FARLEY GRANGER died today. You may remember him from Strangers On A Train or some other of his movies, but what he really loved was the stage.
He loved the stage so much, he did something unusual for a Hollywood star of the old system: he bought out his own contract with Goldwyn so he could make time to act on stage whenever he wanted. (In those days, you didn't contract for a particular movie -- you signed with a production house and they told you what to do.)
So he went legit, and found that Broadway was not impressed with his credentials. At that point, a lot of stars would go back and do what's easy, but Farley Granger loved the stage. So he did what actors do who are not movie stars, he knuckled down and paid his dues. He attended one of the major workshops. He did stock. He did small parts. He also did television to pay the bills. (Of course, in those days, TV was a great place for a "real" actor -- they had live dramas and lots of interesting and serious stuff.)
I understand it took him ten years to establish the career he wanted on the legit stage. But it was worth it. It was more than a matter of proving that Mr. Move-Star-Boy could do the job on the stage. It wasn't about waiting his turn either.
I think that's something that so many people misunderstand about the concept of "paying your dues." It isn't about waiting your turn. And although it earns you respect, it's not about earning respect either. It's about learning your craft. It's about becoming a seasoned pro. There are things you just can't achieve with anything but time and experience.
I think that's something for everyone to remember. You may be able to buy your way out of a life you don't want. You may be able to find short cuts to escape something. But to have the life you DO want, you have to build it. They don't come ready made.