Love, Job, or Can We Have Both?

The Love Vs. Career Conundrum: Ann Dvorak Could Have Been A Star

Ann Dvorak, star of "Scarface"

I recently came upon the story of Ann Dvorak, a Hollywood starlet of the 1930′s who was primed to become the next big thing on the silver screen, and who could have risen to the level of Joan Crawford or Ginger Roger‘s level of fame. But instead of focusing on her career, instead of becoming a marquee name, Dvorak gave up everything for love. Did she make the right decision? Her plight made me seriously think about the love vs. career conundrum. What would I do if I were in her shoes? And for that matter, what would you do?

Dvorak starred in the gangster film Scarface before signing with Warner Bros. and starring in films like The Strange Love of Molly Louvain and Three on a Match. She was referred to as Tinseltown’s newest reigning “Cinderella” before the other shoe dropped, so to speak: Ann Dvorak fell in love.

Then she fell in love.

The man in question, Leslie Fenton, was also an actor, but one with major wanderlust. He would act to fund trips abroad, and then return to Hollywood as a freelance agent (re: he never signed a major contract) when he was broke, which was, apparently, more often than not. His true love in life was traveling, and this explorer wanted his new wife by his side during his European adventures.

After one year of true fame and four months of marriage, Ann stopped resisting Leslie’s demands to see the world. She publicly complained about the industry that had made her a star, sniffing at producers and whining about her $250 a week salary (during the Depression, no less). She then skipped town with Leslie, off to exotic locales in Europe and Africa such as London, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Stockholm, Rome, St. Moritz and Cairo.

When the pair ran out of money, Warner Bros. took Ann back, but they never let her become a star. Instead she took bit parts in films, and never lived up to the idea of the promising young starlet she had once set out to be.

As for her marriage? Well, let’s just say the overwhelming love she had for Leslie faded over time and the couple divorced in 1946. In a journal entry written just two months before her death in 1979, Dvorak lamented the life she once had, writing:  ”I threw my life and career out the window.”

Did she have regrets? Yes, obviously. But her situation brings up an interesting question, which is this: should you risk everything for a shot at true love?

Most people don’t find it, but let’s be honest here: everyone yearns for it. World-renowned career women that I’ve met in the course of my travels with the hardest exterior shells of all will confess that they’re still looking for love, that they’d give up everything they’ve so carefully and tenanciously worked for to meet the one.

I’m not sure that I’d do the same, but then again, I’m not sure I wouldn’t.

The promise of love, after all, is impossible to resist, and so it becomes impossible to deny yourself a shot at true happiness.



Filed Under: Blogs


About the Author: Laura Schreffler is a former New York Daily News columnist who left the world of celebrity behind to focus on what makes her happiest — love and travel. She is the creator of — a website devoted to these two passions that she fondly calls “looking for love in all the right places.” In her spare time she likes to play matchmaker for her friends, dream about her next vacation and gaze at photographs of Taylor Kitsch. For more advice on love, relationships, and happiness, check out & her book "Internet Dating 101". And follow her here at Happiness Series with her weekly blog about finding love.

%d bloggers like this: