Jean Muir — She Was a One-Date Girl (1935) 🇺🇸

Jean Muir — She Was a One-Date Girl (1935) |

March 27, 2023

People called her "the one-date girl" because the men who took her out once never came back again.

by James M. Fidler

You have read about such girls in magazine advertisements — you know, the girls in the ads who lament, "He kissed me once, but he never called to see me again." Those advertisements, you may recall, are often situated just across the page from the chap who boasts, "They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I began to play..."

Jean Muir, unlike the ladies of the advertisements, does not suffer from that insidious malady called halitosis. However, she does suffer, according to her own self-damning testimony, from the following faults:

  • She is not pretty in the accepted sense of the word.
  • She has no sex appeal.
  • She is much taller than the average Hollywood girl.
  • She lacks the ability to flatter men.
  • She cannot dance well.
  • She cannot play cards.
  • She cannot swim, play golf or tennis.
  • She has too much ego to please men. who like their own vanity appeased.
  • She will not inconvenience herself to be nice to men.

"And there are more reasons why I am unpopular with men," Jean confessed to me. "Men like to accompany girls who will cause other men to be jealous. They like to go out with pretty, vivacious girls — girls who dress well and dance divinely. I do neither.

"All of my life I have been a wall-flower. Until I was sixteen years old, I never had a date. No childhood sweetheart ever carried my books to school. As for fighting for me — well, no boy ever did. Fortunately, I was a big girl, and I was able to fight my own battles.

I had my first date when I was sixteen. Up to then no boy had ever attempted to kiss me. I made the first date myself. I was invited to attend a dance, and I was told to bring my own escort. I asked a neighborhood boy to take me. This happened back in the days when "cutting in" on dances was the fad; stags tagged boys who were more fortunate, and danced until they in turn were cut.

"I'll never forget that night! I'll never erase from my memory my growing dread as my escort danced, time and again, past the stag line and nobody cut in. After circling the ballroom a few times. I tried smiling at a few boys I knew at school, but none smiled back.

"Ashamed and barely able to suppress my tears, I finally pled the wall-flower's oldest, most pathetic excuse — I told my escort that I was tired. I asked him to take me to a chair, where I sat for the rest of the evening. I didn't see my boy friend again until the dance ended, when he apologetically arrived to escort me home. He need not have apologized; I understood.

"Perhaps that first experience is the reason why I hate dancing today. I have been to less than a half-dozen dances in my life. Dick Powell took me to the Beverly-Wilshire and to the Cocoanut Grove one evening, but Dick, like all the others, has never asked me to go out again. Perhaps I should not have mentioned that, because he may read this story and feel obliged to ask me for another date. Under the circumstances, I would have to refuse him now."

And, of course, the most recent glaring example is Francis Lederer. Jean and Francis were reported cuh-razy about each other for a time, but that little romance seems to have gone the way of all the others, too.

"As a child, I was heartbroken because boys avoided me. I thought I was doomed to be unhappy all my life. Like all young girls, I believed that happiness resulted from popularity with boys. Now that I am older, I have learned that there are other things in life. While I admittedly miss the companionship of men, I am not entirely unhappy without them.

"Oh, I had girlhood crushes, but they were always with dream princes, men I never met, or never even hoped to meet. My sweethearts were kept in bureau drawers; they were only photographs. Pictures of the Prince of Wales, Wallace Reid, and Rudolph Valentino, far-away public idols, but to me they were real and near. They were my only romances."

Without doubt, these were the most astonishing admissions I have ever heard come from a woman's lips. During my many years as an interviewer, I have heard nothing to equal them. I sat amazed while Jean Muir talked. She talked freely, without prompting, without shame. I wanted to pinch myself to make sure I was awake. Why, it had never occurred to me that a woman, any woman — not even the homeliest woman alive — would admit that she was unattractive to all men.'

"Don't Hollywood men take you out at all?" I managed to ask.

"A few have taken me out, once, and on very rare occasions a few times each," she answered, and I am positive that I heard the vestige of a sigh.

"My own stupidity is to blame for the failure of some of them to return, I'll admit. For example, there was a man who invited me to a symphony concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I thought the music was awful. I twisted and squirmed through the first half of the program, and then, without a word to my escort, I left my seat and fled from the place. He never asked me to go out again. He even avoids me when we meet in public." Miss Muir shrugged her shoulders and added, "I don't blame him.

