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The Hills Are Alive

This is going to be whatever....Blogging about anything and everything.

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Location: Los Angeles, California

Read my blogs and eventually you'll know as much about me as I know about me, and probably more!

Sunday, November 06, 2005


HELLO AND GOODBYE, ONCE AGAIN. (I screwed up in my earlier post)



This blog you are on now, will be closed, as of right now, with no new posts!
(If I didn't screw up again....)

Hope you'll stop by the NEW one very very soon.

And I thank ALL of you for your support and encouragement.

Till LATER.......


Hi and Bye!
I finally got on this old blog to tell everyone, please go to the NEW BLOG!


Too long a story, but I will probably transfer some of the older blogs from here to the new blog, and by way of adding PHOTO'S to them, make them brand new (I hope)

There weren't that many to begin with....

Anyway, for now, this blog is closed. But I WELCOME you to the NEW BLOG and look forward to seeing you there.

And thanks for all the encouragement from everyone.


Saturday, October 29, 2005


I am sick of our Governer...sick of him, I tell you....

First of all, he is inundating us with commercials every other minute, (who is paying for this?), on every station on TV; ( WHO IS REALLY PAYING FOR THIS, I ASK YOU?? )
Pushing, pushing, pushing, his agenda.

What is that about?

It turns out that he was turning off so many people, that he has now changed his tactics.

Now, he has contritely (ha!) changed his tune (not really)...He is now, inundating us with.."I am sorry I offended you", commercials, and being the bad actor that he is..... his pretending to apologize, and yet still pushing his "AGENDA" but in entirely different voice....(the soft voice...the 'I'm sorry' voice.....Oh, give me a break...), is sickening and incredibly transparent.


We need a 'special election' because_______, (please, you fill in the blank).

Here's my REAL question:
What does our Governer really want?

Does he want to become President of the United States?

Perish the thought.

PLEASE...people, do not let that happen.

You know what really makes me sick? That politics is sooooo filled with the "self-serving".

Whoever has the most money can afford to push his/her agenda, no matter what.

These are strange times we live in.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hooray! I have a scanner and it works, thanks to Shawn, The Wonderful!!! So, here is a bit of a tease of things to come...as I continue on the examination of my life. (If I can get the pictures from my file to my blog..!)

IT'S HERE!!!!!!!!!!

Who are these people? That's for me to know and YOU to guess.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


When I was growing up, the expression we used was "I almost peed in my pants". Was that a New York thing? Were people in other places saying that or were they saying; "I almost peed my pants"? I know this isn't important, but it is strange to me that I never hear the expression the first way anymore, but only the second way. I don't even say "I almost peed in my pants", anymore.....When did that change, or didn't it? Any thoughts, bloggers out there?

Another question; this one I think would fall under grammer, but I'm not sure. I learned to use this next word like this: anyway....
You know, like....'Well, anyway,I started to.....'.
Now, almost all I ever hear people saying is 'anyways'. Like...'Well, anyways.....I started to.....', and I tell you, it sounds totally wrong to me. It sounds like poor grammer, to me. Am I wrong about this?

I first became aware of this on "NYPD Blue"....the character of Sipowitz was always saying, 'Well, anyways', and I thought, is this supposed to be a culteral thing? Is Steven Bochko saying that this is how cops talk, or is he saying this a 'character element' of a class distinction type thing, covering not just policeman but showing the audience some class distinction of an economic nature? I don't know, I'm just asking? And I have noticed that this "ANYWAYS" usage is now everywhere on television.

The use of language is fascinating to me, and I would appreciate any and all feedback about this word and the phrase above as well. And if you can think of any seeming changes in our language that bother you, please do share them. I thank you in front.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


This is a pretty long post so maybe you should go to the bathroom, now!

Many years ago, Bobby Lewis, one of the greatest acting teachers and theatre Directors ever, began teaching a sort of Master Class for actors, here in Los Angeles. One could audit the class, and I really wanted to experience the genius of Mr. Lewis, not only because I was an actress, but more because I am a writer and an occasional Director, too.
Bobby had known Betty Garrett from her early New York-Broadway days, and through the connection to her, he chose to rent Theatre West on the mornings that he was going to hold his many acting classes. (Theatre West had begun, basically, as an Actors Workshop, though it grew to encompass Writer’s, Directors and Designers as time went on, and Betty G. had been one of the founding members, along with about 12 or 13 other professional actors. I came into the group about the 8th month of its existence….and, have remained a member ever since, (as has Betty G.)….I have done just about everything one can do in the theatre, Act, Compose, Direct, Produce, Sing, Stagemanager, Write, and anything else I may have forgotten…

Theatre West is one of the oldest Acting Workshops in L.A. that also Produces plays, and over the years has had some very illustrious people as members---quite a number of these people joined TW at the very beginning of their careers, like Richard Dreyfuss. He remained a member until only a few years ago when he moved his residence to England. Many many of the original people kept up their memberships up even after great success came there way, not just out of sentimental reasons, but as Carroll O’Connor said in “The History Of Theatre West-Part 1” (a Video that I created back in 1982 to commemorate the Twentieth Anniversary of Theatre West)…..but for "...professional reasons, as well,….you never know when I might want to come back and do a play….", said Carroll. He spoke of the community of theatre people and said that we spoke a different language than other people and said that he found it comforting and stimulating to "be with your own kind"…his words, exactly. I do agree that theatre people, or show people, in general, do seem like a different breed….and there is definitely a comfort in the short hand that comes with the shared experience that ‘civilians’ cannot understand, not having had those experiences or even , I'm sorry to say, sometimes not understanding why anyone would go through those experiences....
Gettting back to Bobby….because of TW's history, it was the perfect theatre for him to be holding his extraordinary classes. This man was an icon in the theatre community….everyone wanted to study with him, young beginning actors and seasoned pro's. So, his ‘Master Class’ was for working actors of a certain reputation and stature, who’s experience and many years of working in the theatre, films and television, uniquely qualified them for a ‘master class’ as apposed to a ‘beginning actors class. All of the people in this ‘master class’ felt the need to, once again, hone their skills with a great teacher and director such as Bobby.…and Bobby had a particular way of approaching a play that had come from years of experience, starting with the famed Group Theatre, and the directing of many many Broadway plays. He was one of the founding members of the Actors Studio, and like Stella Adler, another great great acting teacher, split from the Studio and began teaching his own ‘Method’.
Three wonderfully interesting books that many consider the bibles of acting, "Method Or Madness?"; “Advice To The Players” and "Slings And Arrows: Theatre In My Life" were written by Bobby and are treasured by anyone who knew him, worked with him and by all those who had an awareness of the stature of this complete theatre professional. He was treasured also, because of the esteem in which he was held by his peers and by the theatre community, in general. He was a giant of a man, and it was indeed an awesome privilege to be allowed to audit his classes. Over a period of two years, I audited 2 different classes; One running for 9 weeks for two mornings each week, and the other one running for almost 3 months, once a week on Saturdays. Incredibly talented actors worked on scenes chosen specifically by Bobby for each person and including partnering each person with an appropriate partner in these scenes from plays that were classics….weather Shakespeare, or Ibsen or Tennessee Williams, or Arthur Miller or Pinter….Often these actors worked on material that they were never ever hired to do, though they were extremely qualified and capable of doing these plays to stunningly exciting results--the material Bobby chose for each person was chosen to stretch their ciew of themselves as stretching their skills which were rarely if ever used 'for hire', most all actors being pretty much typecast but the so called powers that be.....Betty Garrett who took the class, was in her early sixties at the time, and she had had and was continuing to have, a very successful career in the theatre, films and television---and I tell you, I saw her do work in that class of Bobby’s that was extraordinary beyond words, and unbelievably thrilling, too. One of the scenes that Betty did was from Robinson Jeffers’ ”Medea”. And, for those unfamiliar with this frightening woman--she kills her two children, among other atrocities…though that alone would qualify her as a Major Monster, for sure! As an actress, we got to see Betty reach inside herself and touch things that none of us had ever seen her do before, nor thought her capable of doing if we were to be honest, including Bobby! Well, were we all wrong about that, and what a thrill it was to be that wrong! The wonderfully talented actor Karl Malden, who many people only remember from those American Express commercials or “The Streets Of San Francisco” TV show--forgetting that he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in “Streetcar Named Desire” having been in the Original Broadway cast of that play, and was later nominated in the same category again, for “On The Waterfront”---(breath here…)…played, Medea’s husband Jason, in that same scene from “Medea”, and he too, was extraordinary! These are not easy roles to do; the language of the play alone was difficult and it goes without saying that the very terrifying subject matter was deeply challenging, to put it mildly. But you see, that’s what made this class so bloody exciting!
In that first 9 week session, Anne Bancroft was in the class. And I remember the first day she got up, Bobby asked her why she was there….and she said, (and I am paraphrasing slightly here...),

