Sunday, January 07, 2007
from meme to memoir, or something like that

This started out as a "book meme", but led to something else entirely....I guess what it maybe has led to is another possible small chapter in my possible book.... and it got me to thinking about the whole amazing phenomenon of "Six Degrees Of Separation", or even 'Two Degrees Of...', but first, here is what started all this....the so called 'book meme'.....

1. Pick up the book you are currently reading.
2. Go to page 23.
3. The 5th sentence down plus the next three sentences...
4. Write them down in this post.

And here it is, from: "Female Brando, The legend Of Kim Stanley" by Jon Krampner....(about one of the greatest American Stage Actresses of the 20th Century....)

"Patty enrolled as a freshman at the University of New Mexico in August of 1942. The wartime UNM was much smaller than today's--one classmate of Kim's remembers it's enrollment being less than that of Albuquerque High School, Patty spent two and a half exciting years at the university as a drama major and frequent performer in student productions at Rodey Hall. She made important strides in honing her craft, then left without a degree in December of 1944. But that's not the story she later told.
Kim usually said she attended the University of Texas."

After doing this, I then read on someone else's blog that you were supposed to go to page 123, not 23....Well, I did that, too, and these are the five sentences on page 123....

"Kim looks worried, then her lips start to quiver in barely suppressed sobs. The corner of her mouth falls and her eyes look downcast. She turns away from Slim, leans on a support post for the porch and takes hold of it with both hands, absentmindedly stroking it, and she asks, 'What am I gonna do? What in the name of God am I...." Her voice breaks and she's momentarily silent. She starts crying, and it's the real thing---her entire body heaves."

This passage is a description of a performance that Kim Stanley gave on Studio One, a 'Golden Age' dramatic anthology series on television from the 1950's, of the Horton Foote play, "The Traveling Lady", which was where this play first premiered, on April 22, 1957, and which I saw, I am happy to say, and as always, was completely blown away by this woman's fantastic acting. Everything she did had a reality to it that one does not see very often, especially on television or films and not that often on the stage, either. There were two truly great great 'stage' actresses of the 20th Century that are always talked about in the same revered way by their peers, Laurette Taylor and Kim Stanley....across the board....these two women were spoken of, and rightly so, in the most glowing and moving terms....they both were both spectacularly gifted actresses, and I consider myself lucky to have had the privilege of seeing both of them, and in the case of Kim Stanley, I saw her many many times on the stage and on television and in the few films she made.

Going back to the first paragraph from the book....'Patty' was Kim Stanley's real given name---Patricia Beth Reid. 'Stanley' was a 'family' name....and from what I've read so far in this book, Kim Stanley told many different story's about her childhood...what was true and what was not can only be figured out by the people who actually knew her and 'experienced' whatever, with her.

I never actually met Kim Stanley during her lifetime, though our paths crossed in a second-hand sort of way...Six Degrees to Two Degrees, as mentioned above....I knew and know so very many people who were close to her and/or who worked with her and in fact, I knew one of her husbands, too. When I say I "knew" them...I'm talking about people I knew really really well...there were many other people who I knew more peripherally that worked with her or were friends of hers, but I'm not talking about them....

The wonderfully talented actress Norma Crane, who was my dear friend and who I have mentioned in the past a number of times on this blog, knew Kim Stanley very very well having understudied her in the William Inge play "Bus Stop" on Broadway...and when Norma died of cancer in 1973, at the young age of 43, she left whatever 'residuals' that might be forthcoming from her performances in films and television to Kim's daughter, Lisa Conway, who's father, Curt Conway---a great teacher and a wonderful actor, too, and who was Kim Stanley's second husband---was the very first Moderator/Artistic Director of Theatre West when it began in 1962, (pictured at left...) and who remained in that position for the first 7 years of Theatre Wests' life, and who became a very good and close friend of mine....The next 'six degrees/two degrees' was John Conwell, who was a very dear friend for 35 or more years, and who had gone to college with Kim Stanley at the University Of New Mexico as mentioned in those first five lines above, and was once 'engaged' to her, long before I ever met him....(You see the Six/Two Degrees thing happening here....?)

