Friday, May 12, 2006


MOTHERS &
DAUGHTERS &
GRANDMOTHERS - 2

Here is the 2nd of my MD&G posts.

This is my dear and good friend, Joyce Van Patten, and her daughter Talia Balsam. I met Joyce in those first weeks after I joined Theatre West, just as I had met Maxine. Joyce was actually the true 'Spark Plug' for the idea of TW...along with two other brilliant actors, Charles Aidman & Scott Marlowe. Joyce & Chuck & Scott were all New York actors and had all moved West because Television had moved west 'back in the day'...but, they missed the Theatre. They missed the kind of classes and workshops that were in New York. So while doing a play here in L.A. Joyce and Chuck got this idea of starting a professional actors workshop...they didn't want it to be an acting class, but a place to work on things they had a passion for. To tackle parts they might never be cast in, or to develop a project that was a long time dream....That is how "Spoon River Anthology" came about. This had been a long time dream of Chuck Aidman...(But that's a whole other blog, for another day...)


Joyce has been a 'working' actress since she was a tiny little girl. Her brother Dickie was a child actor too, and they each have had wonderful careers as actors, and both continue to have wonderful careers to this day. The Van Patten Family is a kind of an acting dynasty. Both of Joyce's children, Casey King and Talia Balsam (two different fathers), were and are actors. Casey is not an actor anymore, but he was a second generation Theatre Wester and played a prominant part in a play of mine done at The Matrix Theatre, here in Los Angeles, "The Dressing Room", and he was wonderful! This was a very thrilling thing for me--to have worked so closely with his mother in "Spoon River" as well as our long long friendship, and then to work with Casey on a Theatrical project--a play that I wrote...indeed, truly thrilling. Her half brother Timmy Van Patten, (multi episode Director of "The Soprano's") was an actor and then became a director and a very very successful one, too. I worked with Timmy when he was a 'regular' actor on "The White Shadow" , I had a tiny part as a 'Nurse'. (One of the many nurse parts that I have played on Television.) Dickie's three sons have all acted at one time or another, too, but I think Jimmy is the only one who still does act.

Talia is a beautifully talented actress as well as a beautiful person and has had and still has a very successful career. She was just a little girl when I first met her...Her father was the fantastically talented actor, Martin Balsam...so she has the 'talent' genes from both her mother and her father...When I met Joyce, she was already divorced from Marty and she was a single mom earning a living in her chosen profession.
An unusual circumstance. I mean that for Joyce's entire career, she has never had to take work outside of acting. And considering the longevity of her career, that is the unusual part. She has been part of the Original Broadway casts of 4 Neil Simon plays...all important parts. Just a few of her films are, "I Love You Alice B. Toklas" opposite Peter Sellers, "The Falcon & The Snowman". "St. Elmo's Fire", "Mikey & Nikey" Elaine May's film, and a kind of scary cult movie called "Monkey Shines", to name just a few. Umpteen television shows, most recently "Desperate Housewives"...any number of television series including the landmark Musical Variety series, "The Danny Kaye Show".


I loved photographing these two women. They have such a wonderful relationship, and always have. I think it shines through in these photographs. They have always been very very close and they still are.
One of the things I loved about this picture is that darling cat. As long as I have known Joyce she has always had cats. This was just one of them, and a dear sweet person he was, named Morty. Talia always loved cats, too...even as a child. I have some 8mm film taken at Joyce's house on Fairfax Avenue when Talia was probably 4 or 5 years old...where they had a cat and a rabbit...both these dear little animals committed to celluloid, forever. These photographs were taken up on Grace Avenue in the house Joyce shared with two different husbands. It was in a very wonderful part of old Hollywood, one hill East of my hill, called Whitley Heights...many beautiful old Spanish style homes are up there. All of these photographs were taken in the garden of the Grace Avenue house.

In this next photograph I love the sense of fun that you see in both Joyce & Talia. They seem to have the same sense of humor here, don't they?


That old Chinese saying: One Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, really applies here, doesn't it? Talia has dark hair like her Dad, but she has that twinkle in her eye, like her Mom. (they look like they know the same funny secret, don't they?) And in most ways I think Talia looks like her Mom, too. I knew Joyce's Mom, Jo Van Patten, who had been an actors agent in New York for years and years, and a very agressive typical 'stage mother', too. Unfortunatley she lived back east and couldn't be in these photo's. And of course she is dead now and has been for many many many years.
Talia is maried to a lovely man named John Slattery who is a wonderful wonderful actor, who never seems to stop working....and he does it all, Films, Television, and stage, (he's in a play on Broadway right now called "Rabbitt Hole"). And Talia does it all, too. She was Anthony La Paglia's wife in "Without A Trace" and plays Sean Penn's wife in the still unreleased remake of "All The Kings Men", filmed in New Orleans, before Katrina. Like both her mother and her father, Talia's roots are in the Theatre and she often returns to the stage as well as all the rest. Talia and John have a little six year old boy Harry, who is the love of all their lives...and she has worked with her husband in a series for HBO called "K Steeet" produced by her ex husband, George Clooney.
..
These two women have very full lives and careers that take them from one coast to another and everything in between. Joyce just returned to New York where she lives for part of the year, and where her earliest roots in the Theatre are. We became very close friends during the whole "Spoon River Anthology" rehearsal process and subsequent runs at UCLA and then Broadway...during that glorious time, we both lived on 57th street across the street from each other, and Betty Garrett and I (our third Musketeer) both lived at the same apartment hotel, The Salisbury Hotel, right in the middle of the greatest city in the world. Across the steet from Joyce's hotel, The Great Northern, (now a very posh Hotel with another name entirely) and just up the steeet from there is Carnegie Hall and the now closed forever....fabulous Russian Tea Room. Those were heady days. The "Spoon River" experience cemented the friendship of the three of us, Betty, Joyce and myself, in a way that cannot be put into words, and can never be duplicated, either. Here is one last picture of Joyce & Talia.... I think I caught both of these dear people at a very good time in their lives. Joyce's personal life and professional life were going great guns. And Talia was just on the brink of stepping into her very wonderful career and of discovering what love was in her just burgeoning young womanhood. What I love is that they still share so very much with one another right now, as I write this. These are two very special people who love each other very very much, and it shows in these photographs, don't you think?







****I have never put so many links in any post I have written, in all these many months. But when you have people who have such rich careers it is impossible not to include all these links. You will learn a lot about the careers of each of these people if you take the time to follow the links. Have fun!****







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46 Comments:
had this to say:

Wonderful images and interesting stories. Looking forward to seeing more!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 2:11:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi, Michelle sent me.
Your mother and daughter photos and stories would make a great book - still would, I think, even if it has been done before. And yes, these two look very special people.

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 2:56:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

They look gorgeous! And I do agree that the cat is such a darling as well.

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 3:20:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

A brill Post, it is really lovely reading about other people's lives, but what makes it better is the fantastic photography. Well done, your pictures are amazing

have a good Friday

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 4:40:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I always read something fascinating when I come here, Naomi! I had no idea that DVP was a child actor. Thanks for sharing another great story. I'm here from Michele's today, hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 5:00:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed both the photos and the stories with them.
You captured mother and daughter perfectly....the love, the closeness and the humor. How fortunate you are to have these very special women in your life as friends. But...they are just as fortunate to have YOU in their's. Great post!
http://www.islandwriter.net

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 6:43:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi,
You are THE most interesting woman! And what is even more rare and important, you're also one of the most INTERESTED. I respect that so much in you.
What a wonderful job you did on this post. The photos are super---those Van Pattens have such a amily resemblence. Super, super set of links!
love,
lucyd

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 7:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Mother and Daughter picture is awesome. It really shows the warmth of a mother and daughter relationship.

