Monday, October 06, 2008

Yesterday would have been my dear friend Hanna Hertelendy's 89th Birthday. 89! That is a lot of years. She died on May 15th, 2008, when she was just a little over 88 1/2 years old. I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. She was such a bright spirit. Such a talented and alive person. Such a loving and supportive friend, and so very much fun. Yes, she was a child in many ways and I mean childlike as well as childish, but that was a very endearing part of her to all that knew her and loved her.I first met Hanna in 1962. I had joined Theatre West in early October...there were maybe 30 members at that time. The only person I knew personally when I joined, was a wonderful actor/writer named John McLiam. In fact he is the one who invited me to join. One night about 6 weeks after I joined, 4 actors did about 40 minutes of something called "Spoon River Anthology". It was a stunning 40 minutes. The next thing I knew, I was asked to sing a song at the beginning of the show, and to help with a 'mailing' because "Spoon River" was going to be done as a project in our little Theatre for an invited audience. I was thrilled to be a part of this fabulous incredibly theatrical and professional group, and especially thrilled to be a part of that stunning 40 minutes, which became two hours and went to Broadway, with me in it and having written some original music for it, too!That first mailing get-together was held at Maxine Stuart's apartment in Westwood....(A fabulous actress, and a true 'original', Maxine turned 90 years old on June 28th this year.....) Maxine and Hanna were already great friends back then....So, Hanna was there, and of course, Maxine. That was the first time I actually met both of them....and it was just us three! And we had a wonderful time! We laughed a lot and got the mailing done and strong friendships with both these women began that day that continue to this day.....

Hanna was a very active member of the group back then, doing scenes all the time. Later, Carroll O'Connor wrote a one act play, just for her....But in the beginning, she also kept the books. (Members paid $20 a month dues, just to keep the lights on and the rent going in our little theatre on Robertson Blvd.) Hanna had actually found that little Theatre on Robertson. Being such a small group we didn't need much space back then.....Hanna had just turned 46 years old when I first met her.....She had recently separated from her then husband, Stephen actor and a fellow Hungarian. Hanna had moved from their home in North Hollywood to an apartment on Sierra Bonita in Hollywood. That was the apartment she lived in all the years I knew her and in fact, that is where she was still living when she died!Birthdays were very very important to Hanna. Every one's Birthday, but, particularly her own Birthday. Over the years I spent many a Birthday Celebration with her---mine, hers, and other people's, too....Part of the fun of giving Hanna a present was her pure delight in anything and everything other people would do for her....This was part of the little child in her that took such joy in getting gifts and being taken to dinner, or being a part of any Celebration---whatever it was for.She worked, all through the years I knew her---in theatre and films and TV----up until the last four or five years of her life....She had been a huge Theatre star in Hungary....and though she never achieved that kind of stardom here in America...she was not bitter in any way and always lived 'in the present', looking forward to tomorrow. It was only in her last years that some of that changed, and understandably so....But, she still was never bitter, even to the end. Mostly, she became very fearful as her health declined----this woman who had lived through the Nazi's and then The Communists and who never seemed afraid of anything, became terribly fearful of just about everything. It was painful to see. And yet, she still never completely lost her sense of hope. Not until almost the very end. I know she enriched my life in ways that I cannot even measure, and I think anyone who knew her and loved her would say the very same thing....She brought much 'light' everywhere she went...whether in her work or her personal relationships. She was never at a loss for male companionship----she really kind of held every man in the palm of her hand, but never took advantage of that position in any way. Another reason men adored her!So, though she is no longer here, I could not let this day go by without acknowledging my dear departed friend! How I wish we could go out for dinner to a lovely beautiful restaurant---have a scrumptious meal and eat some chocolate truffles and laugh until our sides hurt. Happy Birthday, my dear dear Hanna, I know you are lighting up Heaven right now, as I write this, and, sad to say, the 'light' here on earth is just a little bit dimmer now that you are no longer with us. You are deeply deeply missed, my dear friend.

More To Come........

Links to this post:


Blogger PI
had this to say:

Am I really the first to comment? You did Hanna proud and I'm sure she will be smiling down on you from above. Sadly I think it is part of getting old that we lose the fearlessness we may have had. We just have to trust and pray that life won't get too difficult. And count our blessings. And eat some chocolate:)

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 1:27:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

She has the most beautiful smile!!! Thanks for sharing this with us!

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 2:02:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Lovely post dedicated to a true friend of yours... She was a lovely woman (obviously) and this post Naomi, you have done her justice.


