Monday, March 19, 2007
annie/yetta/millie/jen/old egg

I love this picture...you see the reflection in Annie's glasses of the city? She was sitting, facing my windows and I took this shot and when I saw the outcome---well, first of all it was so nice and sharp...and then when I noticed the city-view reversed with part of my deck, too....well, I had to get in as close as possible.

Here below is the whole picture..... A few Sundays ago, Annie Guilbert, (aka Ann Morgan Guilbert) and our dear mutual friend Seemah Wilder, who has been mentioned on this blog a number of times before, came to visit, bringing lunch from one of my favorite favorite restaurants here in Los Angeles, Orso. Here below is dear Seemah.... I had seen Seemah as recently as New Year's Eve...but I hadn't seen Annie for...well, maybe three years. We have talked on the phone but just not been able to see one another....my house-bound-ness does curtail many activities....So I really looked forward to this Sunday Afternoon more than I can say....

A little history here: We three all go back a very long way....Seemah & Annie have known each other since 1961 and I met Annie in 1962 (in fact, of all the people I met once I moved to Los Angeles, I've known Annie longer than anyone, including Betty G., who I met later that same year). Then thirteen years later I met Seemah at Theatre West. It was in 1975 and we have been fast friends ever since. In fact, both Annie and Seemah were both in my play called "Jen The Hen" (1981), which was part of a whole evening of three-one-act plays of mine under the umbrella title of "NOBODY SAFE HERE".

It is a play about my mother's death and because it is a play and because it is written for the stage, dramatic license as to "place" was and is taken...The action of the play took place in my mothers hospital room...Annie played "Jen", my mother, who was lovingly called Jen The Hen, Seemah played my sister Robin, (not seen in this picture, but as you will see, she is in the picture below...). Betty Garrett (standing in the upper left) played 'Naomi' in the present, and Elizabeth Berger played 'Naomi/Nay' back then at the time of my mother's death in 1966....April 2nd, to be exact...So an Anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. It will be 41 years. Elizabeth B. is seated on the right in the above picture, and a lovely actress named Pamela Dunlap (Seated on the left) played my sister Gene. That little table represented the Dining Room downstairs in Harkness Pavilion, which was a part of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in upper Manhattan...And it was indeed, a 'dining room', with white tablecloths and everything....And my brother Gordon was played by a wonderful Canadian actor named Alan Jordon, he is seated on the left and Seemah is seated on the right. This particular picture was a 'posed' picture for publicity....

I was so very lucky with this cast of dedicated and talented actors and with the Director Deirdre Meehan, and with dear Charles Berliner who solved the Herculian job of how to marry these three One-Act plays to each other with his brilliant set design....The painting behind Annie's head, (She is of course lying in the bed...and for anyone who might not know, that is Betty G, standing directly behind Annie in the photo above) was painted by me at the request of our designer Charley B...He was familiar with my art and felt that instead of him painting a backdrop 'in the style of', that it would be much better and more organic if I actually painted the painting myself....I did.

You can't see the entire painting in this shot above but you can get the essence of the idea....

I hadn't intended this post to be about my play but there is no way to write about Annie and her glorious talent without getting involved in this play. She made this play work with her subtle simple 'real' performance. With the very careful work she did as an actress, which was not easy at all let me tell you, she captured everything possible---every little moment---in her portrayal of 'Jen'. She did what was needed as an actress to convey who and what she was as a person and in relation to those she interacted with...her children. She is every writer's dream of an actress. And it is very meaningful to me that she considers her work in 'Jen The Hen' an important next step in her growth as an actress.

In truth, all the actors were 'spot on', as they say in the UK. Like I said...I was very very lucky all around. "Nobody Safe Here" was one of those peak experiences that one has if one is lucky, once or possibly twice in one's theatrical career....this experience and "Spoon River" were my two most deeply memorable creative peak experiences in the theatre. Everything worked! How rare is that? Very Very Rare.

Another play of mine that Annie was in was...."The Start Of The Blues", 1987....This was a play about 'conception'....My conception. Where an Old Jewish Lady Egg meets a Young Boy Sperm, and what happens from there. It was funny, (if I do say so myself), and telling, as well.... This was not an easy experience in any way except for two things...The writing of it and Annie Guilbert's performance! Her partner in crime was a very talented young actor/writer-himself, Mark Masi. But nothing about this project was easy other than the two things I mentioned. We dealt with three changes of actor for the 'Young Sperm', two changes of actress for 'The Old Egg', and two changes of the Director....Oy Vey! But through it all, there was never any temprement from Annie, and believe me, there could have been with another actress. She just did her work, once again, with enthusiasm and a love of the material, and she won an Award for her beautiful hilarious performance!

