Joscelyne in 2011
We were darn near obsessed, my sister Jos and I.
Obsessed with the glitz and glamor of Hollywood past, of Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Jayne Mansfield, Rita Hayworth and Dorothy Dandridge.
Especially Dorothy. She was our poor, glamorous, unlucky in love, beautiful, dead starlet.
We watched Halle Berry introduce HBO viewers to Dorothy in ’99, and it quickly became one of our favorite movies. We’d sing along and dance during the upbeat moments, and repeatedly tear up during the tough moments.
This was our favorite song:
Flirty, upbeat and a little sexy. Such a contrast to Dorothy’s real life full of depression, suicide attempts and failed marriages.
Dorothy, Marilyn, and decades later, Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston. Joscelyne knew their stories as if it were gospel, she sang many of their songs like anthems.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve devoured biographies of a number of stars, and couldn’t help but see some similarities between them and Jos. She dreamed of escape like Jayne, and struggled with self doubt like Linda. She loved to sing and found solace in a cocktail of pills like Judy.
Like her beloved Dorothy, she was found dead, alone, the result of an overdose.
Sometimes I overhear people talk about these celebrities like they were stupid. Jayne Mansfield had an IQ of 163. Others dismissed them as selfish. Elizabeth Taylor gave millions to AIDS research.
Jos was working on her second masters and spent time at soup kitchens in the months leading up to her passing.
I can’t pretend to know their private struggles, the depths of their depression, their struggle with rejection. I can’t. I won’t.
But if their true selves was anything like my sister’s, the beauty was real.