The Theater: The Comic Spirit

In her very first try at the stage, when she was a college freshman, Rosalind Russell confidently expected and got the leading role. Cast as St. Francis Xavier, she was required in one scene to whip herself with a knotted rope. She performed the act with such energy and realism that "they all cried and I was invited to do more plays." She adds: "It was marvelous—you got excused from everything."

This first triumph was marked by three characteristics which have guided Rosalind Russell's theatrical career ever since. She has 1) bubbling confidence, 2)...

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