Imagine you are nine years old- taking ballet classes and dreaming of becoming something big in this world.
When I was 9, I was just that. I loved Moira Shearer from the time I was about 4 years of age. I had gotten hold of her address. My paternal grandmother said “If you want to tell her how much you love her, go on and tell her. Make sure you write more than one draft, since you want it to be perfect.” I wrote and wrote about how much I loved her and how much I wanted to be her. I was nine after all, so this was always childish of me, but at the same time, she was such a big part of my life. She was the reason why I danced (until I got injured and couldn’t dance anymore) . I do remember exactly what I wrote. Actually, I do remember what she wrote back as well. But, as a nine year old child, I was enthralled that I, myself, would be able to “talk” to a living legend. When I wrote her, I asked my paternal grandmother for any advice (about what to write her about). My grandmother told me to tell Miss Shearer how much she meant to me. Here was my letter (yes, I remember it clearly, I remember things like this).
I wrote (in a nine-year-old handwriting):
“Dear Miss Moira Shearer.
I know that you must be a very busy woman, so I will keep this short as possible.
I have been a big admire of yours since the day I could walk. Is your hair really red? If it is, please let me know how I can my hair that color (mine is very boring and brown, yours is not boring). I am in ballet, and really, it’s because of you. I have been in ballet for about five years and I want to be just like you (is that ok?). I don’t wish for you to be replaced, since you are God’s Gift To EARTH. How old are you now? I am nine years old.(8 last year). Do you still dance? (If you do, please, please, please, arrange a privet lesson with me!) I would love it if we were to dance together, I am just learning some new things, as I think you’d be better than me, after all, you have been dancing for A -LONG-TIME. I first watched you dance on screen. It was a movie called “Red Shoes”. I loved it, and I joined the ballet scene because of it. I hope that you are well. I must tell you that the other kids at school do make fun of me because of my love for you and dance. If kids make fun of you, listen to this piece of advice: They are quite jealous (as my granny told me). I hope people are nice to you and I hope one day, I will be able to meet you in person. I just love you, Miss Moira. You are the sunshine that shines when I am down and gray. Miss Shearer, I have to ask you something. Lillian Gish is another star I happen to love, did you ever meet her? It’s ok if you didn’t. I didn’t get to meet her either. She died when I was only a year old. But, I am grateful for you. You are one of my personal favorites (shhh..don’t let anyone know that!). Ok, I said I would keep this brief. I didn’t mean to write so much! I hope that you can write back. (Miss Shearer, you don’t have to send back a photograph, but a letter would be nice, just so I know you received the letter!) I love you lots and lots! -Kate”. My granny and I sealed the letter, and I kissed the letter (for good luck) (I still do that now).
So, I waited about three-six weeks and then, a lovely envelope came. The envelope was addressed to me and it said “DO NOT BEND”. I went to my granny and we opened it together. Inside was a lovely signed picture of Moira Shearer and a letter. The letter said:
“To Miss Kate,
Thank you for you lovely letter. I had received it and was surprised that a small lovely child like yourself would be so kind as to write me! I am very honored that you are dancing because of me and I would be so honored as to give you privet lessons! I had just turned seventy-five (yes, I am old), but I am sorry to hear that the other children at your school are being unkind to you. Thank you for the nice advice, I will keep that in mind. My hair is more of a ginger, but in the Red Shoes, it was quite red. I think brown is a nice color, and thank you for letting me know how my hair color is not “boring”. I think you must be a different child, for you know who Lillian Gish is! Or Who I am! I am so honored. I cannot remember if I ever met Miss Gish. Do tell your grandmother hello for me. Let me give you this piece of advice Kate, when you’re down, just remember that life will be filled with ups and downs. Always remain positive! Thank you for the kind letter! Best Wishes- Moira Shearer” I cried and her advice “Remain Positive” has stuck with me all my life!
I finally found the signed photo, but the letter, I know is probably gone (due to moving, or accidental disposing of.) Just thought I’d share this.