“Oh Bobby, I don’t know what I’m doing. I just feel lost and I’m not sure I can act anymore…..I haven’t worked in a such a long time…so I just don’t know what I’m doing anymore!” She was very serious. I remember sitting there and thinking …’Lord, if this truly great great actress can feel this way, than it’s no wonder we all feel so damn insecure….!’. She was very humble and very anxious to get to work on something, and couldn’t wait for Bobby to assign a scene and partner for her. As it turned out, Anne Bancroft was unable to complete the classes because she got a movie that took her on location and whatever those feelings were for her of not being sure she could act anymore, disappeared, at least it did for us in the class; I have no idea if they disappeared for her. I hope so because the body of work that she created after that time continued to be top notch and unique in every way, (Rent: “Garbo Talks”---she is wonderful in that, so touching, and vulnerable---she has a monologue that is a film-treasure---it is one of those rare brilliant pieces of acting that is memorable in every way. Art—The Arts—Books, Music, Paintings, Acting, Films, Theatre, Photography, etc. truly can illuminate our lives and transform our lives---it can move us, it can change how we feel about something---how we think about something—touch us in ways that stay with us for all of our lives in the deepest most effecting manner---it can give us hope and it can dash our hopes, too by the truthful illumination of life as it was, is and may be again. This is an amazing thing to me. And I hope that I will always approach everything I am exposed to in the creative world like a child seeing something for the first time. To be excited, stimulated, and thrilled by an artistic experience can be truly life-transforming. As an artist myself I have had some small measure of success…(that was never why I did any if the things I did, but a bit of success has come my way, I’m happy to say.) No, I am not a household name and never have been, and further, I have never been able to actually “earn a living” with anything that I have created----oh yes, I’ve been paid for my work, weather it was my paintings, photography, plays, songs writing, acting, etc…..but “earn a living”? No. But the need to create; the need to express oneself in some form of artistic communication has been a part of my life since I was a child. Along the way, I know I have touched people because they took the time to communicate that to me, I’m grateful to say; or, they put their money where their mouth is, so to speak…and, in the case of my art work, bought a painting or two, even when they couldn’t afford it and had to pay it off—month after month—for years, sometimes, (that’s needing something as desperately as needing breath for life---I know, cause I’ve done it myself---buying other people’s paintings)….
Why am I even talking about this? Well, I think I’m evaluating my life with this blog, in some strange way, and at this point in my life I'm attempting to see if in truth, my life has any meaning; I mean that ‘means’ something to me. I’m just beginning here so I don’t have any answers and quite frankly, I’m not even sure I have the right, or I should say, correct or appropriate questions…there may be 10 questions or 100 questions or even more? I don’t know yet. But I do know that in going over just a tiny bit of my history here, on this blog that is very new—I do know that that in itself has made me value it more, at this point in time. (Gee, I hope that many of you younger people are not turned off by someone evaluating their life…the name I chose does say that I am the OldLady Of The Hills, as you have discovered, if you are here on this blog right now…lol)….
So far, this has been a very good life for me---the creative life, I mean. There may be a lot of things that I regret about my life, but the years and years and years that I have spent ‘creating’---- I don’t regret one millisecond of that time. In retrospect nothing I have ever done as an expression of my creativity do I regret----even playing the bongo drums on a very bad album a singing-friend recorded umpteen years ago, I do not regret---And I approached that non-paying job with all the professionalism and care that I have always given to every creative project I have ever been a part of, paying and non-paying….anyway, hopefully more will be revealed to me as they say, as I go along here….
Right now, that shoulder of mine is hurting again from the ‘one-finger-typing’ method that is mine….So….

Friday, October 21, 2005


This is one of a number of Mantra's that I try to live by. The others may be revealed as I go along here, or not! This is the kind of photo that makes me laugh, but it also inspires me to be less fearful of saying what I really feel. Not an easy thing to do; Not easy at all, especially with family.....sometimes their wrath is hard to take, I tell you!

But, it is something for me to aspire to, nevertheless.)

Looking at this picture reminds me of what I need to do to not be fearful of expressing whatever it is I 'Feel'!!!.....If I knew how, I'd make this my profile photo....I really identify with that little doggie, a lot , and, actually the big one too, who, though he is big he looks painfully vulnerable and very sweet, doesn't he? About trying to post my so called 'profile picture'.....I have read the bloody directions over and over and OVER, and cannot understand one thing about how to do this......It is amazing to me that the 'directions' Rachel gave me in a comment regarding the posting of pictures to my blog, were easier to follow than anything that I've seen on this site, so far....Hey, Rachel, maybe you should be writing the directions, and maybe you can explain to me how to post a picture to my profile! (lol)....Except, I'm not kidding, Rachel!

I don't really have a lot more to say right now...my mind is racing with so many ideas of the things that I will eventually be able to post, when I finally get that scanner (or do I need two kinds of scanners???---OY!)and, if I can hopefully understand those directions, well.....I am getting ahead of myself. The thing is, I'm not a stupid woman. I certainly may be a little dense at times,....but not really stupid; at least I don't think so. And by choice, I guess, I pretty much live my life alone and so I have learned to do a lot of complex things by myself.....true, I have had really good teachers, too; people who 'talked me through' the how of HOW to do something in a way that I could follow and learn....and as I said in a previous post, I have 6 VCR's and know how to program all of them, etc.....anyway, I'm bored with myself and the 'directions' problem.

It will all work out, (Oh me, of little faith,) it will. It must! See, here's where the 'fear' comes in....well, like that little doggie said to that big doggie.....I say it to me, Fuck Me!

And I mean that in the nicest way......


Thursday, October 20, 2005


This is my very first attempt at painting , using the computer only, about 12 years ago. It isn't really representative of what I paint, yet it is, in that I did things like this when I was a child! The best thing about this is, I had forgotten I even had saved this all those years ago, and found it with the help that Rachel gave me in her suggestion about taking things from my computer. THANK YOU RACHEL, MORE THAN I CAN SAY!
I am investigating scanners but do not want to do something soooo quickly that I don't get the correct one for me! Meanwhile, I'm very excited about finding this little 'experiment' and actually being able to post it! HOORAY! I love when little triumphs like this just make me feel like I acomplished something as important as going to the moon!!! (Not really, but, well....you know.)
Later and Hopefuly...More Visuals Later, Too....

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


After cooking quite a lot and then eating quite a lot I then rested quite a lot….I always check out what Turner Classic’s is showing and I tuned in towards the beginning of one of my all time favorite films: “SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS”—a wonderful Writer-Director Preston Sturges film….for the uninitiated--it’s just such a ‘thirty’s-forty's’ kind of a movie released in 1941. Joel McRae & Veronica Lake, (her best film performance to my way of thinking…and McRae is gorgeous and delightful and great to look at, too...) are the stars, with a lot of those great great character actors of that period---one of the best parts of ‘the studio system’. What makes this such a great film for me is that it starts out a slapstick comedy—witty and silly and very stylish looking in every way, with fast clipped dialogue-- and ends up with a ‘message’ that makes me cry every time I see it.

I often talk about this film and tell younger people who are unfamiliar with it, that it’s a ‘must see’ because of this seeming turn-about, and the fact that the ‘message’ is such a terrific one. (I always felt and still do feel that the look of the ‘chain gang’ sequences had a more realistic feel to them than any other film I’ve seen to date, including those scenes in ‘Cool Hand Luke’…! Maybe because “Sullivan’s” is in Black & White…I don’t know)….And there is such a look to the film….if you don’t know it, run out and rent it! I so much want to tell the great ending and the ‘message’, but I won’t. Suffice it to say, it’s worth renting on many many levels, not the least of which is that it’s a Preston Sturges film….and while you are at the rental store, (I mean Netflix), rent “The Lady Eve”, too….another very witty faced paced Sturges (again, written and directed) comedy with two of our greatest actors ever…Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck (both looking fabulous, I might add), plus more of those fantastic thirty’s/forty’s character actors—William Demerest, Eric Blore, (both in “Sullivans”, too) and Charles Coburn, to name just a few.

A day or two ago, when I couldn’t sleep early early early in the morning, I was surfing around those other movie channels that have no interruptions, thank God, and saw the last fifteen minutes of “The Miracle Worker”….another film that I just love!!
Besides having two of the greatest performances ever filmed, it has a gorgeous score by Laurence Rosenthal that can bring me to tears, in a millisecond---in fact, this is another film that always brings me to tears—most especially at that moment when the young Helen Keller makes the connection between ‘words’ and ‘objects-thoughts-concepts-etc.’ that Annie Sullivan has been trying to teach her throughout the film---well I am always a goner! Between, these two great actresses performances—(Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke)--and the direction of Arthur Penn coupled with that incredibly moving score---the tears always come—I mean sobbing tears---and I’ve probably seen this film 20 times, but that moment never fails to move me. And, I had seen the original Broadway production with the same two actresses which was an incredible experience “live”—especially the dinner scene, if you are familiar with this play and film--- and on top of that, it’s so damned inspiring, too, you know? And again…gorgeous black and white photography---Ernest Caparros—of whom I know nothing except that he was the cinematographer on this film!
I said in an earlier post how the movies saved my life and ruined my life, too…and that is still true, today. Give me a terrific movie and I am a happy person….including all the movies that allow me to cry like a baby. Like “Finding Neverland”. Oh my….I was so grateful that I was able to see this in my own home, by myself. It would have been deeply embarrassing to be in a movie theatre….because this movie is a-whole-box-of-Kleenex film for me, you know?….I want Johnny Depp to adopt me…no, wrong….I just want Johnny Depp.!