Do you all remember 'The Dick Van Dyke' show? Well Annie played the next door neighbor, Millie.... The very talented actor/director Jerry Paris, played her husband....This show is a "classic" in every sense of the word. One of the greatest situation-comedy's, ever. It's in the television history books, as it should be....

Annie has done so much as an actress....She has had and continues to have a wonderful career that covers Stage, Film & Television....A highlight or two: She was in "Grumpier Old Men" playing Sophia Loren's Italian-From-Italy mother! What a hoot that was...! And television audiences remember her from "The Nanny", as Fran's Grandmother, the wonderful Yetta! What a memorable character she created. What bravery as an actress! And what fun, too....! As we sat talking and laughing and sharing that sweet Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago----Seemah, Annie and Myself--- I asked Annie to give me a 'Yetta' face....Well, without the wig or the makeup or the proper glasses she turned it on and here it is. I love this picture.... And by the way....the food they brought from Orso was magnificent! Makes my mouth water just writing about it! Thank you ladies for giving me a yummy wonderful fun afternoon....I sure do hope we can do it again very soon.....



More To Come.....









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30 Comments:
had this to say:

Naomi, I remember her from the Dick Van Dyke Show and from "The Nanny"; an excellent actress and a funny character in both! Please tell her she has given me hours of pleasure!

I wish that your plays could be re-done for this generation to see!

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 5:30:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

It must have been a very touching reunion.

Happy Monday!

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 6:51:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow. I can't believe the amazing things you've done in your lifetime. And the amazing friendships you have! I'm so glad you had this special time with your 'girls'.......and got a yummy lunch to boot. Loved that picture of the city in her glasses.......

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 8:17:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh my gosh! I didn't realize that Annie was Millie until I got to that part of your post! And then, of course, I realized why she looked familiar. :) I loved the Dick Van Dyke show reruns when I was a kid, and Millie/Annie was just soooo funny and great in it. You have such amazing friends. :)

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 9:43:00 AM PDT 

Blogger srp
had this to say:

Sometimes the theatrical makeup keeps me from recognizing someone. I adored her as Yetta. You just wanted to hug her through the TV screen.

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 10:35:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a lovely life you've led in the Hills....

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 10:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh, what a treat to read about the wonderful Ann Morgan Guilbert. When I was a kid we always waited for the Dick Van Dyke Show episodes that featured Millie. I honestly think she was a comic genius in those episodes, every bit at gifted as Mary Tyler Moore and the others, and without fail, the Millie Helper scripts were our favorites. The one where she's auditioning for the part of Cleopatra in the neighborhood play, the one where Millie and Jerry are in a big fight with Rob and Laura, the one where Millie and Laura are home alone and terrified about intruders, the one where Millie wants her son to get the lead in a commercial, and on and on. I wish I could have seen "Jen the Hen," how about a revival?

I also wish I could have seen the beautiful Seemah Wilder on the stage, I so enjoyed meeting her at your house.

Keep on mining those archives, Naomi, it's heaven!

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 11:59:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I get lost in thoughts and dreams when I read your posts I always look forward to come here and read about all this...

I remember your friend very well in the role of the mother of Sophia;) She was great!!!

Thanks for sharing all this with us...

Maria

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 12:16:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a beautiful post! I enjoy my time here so much!
Thank you for bringing us along for your fabulous afternoon with your friends.
I don't watch tele now but I did when Dick Van Dyke was on. That was a wonderful show.
I would have loved attending your plays. The art work in that back drop is lovely. You are amazing and talented and I feel honored that you share so much with us.
Huggles and Love,
Raggedy

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 2:52:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous Lyn M.
had this to say:

Somehow I knew your Sunday was going to be an extra special day, the kind that warms the heart and lifts the spirit.
I recognized Annie's familiar face from her TV role and in Grumpier Old Men and Seemah from your many posts. You all share such wonderful memories together.
A visit from dear Friends is truly a blessed event.

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 3:04:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

OMG, Yetta was definitely my favorite character in The Nanny!! Your friend was really great and funny in this show! I know nothing about the rest of her career, but I thank her for all the good laughs she gave me. And thank you for this very interesting topic (and all the other ones too).

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 3:15:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

That sounds like a fun Sunday, Naomi.
I really enjoyed reading about the plays especially, and your current photos.

