Sunday, June 30, 2013
a celebration!

So, there were, as always, gorgeous flowers by Van, in the middle of the table...Above, a close-up of a flower I am not familiar with, but one I found to be extraordinarily beautiful.....
It's one of the things I just love about what Van does.....
Here above is the whole flower.....about as big as a silver dollar!  
So very delicate and so exquisitely gorgeous.....
Below, another close look at a different unusual flower.....

You cannot see all that crystallization when you see the whole flower.....!
There are always very lovely Roses in these special centerpiece arrangements.....
And beautiful Orchids, as well!
In truth, it just wouldn't be a "Ladies Who Lunch" without a beautiful bowl of flowers, by Van........
And here below, are some of 'The Ladies'......
Everyone received a "DIVA" Cap......from left to right, that's Lee and Bridget and Annie.....
And each Lady also received an individual Rose in a sweet little glass, that they could take home with them.....
I loved these Roses and the lovely little glass that Van put them in, too.....
Before we went to the table, we had some  yummy little edibles, in the Living Room......
There were Marinated Tofu squares---which were superb!!
And some Crudites with two kinds of dip.....
That's Dianne on the right.....
There were other goodies and we all gobbled them up like hungry tigers....!

Annie and Seemah arrived together, since they live in Pacific Palisades---which is quite a distance from me.....
Annie was in fine spirits!  
It is always a joy to see her! And of course it's always wonderful to see Seemah, too! She has a Birthday come up at the end of July...
There she is above, chomping on an Asparagus Spear......Yum!
Then, dear Karen arrived.....She is Betty's daughter-in-law and it was really really nice to have her join us......
And, soon, thereafter, we sat down at the table to have our Lunch......
Part 2 will be coming along next time......


More To Come........


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013
my birthday

 I think I am looking more and more like this chubby baby-me---Only, with a lot more lines!

Below, digging for what?  Who knows. But I always have been attracted to the earth, and all it's wonderful gifts and goodies......
I remember on The Farm, in Pennsylvania, near the stream that fed into the Swimming Hole, there was natural clay right there in the water. All you had to do was dig it out with your hand.  
To me, it was 'treasure'.
I cannot believe a whole year has gone by....But, it has. 
And on Thursday, June 27th, I will be
82!
(What?)
That just doesn't seem possible.
On Wednesday, the 26th, I will be celebrating with a little 'Ladies Who Lunch'....
The Usual Suspects
will be here.
Below,
My favorite photo ever taken of me....Joey Feury took this picture.
We were in Lee Grant and Joey Feury's backyard---up on a hill overlooking 
Zuma Beach, CA.
It was August, 1969
And,
Below, here we are. 
Joey and me, at an earlier time.
1964-65. The Malibu Colony---by the pool, at their rented house---me with the ever constant cigarette in my hand.
Smoking.
That seems a lifetime ago.
I gave that terrible habit up on November 12th, 1970.
That was the day I smoked my very last cigarette!
And, below, May, 2001, my last trip to New York. We are in the Sun Room of Lee and Joey's apartment on The West Side.....
That's my dear friend Kim Hamilton, sitting on the floor, and me, with one of Lee and Joey's beloved Cats....
That was such a special evening.....
(Both Kim and I are falling apart now.....Oy)

And, part of that same trip was to see my dear sweet friend, Betty G., in Stephen Sondheim's great great musical, "Follies".  It was her Birthday, and we saw the Matinee and then went out for dinner and came back and saw the evening performance, as well.....Another wonderful day and evening!
The most amazing thing about this picture? Betty had the same exact Dressing Room in 2001 that she had had back in 1963, when we moved from The Booth Theatre to The Belasco Theatre on West 44th street, while doing "Spoon River".
A lot of history.
And, above, a Birthday of mine, 1993......we were in England. A number of us made the trip to see Betty do her One-Woman show, "Betty Garrett And Other Sings" in London.
For my Birthday we took a day trip to The Cotswold's.
This was an incredibly happy and memorable day and evening......
May everyone have a Birthday day and evening like this one, every Birthday of your life!
Not two years old yet....but let's just say this was over 80 years ago....!
And now, on to 82!