Beautiful Beautiful film, in every way---another gorgeous score; that wonderful little boy—Freddie Hysmore(?)…in fact there wasn’t a false moment in that entire film. And for my money, it should have won Bas Picture at the Academy Awards; I knew it wouldn’t, but I still think it should have….I don’t even remember what did win---“Lord Of The Rings”?? (I think).

“Sullivan’s Travels” didn’t win anything and wasn’t even nominated for anything; neither did “The Lady Eve”; “Finding Neverland” , though there were multiple nominations, won only one major Award and that was for the music; but on the other hand, both Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke won Academy Awards in 1962 for their stunning performances in “The Miracle Worker”.
‘…..Sometimes there’s God so quickly….’!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I want to talk about the most important man in my life---my cat Sweetie. (THINK” Insert Photo Here…from now on, IPH for short….). He is the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen, (no offense meant to all my previous dear cat pals, who’s souls have got to be in Cat Heaven, if there is such a thing…), and further, the most beautiful cat I’ve ever served. (Yes, ‘served’…you know I’m saying, if you have ever lived with a cat….and frankly, I love every minute of serving him!) Just a small word to those people who don’t get the whole cat thing…it’s an acquired taste, for some----believe me, if you ever get to know a cat you won’t be able to resist….I know, because I was converted about a forty years ago, and I honestly do not know how I ever lived without a cat…..in fact, one of my dearest’s lived to be 20 ½ years old and I’ve always said she was my longest most enduring intimate relationship…..!
Back to Sweetie…(IHP)…. He is all white, long haired, with the most gorgeous Paul Newman Blue Eyes you ever saw; a little pink nose and a true ‘classic cat face, not the pushed in flatish-face type….in a word, were talking “GORGEOUS”…. And, as sweet as his name. (Two or three IPH)
We’ve been together for a little over 6 years…and he is the dearest, sweetest most loving and comforting cat I’ve ever lived with…(probably not completely true, but at this time in my life, he definitely is the perfect kitty for me…..another IPH… Living up here in the hills of Hollywood, we have coyote’s and also terrible traffic, too—(yes, traffic, you wouldn’t believe…. But cars come zipping around the curve just before my house and then speed up, because for 2 seconds there is a ‘straightaway’, before the next curve…driver’s are truly crazy-nutzo’s here in L.A.)---so, all my Cat friends have always been indoor people---years and years and YEARS ago, they said that the street life of a cat here in Los Angeles was two hours! God knows what it is now…two minutes!!!???...so, my dear dear Sweetie--Sweetums—‘The Mister.’—‘Mister Boy’--‘Mister Beauty’—‘The White Lion’-- is an indoor cat.
My house is his house; well, I should say, he allows me to live in his house. Plus, he has three ‘cat tree’s, all of which he uses---this morning he was in the condominium of the one in the kitchen, all curled up like a big white ball, that has blue eyes and a lovely pink nose. Delightful! They do make you smile and warm your heart, and he’s not bad to look at, either…Like I said, “Gorgeous”!
And the very best part of having Sweetie in my life is, he gives me more joy than almost anyone I know; and like all the cats I’ve ever lived with, he loves me unconditionally; he doesn’t care if I’m fat or thin, smell good or bad, comb my hair or not; he is a true prince of a fellow who just LOVES me----now who could ask for more than that!
There’s just one thing that I don’t understand about him and which leads to a few minor problems. He is the only cat I’ve ever lived with who doesn’t cover up his poop or pee, in the litter box. He does his ‘business’--(a stupid euphemism, if I ever heard one…) and just leaves it all there for all the world to see---uncovered,---on top of the litter. I guess he never learned that step, you know? Another bit of a problem that I had not encountered before in all my years of loving and living with cats because I never had a long haired cat before nor a white one, either, is this: sometimes there is poop close on his tush and even going down his legs! Not a pretty sight or a pretty smell either! I end up having to wipe his tush or comb around it and sometimes I even have to wash his tush and legs---(no IHP needed here), not a whole lot of fun, but, I love him dearly and that’s what you do when you love someone, right?
Has anybody out there ever encountered this problem? I’d be particularly interested to know if anyone has run across the litter box phenomenon, and if so, what do you think that story is in dear Sweetie’s ‘primal’ history?

Monday, October 17, 2005



I’ve been trying to put a photograph on my blog, but I’m not savvy at all about how to do that! It is shocking me how not savvy I am!! I don’t have a scanner so I cannot use my own photographs and if I get a scanner, (which I will), I hope the damn ‘learning curve’ is not going to drive me nuts! I was looking at the photographs that one can put on one’s blog…..I’d love to put on so many different things; all stuff I’m interested in, or care about. (I could have illustrated every blog I’ve done so far…well, not every one,…..). I have so many photographs that I have taken myself; slides and prints; I am ashamed to say I am not up in the digital camera department yet….(Ohhhh, so behind the times here on ‘the hill’….).
Frankly I feel like the whole digital camera deal is beyond me now….(part of me hopes that is not true, but I’m so far behind with the technology, I don’t see how I can catch up!).
I bet I’ve taken fifteen thousands photographs in my lifetime…Between my own personal interests---like for a couple of years I was taking unbelievable amounts of photographs of roses….extreme close-ups using my extension tubes; I’d love to put some of those on here if I ever get that scanner and if I can learn how to do it, as well as the 1500 photographs of my Cactus Garden, which covers the whole hill underneath my house, plus all the fantastic plants in front and on the side---Truly ‘Fantastic’, if I do say so myself! I’d love to show some of my paintings and drawings, (Too many to go into…I mean I’m talking at least 2500 drawings and over 860 paintings---really large and really small, too); For any number of years I took all the Production Photo’s at Theatre West, the theatre I’ve been connected to here in Los Angeles for a million years, and I don’t even remember how many ‘Head Shots’. I use to take actors ‘Head Shots’---for the uninitiated, these are what actors use to need so their agents could send them out to producer’s, etc….plus all the party’s, trips, Birthdays, New Years Eve’s, Christmases and God knows what other social functions….
And I have any number of cameras and umpteen glorious lenses, which for my money are still current and ‘Today-ish’, even though they are not digital, you know?…..I use to take so many photographs for one reason or another, I almost cannot believe I hardly ever take any pictures anymore, at all. I moved into Camcorder stuff, almost immediately upon it’s arrival for home consumer’s….what….almost 20 years or more, now?....And that was great, except that’s gone past me now, too….Again, ‘The Digital Age’---OldLady Of The Hills feels really really old about this! I sure hope it’s not too late to learn this skill…I mean, I’m a woman who has 6 VCR’s, (Which will be obsolete in about 2 minutes!!), and 3 DVD Players, so, it’s not like I am completely a ‘feeb’ when it comes to electronics, you know?
It’s just….Well, it’s just….I’m not sure I have it in me anymore, you know? I sure hope I’m wrong about this….please, oh pretty please with chocolate sprinkles on it…let me be wrong about it being too late!

And on that note…….

Sunday, October 16, 2005


I was reading “Andy Hardy Writes A Blog, (the wonderful dannymiller.typepad.com) and in his latest post he talked about his concern that his love of the past and history was maybe a way to not deal with the present…I am paraphrasing what he said, but that was the idea. And it made me think about the fact that since I started this blog, so far, most of my posts have been about the past. Many of the things I have been writing about have not been in my ‘present’ very much at all, for years, but, they are part of the fabric of me. They are my history, and it is really a joy to revisit these memories of my life and in writing about these things many little details that I thought were gone from my memory, are coming back, and frankly, that is exciting for me. Putting one’s history down on paper, so to speak, can teach you a lot about yourself. It’s also a lovely way to visit a time gone past which you hope may be interesting to others, or not, as the case may be, but mostly, it is a way for me to see what my life really has been about; (not every moment of my life, of course) and obviously, or not so obviously, the things I have been involved in all my life ultimately are, ‘me’ and my life. Perhaps because of the limitations that the physical illness I am dealing with now have placed on me, this blog is giving me an outlet for expressing any and all things I feel like writing about….and yes, as with all things creative or expressive—(you fill in the word that suits you)---there is a need to share it, but, I’m not sure that that is the motivating force for me, and I can only talk about this in those terms because, as anybody who reads this can tell, and anyone who writes a blog knows---I am putting all these memories down, for me;(It’s getting truly boring using the word ‘me’, and ‘I’ over and over…OY!...well, here comes some more of that!)
I don’t have any children, and no, I’ve never been married either---that’s a whole Chapter of future Blogs, (or not!), but my ‘creative life’ and my friends/family are my sustaining life-blood, and that has been true for me for all of my life….like I said, another future blog…or not!

So, what is this particular post about? Well, I want to encourage Danny Miller to ‘be true to himself’. He LOVES the History of many many things, and these things are part of his history, and he knows so very much about all the parts of the particular things he loves, that his sharing what he does in “Andy Hardy Writes A Blog” is a Great Gift to all of us, but in particular, it’s the greatest gift to his young 10 year old daughter, Leah. Teaching without ‘teaching’, (if you know what I mean,) the value of things past and their importance in our ‘present’, is, I think, one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone, but particularly your own child. What you give to all of us Danny, and to your sweet dear daughter is truly profound! The ‘History’ you share enriches our lives and is almost as good a present as giving someone incredibly rich deep dark chocolate!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Incredible Shrinking Credits-A Rant!