I've only been to Orso once. B and I had lunch with his agent there. How Hollywood, eh? lol

I'm over here freezing in 63* weather with all our doors open as the painter paints them. lol Timing is everything!
~S

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 3:25:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What fun! Then and now. I knew they each looked familiar but I couldn't place Annie until you let on that she was Millie. I loved the Dick Van Dyke show. I remember for a time being too young to watch, having to be in bed by nine, and hearing the theme song from up in my bed and sort of dancing in bed to it! By the next year I was watching and it was one of my favorite shows, along with Mary Tyler Moore and some other ones. I'm glad you all had a good time! The old egg and young sperm must have been a hoot!

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 3:25:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I remember Yetta! How wonderful that you got to visit with your friends, I know that doesn't happen often enough. Not even knowing what you had, my mouth is still watering! LOL I know it must have been very, very good!
That's so cool that Betty played you.

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 5:50:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Very cool shot in the glasses...Especially when you tell of all of Annie's accomplishments. I've seen her in all the mentioned movies & TV... wouldn't have put two & two together without your help.

What a life you all have led. Loved the excitement and vivacious look in Annies face in the last shot. That's what keeps you gals young.

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 6:13:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Ah, Yetta! I knew I knew the face, but couldn't quite place it.

Another wonderful post, thank you!

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 6:31:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Thank you SO MUCH. For years when Ann played Yetta (great role, btw) I knew she was SO familiar but I couldn't place her. And it was way before IMDB, so I didn't really have a way of checking. But today. of all days, I get the info that Yetta was MILLIE. I loved Millie. She was such a riot. She totally made that show for me. Just loved her.

So thank you for finally solving another of life's mysteries for me.

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 9:55:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

It has to be said Naomi ... you've had one hell of a life! So glad you had a wonderful visit with your friends.

Monday, March 19, 2007 at 10:42:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I am so in awe of you and the things you've done with your life. Written your own play, that is just incredible. I wish it would re-run again so I could see it!

I loved the character Yetta. She was one of the best things about the show! How wonderful you guys got together to catch up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 8:19:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

That sounds like a most perfect way to spend an afternoon to me - good company, pleasant conversation with good friends adn good food!

Such talented people - including yourself of course! I sliled reading about your play - when you talk about the theatre it always takes me back to my time in the theatre too and you are absolutely right, it usually isn't plain sailing putting on a show!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 10:27:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I remember Annie in Grumpier Old Men and The Nanny - what a wonderful actress.....

And what a magical afternoon for you three lovely friends, especially since you haven't seen Annie for so long...... [bg]

[checks out menu] I'll have the grilled bread........um, the bowtie pasta...and er - oh, it would have to be the warm chocolate tart :-)

cq

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 11:25:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Ohhhhhhh my GOSH! I just LOVE her! Always loved her as Millie - and loved her as Nanny's grandma too! I would SO love to see your plays! That would be a blast!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 3:22:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I'm so glad you got a chance to visit with your wonderful friends! That always makes for a great time. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 4:23:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow what fabulous friends you have Naomi. If I didnt see Kenju's comment about her also in the Nanny I wouldnt know. She is quite funny and I can also see that she is a wonderful person to be with!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 1:21:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous chase
had this to say:

Awww my bad! Probably I was half awake coz I was reading this post around 6 am coz your blog is one of the blogs that I usually read first thing in the morning...


I should check The Dick Van Dyke show if they have DVDs or Youtube of those

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 9:54:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I enjoyed this post a lot, Naomi! It's wonderful that you have such lovely friends! Sure, I remember Annie in "The Nanny", what a great actress!

What a magical and creative life you have Naomi! And you have here another chapter of your book!

Love so much the pictures! Love specially the photos that we can see the reflection in Annie's glasses!

Many hugs to you my dear!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 12:23:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I was racking my brain trying to figure out why I knew Annes face then I get to the bottom and she was Yetta , love it !
It sounds like a wonderful afternoon, I am so glad you got to catch up with your friends and have good food as well.
I am sorry I have not been around but I have been busy WORKING , go me.
Two different tv shows and three days of work. I will probably not even see myself, background and all that jazz LOL

Friday, March 23, 2007 at 2:08:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

VERY interesting post!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Annie and the plays she's performed in. How neat to have written material and see it performed by great actors who make your words come alive.

I'm so glad you had a great afternoon with those two, dear friends.

Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 1:05:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Thanks for sharing your day with us. Annie was a hoot as Milly!

Sunday, March 25, 2007 at 1:00:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a great post. I enjoyed reading it SO much and I remember Annie from the Dick Van Dyke show.
And what creative talent YOU have, Naomi! How I would have loved to have seen both of those plays of yours. They sounded great and I can't even imagine attempting to put together a play. Bravo to you for all your success!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 8:31:00 AM PDT 

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