Fridays with Rudy: Vagabond Dreams Come True, The Final Chapter

In Chapter 22 of his 1930 memoir, Vagabond Dreams Come True, Rudy Vallée closes by musing on the fleeting nature of fame and what matters most to him amidst the clamor of his early fame.

Chapter XXII


AND NOW they ask me, “What do you think of this admiration? How does it affect you?” How could it affect me otherwise than to give me a feeling of ironic pleasure. After all, I have a sense of humor, and I am tempted at times to burst into hysterical laughter when I reflect that the city in which I was once the most lonesome person in the world, with the same appearance and musical gifts that I now possess, today finds me the target for both admiration and criticism almost as great as that which Rudolph Valentino received.
Right here I must say that I do not seek the publicity I receive. Rather I almost dislike it. Natural publicity, generally true and sound, I enjoy; stunt, sensational and exaggerated publicity I abhor. I employ one press man, and his specific duty is to keep a keen ear close to earth and to try to kill any unfavorable publicity that might be started by those who would drag me down, because it is a fact, all too true, that the bigger one gets, the more one is panned, reviled and hated. But I have enemies, people I have never met, people who do not know me or my work, but who instinctively dislike me and who would hurt me if they could. I know only two well that certain individuals who cannot stand seeing one so young and apparently untalented, attain something, will not rest until they see the end. It is sometimes possible avoid a catastrophe if the warning comes early enough. For that reason this one man tries to present the facts as they are, and to keep me in the minds of people as I would like to be kept. I am not going to attempt to convince anyone that I am this way or that way. The greatest tributes to my ideals are the photographs that I have received from the boys who play with me. They have all found me a stern taskmaster, but one who always works for their interests. I have told them that they will never be discharged, no matter waht they do, and they know they are assured of a life job with me. We have a world tour which we can begin at almost any time and which will carry us at least four or five years at a good salary for everyone. I will not allow my picture work or anything to hurt my relations with the boys who play with me.
Their greatest tribute, as I say, is expressed on the photos they have given me, for nearly all of them have ended their inscriptions by calling me the squarest man they have ever known or worked for. I can ask not more than that.
One article said that my main ambition was to make a million dollars. But it is really much simpler than that . . . after having well provided for my mother and father . . . what would really give me great happiness is to possess a beautiful home in the country, not elaborate but homelike, and comfortable. I played for years for very little, and was very happy since I play for the sheer love of playing. The same is true today and is quite apparent to a close observer: My boys and I play because we enjoy our work. We receive unheard of prices because we won a following through long and extremely hard work on the air and no one can begrudge us what we labored so hard to achieve.
People tell me that our success is fragile, and that the slightest indiscreet action on my part would mean the end. But I like to feel that the bond between us and our true radio admirers and the thousands of sick or unhappy people to whom we have given solace and enjoyment can not be so easily broken and that the end will come only when we cease to bring romance, sincerity, beauty and comfort through our music.