Remembering Ginger Rogers on Her Centennial
- Friday, July 15, 2011
Rogers saw her churches in both Oregon and California as safe places to honestly express her struggles and seek Christ’s healing through prayer, Durham said, and Rogers often told people in the congregation how grateful she was for the freedom to do so in church. Rogers made going to church a high priority, seeking out a church to worship in even when she was traveling. “She went to church faithfully, wherever she was,” Durham said.
Olden said that a daily habit of thanking God for her blessings also helped Rogers maintain a joyful spirit. “I don’t think there was a day that went by when she didn’t thank God for something.”
The movie characters Rogers played often struggled with discouragement or the temptation to sin, yet emerged from those struggles with the determination to move forward to do what’s right and enjoy the process. Rogers did the same herself in Hollywood, said Olden. “A lot of the ladies who she played onscreen struggled but were able to come out on the right side of those struggles. In her own life, Ginger relied heavily upon her faith and it saw her through a lot of hard times.”
Over the years, Rogers turned down a lot of roles in films that didn’t reflect the biblical values she wanted to portray onscreen. She looked for redemptive stories in scripts whenever possible. “She was not one to see something false portrayed,” Olden recalled. “She didn’t compromise herself. She understood that she did not want to portray any ugliness that she might have seen. She wanted to show goodness at work.”
By the 1960s, she had become so disillusioned with the types of roles she was being offered that she left Hollywood to focus mainly on stage roles, such as Hello, Dolly! on Broadway and Mame on the London stage. Rogers was outspoken about her concerns that Hollywood was making more and more movies that depicted unhealthy values. In a 1976 United Press International interview, she said: “I was privileged to have been a part of the Hollywood scene when it was understood that audiences wanted to know beauty and hope exist. There’s a sadness, a darkness today in entertainment.” However, she also praised films that did portray good values. In a 1982 Toledo Blade interview, she said the popularity of the movie E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial “proves that audiences want to see clean, healthy movies.”
Though she made her last film in 1965, Rogers continued to give audiences the gift of joy through wholesome, positive entertainment on stage and sometimes on television until several years before her death. “It was very gratifying for her to know that what she was doing was pleasing to audiences,” said Olden.
By the time Rogers passed away, she was at peace, Olden said. God had used her life in a way that brought him glory.
So the next time you enjoy a Ginger Rogers movie, remember that it’s more than just good entertainment. The enjoyment you get from it is a reflection of the spirit behind it—the joy that comes from Jesus Christ.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (angels.about.com). Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience.
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