About 10 years ago I went to the opening of a broadway play and I was standing on a small red carpet being photographed. Suddenly the paparazzi started flashing more fervently than before and I smiled, proudly holding my pose. Just then I felt a tap on my shoulder and a deep, brassy voice said "Excuse me, Honey." I looked behind me to see who I was blocking and came face to face with an expectant Elaine Stritch. I'm sure I went fully flush as I dutifully put my tail between my legs and scurried out of her way. The photographers were NOT hastily popping their lights at me. They were trying to see her. They were there to see the Queen, the Grand Dame. And I watched, embarrassed and in awe of a theatre idol of mine as she took her well-earned time with the cameras. If you're unfamiliar with Stritch, please watch the trailer for her documentary, below. There is also a great article on her from the Hollywood Reporter, HERE
The Great White Way lost a true legend and an artist of uncanny capacity to access raw, dirty emotion, and could turn drama to comedy on a dime. Stritch could never be accused of being polite, and I think she liked it that way.
In 1954 or so, as the story goes, my Grandfather George was performing in a broadway musical called WISH YOU WERE HERE (the namesake of my blog). In a nearby theatre, a smaller play was running called THE CAINE MUTINY COURT-MARTIAL starring Henry Fonda and featuring an unknown James Garner. One of those days between a matinee and evening performance, my Grandpa was having a smoke with his friend James who said "I think I'm gonna move to Hollywood-- give that a try." George encouraged him to do it, among others, and well... he gave it a try.
I'm so glad he did.
James Garner was certainly a national treasure of talent. His work inspired so many (and for those of you who know nothing about old hollywood... Garner was the aged Noah Calhoun -Ryan Gosling- in The Notebook). CLICK HERE to read the obit article on him from the New York Times.