Monday, October 6, 2008 at 2:49:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

what a fabulous tribute Naomi.. but I've come to expect nothing less of your writing.

we never stop thinking of or missing relatives and friends that mean so much to us.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 4:53:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful tribute to a much loved, but not forgotten, friend! You have managed to share the essence of Hanna along with some beautiful photographs.

It is truly a wonderful album you have put together to pay homage to a much missed friend.

Thank you.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 5:21:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a beautiful post about a lovely friend. You can tell from her photos she had a child-like way about her...a zest for life.

I'm sorry she is no longer with you, but I know you hold wonderful memories of Hanna and that this brings you joy and peace.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 5:22:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a lovely tribute and what a beautiful thing to be remembered for, she still lives on through you.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 5:56:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Another lovely installment in your tribute to one, with whom you were obviously close. I know she appreciates your kind words, Naomi.

(P.S. I assume she left Hungary in 1956. Did she ever get back after the fall of the Iron Curtain?)


Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:22:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

It is so hard to lose a good friend. You have made a nice tribute to her life.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:22:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Everyone should have a friend like you who celebrates that friend's life with them and even without them. Thank you for sharing Hanna.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:41:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I noticed her beautiful smile, too. I do not remember Hanna, but I suspect I saw her on TV back in the 50's and 60's and didn't realize it. She was so lucky to have you as her friend.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:56:00 AM PDT 

Blogger Mar
had this to say:

What a wonderful birthday tribute...Hann sure was very special, it seems!! and very beautiful. She is smiling at you wherever she is.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 10:27:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

I put a bottle of Hungarian wine in the cooler, and tonight when I meet with my associates, we shall toast Hanna with a "Happy Birthday" so loud it will surely be heard up there in Pearly Gates Estates!

the fat lady

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 2:28:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I think the creativity of acting must lead to a long, full life. It seems true for so many of your friends - and you!

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 2:33:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a beauty she was, and it is apparent from your stories that her inner beauty and playful spirit out shined her outer beauty.
I love the one photo of you and Hanna where you are both smiling so big. You were having a great time!
I wish you both could enjoy some chocolate truffles like you said, and laugh and talk again.
She almost reached her 89th.
I wish her end would not have been so sad, but I give her a lot of credit for holding up as best as she could under bad circumstances. When health declines, it is very hard to keep an uplifted spirit.
I honor her for keeping a good outlook over many years and for being a wonderful friend to many people, especially you.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 3:59:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

How wonderful to have known someone so incredible

A lovely tribute to your friend

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 4:06:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi......I wish I had met her.

Beautifully written. I have a feeling it was tough to do and there were a few tears.

Happy birthday Hanna. May your star shine brightly up above today.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 6:25:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What friendship Naomi, this is so touching and a lovely tribute to Hanna.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 8:01:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a lovely smile. She was beautiful as she aged.

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 9:08:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

It's so hard to lose someone we love so much. To see them losing hope.

What a wonderful happy birthday you gave her. I could feel the emotion you have for her still. I'm sure she can, too.


Monday, October 6, 2008 at 9:45:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

She sounded like a beautiful person inside and outside. You were fortunate to have such a long friendship with her as she was with you. A true blessing for you both.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 9:12:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

She really does look like she has an edearing happy child like quality in her. I am sorry your friend is gone. I know you really miss her. It looks like her smile would light up any room.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 11:26:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a vibrant woman. Her soul seems to shine through in every photo. This is a very touching post. xo

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 4:14:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a nice tribute to a good friend!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 8:47:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Such a beautiful tribute to a loving relationship and a dear friend. I am sorry for your loss, and happy for the many fine years you shared.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 7:42:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a fantastic smile she had! Lovely post. A friend of mine passed away a few years ago and it's always hard on her birthday.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 7:49:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful fitting tribute to your friend Naomi.
I come her via Chickie from time to time. I enjoy you very much!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 12:07:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a beautiful smile your friend Hanna has! She looks an adorable and lovely person. Love principally your photo with Hanna smiling on the couch! You did a great homage to her. Thank you for sharing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 3:41:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, Hannah sounds like a true delight....Her smile lights up her whole face. You were lucky to have her for your friend and I know you miss her greatly....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 4:52:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful tribute to your dear friend on her birthday. I know you still miss her so much. She did have a very beautiful smile that shows how happy she is! Well done Naomi!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 4:53:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

She looks like whe was quite a lady - fabulous smile!

Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 9:36:00 PM PDT 

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