Is anyone else disturbed by the continuing shrinking of credits on television? Pulled over to the side; reduced to almost a pin-head size these days….un-readability personified? When did all this begin to happen and how come none of the unions like SAG, seem to care!! And this circumstance coupled with the ‘ads’ that fly in and distract from the actual show we are trying to watch…(which, seem to be getting bigger and bigger, sometimes taking up one-quarter of the screen…)…I mean, does this disturb anyone besides me??

In the first case, in reducing the credits to this completely un-readable size shows such disdain for the creators and artists and Artisans who bring these shows to television and in turn, bring the ‘ratings’ to these networks, as well…..then there is more disdain as these horrible ads fly in and out, and distract from the show to the point sometimes of not being able to follow the story of what you thought you were watching because your concentration has been broken by the ‘coming attractions’….(I also resent, more than I can express, all the ‘previews’ one must endure on the DVD’S we have paid heavy duty money for….more greed, plain and simple!!!)

And the ‘Paid Programming’ one must also endure on the cable channels one pays extra to receive in the first place??

Oy Vey!!!

Greed. Fucking Greed!!!!

Plain and simple---unabashed, ‘we don’t give a shit about anything but making more money—Greed.

Well fuck you and the horse you road in on---Greeders!

Oh, I feel so much better now.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I got my Equity card that first summer at Sea Cliff when I was cast as Eunice Hubbell-The Woman Upstairs in "A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE". This was an Original Production at Sea Cliff and not a traveling 'package'. The reason I got cast in this play was because of "Pal Joey", which had been the 5th week of that first season, and what an exciting week it was! It gave all of us such a lift, especially the apprentices...there were lots of little fun colorful 'set' pieces that had to be built and painted---things that could be moved in and out of scenes very quickly, this being a musical with many scenes. This particular production is what sparked the very first revival of this terrific musical, on Broadway that following season---though not with the cast that was traveling that summer. Our cast was Carol Bruce as Vera and Bob Fosse as Joey! Fantastic together and alone! The whole cast was fun and the show was a hoot. These 'packages' of musicals always did have more of a cast that they traveled with than the usual shows...but cut way back because of costs. In this case there were four chorus girls and four chorus boys---that was it. All the supporting players who had musical numbers came with the package, too, but the rest of the cast was filled in by the 'Resident Company' and the apprentices. This show was a smash hit, wherever it went and Sea Cliff was no exception, and because our theatre was so close to NYC a lot of show people and agents and related celebrities would trek out to see their friends and clients...it was a very exciting week and everyone was psyched by the energy that was generated by this fantastically talented cast....I mean, Bob Fosse? Hello! He was a heart breaker if there ever was one...everyone in the show was sharp and funny and absolutely professional and we all had a ball with them! I had actually seen the Original Broadway production with Gene Kelly and Vivienne Segal....some people would say this was a strange show to bring a child to....but, I loved it and the only scene or song I had any memory of from all those years ago was The Pet Shop scene and "I Could Write A Book"....the most innocent of scenes and songs, already the great romantic, was I; You see, it just shows you that what you do not understand as a child just goes right over your head, (I think...hmmmmm.)
Anyway....the apprentices all got together and did a late night take-off of the show and I played Vera, (all-be-it a rather pudgy one)....and whatever it was about what we did that night, the Producers immediately cast me in "Streetcar"!
Louis McMillan, one of our Producers was going to play Stanley. He was an extemely attractive man and though I'd never seen him act, one just felt something from him---an animal magnetism---that made you know he was going to be a terrific Stanley. I loved this play and had seen that Original Broadway production, too, with Jessica Tandy as Blanche, Marlon Brando as Stanley and Kim Hunter as Stella...
At Sea Cliff, that summer, Blanche was to be played by an actress named Helen Twelvetrees. I was not familiar with her, but was told she had been a pretty big star in Silent Films and then moved to 'talkies' and then suddenly her career was pretty much over by the early 1940's; And that she had worked in the theatre before ever going into films....
Being very young and fairly opinionated about 'The Theatre' (not just because I was in Drama School, but I think because I had seen so many many plays and musicals in my still young life, I thought, no one could possibly be a better Blanche than JessicaTandy...Ahhhh the unbelievable confidence if youth, about some things, anyway....)
That very first day of rehearsal, the whole 'Streetcar' company was on the outdoor back platform, behind the theatre; it was huge and it was where all rehearsals took place when it wasn't raining. All of us were there and I was very very nervous. My part was a pretty big part for an apprentice---one that would have normally been 'jobbed in', so I felt a lot of pressure to be really good and was deeply afraid I was going to be very bad...In one scene, which was offstage, I had to scream a truly blood curdling scream....my husband in the play, Steve, was an abusive wife beater and this scene was there to illustrate the fact that we fought all the time and that the neighbors, (The Kowalski's) could hear us. I honestly did not think I could do this but was afraid to tell that to anyone.
A lovely actress and an excellent writer too, Anne Marie Barlow, who as playing Stella in this production was already there too, and we were waiting for Miss Twelvetrees, who we were told had arrived at the theatre and would be with us at any moment. Shortly thereafter, this ethreal looking woman---blond and very pretty, though in a faded sort of way, came down the path towards the back platform. She was wearing a very feminine white summer dress with flat shoes and she was truly 'a vision' right out of 'The Elysian Fields' . She looked quite a bit older than her actual years, particularly by today's standards---we are not used to seeing women of her age looking that dissapaited, anymore, most of the time, but alcohol had taken it's toll I'm afraid, and as she came closer to greet each of us individually as we were introduced to her I couln't help but notice that she had the saddest eyes I'd ever seen. I thought to myself, 'My God, she is Blanche'. Everything about her was soooo 'Blanche'. She seemed terribly fragile physically though one sensed great strength in her, too. But it was also obvious that she had an extremly fragile psyche, as well....she was a sweet woman; a very nice person and a really lovely lovely actress as it turned out; and she was the character of Blanche Dubois, down to her marrow....you wanted to 'take care' of her; something about her brought out the caretaker in all of us and we all wanted her to succeed, desperately, because of that.
It was a very exciting week for all of us, but especially for me. Our Resident Actor, (as he was known), George Mitchell, a dear dear man and a superb actor, was playing my husband, Steve Hubbell. As I said we lived upstairs from Stella & Stanley and Steve was one of the regular poker players in the Kowalski apartment. It was the wonderful George Mitchell, who coached me through the screaming and helped me to release these blood curdling sounds. No, he didn't actually hit me, but on one of those first days of rehearsals, I shared with him my fear about screaming...(So ironic that not 20 years later I would be reaching down into my deepest feelings in something called Primal Therapy, where I had no trouble screaming at all, and still don't, but I was pretty repressed in those early days at Sea Cliff, and so very young, too, in experience) George and I were walking into the sleepy little town of Sea Cliff at a lunch-break, and I told him how scared I was that I would not be able to scream realistically. And this gentle man said, 'I'll make you scream...If you really believed I was going to hit you...', and he raised his hand in such a menacing way, that I screamed...tentatively at first, but it did get better and better as the two of us rehearsed on the way to lunch! Whatever works, you know? He never did actually hit me, but the threat of it was so real....it worked. And once I gave voice to this scream, I got over my inhibition about it; it was a really terrific lesson for me that I was able to utilize as an actress long after that. Once I conquered the fear of screaming, I could relax and move on to all my other fears!
The production came together beautifully during that week of rehearsal;
Louis was a wonderful Stanley; Ann Marie Barlow was a terrific Stella and Miss Twelvetrees was 'The Real' Blanche, in every way. I never did find out what her personal story was but it was certainly all in her face and persona, so that what she brought to the play was a unique quality; she didn't have to worry about 'acting', all she had to do was 'be', and it worked like gangbusters for this play; (she had some problems remembering lines...one perfermormance she skipped about seven or eight pages, but somehow we got back on track;) but she was a 'professonal' and because she was such an emotionally fragile woman in and of herself, her Blanche was deeply deeply touching; it broke your heart. Like I said, she truly was Blanche. This week of "Streetcar" was very successful for Sea Cliff and audiences literally ate it up! It was incredibly exciting for me to have my first paying job as an actress be in this great great play and with such a lovely and talented cast, particularly the tragic Helen Twelvetrees. It was a memorable week, in every respect. Just seven years after that summer, poor sweet shattered Helen Twelvetrees, died by her own hand. (As Birdie says in "All About Eve", ...'Everything but the bloodhounds snapping at her heals....').