More To Come........


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Thursday, June 20, 2013
rest well james g.......


When I went onto the net on Wednesday and saw a small one-line banner-headline across the top of the page---I was stunned and some kind of sound came out of me, and the tears flowed, as if I had lost a very dear friend.  In a way, I did, even though I did not know him personally.  I felt like I did......
James Gandolfini's portrayal of Tony Soprano was utter perfection.
The show itself, created by David Chase, was a television game-changer. A new and more realistic approach to story telling on TV was established and everything about Drama-On-TV has been different ever since.


The casting of James Gandolfini was absolute genius! As an actor, he brought so much humanity to this very complex character, as he did with all the characters he played.....The sadness that we could always see in Gandolfini's eyes gave a dimension to "Tony Soprano" that was just 'there'. He didn't have to work for that. His extraordinary talent made what he did look easy---but, of course, it wasn't easy.
And the whole cast of "The Soprano's" was stellar, in every way.
Edie Falco's 'Carmella' was perfect with Gandolphini's 'Tony'....
You believed these two people were married and that they had a long long relationship.
I don't remember which season it was but in one very important episode, Tony and Carmella had two huge fights that were epic!  It was like Grand Opera with the New Jersey Mob!
Brilliant and devastating in it's reality---I don't remember ever seeing anything like it before, or since!
Besides the sadness of losing a talent like this so very young.....One wonders what else we might have seen from James Gandolfini, who, had he lived,would, without question, have given us many many more stunning and memorable performances, as he already had. 


A little movie, "Welcome To The Rileys" (2010) is a perfect example of James Gandolfini's wonderful talent. If you want to see an 'artist' at work-----again, making it look so easy, this is a lovely film, worth renting. Kristen Stewart is pretty amazing, too, as is Melissa Leo.

To lift the deep sadness just a little, here is a video that reminds us what a fantastic cast of actors were assembled for 'The Soprano's'......and we get to laugh a little in this terrible time of loss......
Our hearts go out to all of James Gandolfini's loved ones----most especially, his wife and two children.
RIP dear James G.




More To Come.......


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Sunday, June 16, 2013
maxine


I always seem to be writing about dear friends or family who have just died.
I guess it is a sign of the age I am at.....Well, I apologize for being the bearer of bad tidings.....again, but I just need to write about Maxine.
My good and dear friend for 51 years, the adorable Maxine Stuart died early Thursday morning, June 6th...(The Anniversary of my brothers death....)
She was an "Original".....I've known lots of people in my life and I think Maxine was the most unique person, in every way, that I have ever known.
A truly exceptional actress.....a very funny and fun loving person, who's second act, her 30 year marriage to David Shaw, was probably the greatest joy of her life.
Maxine would have turned 95 on June 28th---her Birthday was one day after mine, and over the years we celebrated our Birthdays together many many times......
She was here for my 80th Birthday, and she had the best time.
And everyone had a great time with her, too. Betty's then 15 year old granddaughter, Maddy, fell in love with dear Maxine---then just 93....That says a lot about how current she was even though in her early 90's!  Full of life and always having great enthusiasm for just about everything!


I met Maxine in the late summer-early Fall of 1962.  Theatre West was where we met.....I was a fairly new member---I had been there about 7 weeks or so and really wasn't sure what I was doing there....It was a very very small group at that point----maybe 30 or 35 people, at the most----And Maxine was one of the 'founding' members.
Joyce Van Patten (also a 'founding' member), called me and asked me would I be willing to work on a mailing---they were going to do an 'invited' audience weekend of "Spoon River", 40 minutes of which had just been done on the Monday Workshop.  I was bowled over by it......I jumped at the chance.  I was happy to be asked to do anything....(The following day Charles Aidman called me---he was the Actor Director Adapter of "Spoon River" and asked me to participate as a singer----beginning one of the most exciting and creative collaborations of my life....) The "mailing" was at Maxine's apartment in Westwood, near UCLA, and there was just the three of us Maxine, Hanna, and me. That was the first time I actually talked to each of them, and oh, what fun we had together that 'mailing' day---we laughed a lot! 
I've written a lot about Hanna in the past, especially when she died.....Below, from right to left; Maxine, Hanna and Norma Connolly....At someones Birthday lunch---I don't remember the year---but I think it was some time in the mid 1980's.

Maxine and Hanna were very very good friends, and that day of the 'mailing' was the beginning of two very important and treasured friendships for me, both of which continued till the day each of them died......
The last time I saw Maxine was at my "Ladies Who Lunch" celebrating Halloween, 2012.
It was so great to have her here.....a real treat in every way, for all of us. She was so much fun....And she had a wonderful time.  She enjoyed every minute of it and told us all so, any number of times during the afternoon. I was so happy that she was happy.
Here below, is a link to her Obituary, which was in the Los Angeles Times, on Wednesday, June 12th.
http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-passings-20130612,0,4023039.story
I wrote a post about Maxine and her daughter Chris Maxwell about seven years ago, showing some pictures that I had taken of the two of them, in 1978.
And in that post, I talked a lot about Maxine and what a unique person she was, and also about her specialness as an actress. One of the great and really memorable TV shows she did was one of the more famous "Twilight Zone" episodes called "EYE OF THE BEHOLDER". I wrote about that, too.  Here is the link to that post.
http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=18631779#editor/target=post;postID=114678177267163133;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=7;src=postname
A wonderful highight for Maxine and for all of us who loved her was an Emmy Nomination as a Guest Actress in "The Wonder Years", I think that was 1989.
Maxine was such a talented and inventive actress---very brave and deliciously daring, too.
I saw her play Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie" on stage here in Los Angeles, and she was brilliant!
I think that was her very favorite part throughout her long and wonderful career! 
Dear Dear Maxine.....you will be missed by all of us who were touched by you and your specialness.
I miss you already, my dear old friend.


More To Come........


Note:  Here is a link to the wonderful NY Times Obit, appearing today, June 18th, 2013.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/18/arts/television/maxine-stuart-94-dies-acted-on-stage-film-and-tv.html?ref=obituaries&_r=0


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Tuesday, June 11, 2013
bottle shock


There is a really charming little independent film called "Bottle Shock" (2008).....I stumbled upon it purely by accident.  I had never heard of it and had no idea at all, what it was about...But, it had a terrific cast and, it turned out, it is based on a true story.
And, what is that story? Well, it is the story of how California wines began to be taken seriously by the rest of the world----particularly by the French, who until this particular time in 1976, held Top Honors where wines were concerned, and, in fact, California Wines were pretty much dismissed as nothing much at all.
An Englishman, Stephen Spurrier, who was a wine expert living in France, decided to explore the wines of California---particularly the wines of The Napa Valley.

