Joanna Cassidy called me once to thank me for a book I’d given her. I went into semi-shock, so I remember nothing about the phone call.
While I was a taxi drive on Martha’s Vineyard in 1982, I was walking through the airport one day in search of my fare to pickup.
A woman wearing a babushka and big dark glasses, walking alongside a portly middle-aged gentleman with graying hair, was licking a big fat ice cream cone as she walked directly at me. Not seeing me coming, she bumped into me and smeared the green mint ice cream on my tee-shirt.
Horrified, I was about to scream at her but then realized it was Jackie O and Maurice Tempelsman. She apologized profusely and offered to pay for dry cleaning.
Knowing it would one day make a great item for eBay, I insisted that she forget about it.
Many years ago my mother was hiring a cleaning person to replace Gertrude, who had died rather unexpectedly underneath the kitchen table. Several women came by the house, and my mother had tea with all of them (this was in Savannah, in the old days). She eventually hired a woman named Constance, who was with us all the way until my father died. Anyway, the point is that while my mother was hiring, one of the women who called to see if the job was still open was none other than Imogene Coca, who was down on her luck while appearing in a summer stock version of Mame as Miss Gooch! My mother considered hiring her, but she was too small to clean the chandeliers.
Several years ago, I went to the New David Cinema porn theater in New York. It was mostly known as a hangout for old men. Well I sat down to watch the movie, and pretty soon this decrepit old man in a rumpled coat came and sat down in my row, one seat away from me. He had on dark sun glasses and the collar of his coat was turned up hiding his face. He wasn’t much to look at, but I figured what the heck. So I moved over into the seat next to him. He sat there stiff as a board looking straight ahead. Well I figured it must be his first time there and he was a bit nervous. So I casually laid my hand on his thigh and gave it a gentle squeeze. Suddenly the man growled, “God dammit! I vant to be left alone!!”. I jerked my head around to look at the man, only to realize that I had just felt up Greta Garbo.
Nancy Walker once promised my friend a role on Broadway if he would let her finger fuck his ass. He did and she never called.
The weirdest thing happened to me about seven weeks ago.
I was having all KINDS of trouble with my connection to the interwebs. Was it my ISP? My computer? My phone line into the house?
I made a lot of phone calls to a lot of different companies and, as you can imagine, everyone said it was somebody else’s fault.
Well… to make a long story short it turned out that trouble was with the router that had been supplied to me by my ISP when I signed up for their service.
After many phone calls (and many “press 3 to speak with a customer relations specialist” button pushing exercises) I finally was in contact with a supervisor at my ISP.
She sounded familiar. She sounded VERY familiar but I couldn’t place her name and, besides, I wanted to get my computer problem fixed.
After at least 40 minutes, hurrah!, we located the trouble and, even more significantly, I suddenly realized where I’d heard her voice before.
But I waited until after the problem had been localized and then I said to her: “I’m sure you hear this all the time but did anyone ever tell you that you sound just like Brenda Vaccaro?”
There was a loooong pause and then she said: “I haven’t worked since ‘The Mirror Has Two Faces.’ How would you like THAT to be the last item on your resume, you homo?”
There was another long, silent pause. And then she spoke.
"We’ll have that new router sent out to you in 5 to 8 business days. Thanks so much for calling."
And then she hung up.
The sorry thing is that I never got to tell her how much I enjoyed her in “Summertree.”
Once when I was 12 my cousin Isabel and I were playing in my backyard. We were playing at General Hospital and nothing untoward was happenng (I was playing as a nurse named Brenda while Isabel pretended to be some famous patient). Sudennly, from the fence next door, we started hearing a female voice saying “Look Henry, the dirty bugger is sticking it in her” repeatedly. We were shocked and this continued for a few minutes until we decided to look who was saying these things. Well, we were just in time to see Barbara Bel Geddes entering the house with our old neighbour Henry - who was nearly blind. Later he complained to my parents, who, strangely enough believed him over “Brenda”. I had a difficult time coming out a few years later, all due to “Miss Ellie”…
My mother’s great uncle was tipped to be one of the four male leads which F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote into the screenplay for The Women while Clare Boothe Luce was with Noel Coward in Jamaica in the winter of 1935.
She came back from her trip, saw the changes, called George Cukor in an alcohol-fueled rage and had Fitzgerald fired from the film.
Apparently that was Uncle Jerry’s only real shot at stardom and he wrote a series of over one hundred angry, bitter letters to Fitzgerald which ultimately became the inspiration for Phil Macedon in The Pat Hobby Stories.
Uncle Jerry died at Iwo Jima, so we’ll really never know what might have become of him if he ever made it back to Hollywood.
Really sad if you think about it.
I pulled off the highway outside of Seligman, Arizona on a sweltering summer day to help an old man change a flat tire. I didn’t recognize him at first but there was something so familiar about that voice. Finally it hit me that I was assisting none other than TV’s Russell Johnson.
The job finished, he thanked me and started up his car. Seizing this last opportunity I said to him, “By the way, could I have an autograph, Professor?” His sunny expression gave way to one of instant anger. “I’m not the Professor, dammit! I’m Russell Fucking Johnson!” With that he floored the gas and took off down the highway, the spare “donut” on the left rear of his car running right over my foot. It didn’t break anything but I had to drop out of tap class as I couldn’t wear tight shoes for months after. Asshole.
In 1964 my mother was a white college student from Alabama spending the summer in New York City (pretty shocking to her family). There, she met other students who were deeply involved in the civil rights movement and was invited to attend one of their meetings. It was in the basement of a Catholic church. My mother was at first wary that the meeting was a forum for Southern bashing but the group was welcoming and they won her over to the cause of Civil rights and my mother decided she would come back for more meetings. She left the meeting just as church let out and on the sidewalk she noticed a middle aged black woman and my mother, newly emboldened by the spirit of anti-racism smiled at her. The woman smiled back and asked her “Were you in there?” My mother answered “Yes, yes I was. I admit I was skeptical at first but it was wonderful.” the woman answered “Really?” and my mother said “Yes, I believe in a better future” and the woman sneered “No good will come from that pile of crap! They lie and they get you to believe their lies. You look too educated to get drawn into that bunch.” and my answered began to talk to her about the plight of black people when the woman cut her off “black people are especially better off without those people and their stupid beliefs… believe me”
My mother walked away confused as to why this black woman was so opposed to civil rights … years later she would recognize the woman as Butterfly McQueen and realize that she must have thought my mother was leaving mass as Butterfly McQueen was an outspoken atheist.