As stated in my earlier blog, the day after Thanksgiving, 1972 I had gone to
Julie Andrews tape her show with guests: Jack Cassidy and The Smothers
Brothers. That evening, I returned to Hollywood , and the
following day babysat my little brothers, twenty-one month old, John, and four
month-old Michael. West Covina
The next day, November 26th, I slept late. It was nearly when my mother opened the door to my bedroom.
“Nana died,” she said.
“What? Not really,” was all I could reply.
My mother closed the door without another word and left.
It never occurred to me at the time that she was hurting too, or that she feared my grief. I wrote in my diary:
“It still has not sunk in and I don’t want it to because I don’t want to cry. I let my feelings out in music (playing piano) and stayed alone in my room most of the day.
|"Nana" Delores Russell, Christmas, 1965|
She was fighting throat cancer, but loved children,
and often took care of me when my mother was on tour.
When I went out to talk to my mother she told me that Grandpa (who was in the hospital) had tried to call Nana for a whole day. The next day, their friends Pat and Alex went over to the house and found her dead. She died from complications of emphysema and diabetes.”
After my mother’s announcement, I couldn’t help remembering the last time I spoke to Nana. Grandpa had had a kidney removed, and everyone was worried about him. No one thought Nana was in danger. She told me she had a cold.
When I called her from the ABC lot and told her I was seeing Julie Andrews, she’d said, “Oh, good. She’s brilliant… learn all you can from her.” Now, she was gone and she was only forty-eight years old.
That evening, my mother took me back to
. I had acting
class early the next morning. Hollywood
Wednesday, November 29th - Mommy called me last night to say that today (Wednesday) would be Nana’s funeral. She came and picked me up and we drove to
At the funeral everyone tried to talk happy but my mother’s voice broke when she said, that VuVu (her mother) and Nana were the two closest people to me, and now –less than a year apart-- they were both gone.
At the service a strange minister talked about life and happy memories left by the “loved person,” and suddenly visions of the past came before my eyes and I could hear Nana say, “Come on, Shelly.” Her voice was so real and they were saying ‘she is gone and will no longer be on this earth.’ I cried, not even bothering to wipe the tears.
Nana and Grandpa’s good friend, Roy Clark, who visited every summer with his daughers, had flown down from
. When he saw Mommy and
me he came over and said to me, “She
really loved you, kid.” San Francisco
After the funeral, I came back to my dorm. I didn’t go to sewing class. I laughed when I was with people, but when I was finally alone, I sobbed long and hard. It seems as if the past was only a dream. Now, it is all gone.
Tonight I watched The Julie Andrews Hour with Harry Belafonte. What a great show—everyone watching at International House agreed. Harry’s numbers, especially Mr. Bojangles, were wonderful. Great expression. Beautiful job filming. And what a devastating little scene they acted out together, especially for a variety show!
Julie was too beautiful (really) in “This Nearly Was Mine.” The build of the song, expression, costume, close-up… just her eyes was on the black and white screen (we didn’t have color TV). As for “Vincente,” I am still haunted by Julie’s beauty singing this song. That little good night was too short. Julie was right. They should have re-shot the end. I hope not many people missed this show because it was really special.
Friday, December 1st – The Julie Andrews Hour is on hiatus this week.
A girl at International House gave me the name of the vocal coach she is studying with and tonight I decided it's time. I called him and he had such a handsome voice over the telephone, I almost swooned.