb every scene-"
"That's right," I said. "I'm here to steal those scenes as fast as I can, but I love anybody that's trying with me, and I'll lose some. It's very hard to steal a scene from Cary Grant. I mean I've worked like a dog to stay ahead of him, or alongside of him, or in his shadow. So fight me for it, but don't ruin your character because of it. .... We've got to be sisters. Eileen is so selfish that the audience won't like her if she's not adorable."
Some dame, huh?