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 7:49:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Those pictures are really just stunning. You have a wonderful gift!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 8:00:00 AM PDT 

Blogger mar
had this to say:

Another captivating post, don't know the names you mention but loved the story and the pictures of these two beautiful women. Have a great friday, Naomi!!! ;)

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 8:35:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

You're a teriffic writer, and a very perceptive photographer, kid.

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 8:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Beautiful images, Naomi. Really you are a talented photographer!
What a great job you did on this post. Amazing stories about the movie's world and interesting links, too! Thank you!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 9:23:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Once again, incredibly stunning images. You can certainly see the love between mother and daughter in those photos. I love the emotion you captured.

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 10:52:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Michele sent me out West to see you, Naomi! Howdy!

Talia was quite cute back when you took those pictures, Naomi. Quite. I'm sure she and Clooney were quite the attractive couple.

One of the things I find fascinating about your posts, Naomi, is the intricate and complex way in which relationships connect in the acting and entertainment community. It's such a rich and complex web at times--and you can see how knowing people would help out so much!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 10:59:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

you are such a great photographer and writer... there's a publisher out there waiting for you.. why oh why don't you find him?

great story Naomi... as always..
I wish I could write like you!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 11:14:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I loved this one!! Great pictures! You could see the mother daughter love!

The Van Patten family is a dynasty of a sorts isn't it? I enjoyed reading your personal view about them!

Always a pleasure my friend!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 12:10:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

They do seem to have the same personality. I don't think they really look alike, but there's definately something there connecting them (I mean more than just being mother & daughter). Moms are such godsends, aren't they? George Clooney is a godsend for us moms. :)~~

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 2:05:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Dear Noami, this is all very exciting and would make a great book I think. Lovely photographs you took. You have a good eye for photography!

I love the cat in the picture of course.

Looking forward to more of these posts and more about George!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 4:37:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi Naomi,

Wonderful pictures of two very beautiful women. And cat. I really like the cat one—all three are perfect in the casual and really wonderful sense of the word. You’re some photographer!

At one point here you remind me of what my communications professor friend told me about why the film industry is in Hollywood—that’s as far as it could get from the famously non-competitive Edison and his strong arm men. The famous Black Maria film studio is in a supermarket parking lot near the old Edison factory near where we live.

I used to stay overnight in the Salisbury whenever I was in town late--back in my working-on -57th-Street days. Lately I’ve been using the Chelsea, but I’m thinking of switching back.

Have a splendid weekend!

Rick

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 5:05:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

This was your best theatrical post ever! I was entranced. Maybe because I recognized EVERY person you mentioned and because I've followed Joyce's career for years. I always loved her voice and could tell it from anyone else in a flash. It's so distinctive. Her brother "Dickie" also has that distinctive growl in his voice, too. I think of him on 8 is Enough with all those kids!

The photographs are just gorgeous and you did such a great job describing the love between the generations. I just LOVE when you capture something this beautifully, Naomi. Great post!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 6:12:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Yet another fasinating and informative post.
The photographs really do capture that special relationship between mother and daughter, a great Mothers day post.

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 7:55:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wonderful pictures of the two women, you can see the love between them. Michele sent me.

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 8:53:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

These are excellent photos OOLOOTH! You captured the essence of each woman indeed. I agree with catherine, these will come out great in a book :-)
I'm here from Michele's!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 9:00:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

great post. your mother/daughter series is enchanting. Occasionally I go to Hollywood Park to catch the horse races and I spy Dicky at the betting window

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 9:06:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

That was so interesting! I love coming here....you do such a wonderful job making us all feel like we know these people!

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 9:31:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I always love coming here and reading about your amazing life and all the beautiful people you know. You are a lucky women to have been blessed with so many friends and i know that you cherish them dearly and your photos of them show your love of them so well.
Here from Michele's

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 9:52:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

beautiful post! :)

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 11:33:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Good Photo's OOL, What camera do you use?

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 11:39:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh and Michele sent me today ;o)

Friday, May 12, 2006 at 11:39:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Beautiful pictures as always, and a fabulous amount of background info.