John Conwell (Pictured here on the left in an early 'Twilight Zone') and his dear wife Maxine, were wonderfully fun bright people that I met through my director friend John Erman the very first year I moved to Los Angeles....and veering off here just slightly, he, John Conwell that is, bought the very first painting I ever ever sold to anyone. It was a collage of Marilyn Monroe that I had created in 1964...soon after that, John & Maxine had a party at their home and Ralph Roberts, Monroe's great great friend, confidant and masseur was there at the party...he had been terribly close to Marilyn Monroe and he came over to me with tears in his eyes and kneeled down close to where I was sitting and said, "You really knew her, didn't you...?" I was rather stunned because I had never met Monroe, I said no, I didn't know her...And he said, "How could you have done this beautiful piece and not have known her?" I was very moved by this..and just said, "Well, I felt I understood her on some deep level....". He then said..."I've seen a lot of things that people have created about Marilyn, but this is the most moving one I've ever seen...and the only one that I feel portrays her as she really truly truly understood her." Well, needless to say, it was one of the greatest compliments I had ever received about something I had created---about a piece of my art I mean, and it remains so to this day....I was reminded of this when reading the book about Kim Stanley, because John Conwell and Kim Stanley were, as I mentioned above, engaged when they were both at UNM, (which is all in this book) and later, Marilyn Monroe would play the character of Cherie from "Bus Stop", the same character that Kim Stanley played on Broadway, before it became the film which Monroe starred in playing 'Cherie'. Some say it was Monroe's greatest performance on film of a serious nature. It certainly was a magnificent performance by Kim Stanley on the stage, and people also say that Monroe's performance in the film was based on Kim Stanley's performance.....

Miss Stanley was an actress that I admired greatly, having seen her in many plays in the early 1950's in New York, "The House Of Bernarda Alba", "Picnic", "Bus Stop" and "The Traveling Lady" to name a few...
The very first film that Kim Stanley was in was an independent film called "The Goddess", released in 1958. This original screenplay was by that genius of our time Paddy Chayfesky and it was Directed by John Cromwell. And playing opposite Kim Stanley in the early part of the film was a young and devastatingly handsome actor named Steven Hill...(Yes, the same Steven Hill from Law & Order fame)...He was as brilliant in his part as Lloyd Bridges was in his role....both of these men were exceptionally superb and brought such a weight to this film because of their talents....

Miss Stanley was a true revelation in this small independent and very special and moving film...I had never seen a performance like that on film before....she played a character who's emotions ran the gamut, as they say, and then covered the period in 'Emily Ann Faulkners' life from about age 4 to her leaving the little southern town where she grew up and then going to Hollywood and becoming a movie star and then her downfall into drugs and drink....Now, this sounds so 'old hat' and has been done and done and done to death since 1958 in theatrical films and television films, etc.. BUT nothing like this film had ever been done up to that time...and it was really the story of this little girl who knew she had not been wanted and how that effected her whole life thereafter...I was deeply affected by this film when I first saw it at a small 'Art House'---the 55th Street Playhouse in New York City. And by the way, more 'six/two degrees', Joyce Van Patten was in the film, too...(I didn't know her then...) as was Curt Conway and a truly stellar cast that included a very young Patty Duke and a brilliant actress named Betty Lou Holland who played 'Emily Ann's' mother and had to age from a very young rather racy and wild southern girl to a middle aged conservative 'Bible Thumping' religious zealot....a magnificent performance....In fact, all the actors were truly exceptional---Burt Brinkerhoff, Joan Copeland, Gerald Hiken, Joanne Linville, Elizabeth Wilson and my dear friend Werner Klemperer who played a film producer who was very sympathetic to the star played by KS, now called Rita Shawn....(this was before I met Werner, too)...This film had such an impact on me that when the screenplay came out in book-form, I bought it and then later when I was in Lehman Engel's BMI Musical Workshop for professional composer/writers concentrating on writing original musicals for the theatre, I chose this film as the material I wanted to adapt into a musical theatre piece because this material spoke to me on such a very deep level and Lehman encouraged you to choose material you were passionate about....

