Monday, June 04, 2007
bookshelves-2

Continuing on from where I left off last time....Another kind of wonderful artifact sits on one of the shelves in the same section, and it is this adorable pail, above....I have always loved Felix The Cat. I remember as a child, we had a little one reel 16mm silent cartoon in Black & White of Felix The Cat and I think that is when I fell in love with him!....

This pail belonged to Seemah Wilder's dear dear daughter, Ellen Idelson, who died in September, 2003, at the age of 42. Ellen was a wonderful actress and a brilliant writer. And along with her writing partner, Rob Lotterstein, she wrote for many different situation comedy's on television, including "Will & Grace". As an actress, one of the most memorable performancs was in a show where she played a 'dog'. In fact all the actors but one, played dogs in the Pound, hoping to be adopted. It was this charming musical play at Theatre West called "Dog Music" by Mark Masi. Ellen was absolutely superb in it....She was a very brave actress and a very very brave person, too. Dear Ellen was so loved by so very very many people, it was rather astounding, and her death was deeply devistating to her legion of friends and of course to her whole sweet family....So, though this pail may appear frivolous, and I suppose it is, it has a great deal of meaning to me....I loved Ellen dearly and admired her tremendously, and I love that wonderful Felix The Cat, too, so it seemed like a natural match, that pail and me....Here below is a picture I took of the production of "Dog Music" at Theatre West. All the actors were simply wonderful. That's Ellen, right in the middle.
I have a very extensive library of Theatre Books, and many are invaluable tools for research and a great source of history, too....like this wonderful set of books below called Theatre World.
Theatre World began in 1945 and each volume lists, (with pictures and complete extensive stats), everyone connected creatively---even understudies and replacements, etc., for each and every show that opened on Broadway that particular year. It doesn't matter if it only played one night...If it opened on Broadway, it's there in the book!Above, a slightly closer look....These volumes are a fantastic source of information in every way, including in the back of each book, little thumbnail sketches of some of the principal people connected to many of the shows for that particular year. The same people who started Theatre World, started Screen World some years later.....and I have some of these volumes, too.
That photograph that is sitting in front of these books is a "cast" snapshot of the two casts from our revival of "Spoon River" in 2002. I am in the emerald green blouse over there on the right side.....I was the Arranger and Musical Director for this production and I was also 'in' the second cast playing the very same part I did on Broadway in the fall of 1963, 'Girl Singer'. (I had to go on six times in the first part of the run at Theatre West....till I replaced myself...lol) Betty Garrett directed it, and Lee Meriwether, (in front of me) was in it as well as Bridget Hanley, (bottom left)...Betty is right in the center of that front row. Also, behind me in the gray suit---second from the end on the right, is Andy Parks, Betty's son, who was in the 2nd cast, as well....This brings back very fond memories.

My interests have always been Theatre, Movies, Music and Art, among other things, so there are a lot of books on all these subjects.Right next to that set of The World Of Music that you see in the picture above, is a wonderful book called, The Pictorial History of Films that is actually quite an old book, (I have two copy's, in fact...which seems to happen quite a bit...lol) and again, an invaluable source of information and some fabulous photographs, too....On the shelf above this one is a very important book to me and one that definitely contributed to enriching "Spoon River"---in fact, "Spoon River" would not have been the same without this book...."The Folk Songs Of North America" by Alan Lomax..... I only really knew one Folk Song back when I first got involved in "Spoon River", in 1962. Luckily it was perfect for the subject matter. It was "He's Gone Away" and I sung it Acapella and on tape when we did it at our first little theatre, then at UCLA and then on Broadway. My voice in tape singing in the dark, is what opened the show each performance. When we realized we were going to have a real run of the play at The Theatre Group at UCLA, (the pre-cursor to the now famous award winning Center Theatre Group, made up of three theatre's in downtown Los Angeles called, The Music Center....), I began researching all sorts of Folk Music....And between the Audio Archives at UCLA, which were fantastic, and that wonderful Alan Lomax book you see above, I found all the traditional songs that worked perfectly for us, in addition of course to the Original Songs which I wrote specifically for the show...music by me, lyrics by Charles Aidman.....