He was really impressed.
He decided to have a 'blind' tasting competition between the French wines and the Wines of Napa, getting 6 or 8  French Wine Experts to participate in this 'Blind Test', and then, have the results written about by a Journalist who's expertise was Wine....And that is what happened because one Journalist covered the Blind Tasting 'happening', and then proceeded to write about the amazing results.
Nothing like this had ever been done before involving California Wines and French Wines.
As it turns out, this is really the story of one particular Napa Valley Winery, Chateau Matelena, owned and operated by Jim Barrett and his son Bo, and their struggle to become important makers of wines.
The English Wine expert, Stephen Spurrier, who was responsible for this competition, which took place in 1976, is played by the always excellent Alan Rickman, shown above tasting a Napa Valley wine..
The wonderful Bill Pullman plays Jim Barrett, the owner of Chateau Matelena,  
And his son, Bo, is played by the, at-the-time-not-quite-yet-so-well-known, very attractive Chris Pine.....(This was before the new "Star Trek" films, where Pine plays the young Captain Kirk, the part created and played by William Shatner in the original TV series.)
As with all "true" story's adapted for a movie, liberties were taken to make it a better story---as someone said, this is not a documentary....But, basically the fundamentals are accurate and true.  There was, absolutely and most definitely, a special Blind Tasting in France and there was a clear and surprising Winner.
This is a feel good movie----my favorite kind of film. And if you are interested in Wine, I think you will enjoy this film. I certainly did, and though I am not a wine connoisseur, I do have an interest in wine, and I have always been drawn to the location---the Napa Valley is  up in Northern California and has a romantic feel to it....
Many many years ago, back in the early 1970's I was going to take a trip up North and do one of those Wine Tasting Tours of some of the Winery's in Napa.  We ended up not going, and I have always been sorry about that.
So.....in a way, I feel like I got to take that trip, finally, with the movies "Sideways" and "Bottle Shock".....
An interesting side note: Jim Barrett, the Owner of Chateau Matelena, died this past March.  His son Bo, still runs and manages the Winery....And it, like most all of the Winery's up north, or anywhere, for that matter, have Wine Tastings and Tours available.
At the time we were going to take our little trip, Chateau Matelena, under Barrett's management, was a very very new Winery, and it was 4 or 5 years later that their winning Chardonnay put The Napa Valley and California Wines on the World Stage.
 So, this is a nod, to a small but really sweet film, that will make you smile and maybe even pour yourself a glass of lovely wine as you watch it.
I cannot remember who said this---I know it was a really wonderful filmmaker....Oh, I think it was Rob Reiner----that one of the signs of a really good film is that even when you know the outcome, it STILL holds your interest as if you didn't know how it ends----This is one of those films!
I'm sure it is rentable, and it may even be streamable.......
It is a really nice way to spend a good hour and a half, when you are looking for a film that isn't filled with Serial Killers, Zombies or Vampires or how the world is going to end with us being taken over by aliens......
It's just a nice story about people with a great passion for creating something really special, and who truly care about  what they do, and I love that it is something that actually happened!
Hey, here's a good idea---Get a bottle of Chateau Matelena's Chardonnay and watch the film with someone you care about who enjoys a good California wine, and a really good film, too, that just happens to have an emerging star playing one of the leads!


More To Come........


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Wednesday, June 05, 2013
gordon remembered

Remembering my dear sweet brother, on the Anniversary of his death, one year ago, on June 6th, 2012. 
This date has been a very memorable one because it was D Day, 1944. The day the Allies Invaded France.
Now, it is memorable because it is the day Gordon left us.....
Florida---North Bay Road....Gordon, on the right......This is where he had his first little boat.  And that love affair with boats and the water continued till the day he died.
His last boat, which he named "Little Boat"......I think it reminded him of his very first boat....But, he had a number of bigger boats, in between......
Above, this photo was taken around 1943......Gordon truly loved the water.  To be out on the water, gave him a peacefulness that he couldn't find anywhere else.
Above, on his boat, out on Long Island Sound.....sometime in the mid to late 1950's......
It was great fun to go out on his 'runabout' with him.....Although, sometimes, when he would get very ticked off,  we all would call him Captain Queeg.....lol.....
Above.....jumping ahead many years---this was sometime in the late 1990's I think.....A favorite picture of Gordon......
Above......always a 'lady's man'---here in Great Neck, with Anne Gilliar.....around 1955-56.....
Florida, 1937....The four of us and 'Snowball'....Gordon, Robin.....both gone now.....then, Gene and me.
Snowball was just a pup then......

Below......

The four of us, around 1945-46......Great Neck. Standing on the balcony off of mothers bedroom......
Robin, Gordon, Me, and Gene........
And.....
Above.....the four of us in 1992, San Jose, CA.......Robin's daughter Debbie, had a second Wedding Ceremony, at which I Officiated......This picture was taken at a small family dinner at the Hotel, the night before. 
And below......
The last picture I have of Gordon and me.....
Taken on October 15th, 2011, here in my house at a"family" party.....
Gordon and Michelle came over to visit me two days later and then flew back home to Connecticut the day after that.
That was the last time I saw him.
Seven and a half months later, he was gone.
I miss you so very much, my dear dear brother.....



More To Come.........


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