From the February 23, 1973 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

A comfortable conversation with Ruth Gordon does indeed seem more like a warm, giddy, glider cruise than a classic interview with a fine American actress and playwright. Since 1915, Miss Gordon has made a spectacular career for herself which seems simply to reflect the richness of her life and character. Fortunately, however, Miss Gordon is not trying to bring Broadway or Hollywood to Martha’s Vineyard — she is simply enjoying Island living.

“I first came here in — get this — 1898,” she recalls. “My family and I came from Quincy and stayed at what was then the Teller House. It’s still there on Summer street, right next to the Gazette, but it’s a private home now. My father especially loved the Island. He was a sailing man.”

When she left her home and her name (Jones) in Quincy as a teenager to get an acting start in New York, her father forced her to take his captain’s spyglass to sell if she fell into need. “And here it still is!” She indicated with pride the leather and gold instrument resting on the mantelpiece.

She particularly remembers coming to Edgartown once on the urging of (former Secretary of State) Dean Acheson to stay at the Harbor View Hotel. “Really terrific. Garson and I would sit on that grand porch and rock, sometimes just the two of us in the midst of all those rocking chairs in a line. And, do you know, those amazing chairs would rock, too, without the lightest, slightest human touch. We came for one week and stayed seven.”

She rocks a bit just thinking about it, her sand-brown hair popping about in a well-brushed ponytail. She dresses with a sort of funky, collegiate elegance that goes more with her ponytail than with her Oscar, and more with Cottage street than Sunset Boulevard.

With Mr. Kanin, author of Remember Mr. Maugham, and Tracey and Hepburn, she moved into Edgartown’s Sillcocks house last April, so this is her first full Island winter. Among other things, she delights in long walks on Chappaquiddick and excited trips to the Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven (“I got this French nightcap with Valencienne lace there,” she says happily patting her head. “Oh, it’s so terrific!”)

Miss Gordon’s primary interest at the moment is in writing her autobiography. “Of course, I wrote Myself Among Others, too, but that’s just what it says on the cover — a cast-of-thousands memoir. This one is for myself, and I’m not taking any chances — from the cradle to the you-know-what.”

How extensive is the work?

“It’s 876 pages so far, and that ain’t a scratch!”

It is natural to wonder if anyone can enjoy grinding out 876 pages and, especially after 58 years of directly affecting people with her art from the stage.

“Enjoy is not the word,” Miss Gordon is quick to reply. “It’s passionate, just passionate. Not that it’s easy; nothing comes easy to a New Englander. It’s just a marvelous thing to be doing, and the Island is a marvelous place to be doing it. Martha’s Vineyard has a conquerable beauty, y’know? The distraction-aspect is so avoidable. I can live here and really appreciate it without having to stop running myself.”

Her favorite place in the world seems, nevertheless, to be Paris, and she enjoys telling Proust-like cafe tales of that French city. With awe she describes having luncheon in a cafe that was suddenly visited by the great French writer Colette, who “leaned over to my table, from her wheelchair, and in a beautiful soft voice pointed out a wine and said ‘This one will please you.’ Who could eat?”

Miss Gordon is surrounded in her Cottage street parlor by fascinating portraits of her friends.

A mystical picture of Mia Farrow stands near a serious, retouched studio shot of H. G. Wells, with his minuscule autograph so meticulously inked on his collar-point that one wonders if he checked his pen-nib for starch after writing it. Artur Rubinstein, the great concert pianist, stands in full decoration behind a simple, intimate portrait of W. Somerset Maugham. (“I remember sitting on Chappy once with Willy Maugham...he loved the Island so.”)

Another photograph was of the French early sound director Rene Clair, and his wife, who are Paris friends of the Kanins. Miss Gordon is now trying to coax a visit from this handsome couple, and as a special enticement she has mailed Madame Clair a pretty bit of Thrift Shop lace with the message, “Please come to the marvelous place where 25 cents will by you this!”

Soon Miss Gordon herself will be paying visits and traveling. She has written a comedy in which she will star under her husband’s direction. They hope eventually to bring the play to the New York stage. She will also be returning to Paris, where she has been chosen the best actress of 1972 for her performance in Harold and Maude.

Before, in between, and probably during these visits she will continue her happy writing.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox