Women Helping Women Fredda Dudley Balling

Recently I have been thinking about my answer(s) to the question: What is the purpose of your writing? My answer has grown, changed and is now focused on this: 

    The purpose of any writing I do is to show/teach/prove to women that they can change their lives by making the big jump into the unknown. Yes, it can be scary. What about security? What about the future without these certain people in my life? And even more importantly, will I make it? Really? 

    This brings me to the story of FREDDA DUDLEY BALLING, a famous columnist and writer of interviews for fan magazines during their “heyday”.

    In Hollywood, she was well-respected, and always produced a good story—truthful and never salacious. Here’s how all of this came about—a story she did not tell me until I had already moved to Hollywood, and thanks to Sonia Wolfson (written about previously) I became established during the “turmoil years of Hollywood” as a writer who could be trusted to be fair, honest, and anyone reading my work could see how much I really loved being in the field.

    I will never forget the day. We were at Alice’s Restaurant in Malibu celebrating Fredda’s birthday. And, like Sonia, she was always willing to listen to me and hardly ever talked about herself. But here goes!

    “My parents had sent me to teacher’s college for two years, expecting me to stick around, marry, and give them grandchildren. I tried teaching for two years but this was a mining town and the children were mostly illiterate and I looked into their eager faces and loved each one of them but I knew I didn’t have the heart to stick it out to teach them and then send them on their way to a better way of life.”

    “At the summer break, two girlfriends of mine (neither one a teacher) said they were heading for California and would I like to join them. I needed a certain amount of money—which I had, and we were leaving by the weekend. First I told my parents, especially my father whom I adored beyond reason, my mother was quiet and helpful but not as upset as he and I were at parting.

    We pulled away from the house and as we made our way to California, we threw off our petty coats. My first interview was for Photoplay. It was such fun in those days. We were picked up by car and brought to the interview, even flown to the filming site. Eventually, I started an advice column for newspapers for Collette Colbert. After a time, she became bored with the whole idea, and along came Dear Abby.”

    Fredda married and helped raise three step-daughters who adored her (their mother had died). In Hollywood, she became known as the ‘Pink and Blue Lady’ as she always wore those colors and added a collar. The reason, she told me much later? She was an albino and had her hair dyed a blonde color and like so many ladies of her day (Kathyrn Hepburn to be specific) liked to cover up the wrinkles on her neck!

She was my second mother for sure: loving, caring, quiet with her advice, and never, ever harsh to anyone. A great lady!