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

October 12th, 2005


Sticking with the unimportant stuff, (NOT), I surf around all these special movie channels I pay extra for with the digital cable box, (I’m very very disgusted with Adelphia!!!), and cannot find anything to watch. I’ve either seen the movies before and never care to see them again, or I don’t want to see the movies in the first place and all these are shown all the time, too. I don’t understand why they repeat the same films over and over and over, ad nauseum? And such crappy ones, included!
Then I go to Turner Classic Movies and I can almost count on finding something I’d really like to see again. These old films really are better to my way of thinking. As a kid, I went to the movies all the time. I have always said, the movies saved my life, though MGM basically ruined my life, too, you know? I believed all the romance and ‘happy endings’ in those MGM films, because I needed to, (there were no happy endings in our house)… I could lose myself in those movies; I could forget about all the bad things that were happening to our family, and I could dream of all those wonderful romantic things happening to Lana, happening to me, and that helped me to survive. I was in love with Lana Turner and I wanted to be Lana Turner, too; (go figure!) I kept scrapbooks of June Allyson and Van Johnson; (don’t ask...it seems like a really strange thing to me now, too!); I was a baby in so many ways back in those years; and in fact I was the baby of my family, and as I’m sure many of you know who are in that position—that position never changes, no matter how old you get.
On the first day of Drama School in New York City, I met a beautiful young man from Alabama, named Sammy. It was the beginning of a life long friendship, which ended only because he died much too young in 1985—we were truly soul mates in every sense of that phrase. The only thing we weren’t was ‘lovers’, though I feel if that had been in the cards we would have been….we skirted around that in conversations and decided it would ruin our friendship which we both felt was very important---too important to each of us to ruin it just for a ‘role in the hay’, as Mrs. Chisolm said, in “Petrified Forest” we always decided to maintain our friendship just as it was---and, he was sometimes gay, (eventually, pretty much all gay, if there really is such a thing---lots of debate about that one) and I didn’t really know what I was….(that feeling of being ‘in love’ with Lana when I was 11, had confused me…I certainly found out later, but during those first years, I was like a nun who has taken a vow of celibacy.
Sammy was at Sea Cliff that first summer, too, which made it that much more wonderful for me, and I think for him, too.
One of the many things we shared was a passion for movies; He was just as much of a movie junky as I was, so we had a great time going to films together and both of us felt the same way about heads in front of us at the movies. So, we didn’t care how many times we had to move in order to avoid having anyone sitting in front of us---sometimes if the theatre was really crowded, we would end up in the first row with our necks craning, but most of the time we just ended up sitting closer than anyone else, which we both loved—that connection to the movie screen—each film being shown, just for us. And we never talked during a film, ever, ever. It wasn’t something we even needed to discuss; it was just what we did from the first time we went to a film together.
When the Judy Garland “A Star Is Born” was going to open in New York City, we had to go see it the very first day it played. We both loved her and had both seen her at ‘The Palace’—a life changing experience, for me----I had seen a lot of wonderful performers even though I was very young because as I said in a previous blog, going to the theatre was something my family had always done on a regular basis, as long as I could remember. But, I had no concept that the young woman in all those MGM musicals when seen ‘live’ was going to be so fucking electric; such a powerful performer; she reached into her guts and tapped into her own emotions and artistry, touching the audience in a way that I had never seen before. It was an awesome thing to behold and to feel, too. I saw her three times at The Palace. Thrilling, beyond words. I’d also never seen an audience respond this way to a performer; it wasn’t like Sinatra and fans screaming through all of his songs; Garlands audiences were worshiping at ‘Her Alter’, riveted to her every move and gesture and being swept away with the emotion she projected and in turn the emotions she made you feel….the screaming of Bravo would erupt at the ‘finish’, you know? It was much later when her die hard fans, I include myself, knew every note of every arrangement that people would scream after the first 4 bars---knowing what gem was about to be sung; or screaming and whooping at a crescendo reached during a song that they knew was coming…(think: “Rock A Bye My Baby”…YES! Or “Swanee”, just as she was changing keys to a higher register and slowing down the tempo---screams of recognition—almost orgasmic in nature…)
She was something else. So, Sammy and I met up on that very first day of “A Star Is Born” and sat through this masterpiece of a film, twice. We hated to leave and swore we would come back…and as it turned out that was the first and last time anyone saw the uncut, unbutchered version of this fantastic film. It was pulled out of theatres and a shorter version was in order because of the money that was being lost with this longer version----(what a travesty)---and now, with the magic of partial restoration, the original version can be seen, but not in it’s original state, at all. With the use of photographs and ‘voice-over’s’, much has been put back---whatever still existing musical numbers werelovingly put back---but much was lost forever…..and so it will never be, what it originally was; a true masterpiece of a ‘movie musical’. I remember that both Sammy and I were bowled over by the kind of performance that was captured on film of Judy Garland’s singing---it had the most ‘live’ feel to it of any musical film she had ever made up till that time. (Rent from Netflix: “I Could Go On Singing”; it’s the last film Garland ever made and her musical performances in that movie are superb, though the film itself is not the best of her career---again, her acting is astounding--) And in “Star”, her acting is superb, too---truly riveting and heartbreaking. That scene in her dressing room when she talks about her husband’s alcoholism and then proceeds to go out and sing, again, “Lose That Long Face”, which had been cut...(Give Me A Break!!! OY OY OY)…..Well, Garland was robbed that year at the Academy Awards…..and James Mason was robbed too, his thoroughly stunning performance didn’t even get a nomination!
The last time I saw Judy Garland perform, was at the Hollywood Bowl. (there were times in-between, but, The Bowl was particularly memorable for various reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Sammy and I were sitting waaaay up in ‘The Peanut Gallery’; it was drizzling as it sometimes does in California; and Miss Garland was late coming on, but she did come on—I think she was waiting for the rain to stop, but when the audience began applauding almost as ‘one’, the show bagan. What was remarkable about this performance was that even though Sammy and I were very far away from her, she owned that place and transcended that space which is huge, and it felt like she was singing just to us. How she managed that, I’ll never know, because any other performer would have at best—looked like a little ant up there---I cannot explain this—but she looked like she was 30 feet away, at most. No big TV screens on either side of the stage, as they have now….just her looking big! Amazing! I’ve seen quite a few performers there at the Bowl, and very few can actually transcend that space; very very few—I think that is why they have those screens now. This woman was a ‘force of nature’, for sure. Later.....

Watched the Geena Davis show early this A.M. on my VCR. Her cheeks don't look Chipmonk anymore (refer to my previous post)....they must have filmed the pilot many months ago, and the botox was 'new' then. I guess it has settled in, if that's what it does...I can't believe I'm writing about botox!


For some reason, I remember that very first summer at Sea Cliff where I apprenticed, better then the next two summers that I worked there. Maybe because it was all new to me and everything was interesting and exciting and I was learning how things worked. The first play of the summer was “The Curtain Rises”, with Veronica Lake. (Her leading man was an actor named Ward Costello….an attractive serviceable actor). It was kind of exciting to have a ‘movie star’ be the “STAR” of the play. I don’t have any particular memories of her….I think I worked the concession stand during that week and probably ate more Hershey Bars and Milky Ways, than I sold!! Then came, Melvyn Douglas & Signe Hasso in a little ditty called, “Glad Tidings”….I have no memory of that week either, except that Mr. Douglas was very nice and very good, in the play, too! The 3rd week was the wonderful Lillian Gish of whom I spoke in one of my previous blogs, doing a play called “Miss Mabel”. She had a couple of heavy weights with her; Clarence Derwent who was an icon in the American Theatre and also was President of Actors Equity Association, at that time….(also, there is an Award named after him)--A distinguished gentleman and very fine actor, was he; Dennis Hoey, who we knew from the “Sherlock Holmes” films…the ones with Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce. (He was Inspector LaStrade, in the later films of that series, and was very well known in theatre as well….). Miss Gish was a smart savvy lady and knew to surround herself with first class actors. It’s hard to believe that Lillian Gish was only 55 when she did “Miss Mabel”. Because I was still in my teens, (just barely), I thought she was ancient!! (From my point of view now, as Colette once said, ‘Ahhh, to be 52 again!’…..)