"I wear clothes like a cornfield scarecrow. Perhaps that makes men self-conscious when they take me out. Men like to be seen with girls who are attractive and who dress beautifully. Men like other men to turn their heads and stare enviously. But other men never turn their heads to stare at me.

"I realize that I am greatly to blame myself. I suppose I could make myself more attractive. But I hate tight-fitting, formal gowns. I detest high heels. Consequently, because I enjoy personal comfort so thoroughly, I flounder about in ill-fitting dresses and low-heeled shoes. I refuse to make myself uncomfortable merely to please men. Perhaps, if I were to fall in love." her voice faded musingly.

"Well, if you should fall in love?" I prompted.

"I really don't know what I would do," she answered. "But how can I fall in love, if no man gives me the opportunity?"

"Things may" soon be different," I encouraged. 'As a child, you were poor. As a motion picture actress, you are famous, and with growing fame will come riches. Fame and wealth will win you attention. Will you like that?"

"I'll love it!" she burst out, impulsively. A I will be perfectly frank with the readers of this story. At this point of my interview with Jean Muir, I was in a haze. The woman admits that she has hungered for masculine companionship since she was old enough to feel her first interest in the opposite sex. She further admits that if her screen success brings this companionship, she will be happy. Why, there is actual bitterness in her voice when she confesses that her childhood was devoid of boy friends. Yet, she will not make even the slightest effort to be attractive to men.

Jean could be attractive. I am positive. Despite her assertion that she is not pretty, Jean has uniform features and a fascinating dimple in each cheek. She uses no make-up. I am certain that the correct use of rouge and, perhaps, some lipstick would make her off-screen face more interesting. But, alas, she refuses to use artificial beautifiers.

Offering one man's opinion: I like Jean Muir. She has a charming sense of humor, particularly with regard to herself. No woman could condemn herself as Jean does unless she had a sense of humor. Miss Muir carries on an interesting conversation, although she may be rather too abrupt to please most men. For instance, two minutes after we met she said she disliked the tie I was wearing. Naturally, for a few minutes thereafter, I was annoyed; but because I was more or less obliged to remain long enough to secure my interview, I soon discovered that she is acutely frank, and that her remark about my tie was as honest as were the later censures of herself.

But do you see how her remark might have affected me had I been a "date?"

"There are millions of girls who are unpopular, just as I am," Jean commented.

Of course, they can make themselves interesting to men, provided they have more initiative than I possess. They should learn to flatter men, do the things they like to do, and dress snappily. Clever women can fool men into forgetting mere beauty.

"I am not clever, nor will I subdue my own ego enough to flatter men."

This self-defamation is not mere talk on Jean Muir's part. She is positive of her own unattractiveness. When she was signed to an optional contract by Warner Brothers, she told company executives in no adorned words that she thought they were crazy.

"I am not pretty. I have no sex appeal. I cannot act," she protested. "Why send me to Hollywood? You are wasting your time and money."

Nevertheless, the film officials persisted. They offered her a contract with a most substantial salary.

"I took it; I'm no fool," Jean laughingly told me. "Money is money, and I'm not the girl to refuse it."

However, before she left New York, she told a chum, "I'll be back. This contract is for six months, with options. They'll never exercise the options; I'll be back in six months."

A year has elapsed and Jean Muir is still in Hollywood — and very much so, at that. She has appeared in a great many pictures, and in each she has scored an increasingly important hit — As the Earth Turns, "Dr. Monica," "Desirable," "Gentlemen Are Born," and her most recent release, "The White Cockatoo."

The strange part of it all is that despite her success, Jean retains her inferiority complex. She still insists that she is neither pretty, talented, nor possessed of sex appeal. And although the cameras offer evidence to disprove her assertions, one indelible fact protrudes itself across her Hollywood history like an ugly, black scar:

Hollywood men are not trampling each other in a rush to make social engagements with Jean. In fact, as far as Hollywood men are concerned, Jean Muir still remains "the one-date girl."

Jean Muir in a striking pose.

Jean Muir, the girl who thought she wouldn't be a success in pictures, in her latest release, The White Cockatoo, with Ricardo Cortez. It's a wow.

Collection: Modern Screen MagazineFebruary 1935