The couple’s fights escalated until the two eventually separated, at which point Rachel began drinking more, and, bizarrely, calling seemingly everyone she came into contact with a “little Jew.”
By 1979 her diary entries stop being so strange and funny and start being terribly sad. She was introduced to an AA chapter, of which she claimed:
The AA meetings I attended filled me with despair. I found myself jotting down the first names of the people I met, putting them into dramatic order like characters in a stage play or a TV series. Title: The Address Book. OPENING SHOT; Camera CLOSES IN on book with this week’s number. CUT TO close-up of phone. Over the phone is SUPERIMPOSED a number… then a name… then this week’s dilemma. JOY, a frightened alcoholic… JANET, just divorced, two children…JAY, a balding, frightened man…
I can’t help but feel that this was one of Rachel’s problems – that she saw her life only as it might play out onscreen. I don’t know if she ever had the chance to relax and stop performing for people. Despite her insecurities, she could only relate to people whom she thought of as stars. Pamela Mason said:
“Part of the trouble, I suspect, was that Rachel was a very ‘fast’ character, and the AA meetings she’d go to in New York were probably ill chosen ones; the people at them were not of her set, or out of her world, or moving at her pace. She’d have done better to stick to the AA meetings in Hollywood – instead of those New York folk who can be like “the poor, the huddled masses” no stars among them.”
And then there’s a moment in Rachel’s diaries when she says:
I heard someone say ‘She’s a dead ringer for Rita.’ Remember the last time I saw Rita Hayworth in the supermarket, utterly lost, letting her companion do the shopping for her.
That seems so awfully sad. I mean, for her and for Rita Hayworth.
Then the diary entries just get really, really dark, really quickly. I think her life became increasingly difficult as, after her separation from Rex, she had an extremely hard time finding work. For all that bit about how she wanted only to be a wife, she seemed to be most in her element when she was acting. As her depression worsened, she began taking medication, like Lithium, but never seemed able to find the right chemical balance. Anthony Page, towards the end of Rachel’s life (in 1980) said, “Rachel looked terrible . . . she had hardly any contact with things, now. She reminded me of the doomed hero at the end of Evelyn Waugh’s novel, A Handful of Dust, who’s come to an impossible odyssey from the highlights of Mayfair society and the Bright Young Things to be held captive for the term of his natural life in the jungles of darkest Africa where he is condemned to read the cannibal chief from the works of Charles Dickens.”
Well, that sounds like a very good book by Waugh, and one we should definitely read, but no part of that description would have been kind to Rachel.