As I said before.....my whole life is here in this room in one way or another. If you knew nothing about me, you could find out an awful lot from just looking at the books and objects on these shelves. You might not know the stories behind some of the books---like why I might have one book or another included in my library....And there might be questions. For instance, why do I have this book on Bettie Page? Why indeed! For those of you who don't know who she is....Google her and then come back and try to guess what I am doing with this book! Doesn't that sound like fun?

Anyway....moving along this same wall with the Theatre, Films, Music and Art books, we move into the Art section....Well, of course, many books don't stay in their sections because of size requirements, etc.... There are some very treasured books here....Artists like Georgia O'Keefe and Rodin, and Marino Marini and Giacomo Manzu....Stunning artists whose works have fed my spirit and my soul for years and years....Raphael Soyer....I used to own a Beautiful Soyer, called "The Vasaar Girl", it had been a gift from my father when I was about thirteen or fourteen. Fade out, and hard times came along, and that called for harsh measures, and I had to sell it. The lovely thing is, I sold it privately to good friends. So though it was terribly painful to give it up, the fact that people I knew wanted to live with it softened that blow considerably.....

Included in my extensive Theatre books are a lot of plays.... Many of the volumes are 'dog eared' and have been used by me for more than fifty years, and in some cases...much longer...Like that volume of Best Plays of The 1950's....Talk about the "Golden Age Of Broadway"...., and I got to see them all....There are many hard cover plays and a huge amount of Samuel French plays, too...'playbooks' as they were known then. For years and years I belonged to The Fireside Theatre Book Club.And a great many of the plays that I have came from that period of time when I belonged.....They were the complete plays, but a 'special' edition that was often less expensive than a regular hard cover book that one could buy in a regular bookshop....Along with Theatre plays there are some Screenplays, too....(Not from Fireside....), like the screenplay of one of my very favorite films ever, "The Goddess"....you can see it over on the right in that picture above....

And before I leave Part 2....here is one more shelf of plays.... It is amazing how very many of these plays I have seen or worked on in one capacity or another.....Like I said, my whole life is in this room....





More To Come










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33 Comments:
had this to say:

Your collection is amazing. I could lose myself for hours in that library. What a joy to have a library like that!

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 2:22:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a beautiful library you have! I could spend hours in there lol -hours and hours and hours!!! My book collection has long outgrown my bookshelves (all five of them!) - my dream is to one day live in a house where I can have a whole room just dedicated to a libray (kind of like yours, actually!!).

PS: I know who Bettie Paige is; as to why she's in your collection? Perhaps just a fascinating biography (I would love to read her biography, what a fascinating story THAT would be!!!).

Am I right?? Do tell! Because now I have to know!!!!

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 2:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I can definitely see what you mean about having your whole life in that room. From what I know of you, many of your passions in life, like, art, music and theatre are there as well as those wonderful personal itmes like that sweet little pail! It's like a special edition of 'Through the Keyhole' where you get to guess who lives in the house from the things inside it!

Do you know, I'm not at all surprised that you have the Bettie Page book though I can only guess at your reason for it. She is certainly an icon of her time. I wonder if you actually met her? I know she trained to be an actress adn I beleive she acted on Broadway?

I think it is wonderful that you got to see all the shows in the golden age of Broadway. What a wonderful time to have been involved in the Business.

This is a wonderful post, thank you for sharing your library.

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 2:37:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow! Another great post! I love it!
I will return soon to see more details!

I just update the Bookshelves post with more one photo and also a passage of your new post. I have also another participant, Alice from France!