Next came “Her Cardboard Lover”, with Eva Gabor. Miss Gabor had told the Producers that she would need a ‘Dresser’. I am not sure why they chose me, except, I think they thought I was nice, and would get a kick out of being her dresser. So, I had gone home and showered and put on fresh clothes in order to meet her; everyone else was filthy with paint all over them as I had been; tired as hell; and most everyone looked like 7 unmade beds! As I’ve said before, this theatre was pretty much a mess and that included backstage. The ‘Star’ Dressing Room was very tiny and pretty disgusting, too, though we would try to keep it as clean as possible so that there would be no remnant of the previous person who had ‘lived’ in this little room, the week before—in this case that was Lillian Gish. Miss Gabor asked me my name, which I said was Naomi, and she immediately proceeded to call me Gertrude, and did so for the first 3 days or so….we decided that her Dresser the week before must have been named Gertrude and she just held on to that once she had finally learned it…we were all interchangeable to her, I’m sure! She then handed me a list of the things I was expected to do before each show, including the two shows on Wednesday and Saturday. Among the many things I was expected to do, (I think there were 9 directives in all), I had to help her dress, literally, including helping her pull her girdle on, (oy) and get down on the floor on my hands and knees and help her put her shoes on(!!!); iron…yes, iron her 8 or 9 costumes—huge skirted dresses, they were---this was the crinoline 50’s remember; and, brush her little dog before HIS entrance in the second and third acts. (Two brushings,)
One of the Producers, Louis McMillan & his partner George McIver, our Stage Manager were chomping at the bit to find out how it went and what I had to do, and, mostly, was she a real blond! I was pretty overwhelmed with the list of chores, let me tell you—not feeling up to these tasks—especially the ironing—I was so afraid I would burn her very fancy dresses---satin, lace, etc., that I just couldn’t even contemplate how I was going to do this! I told them everything that was expected of me and how fearful I was of ruining her dresses; the crowning blow was when Louis heard I had to brush her dog before his entrance, too, he screamed…”My God, she needs a $90 a week dresser! (That would be $1,900. in today’s money, and it was considered a job for a ‘professional’….) “This is outrageous!!!”, he continued, “I’m going to call her agent! I don’t give a shit that it is Sunday! I will tell him to hire someone for her right now; I’m putting a stop to this kind of thing, right this second!!!” He was much madder than I had hoped; I began to realize that it really was an outrageous expectation on her part and felt he would take care of this situation. I don’t remember where I went in my mind while he did all that screaming on the telephone to her agent, but after he got off the phone he told me to go home. Leave the theatre, and don’t come back till the evening. I was a little unsure of this, but he was my boss, not Miss Gabor. “I’ll see to this, right now!”, and he stormed out of the Box Office where we had been talking and I could see he was on his way through the theatre to backstage. I scurried out of there, fast. I had promised to pick up some props that were needed for the show, and so, off I went, not knowing what the outcome would be, but I was very relieved that he understood…(THIS was definitely beyond my expertise as an apprentice.)
I returned to the theatre about about 7pm and went backstage to see what was happening, terribly afraid of Eva Gabor’s wrath. She saw me and immediately asked me into her Dressing Room and closed the door and said; “Oh Please, Gertrude, don’t leave me! I need you Gertrude, and you are the only one here who looks clean…it won’t be so hard…..I’ll help you! You’ll see, Gertrude, you’ll see!!” This woman was begging me….! My favorite thing was her saying, ‘you look clean’…! Well….needless to say, I didn’t leave her….And ultimately she learned my proper name, and in fact, turned out to be a lot of fun and a very good sport, too. George McIver would call half-hour of course and those first few nights he come to the Dressing Room door and knock rapidly, calling out, Naomi Gertrude Hirshhorn, it’s half-hour! During that week a couple of the kids went to a joke store and they picked up the most real looking and I might add, truly disgusting joke dog-poop I’ve ever seen. George put it where he knew she would see it and she did see it, and the result was pretty hilarious. She screamed thinking her little dog might have dumped it there, and then after looking at it more carefully—good egg that she was, she laughed; she laughed harder than anyone else! A good sport, like I said. There was a lot of discussion among all the apprentices and the rest of the staff, too, as to what Eva Gabor would give me as a ‘thank you’ present. It was a traditional thing to do, especially given the laundry list of chores I did. Much speculation; would it be some jewelry—her mother owned a very famous jewelry store in Manhattan and I knew that her sisters and mother were coming to the show on the coming weekend; (they did and all four of them crowded into the dressing room chattering away in Hungarian—I didn’t understand one word of course—she would stop every so often and ask me a question in English, like—‘Who are the Benefit people here tonight?’, and I would answer her, ‘The B’nai Brith’. She would repeat that to her family, ‘B’nai Brith, aka baga golta …whatever..right back into heavy duty Hungarian. Eva, Zsa Zsa, Magda, and Momma Jolie…all talking at once in Hungarian.
The end of the week came and she was now calling me ‘Naomi’ ---and I just knew, the girl the following week at whatever theatre she was going to would be called Naomi, till she grasped the new name. She thanked me and as I recall, gave me a signed 8 X 10 glossy of herself and a little gift box. She said I should open it after she left, and so after closing, we had this little ritual for a short time, just to unwind before the work began again; so we had our little bit of food and drink, (Soda was my speed at that time), and we had ‘The Opening Of The Gift from Eva Gabor to Gertrude Ceremony’. I must say that by this time I thought it might really be a truly nice piece of jewelry…that’s what the boxsaid! (It certainly might not be from the actual jewelry store but just a box from the store that held something else entirely…)
Drum Roll: I opened the box and inside was a rhinestone pin in the shape of an oversized snowflake with a fake pearl in the center….a pin that might be worn by a woman of 40 or 45, but not a by a girl of 19. But it was from Mama’s store.

I still have that pin. In all these years, I have never worn it but I couldn’t get rid of it or even give it away to someone else. It was never the kind of jewelry I would have ever worn, but it is a keepsake and reminder of another time.
The following winter, Eva Gabor was doing a radio show from the Hotel Ballroom, in Manhattan, (a small ballroom), and I went with a couple of people and during the course of this show she was giving away a weekend at the Concord, (a very popular hotel in the Catskill, at that time....) as a prize in this contest. The contest consisted of her calling out the name of an obscure song and you had to say what Broadway show it was from. So she said the name of the song and...nothing! Eventually she had to give a hint by naming another more well known song from the same Broadway show. She called out the more well known song in that charming accent of hers…’All The Things You Are’….I suddenly knew what the show was; I could see the sheet music in my mind because we had it at home, so I screamed out, very excited, “Very Warm For May”! ‘That’s it! That’s it!’, she said…’Who said that?’…..I stood up in the back of the room where we had been sitting, and waved at her, and said…’I did’. She screamed in recognition, and said, ‘Oh, it’s my dresser, Gertrude!’ I won and lost, all at the same time, that night. Not a big loss and not a big win either, just a lot of

Monday, October 10, 2005

Well, I lied! This isn't about Eva Gabor or Helen Twelvetrees or anything from....'The Past'.
Here are some questions I'd love to know the answers to....

1) What has Geena Davis done to her face? (OY OY OY!!!) Botox?
2) What has Scarlett Johanson done to herself??? This unique -no-one-like-her girl has erased who she is and gotten Glamourized!!! (OY, OY, OY, Indeed!)
3) What very subtle but obvious thing did Charleze Theron do to herself????

I don't get it. Well...Geena Davis is trying to look young...Okay, but...the whole upper part of her face doesn't move!! And whatever she did, has given her 'Chipmonk Cheeks'. Pitifal.

Scarlett Johanson?? I mean....That, I truly do not understand for one second. Everything that was special about her is gone! Erased, like with the end of a number 2 pencil!!!! Worse than pitiful. Criminal. And, sad; So SO Sad. How old is she....24???? Oh, Nurse?????

Charleze Theron....I mean, really. This young woman could not have been more beautiful....Hello??? And has she actually turned 30???

Sad, Sad, Sad. I will never understand how all these actresses do so much awful stuff to themselves, (A Laundry list of incredibly talented women who now look like fake dolls, and when they look in the mirror, do they say, 'Who Is That?' I sure would, if that was me!).
It's shocking to me that all of these ladies PLUS God knows how many I haven't mentioned by name ....(I will if anyone has any question about who I am talking about here)....have bought the crap that 'the business' or whomever has convinced them they must believe about themselves in order to remain 'stars'!

It's just beyond my understanding, in the truest, deepest sense. Oh, I get why they've bought this horse manure, but, but, but.....!
Like I said, I think it's pitifal. And sad, beyond words.
I think about Betty Garret....NEVER had any plastic surgery, except the surgery on her nose that MGM insisted on!
She is 86 years old, and absolutely Beautiful!
(Oh Danny, if I only knew how to put photo's on here.....HELP!)

What's it all about, Alfie?


Continuing with the ‘alcohol’ story: I had just turned 21 as the season began that third summer at Sea Cliff; the summer of the Box Office and the summer of Miss Ethel Waters. I did not drink. It didn’t interest me and the one time I actually drank at a party about a year and three-quarters before, after I felt ‘drunk’, I then felt sick to my stomach, cried a great deal, and my body hurt all over…so, I didn’t get why anybody would want to drink, if indeed, alcohol made any of them feel even a little like it made me feel; i.e- Horrible, beyond words; but I decided that perhaps what it did to me, (after the sort-of-feel-good-part got really really old), maybe….just maybe, didn’t happen to all those other people, and it was just me, and my particular body; I decided, that I was truly allergic to alcohol and that was it for me and drinking.

During the week that Ethel Waters was at Sea Cliff, she got invited to a very posh party in Glen Cove, the next town over from Sea Cliff; the ‘rich’ town, people called it. Miss Waters did not drive anymore, and if memory serves she had had a very serious accident many many years before which she told about in her autobiography, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”, which I had read and was very very moved by it when I read it…this accident was so bad that she was hurt very seriously and I believe, again if memory serves, was turned away by not just one hospital, but two hospitals because she was black.….this was during the Jim Crow days; the days of Extremely Overt Racism…(I honestly don’t know how anyone lived through those times, which of course are not over by any means, at all!) I remember when I read that part in her book, it was deeply chilling to me; I mean, just reading her account of this terrible terrible inhumanity towards her and all the other people in the car with her—absolutely horrendous! So, because she did not drive, the Producers needed to find someone to drive her to this gathering on that afternoon; it was between the matinee and evening performance; I was chosen. I was actually quite honored to be not only driving her, but having the opportunity to just be alone with her in the car; her presence was a very powerful one—this woman who had such a fantastic history as an entertainer/actress/singer, and as a person.

