May 12, 2012

50 quotes: classic stars talk about moms and motherhood

Celebrating Mother's Day, the next are 50 quotes from classic actors remembering their mothers and explaining what motherhood and parenting was or is for them. Some of the memories are sad, some are happy, some are full of nostalgia, some are funny, some are resentful. There are vivid descriptions and honest words. They are representative of a complicated world that not always is kind, warm and simple, but sometimes it is; and it helps you to appreciate what you've got. These are the stars, some gone, some alive, opening a bit of their private world for you. 

(For awesome pictures of stars and their moms and children, check this post).

Young Julie Andrews and her mother
Julie Andrews and her mom. Source.


My mother was marvellous, far more alive and vivacious than I'll ever be. She always tried to keep my feet on the ground - Julie Andrews

My mother died when I was nine years old...What does she expect me to do? Do it all by myself - James Dean

I have met a lot of people knocking around the world since, but I have never met a more thoroughly refined woman than my mother. If I have amounted to anything, it will be due to her - Charles Chaplin

I was a mistake. My mother didn't want to have me. I guess she never wanted me. I probably got in her way. I know I must have disgraced her. A divorced woman has enough problems getting a man, I guess, but one with an illegitimate baby.... I wish, I still wish, she had wanted me - Marilyn Monroe

My mother was a delicate black-haired beauty, with olive skin, frail and feminine to look upon. What isn't apparent in the photograph is the extent of her strength, and her will to control -- a deep need to receive unreservedly the very affection she sought to control - Cary Grant

A long time later I learned that she [his mother] had experienced a nervous breakdown and been taken to an institution in a nearby quiet country town to recuperate. I was not to see my mother again for more than twenty years, by which time my name was changed and I was a full-grown man living in America, thousands of miles away in California. I was known to most people of the world by sight and by name, yet not to my mother - Cary Grant

My mother campaigned for women's suffrage and birth control. [laughs] Very unpopular topics in the early 1900s - Katharine Hepburn

Mother beat the hell out of us. She'd have wild outbursts - Burt Lancaster

My mother was an exceptional woman. Considered one of the most beautiful women in Ireland, even in all of Europe, she once attended the races at the Chamsp-Elysèes in Paris and found her picture in the papers the following day because she was so stunning and well dressed - Maureen O'Hara

My mother treated us all equally... with contempt - Groucho Marx

To prepare for the part [in Two Women], I opened the sluices of my memory, letting the bombing raids, the nights in the tunnel, the killings, the rapes and starvation and inhumanity wash back over me. I particularly concentrated on my mother as I remembered her during the war, her fears, connivances and sacrifices, and especially the way she fiercely protected us against the scourges of the war - Sophia Loren

My mother on her deathbed said, 'Paul, you have to excuse me, I've been lying all these years, I'm not 83, I'm 87.' And when we took her back to Cleveland, to be buried next to my father, her sister was there. And I said, 'you know, mother said that she had been lying all these years, and that she wasn't 83, that she was 87.' And her sister said, 'Baloney, she was 93.' - Paul Newman

My mother would not talk to me for weeks, would not stay under my roof for as long as I was married to Oleg (Cassini) - Gene Tierney

[My mother] made soap, candle, and ever a deerskin suit. She made all my clothes until I was grown up, and once sewed me a dress in a hour before I went to school in the morning - Jean Arthur

I can remember her shaking her head, saying softly, "Married before I was eighteen, a mother before I was nineteen, and widowed before I was twenty-three". The future must have looked very bleak to her. She had been deeply in love with my father. I know she missed him very much - Lucille Ball

My christening took place alongside my mother's coffin; I was named "Tallulah" in honor of my paternal grandmother, who had been named after "Tallulah Gorge, GA," that happy place where my grandmother Tallulah's newly wedded parents (my great-grandparents) had spent their honeymoon - Tallulah Bankhead

My mother had a marvelous talent for mishandling money - mine - Judy Garland

I think I should ask my Mother first Lana Turner’s answer to the agent who asked her if she wanted to be in the movies

Charles Chaplin's mother Hannah
Hannah Chaplin. Source.


Timing! My mother gave me that. I was born with it. I don't think you can teach a person to act - Charles Chaplin

My mother made me promise to be an artist. She taught me that imagination can take a person anywhere. Mine took me from Indiana to Broadway to Hollywood…She was right! - James Dean

Without my mother's ambition, her drive, I doubt that on my own I would have pushed myself out of Pozzuoli and into the frightening world that was faraway Rome - Sophia Loren

My mother had gotten a job as a receptionist at a dancing school and had the idea that we should open our own dancing school; we did, and it prospered - Gene Kelly

This [repairing her own clothes] was invaluable to me when I was on the road and my costumes and dressses and pants nearly as well as I could, and I enjoyed doing it. Sometimes I did it for others in the cast. Thank you, Mama - Marlene Dietrich

I know my mother always used to say, 'Good things aren't supposed to just fall in your lap. God is very generous, but he expects you to do your part first.' So you have to make that effort. But at the end of a bad time or a huge effort, I've always had - how shall I say it? - the prize at the end. My whole life shows that - Audrey Hepburn

When I was little, my mother taught me how to use a fork and knife. The trouble is that Mother forget to teach me how to stop using them! - Hattie McDaniel

She was the most confident woman I've ever known, and she was full of pride: proud of herself, proud of her husband, proud of her children. "Always stand up straight. Always be counted," she'd say to me again and again - Maureen O'Hara

My mother told me I was dancing before I was born. She could feel my toes tapping wildly inside her for months - Ginger Rogers

My mother says I didn't open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked - Elizabeth Taylor

I have never owned a beauty box. I get my long eyelashes from my mother - Greta Garbo

My mother used to tell me, No matter what they ask you, always say yes. You can learn later - Natalie Wood

Jean Harlow and her mother
Jean Harlow and her mother. 