Thanks, as always:-)

Here from micheles today, for a change

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 1:51:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Terrific post! You do a wonderful job.

Michele sent me.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 4:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Great photos!! I love the one with the cat, too, mostly because of the three sets of eyes...

What an interesting post. I have often wondered what Tim Van Patten's relationship was to Joyce and Dick...as you know I am a Sopranos FREAK.

John Slattery IS a terrific actor. What an interesting portrait of a family you've painted here...and what an interesting family.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 5:01:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

WOW! that's why i love coming by here, naomi! you have such wonderful stories to tell about people who have at one time or another enriched your life. and you let us know about them by posting these little things which we wouldn't have known through magazines and tabloids. those pictures are precious! didn't know dvp was a child actor either. :)

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 6:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Very nice post, and blog too!

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 6:39:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I love these pictures, especially the one where they are "sharing a secret."

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 7:59:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

One of my favourite episodes of Diagnosis Murder is 'Murder at the Telethon' - with Joyce and Dick Van Patten as special guests....

Not to mention Dick Martin and the fantabulous Dom DeLuise...

And I still think you should do that book!

cq
[briefly at home for the weekend]

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 8:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

You're absolutely right, Naomi: These pictures illustrate the fundamental connection between mother and daughter. I've always loved black and white photography because it strips a scene down to composition and light, and forces the emotion of the image right to the surface.

Your deft eye has captured so much here. Anyone reading this has just received a lesson in how to shoot people, and how to record lives in a sensitive and caring manner.

I'm belatedly dropping in from Michele's. I fell asleep in the middle of my rounds last night. Sorry about that!

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 8:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a great story and beautiful pictures. I have stayed at the Salisbury, but never got to the Russian Tea Room before it closed. I just love the theater and New York and you seem to have some gret connections to both.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 12:52:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh man, I love all the VPs...good to know TVP is directing (I remember him in White Shadow!)

Here via Michele's today :)

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 3:30:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Hello Naomi! Just greeting you a Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 3:58:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, Michele sent me back, so I followed all your links. Very interesting family there! Too bad there were not photos for all of them.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 4:25:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Michele sent me to see you Naomi but I've already commented on this post, and the Dove one below, so I'll move on down to the West Wing post. Cheers!

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 4:37:00 PM PDT 

Blogger srp
had this to say:

See I wasn't the only one who thought you should still put the pictures and stories into book form.
Great photos.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 6:15:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

funny to see this blog on Joyce Van Patten and family ... i was on the internet looking up people from my past ... i was friends with casey when we were in fifth and sixth grades at Gardner St. School ... we lost touch after that because I think he went to a Catholic School ... my memory is quite vivid of that time ... I have many memories of those two years of childhood and seeing Casey often when he lived on Fairfax Ave. ... I remember too when he moved and his Mom let him live in the garage behind the house ... I hope he and his family are happy and well ...

mel bernstine

Sunday, June 18, 2006 at 12:31:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

funny to see this blog on Joyce Van Patten and family ... i was on the internet looking up people from my past ... i was friends with casey when we were in fifth and sixth grades at Gardner St. School ... we lost touch after that because I think he went to a Catholic School ... my memory is quite vivid of that time ... I have many memories of those two years of childhood and seeing Casey often when he lived on Fairfax Ave. ... I remember too when he moved and his Mom let him live in the garage behind the house ... I hope he and his family are happy and well ...

mel bernstine

Sunday, June 18, 2006 at 12:33:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Fascinating page---and such wonderful photos!

I'd completely forgotten that Talia was not only Martin Balsam's daughter, but the one-of-a-kind Joyce van Patten's, as well!

I always get a lift seeing Ms. Van Patten whenever she pops up, and I've seen her in a couple of things this week -- Rockford Files, and Perry Mason -- and in looking her up I found your this fine link here~ Splendid!

Thank you!!

~ Nan

Monday, January 19, 2015 at 11:14:00 AM PST 

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