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 7:02:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Good Monday morning Lady,
You have -- and do lead -- a fascinating life... Your books reflect you in the many things you are interested and have participated in.
The sexuality of Betty Paige, the curiosity that drove you to look at Black Magic, the book almost right next to it on succulent plants, and the Life from the '60's -- all come together to form the unique harmony of personality and character we know/see here as Lady of The Hills !
The plays, the theatre, the music and the arts...
You lead such a full life. It is wonderful that you have found so many things to love that absorb your time and your imagination.

What did Ellen Idelson die of ? she was so young to leave this earth...

The pail does not appear frivolous at all. Felix was something I certainly enjoyed watching !
All cannot be sad, nor all full of laughter, rather it is the blend that faces us in life...

Hugs !

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 8:30:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, I cannot help but wonder what will happen to that wonderful collection when you are gone, since you have no children to leave it to. I hope you have someone pipcked out who will treasure all those books and plays as you do. It would be a terrible shame to see that collection broken up!

In the cast photo for Spoon River, why do most of them look so stern?

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 12:41:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh, and I know who Bettie Page is, but I don't know why you have a book about her. It would be interesting, I am sure! Was she ever an actress on the legitimate stage?

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 12:42:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

There always was something so cool about Felix the Cat.
Like you, books are 1 of my best, most cherished items. But your library is so extensive. It's refreshing that you realize how fortunate you are to have them.

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 2:07:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

WOW! I didn't even know those Theatre World books even existed! What a treasure, Naomi. What year do they go up to? Mid 60's? Shame the series stopped.

You're right... it does indeed seem like your whole life is in that room. :)

~S

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 4:30:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I always hate to hear about productive people dying young. It makes this world seem so unfair, which I suppose it is, I just don't like being reminded of it. I agree, I think people could tell quite a bit about you by the books you read.

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 5:54:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Part 2 was great as well!! Such fascinating books that go along with your life and interests!!

I did Google Bettie Paige and I would guess you know her from her acting in the 50's? I had heard of her but didn't know that much about her until I did the search! Interesting life she led!!

I love the Felix the Cat pail!! It's darling! I always liked Felix too!!

I, like kenju, wonder about your collection since you have no children to leave it to. I hope that someone will enjoy and love it as much as you have.

Great posts about your wonderful books Naomi!! You are a dear!!!!

Monday, June 4, 2007 at 8:32:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Interesting library, many memories, I'm sure. You have never ending idea sources for future blogs. Just pull a book from the shelf and write the story surrounding the book or play.

Thanks for sharing more about "Spoon River Anthology." Perhaps there will be more about which you'll write.

Couldn't help noticing several books on jazz in one of your pictures. Is that one by Leonard Feather, who was the highly respected L. A. Times jazz critic for so many years? Last I knew, his daughter, Lorraine, was singing in a group called "Feather." I really like their music. Did you know her dad?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 1:59:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What an ecclectic collection you have! And so many memories mixed in there on the book shelves.
I also know who Bettie Page is...but can't imagine the story behind the story.
Such a shame about Ellen...a beautiful girl and so young.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 4:13:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

your library of books doesn't surprise me in the least! I'd know that they were yours!

It's true that the "stuff" we collect tells our own stories.. isn't that wonderful?!

(I knew who Bettie Page was! and I'm sure one day you will tell us why you have the book on her!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 4:58:00 AM PDT 

Blogger mar
had this to say:

What an interesting book collection and what a treat to get to see it too!! love your special places. We have old LP's and the turntable to listen to them when we get nostalgic :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 5:22:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi - you are one amazing woman. Thank you for the tour of your beautiful library.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 5:34:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

One of the nicest, most nurturing cocoons I've ever seen.

Thank you for inviting us into your home...into your world of history, art, music, literature...and memories.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 9:18:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

yup...i'm going to have to come visit and spend a month or three and just sit and read...i love that you have that felix pail...sorry about the reason why...anyone who loves books has godda be a great person...bravo

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 11:49:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Ohhh Spoon River...such a great play!!!
I would get lost in your library...reading for hours!!!