I was pretty quiet driving with her over to Glen Cove; (Oddly enough, when we passed by the Glen Cove movie theatre, guess what was playing there?? Yes, “Member Of The Wedding”. My hand to God, that is exactly what the Marquee said.) As we drove along, I was rather tongue tied and embarrassed because I was feeling like‘a fan’, and so I was quiet cause I didn’t want to appear silly and stupid. She was quiet too which was okay by me. I think a few words were exchanged when we both saw that movie marquee, but otherwise, it was pretty quiet.

We arrived at the private house where this cocktail party was being held in her honor; In fact, it was an Estate. We went into the house as I recall, and we were shown immediately to the garden area where the actual party was already in progress. The Hosts, Mr. & Mrs. Long Islamd, came over to her and were very gracious and showed her to a seat where she was immediately surrounded by some of the guests; I went over to an area that was slightly out of the mainstream of the party, wanting to become ‘woodwork’; this was after I had told her where I would be and to give me the sign when she was ready to leave, to which she said, ‘Oh don’t worry honey, I will’. And from where I was standing and then eventually sitting, I just watched everything and everyone, very quietly. A waiter, who happened to be black, came over with a tray of drinks already poured into glasses, and offered me a Martini or a Tom Collins. That was it. Those were the choices.

Well, I wasn’t even officially invited to this gathering so I did not feel comfortable asking for anything else like a soda or even water. I thought very quickly about what I should do: I was very very thirsty---I had ‘Dry Mouth’ from nerves, you know. And on top of that, I was terribly hungry, but I wasn’t offered anything to eat, and frankly this was my ‘dinner hour’ and I didn’t know what I was going to do about that; I knew enough to understand that a Martini was pretty lethal. Heavy Duty Alcohol, especially on an empty stomach. That was not an option. I thought that a Tom Collins was not as lethal, so….there we were. I thanked the gentleman and took a Tom Collins. It was pretty amazing because I had almost no sense that there was any alcohol in this drink. I didn’t chug-a-lug it, but I did gulp quite a bit down, pretty quickly, attempting to quench at least a bit if my thirst. Whatever was in that glass began to hit me enough that I relaxed just a bit. I looked around at the party as the alcohol seeped into my bloodstream, (I guess!). I couldn’t help but notice that there were other waiters and some waitresses, too, and they were all black people, as well. I looked at the guests very carefully; Miss Waters was the only guest at the party who was black. I watched her interacting with the other guests; she would smile and nod and say a few words to each person that came over, but as I watched her I thought: How does it make her feel to be the only black guest surrounded by mostly ‘White Bread’ sort of people, and seeing that the only other people of color at the gathering were the hired help? As the Tom Collins seeped further into me as I sipped my second drink, having downed the first one and having eaten the cherry, thinking at least that was a tiny bit of food—this disparity between Guest Of Honor and White People Guests grew larger and larger in my mind and my eyes. And I thought silently, I bet she is sitting there thinking to herself as she smiles at these people and is gracious with them, ‘I wouldn’t be here as a guest if I weren’t Ethel Waters!’….Oh, how I wanted to ask her this! Pretty soon, she gave me the ‘high sign’, and made her excuses which were very legitimate because this was her dinner hour, too, and also her time to rest a bit before the evening show.

I got up and I was feeling no pain. I knew I would have to drive v-e-r-y-, v-e-r-y carefully. We got into my car; we left the Estate; we passed the Glen Cove Theatre once again, going the other way back towards the theatre. I threw caution to the wind. The alcohol had taken away pretty much all my inhibitions about talking to her and I just jumped in with both feet, telling her I had read her book and how much I liked it and how powerful I thought it was, etc. She nodded and thanked me. I went on; ‘Some of the story’s you tell in the book are pretty horrible about the way you were treated.’ ‘That’s right, Honey’, she said. I went on; ‘I bet you didn’t even tell half the awful things that happened to you. I bet you left out a lot of really really bad things’. She nodded again---I could see her with my peripheral vision; I was not going to take my eyes off the road for even a second. “That’s right, Honey”, a slightly different inflection on this one; more knowing; more-agreement, really. Then I thought, ahhh just screw it, and threw caution to the wind even further, and said; ‘You know I sat there at the party and watched you and I thought to myself, I know what Miss Waters is thinking. I felt that you were thinking as you looked around that group of people, I wouldn’t be here as a guest if I weren’t Ethel Waters’. There was a moment’s pause…(I really thought, Oh My God, I’ve gone to far; those damn drinks, oh shit!…). still seeing her with my peripheral vision I could tell she had turned her head slightly and was now sort of looking at me and she said, “Oh yes, Honey, that’s right!”. I must admit it made me feel really good that I had seen this whole drama and called it correctly in my mind, and then, was validated by her slightly more emphatic answer, and because of Mr. Collins, I got to share a very truthful moment with her and I felt there was an unseen tiny bond between us because of this. Months later, after seeing her show on Broadway and having gone backstage to say hello and tell her how wonderful it was to see her on Broadway, she smiled at me and hugged me and said to someone who was there with her, ‘It’s my driver, from Sea Cliff’. I was thrilled!

That afternoon of the Tom Collins, was the first of a number of afternoons with a Mr.Tom Collins. I don’t mean I became a raging alcoholic, but, I could see that I could have, because the reason I drank them was not because I liked the taste of liquor, but because I took away my nerves. Working in that Box Office for the rest of that summer got harder and harder. Dealing with the public got harder and harder---their anger when we would have to cancel their reservations if they weren’t picked up by 8pm, got harder and harder for me to deal with cause it made me feel so very bad. I began having a Tom Collins at my dinner break on Saturday nights, the worst night for ‘dealing with the public’…then it became Friday & Saturday, and then….well, you get the picture. By the end of the summer, this Tom Collins thing now had spilled over to Thursdays and sometimes even Wednesdays! Thank God that summer finally ended, cause when that summer ended, so did my drinking! Bye Bye Tom Collins; Hello abstinence, well….at least for a good 2 years or so. I only went through one other period where I drank to sooth the savage beast and that was during the ‘singing in nightclubs’ period, and I do believe if I had continued to work these horrific ‘toilets’, I would have ended up in AA, but that’s another story for another day….But, Thank God, I did not become a ‘Box Office’ statistic. And the other great thing about it—though a very stupid way to have this happen—was that I certainly had a very memorable week while Ethel Waters was at The Sea Cliff Summer Theatre, and a particularly special afternoon where truths were touched upon.

I promise I’ll get to Helen Twelvetrees and Eva Gabor and a lot of other stuff, too…just not right now….

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Another P.S. I am soooo sorry about the continual mistakes. I still cannot get that damn Spell Chck to work! HELP! Still same day, just a few moments after previous post....Oy!

