30 Inspiring Quotes From Old Hollywood's Top Leading Ladies

You can blame it on Twitter or our short attention spans, but unless they're giving an Oscar speech, writing a book like Tiny, Amy, or Mindy, or they happen to be J.K. Rowling, celebrities just don't seem to be as eloquent as they used to be. Don't they know we're in desperate need of guidance and inspiration? Sorry, but a selfie just won't cut it.

So, we're turning to the wise, often wry words of our favorite classic film stars. From Marilyn Monroe and Mae West to the two Hepburns, these leading ladies had plenty of timeless lessons to share. Life certainly wasn't always rosy, but these gals had grace, strength, and gumption. Surely there's something to be gleaned from their sage teachings?

Read on for memorable quotes from Old Hollywood's finest actresses. Warning: This advice is best consumed with a stiff martini and a string of pearls.


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Photo: Rex USA.
Lucille Ball
"Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world."
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Katharine Hepburn
"To keep your character intact, you cannot stoop to filthy acts. It makes it easier to stoop the next time."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Grace Kelly
"I avoid looking back. I prefer good memories to regrets."
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Photo: ITV/Rex/REX USA.
Lena Horne
“It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.”
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Photo: Rex USA.
Doris Day
"There were times when I wasn't always up. Everything could be calm and peaceful, then the next day the bottom dropped out. What can you do? Moan and groan and feel sorry for yourself? No, you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and you get on with life."
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Mary Pickford
"You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Helen Hayes
"Everybody starts at the top, and then has the problem of staying there. Lasting accomplishment, however, is still achieved through a long, slow climb and self-discipline."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Julie Andrews
"Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th."
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Photo: Associated Newspapers/Rex/REX USA.
Zsa Zsa Gabor
"I pay all my own bills... I want to choose the man. I do not permit men to choose me."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Sophia Loren
"After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It's better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life."
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Photo: REX USA LTD/REX USA.
Marilyn Monroe
"I'm not interested in money, I just want to be wonderful."
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Photo: Dezo Hoffmann/REX USA.
Eartha Kitt
"My recipe for life is not being afraid of myself, afraid of what I think, or of my opinions."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Shirley Temple
"Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble."
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Photo: Everett Collection/Rex USA.
Gina Lollobrigida
"We are all born to die — the difference is the intensity with which we choose to live."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Rosalind Russell
"Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death." (as Auntie Mame)
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Photo: Rex USA.
Gloria Swanson
"When I die, my epitaph should read: She Paid the Bills. That's the story of my private life."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Jean Harlow
"When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Ava Gardner
“If I had my life to live over again, I'd live it the same way. Maybe a few changes here or there, but nothing special. The truth is, honey, I've enjoyed my life. I've had a hell of a good time.”
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Photo: Rex USA.
Vivien Leigh
"Life is too short to work so hard."
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Judy Garland
"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
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Photo: SNAP/Rex/REX USA.
Audrey Hepburn
"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Bette Davis
“I am a woman meant for a man, but I never found a man who could compete.”
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Elizabeth Taylor
"I'm a survivor — a living example of what people can go through and survive."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Lauren Bacall
"I am not a has-been. I am a will be."
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Tallulah Bankhead
"Here's a rule I recommend: Never practice two vices at once."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Mae West
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Leslie Caron
"I think it's the end of progress if you stand still and think of what you've done in the past. I keep on."
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Norma Shearer
"An adventure may be worn as a muddy spot, or it may be worn as a proud insignia. It is the woman wearing it who makes it the one thing or the other."
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Photo: Rex USA.
Greta Garbo
"Is there anything better than to be longing for something, when you know it is within reach?"
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Lana Turner
"The thing about happiness is that it doesn't help you to grow; only unhappiness does that. So, I'm grateful that my bed of roses was made up equally of blossoms and thorns. I've had a privileged, creative, exciting life, and I think that the parts that were less joyous were preparing me, testing me, strengthening me."
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