During that period of time I wrote 5 or 6 songs for the musical...both music and lyrics, one of which was a song for the character that Steven Hill played in the film---Emily Ann's first husband--- it is called "In My Father's House", and of all my songs, I think it is the best song I have ever written. I felt that I understood what this story was about and so I wanted to work on it by myself, writing music and lyrics and the book, this time I had probably seen the film fifteen times or more....To this day I still feel that Kim Stanley's performance is the greatest film performance I have ever seen....and the writing is so beautiful and thoughtful and so 'right on the money'....Many people always thought that Chayfesky based this screenplay on Marilyn Monroe, but he has always said that it was not about Monroe at all, but was modeled on another famous actress of that time who was born in the south....Ava Gardner.

A few years after beginning work on this musical adaptation, I was at a small dinner party at David Shaw and Maxine Stuart's home and they knew I was working on this project and they had invited the writer Paddy Chayefsky to dinner that night as well, and sat me next to him...I was pretty much tongue-tied and overwhelmed by this fabulously talented outspoken was thrilling to meet him and talk with him about this film and many other films, too---"Network" which was a brilliant brilliant film about the television business, in which he pretty much predicted "reality television" (way before that term was even thought up, let alone used....) and where all the things he wrote about which at the time seemed hilariously funny and not remotely possible, have now all pretty much come true where television is concerned....

There is much more to all this, but I am going to stop for now...I realized while writing this whole post, just how intertwined so many of the experiences of our lives are---well, at least this is so in my life....the Six Degrees/Two Degrees theory certainly was at work where Kim Stanley was concerned, and this first and only biography of her, is a great addition to my world and to all world of all those who have been deeply touched by her work....

The picture at the very top of this post is from a film called "Seance On A Wet Afternoon". (1964) Kim Stanley received an Academy Award nomination for her stunning performance in this film

More To Come....

had this to say:

Michele sent me over, Naomi.

I'd never heard of Steven Hill until a few weeks ago when I bought the first season of Mission Impossible on DVD. I'd always assumed that Peter Graves was on the show from the beginning. Oops.

As for your meme--I'm reading "Without Fail" by Lee Child.

p123: No department vehicle either, because Mr Stuyvesant isn't operational anymore. So he has to come to work on the Metro."

Neagley looked blank. "The subway?"

The secretary nodded. "He has a special briefcase for Tuesdays and Thursdays because he's forced to place it on the floor of the subway car.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 12:45:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Morning Naomi.

Wow, when you daydream, you REALLY daydream! What a host of memories and wonderful people!

I am reading 'Katherine' by Anya Seton atm, but I can't do the meme, cos the book is in the bedroom and MB is asleep.....shhhhh......! :-)


Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 1:36:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What a wonderful post. I love the way you have interlaced your own experiences with your memories of this wonderful actress. You are a gifted storyteller.

And what a wonderful compliment to receive about your piece of art on Monroe! Have you any pictures of this piece as I would love to see it!

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 2:43:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

It's 1.8 degrees of separation (lol)!

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 3:45:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Naomi, what a fascinating account of your six degrees. I remember Kim Stanley from the early days (50's) of TV, which were really the glory days! We seldom have anything on TV nowadays that is the caliber of those old Sytudio One and similar shows. Paddy Chayevsky was a household name back then!

You make me want to see the collage you did of Marilyn Monroe. Did you happen to take a photo of it?