Love,
Maria

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 2:14:00 PM PDT 

Anonymous Lyn M.
had this to say:

From precious artifacts like Felix the Cat on a sand pail that once belonged to a loved one.... to endless volumes of books on the subjects of theatre, music and art, photographs and related personal collections, your whole life is a grand book yet to be written. These posts of your library are but an introduction to decades of the exciting and fabulous world you have loved being part of and no one could tell the story better or with more heart.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 3:30:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

This is an awesome post. More interesting than Part 1, in my opinion. I've written two plays and one dance. Only one play has made it to the stage--but at least three times.

I sure am glad I put you on my blogroll. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 5:03:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Your life REALLY is in that room!
Theater, music, memories...
The Felix the Cat pail is priceless because of the person it belonged to. Isn't it amazing how seemingly silly or even worthless things can become so dear to us??
My Gramilo made me a bookmark out of cut strips of paper and some red yarn. She wrote a few words on it and gave it to me not long before she died. That bookmark is worth more than GOLD!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 6:15:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Your bookshelves are so interesting. I'd love to hang in that room for a day :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 7:26:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

This is my first visit to your blog. I have enjoyed myself very much!
What a beautiful library you have. What a blessing to have a room full of treasures like that.
I have a lot of books, but not that many!
I love your photos, so beautiful and interesting.

Take care!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 8:08:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I have always said that a perfect stranger would know who I was, where I stood, and how I felt if they took 3 minutes to check out my bookshelves. It's so weird to me that like you, I am summed up into the "things" I have tucked in the nooks and crannies of my home. When it's all said and done, is that really all I am? Sometimes I wonder!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 9:46:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Of course, I'm reading this while humming "Felix the Cat" or maybe song about the talking horse that I'm humming.

You can tell a lot about a person by their books. It was fun to get a glimpse at yours.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 7:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I must admit, when reading your memories: She is a very extrodinary and caring person. from your bookshelf, the way you describe people and your garden.

Hope that next year, when we again will visit my son in MI and family in CA, we also will have the chance to pay you a visit as well.

Did I tell, I was in Nancy (France) in 1968 as a member of a Norwegian Theather group - festival Mondival pour Jeunes groups - We won the Public Price.

PS. I'll send the url to your blog to friends and collegues (They are not good commenting, but good readers)

hugs from Norway - a bright Day, almost 80F

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 9:51:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

PS again: Yes, guess I remeber Felix and all the cartoons from those days. Still I'm a fan

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 9:53:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

While she was before my time, Naomi, I have heard of Bettie Page. My guess is that you were behind the camera a few times--and once in front of it, albeit with a rubber mask on. Oh, my!

Like Judy, I was a little surprised to see how stern you all were looking in that cast photo, Naomi.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 12:04:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I am also a Felix fan. I like watching that cartoon before but sadly I dont get my Felix fix here.

I am just simply amaze with the collections you have on your bookshelf. I am a bookworm and your bookshelf looks like a treasure trove for moi!

Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 5:03:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I think it is great to have a collection that represents your life so well. I wish I could say the same. You are one interesting lady!

Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 6:04:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

*S* I always loved Felix too! I wanted that bag of tricks! ;)

Of course, I had to take the Bettie Page challenge... I'd never heard of her! What a SPICY character that one was! LOL! I'm guessing that at sOMe point you knew her - when she was an actress - BEFORE she became ... *ahem*... a model! (or maybe you met her in primal therapy! LOL!)

Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 6:30:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

You have been so blessed with all your talent and a place to use it. There is so much talent out there.

I only have a little bit of talent in music. I wrote a song, both music and lyrics,recorded it in a studio onto a cd and now it plays to a video a blog friend filmed as soon as you go on my blog. It has over 10,000 hits on You Tube which totally amazes me! I always wish I could do more.

Friday, June 8, 2007 at 5:26:00 AM PDT 

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