There was a time when statistically the highest percentage of Alcoholism in theatre people were/was the people who work in the Box Office. I have no idea if that is still true, but it was the case back in '08 when I worked in the Box Office during my 3rd summer at The Sea Cliff Summer Theatre, (I had been an apprentice there for two summer's and was so hooked I came back for a third torturous summer, working in the Box Office...yes, I was in three plays as an actress, too, but basically, my whole summer was spent serving the public in that tiny little hot room with a tiny little window, called 'The Box Office'. We answered phones taking reservations, etc., and helped people at the tiny little window when they came to buy tickets, in person.) This was one of God knows how many Summer Theatre's that existed and flourished, at that time...a great many were in existance then....remember it was a very different time and one of the staples of possible work for actors and 'Stars' was, The Summer Theatre. This really dates me, but screw it, I don't give a shit, I lived it so, as they say, I own it...so why not claim it. There were at that time what they called 'Summer Packages'. These were Plays or Musicals that were put together for a star or often by that 'star', which toured the 12 or 15 Top Summer Theatre's along the East Coast, or sometimes including as far West as Ohio and Michigan! You know Westport, (before Joanne Woodward),Ogonquit (?) there were more but I have forgotten the names now), and Sea Cliff was one of those theatre's. These 'packages, usually included, The Star, possibly his or her leading woman or leading man, the Director, the Advanced Director; all the other actors would be part of each resident company, or were 'jobbed in' at each theatre, just for that particular show. And if it was a Musical, there would be two(2) Pianists who played the whole show...no other musicians, except in rare exceptions--and I tell you that those two pianiasts, whoever they were, would play the hell out of a score....those 'Musical Arrangements' were an "ART" unto themselves! That third summer at Sea Cliff the Producers, Louis McMillan & Tom Ratcliffe decided they wanted to do a revival of "Cabin In The Sky", which was not a package, but originated and was done only at Sea Cliff.....the two piano's were played by, Luther Henderson, the best arranger in the business, at that time, who also did the musical arrangements for 'Cabin'; he had worked with Lena Horne among others, and the second piano was played by Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington's arranger/song-writing collaborator--"Lush Life", "I Want Something To Live For", one of the greatest siongs ever written....it was THRILLING, I tell you, utterly thrilling with those two genlemen at the piano's....they were like a whole orchestra; the arrangements were gorgeous beyond words...and the week of "Cabin" was memorable in every way. Generally, the way these things worked, was this: The whole summer was set up in weekly periods of time, and it was advertised and sold that way to the Season Subscriber's and, to any and all other audience people that might be interested. The entire summer was usually booked and set, by no later than April, with the first show opening sometime in June. Show 'A' opened on a Tuesday night...played through Sunday night with two matinees, closed Sunday night; the sets were pulled down...('struck' in theatre talk) that night, the stage was painted or whatever was needed to load in the new sets for show 'B' that followed, which were pretty much built and painted during the days of the week prior to the opening of that particular play, while the first show was playing at 8:30pm every night.( The apprentices were basically slaves. It was quite an honor to say you were 'apprenticing at Sea Cliff, this summer', or at Wesport, etc. Everyone happy and proud to be a slave!! (What we do for love, huh??? ....the Sunday night through Tuesday at 8:30pm...well really till the curtain came down on Tuesday night, was a particularly brutal period of time. Sometimes you didn't get any sleep at all, if there were 'special' problems.....the Advanced Director for play 'B', the following week's show had been there all the week before, overseeing the designing and building of the sets; this system was a well oiled machine by the time I became an apprentice that first summer at Sea Cliff. Of course there were variables; when the 'Star' or 'Stars' arrived on Monday for the run through and 'Dress Rehearsal' that Monday night before opening, there might be something about the set or the furniture that was not to their liking, or perhaps the lighting was not quite right, or in some cases, extra 'Baby Pink Spots' were added by the particular 'Star' so that they looked younger and more vibrant. If there were things wrong, they had to be corrected before showtime on Tuesday night, even if it meant staying up all night and working all day till 'Curtain', which happened more often than not! And that went on, week after week, ALL summer long; no breaks; no real time to recover, because right after the opening Tuesday night, early Wednesday A.M. we began working on the sets for play 'C'.! And so it went. And during the day, if you had been cast in next week's show, you got to rehearse all week, without the principals, I might add, and then the first time the entire cast would be together was on the Monday afternoon runthrough. (How the hell did everyone do this??? Not too well, most of the time, but, there were rare execeptions. And if a play originated at your theatre, which Sea Cliff did quite a bit, I'm happy to say, then, the entire cast was there, rehearsing all week, together...much much better result!
That first summer at Sea Cliff, we had a series of very interesting 'names', in mostly mediocre plays, (but not all mediocre). Most of these plays were chosen not just because each would show off the particular 'Star', but also they could be done more easily with this very difficult summer schedule, because Sunday night, after closing at Sea Cliff, the Star and his or her cast moved right on to the next theatre, arriving wherever, by noon on Monday, to begin this grind all over again.The 'Stars' were people like, Veronica Lake, Olivia De Haviland, Betsy Von Furstenberg, Art Smith & Kim Hunter, (a lot of women!!!) Joan Blondell, Lillian Gish, and the apprentices favorite that first summer, (NOT!) Miriam Hopkins, who upon arriving at the Theatre and walking through the play Monday afternoon, complained about almost everything! So furniture had to be recovered, yes...completely recovered!!!---the set had to be repainted---a Window had to be completely re-built----ALL before 8:30 on Tuesday night, and this, added to the fact that we had built a room 'upstairs' where Miss Hopkins could do her quick changes, which had to be lined with cloth so that none of her dresses would snag on any splintering wood......she did not endear herself to all of us, I can tell you, plus it was the Eleventh Week!!!! We were very very tired, to say the least. And on top of all that, we all worked the shows at night, too, in some capacity or other....I remember on that Miriam Hopkins play, I was working props, and I was so tired on that first Tuesday Opening, I lay on the filthy disgusting floor just off-stage, not caring about how dirty or hard the floor was, and fell asleep during the scenes and what would woke me was the curtain coming down and I'd scramble around changing props and then lay back down and fall asleep again, as the next scene began. What a great great time it was.
The true heroine of that summer, besides Eva Gabor, (I'll get to that later), was Lillian Gish. She was the easiest, best person to work with and her kindness and generosity to the whole company was legendary that summer. She left $30 for the apprentices. I know that sounds like nothing! But, it was a huge amount at the time, and with all of us feeling so much like used meat anyway, you know? I mean, the summer cost apprentices---room and board were your own responsability....we were not paid one thin dime, and in fact, at some Summer Theatre's the Apprentices were required to pay for the privelage of working 23 hours a day!!! So, Sea Cliff wasn't that bad. But conditions were pretty horrendous; most all these theatre's were very very old and run down; plumbing problems; roofing problems; no air-conditioning; dirt & dust problems; And we all LOVED every minute of it!!!
So $30. was like a fortune to all of us and the point being Miss Gish did not have to do anything! But she did. And after Miss Miriam Hopkins closed, we had a HUGE party, (yes, for $30!), and we finished our summer as apprentices with a bash to end all bashes! Ahhh to be young! But, the reason I started on this loooooong story was, Alcohol. Remember back that far? That third summer, working in the Box Office, one if the 'Original Productions' these terrific Producer's decided on was Ethel Waters in her 'One Wonan' show. Miss Waters had given the ten or so theatre's she committed to play that summer a choice of what they might have her do; either her One Woman Show, or "Member Of The Wedding". Well, Louis McM. & Tom R. wanted Miss Waters to do her One Woman Show, and Sea Cliff was the only theatre out of all ten or so that wanted her to do this show and not "Member". Miss Waters was etenally grateful because this was an evening that was very dear to her heart, and it turned out to be the pre-Broadway-tryout for the fall season in N.Y.....and the fact that Sea Cliff was the only Theatre that wanted this very special show, made her love these men and this theatre, and that included everyone----apprentices, staff, designers, etc. The only other cast member was Miss Waters accompanist, Regginald Bean. a brilliantly talented pianist, this Reggie; their musical communication was something to behold. His understanding of her and her talent; her utter confidence in his 'backing her up' excaly as she needed, was something to behold. She had been rehearsing this show for her long while, like her whole lifetime, you know, so truthfully, on the Monday Afternoon 'runthrough', she could have gone 'cue to cue to cue'....and not sung any song all the way through, except for songs where there were special light cues that were important within the song, but, because all of us who worked there were sitting all around the theatre listening and watching, she sang a great many of the songs all the way through. It was a stunning experience. Her signiture song, "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" was the closing number.....we were all bowled over. She was really something, this Ethel Waters person....all the pain of her life; all the struggles of her history; years of racism etched in her soul...all this was in every moment of her fantasic performance...."Suppertime", another signiture song; Lord, so moving, this is when you understood fully, that singing is acting in this finite and most difficult format; a song is like a little play; this song, "Suppertime", the story of a woman whose husband has gone out and has been lynched, is like Greek tragedy right here in your own yard. To say we were all in awe of her doesn't really describe what we all felt. I don't remember how old she was at that time, but not young, you know? She didn't have to sing ANY of these songs....she could do them in her sleep! But, she did them and sang the hell out of them! And it was, for us. Excited? We were all ecstatic at the privelage of being able to see her 'perform' for the next entire week; 8 performances, (Fabulous!!!!) well, nine really, because she would do a 'dress', that night. I was so excited I was beside myself with the awesome oportunity to witness this great great Artist for the coming week. I had always been very big on recording stuff at home, from the moment that reel to reel tape recorders were available to the general public....I talked to Louis & George, (his partner and our Stage Manager) about somehow getting my Wollensack Tape Recorder to the Theatre and like, wasn't there some way we could record this 'once-in-a-lifetime- theatre' experiemce? They got excited about the idea, but knew it was illegal to do this, but....but.... needless to say, we decided to try to do this, anyway, and not tell anyone and hide the recorder in such a way that no one would know, but us, and hide the micraphone, (and paranthetically, no one was miked in those days...not the performers or the orchestra's...it WAS better, folks, believe me!) and I would run the thing from my perch high up above the stage floor on 'stage left'. I don't think I ever had been as excited about anything, as I was about the prospect of having this incredible artist's performance captured forever on tape; recorded on my very own recording device, (WOW!) to listen to any bloody time I wanted! The night we chose to record just happened to be July 4th; we did not forsee that there would be fireworks down on the shore there in Sea Cliff, but there were a lot of booming and after-noise sounds from the fireworks....it was pretty extrordinary on "Suppertime" because it sounded like a war and that this wife-woman was singing during a bombing, so it worked in a funny kind of way, but it didn't work for the rest of the show. So, what was going to be only one night of secret recording, (OY), turned into two. The second night was sublime! Perfect. We now had this precious rare tape that no one would ever be able to hear, because we weren't supposed to be doing this recording thing, in the first place!

I just took a little break to cook and eat my lunch and I realize I still gaven't gotten to the 'alcohol' part! Well, I see what is happening; one thought leads to another and then and another and then I get involved with 'explaining' that stuff, etc. I promise I will get back to that part of this story that I began with, plus, I don't want to forget to talk about Helen Twelvetrees...! Look her up if you don't know who she is! So here it is, up to now; mistakes included! Later....