3 Powerful Life Lessons From An Actress Who Survived WWII

When Rutanya Alda thinks of her childhood, she remembers "running around like little ragamuffins in the streets, in the bombed-out buildings." We bet that sounds a little different from your days as a kid!


Rutanya was born in Latvia, but after World War II turned Europe upside-down, she spent much of her youth after the war ended in what she calls "displaced persons camps." Her life was difficult and impoverished, but with her family, she persevered and eventually made it to the United States, through Ellis Island. From New York Rutanya's family was moved to Chicago for a few weeks, before finally settling in Flagstaff, Arizona. In America, Rutanya followed her lifelong dream of becoming an actress, eventually starring in more than 100 movies and TV shows. But the actress also found heartbreak in America, losing her actor husband in the prime of their lives.

Most recently, Rutanya has written a book, The Mommie Dearest Diary: Carol Ann Tells All, to document her experience and bring you behind the scenes of the cult classic movie highlighting Joan Crawford's life. We are so impressed by this woman's perseverance and strength, and we wanted to share three of our favorite quotations from this interview with her—which you can view in full above!

1) "John Wayne taught me something that nobody else taught me. He taught me a generosity that I have never seen in another actor."

2) "Loss is very hard. There's no getting around it."

3) "I think our life on Earth is for a purpose. Once we embrace the fact that we are here on this journey, if we can accept both the highs and the lows, there's a mindset that happens that says 'Okay, let me just go through this. Let me see what happens next.'"

May we all have the generous spirit and optimistic heart of Rutanya Alda!

This video was produced by Tracy Chevrier, shot by John Houghton and Billy Trotta and edited by John Houghton. Want to see more HooplaHa Originals? Check out the HooplaHa YouTube page… and don't forget to smile!

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