When last we left me, I was going on about Rula Lenska being a nobody instead of the somebody she affects as the star of and in commercials for Alberto VO-5. I had not intended that going-on to be merely a first installment, but a volley of communications both telephonic and epistolary has persuaded me - much the way the conquistadors persuaded the Aztecs - that I was wrong about Miss Lenska. And when you're wrong, you're wrong. Moreover, I had also committed a wrong, as in posing the question, "Who is Rula Lenska?," I had indicated that I had not read the work of my esteemed colleagues on that very subject - a wrong for which they abandoned their customary lambish reticence, and kicked in my door.
So I am happy to recant, as well as to report that not only is Miss Lenska not the nobody I took her for; she is also the nobody I did not take her for, which makes her somebody twice over.
She is - and here I cull the biographical tidbits so far received - a bona-fide British star, whose stardom has been certified since 1976, when she enhanced a highly popular British TV series called "Rock Follies." Before that, so says the L.A. Times, she worked as a secretary, an au pair, a dental receptionist, a hairdresser and "a hired hand on a stud farm." She is fluent in five languages, including Polish, as her father, Count Lubienski is a Polish count, or was one when Poland had counts. Among her film credits is "Royal Flash." She is married to an actor, Brian Deacon, and is expecting her first child who may or may not grow up to be a star like her mother, a little Rulette, but in any case will certainly not be nobody's baby. And that's the point.
Or at least that's one of the points. For in the process of learning the life of Rula Lenska, I touched upon another side of the story, the American side, which is at least as gratifying as Miss Lenska's own.
Most of my correspondents properly condemned my ignorance, but several shared it. Yet although they too were bewildered by the lady's claim to fame, they were nevertheless attracted to it and to her. True, there were two sourpusses who snarled that Miss Lenska only got her job because she probably was married to a Mr. Alberto V.O.V. But like myself, most bore her no ill will whatever for never having heard of her, and they graciously welcomed me into the Rula Lenska Fan Club, an invention of a Chicago ad man, with thousands of members who are united by no other bond, save that they too have asked: Who is Rula Lenska?
The Chicago ad man meant his club to be a joke, but clearly the heart of its appeal is no joke at all, and in fact echoes the essential cry of our beloved country. Americans will simply not permit somebody to be a nobody, no matter who she is or isn't, no matter if we've heard of her or not. If we haven't heard of her, why then we'll hear of not having heard of her, but in no way will she never be heard of. We will not hear of it.
And if Miss Lenska wanted to play at being a star, that was okay too. Because doesn't everybody like to put on the ritz now and then? And to do the grand fandango?
Miss Lenska has stated in an interview that she had not the faintest idea why Mr. V selected her to represent the Alberto-Culver Company, since she was unknown across the sea. Yet symbolically she has turned out to be the perfect choice - the immigrant who has led a varied, perhaps harsh life abroad ("Royal Flash," for pete's sake), who fell from the at least titular grace of the Polish aristocracy, in spite of speaking five languages fluently, but hauled herself up nevertheless, through dental reception rooms and God-knows-what, now enters the New World via hair spray and shampoo, where like all immigrants she must start from scratch. And yet she is instantly recognized and important for being nobody but herself.
All of which proves once again the strength of the American Dream, which might well be called the Golden Rula:
You're a nobody till somebody loves you.