Michele sent me this morning, as I am glad.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 4:13:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

wow Naomi.. how do you keep it all straight??? You amaze me with the memory you have! This was very interesting to say the least!

I truly have no idea why you haven't written a book!

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 6:51:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Naomi after reading your comments on your current book I feel like a bit of a bore posting on what I'm reading...but hey, I'm marching fearlessly forward anyway!

My current read: "Faith and Fortune - The Quiet Revolution To Reform American Business" by Marc Gunther.
p23: Paul Gilding, a former executive director of Greenpeace International who now consults for DuPont, makes the argument for going green in business terms. "It's almost a complete waste of time to talk about ethics and moral values if you want to change business behavior." Gilding told me. "The only thing that's going to drive sustainablilty in a lasting way is if it leads to profit and growth in big corporations."

If it should be page 123: What about critics who say that companies like Coke contribute to the epidemic of obesity? Williams says the company shoud do more to discourage overuse: "Responsible drinking can apply to sugared sodas as well as alcohol." But, he said, "the company has created an awful lot of jobs."

If I had a day and a half I might respond with my opinions on some of the things said in this book (especially from page 123 - suffice it to say that I don't necesarily agree with everything said).
Thanks for a great post Naomi!

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 7:23:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Lyn M.
had this to say:

I'm reading Hildegard Knef's WONDERFUL book about her life,"The Gift Horse"
which you need no introduction to from either page 23 or 123. I'm happy to say the book was your absolutely priceless recommendation.

Today's writings on Kim Stanley and her associations with all those you knew well are one more invitation to read the book about her legend titled "Female Brando"

My fondest recollection of Kim is her role in "Frances" as Frances Farmer's domineerng mother, a truly great performance.

I'm sad to say that I never got to broadway to see her live as I would have liked that, but
I'm certain your meme to memoir blog will be an inspiration to want to know Kim Stanley and will want to read the book about her life.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 9:04:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

That's one heck of a post OOLOTH! It must be near novel length itself :-)

Popped by from Michele's today but you know I don't need Michele's to come over to your place!

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 9:53:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Wow, she is so beautiful. Sadly I have never heard of her so I appreciated your post.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 10:44:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I often am amzed how interwoven peoples' live scan be. Your post is such an example.
I did this meme a long time ago, it is a good meme it makes you think. Antoher good exercise to do is to write a reading autobiography - books that appeared at important parst of our lives I found that a real soul searching exercise.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 11:24:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Every time I see that particular book meme, the same freaking book is on my desk...

I could go downstairs and get the book I'm reading now (Wolves of the Calla) but I admit, I'm too lazy... ;)

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 11:48:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

"Scott?" She fumbles on the floor,comes up with her Timex,squints at it. "It's quarter past four in the morning!"
from "Lisey's Story" by Stephen King.
Your memory amazes me! Wow!
Great post and very interesting.
Have a wonderful day!
(=':'=) hugs
(")_ (")Š from
the Cool Raggedy one

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 12:50:00 PM PST 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

That is a very interesting me me. Sadly I decided to eschew me mes as my blog 'Past Imperfect' is all about me and I don't want to overdo it, but what a brilliant idea. Here via Michelle BTW.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 2:06:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Wow Naomi!! More memories from your fascinating life!! This was a very interesting post as usual. I, too, wonder if you have a photo of the collage of Marilyn Monroe! It must have been fabulous! Thanks for sharing this Naomi!

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 3:07:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I must admit, I haven't heard of her. I am curious, though... Why is she the 'female Brando?'

She is rather attractive. I'm surprised I haven't.

Thanks for the lore.


here via michele tonight.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 3:43:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

How great that the meme can trigger such an entertaining recollection. I never cease to be amazed by your stories and the inter-relationships which you describe so well with an insider's insight.



Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 3:52:00 PM PST 

Anonymous Lyn M.
had this to say:


Swinging on the milk can, he invited me for a bicycle ride on Monday. Rapture; even Fraulein Weise seemed attractive on Monday morning, we met at four in the town park and giggled and pedaled until five, then he had homework and I had to collect my brother from the kindergarten. Tuesday came the reckoning: I sat at my
desk cow-eyed with happiness and lost in reverie-he'd said I rode like a boy and had nice hair- suddenly Fraulein Weise's soprano seared through my dreams: "While our soldiers are dying for us at the front certain girls have nothing better to do than to fritter away their afternoons with youths on wheels"...youths on conjured up a vision of youths who had wheels with rubber tires instead of legs and at this I started to grin. There came a thundering KNEEEF...the lobster was on the boil again, the shame registered on the black book, warning letter sent to parents, blissful cow-happiness cowed, end of the affair.

This book. a memoir about her amazingly brave life beginning with her childhood in Nazi Germany during WWII takes you on an unforgetable journey..

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 5:00:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Enjoyed your post ;)

Thanks for the comments....

Really appreciate them ;)

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 5:38:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Please don't forget CATS ON TUESDAY and PLEASE read the rules
Sorry, this is a standard comment as I don't know how to remind you otherwise. Any idea ?

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 9:59:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Very fun and interesting. :) As always. (hugs)

Monday, January 8, 2007 at 12:24:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I am really inspired by your post to go out and search for some of the work that Kim Stanley did!

And PS: I would love to see that Monroe collage also (although since it's a piece you sold I'm not sure if you'd have a picture??).

PPS: Huge fan of Marilyn Monroe, and have been ever since I was a kid!

Monday, January 8, 2007 at 3:42:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I think that is SUPERB about your Marilyn Monroe art.
What a fine compliment!! I want to see it!!!!
I have those Six Degrees of Separation moments now and then, and I can just hear the theme music from the Twilight Zone when they happen.
You never cease to amaze me!

Monday, January 8, 2007 at 11:32:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Just wanted to let you know. I'm still here and reading, just no time to post any comments of substance, but I am enjoying your posts.

Monday, January 8, 2007 at 12:37:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What a readable post. You are literary a literature artist too:-)

Monday, January 8, 2007 at 2:23:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Man! I never even HEARD of Kim Stanley ... until now. But what amazes me is how MANY of your posts take these incredible twists and turns in the road! I had a hard time keepin' UP with this one though! You DO amaze me... over and over and over again! I like reading biographies from time to time though - and I think I might have to put Kim Stanley on my list!

Monday, January 8, 2007 at 7:29:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I love ready your blog! You always tell such interesting stories. I've never heard of Kim Stanley so it was interesting to learn about her.

Monday, January 8, 2007 at 8:09:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I think I might do this meme soon. it really is a nice way to do a post when there isn't as much time as you'd like!

To answer your question about 'Phantom' - I didn't do Stage Management on it but did work as a technician on it - twice! I also worked on Les Mis which I loved. I tended to do Stage Mangement on smaller scale plays and worked as a techician on large musicals, ballet and opera. I might do a post on this 'past life' of mine sometime.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 3:42:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

That was quite a compliment about your collage! You have the neatest way of telling your stories!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 7:15:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

We have that book about Kim Stanley and I can't wait to read it. I also love hearing your stories about beautiful Norma Crane, whose acting chops I admire more and more every time I see "Fiddler on the Roof." With a co-star that was chewing the scenery with wild abandon, she brought so many subtleties to a role that could have been very one-dimensional.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 4:51:00 PM PST 

Blogger srp
had this to say:

Your memories are always full of those stars and people most of us never had the pleasure of knowing. You always bring them to life and show us the "ordinary person" side and not just the celebrity facade. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 7:48:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Very interesting and enjoyable, Naomi. I'll be honest, I'm not familiar with Kim Stanley but will have to do some research.
This was also a very different and interesting meme.
I've had computer problems the past couple days....hence, my absence visiting blogs.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 2:32:00 PM PST 

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