I would rather be with my mother than with any other living being I know. She offers me the only true understanding and companionship I have ever known - Jean Harlow

I can't say I ever loved my mother, I admired her - Humphrey Bogart

I had to be the monster for both of us - Bette Davis, commenting about her mother, an aspiring actress

I don't say she didn't love me. She may have - in her way. I revolted from time to time bellowing "Every time you come near me you want only want to wash me!" That is the sign of a protective mother, I suppose. My resistance to authority led naturally to incessant scoldings and thrashings - Errol Flynn

She tried in every way to understand me, and she succeeded. It was this deep, loving understanding as long as she lived that more than anything else helped and sustained me on my way to success - Mae West

I have a most satisfactory parent. Her idea on bringing me up was that I should be permitted to have and do the things that would make me happy. So many girls have had to forget their families in order to follow stage or screen careers. But my mother never made it difficult for me - Carole Lombard

In my early days in Hollywood I tried to be economical. I designed my own clothes, much to my mother's distress - Gene Tierney

Is my mother my friend? I would have to say, first of all she is my Mother, with a capital 'M'; she's something sacred to me. I love her dearly...yes, she is also a good friend, someone I can talk openly with if I want to - Sophia Loren

After the ceremony we went out to an all-night diner for coffee. Suddenly I realized that my mother had no idea where I was. The taxi drove us to the telegraph office, and I wrote out a message: "Got Married In Las Vegas. Call You Later. Love, Lana." - Lana Turner

I was an indoors girl when my mother was in the kitchen, and I could join her. I always got as close to my mother as I could without being in her way. That gave me a great sense of security. I liked feeling her skirt brushing me. Sharing the activity with my mother made it especially wonderful to me - Marlene Dietrich

Lauren Bacall and Stephen Bogart
Lauren Bacall and Stephen Bogart. Source.


I remember my oldest son, Steve, saying to me once, I don't ever remember seeing you with an apron on. And I thought, That's right, honey, you did not. That was his concept of what a mother should be - Lauren Bacall

I don't think I would have been a good mother. Being a parent brings immense responsibility. It's a Herculean task. It would be almost too much for me - Julie Christie

I suppose one of the most important things about real beauty is intelligence, and real womanliness - it's a combination of intelligence and all the instincts of womanhood, motherhood, and the beauty of girlhood. These things all sort of go in together, and they are in so many people who are not reputed beauties - Gary Cooper

I never knew motherhood could be so truly gratifying until I had Natasha - Natalie Wood

If you've never been hated by your child, you've never been a parent - Bette Davis

I've always been rather amused when I'm described as a 'Love Goddess' I've never especially felt like a love goddess. I feel like what I am, an actress and a mother - Rita Hayworth

It would be very sad if children had no memories before those of school. What they need most is the love and attention of their mother - Grace Kelly

I’ve always treated my children as beings in their own right. I respect their feelings and aspirations entirely - Grace Kelly

I was under nineteen when I married, and not quite twenty when my daughter was born. I felt too young to be the mother of a child, and very lacking in the qualities of restfulness and serenity which a mother should have. How many times since then Scarlett O'Hara's lines, speaking of her mother, have sprung to my mind: 'I always wanted to be like her, calm and kind. I certainly have turned out disappointing' - Vivien Leigh

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. You are connected to your child and to all those who touch your lives. A mother always has to think twice: once of herself and once for her child - Sophia Loren

Holding your firstborn, your wife looks at you through different eyes, a traveller from another country. The mothering cues are clearly rooted very deep in the female psyche - Charlton Heston



PS: If you find any mistake, misquote, error, etc, just let me know! Most of the quotes are from the web, the rest are from my books.


  1. Such a lovely post! Some quotes were quite sad, which surprised me! Love Julie Andrews, Mae West, Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly the best!

  2. Clara - this was just a beautiful and most interesting post. I loved it!

  3. @emma @FlickChick Thank you girls, I'm glad you liked this post :)

  4. Great post! These were all really interesting.

  5. More parents today should heed the words of Bette Davis: "If you've never been hated by your child, you've never been a parent." No truer parenting words were ever spoken. Loved reading all the quotes, but that was my favorite.

  6. EXCELLENT post, Clara!!! Keep up the greatness...AND, just checked out your 'ten saddest movies' over on MovieFanfare...great stuff!

    And...thanks for the Ginger quote! And the Harlow's REALLY interesting how those two 'parallel'...each REALLY were close to their moms... I'm gonna sit down one day and do a 'somewhat exhaustive' post on Ginger and Harlow...

    Anyway, Keep it Gingery, Clara!!!




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