Saturday, December 22, 2012

Memories - Closing Out 1972


***

On Episode 15, Julie
presented Keith Michell
with his Emmy Award
In the days following the taping of Episode 15, little memories that I had not written down in my diary kept popping into my head. One memory was of Julie coming to producer, Nick Vanoff, at two in the morning and asking,
“Is the air conditioning on?”
I wrote in quotes: “At two in the morning, in winter?”
I don’t know if Nick said that, but I tend to doubt it. It may have been my thought because we were already freezing in the studio.
“Yes, Julie,” said Nick.
“Well, can you turn it up?”
Nobody complained. She was the star. We just pulled our coats over us and put our hats on.
Then, Julie got her hair dryer out and started blow drying herself.
“Isn’t she going to catch cold?” someone asked.
I imagine she was very hot under the lights in her wig and Shakespearean costume. Plus the scene from Taming of the Shrew involved a lot of physical work.

In another note, I described Julie and Keith discussing what kind of kiss the king in The King’s Breakfast would give the queen. Keith said,
“How shall we kiss?”
Julie wanted to do one kind of kiss and Keith another, so they tried a lot of different kisses. Keith kept kissing Julie over and over again. Although getting this little detail just right shows the seriousness of these two actors about their craft, in my eighteen year old vision of things, I couldn’t help noting, “It seemed as if Keith liked kissing Julie!”

When the Christmas show was finally aired on December 20th, I wrote in my diary:

“Julie proved herself to be a warm and beautiful Christmas companion, even on television. Merry Christmas always, Julie, wherever you are.”

Meanwhile, life went on. 
December 19th:  My mother and I drove over to visit my Grandfather, who is finally out of the hospital after having had a kidney removed. He looked very thin and tired and, suddenly, very old. It seemed so strange that Nana wasn’t there. Grandpa had us look through her clothes; many were brand new. I took some beaded sweaters, a turquoise silk Chinese jacket and a beautiful silk embroidered robe, along with some 1950s sling backs.

                                         ***
Around 1973, Hollywood
December 21st - Second Singing Lesson

I was up at 5:30 am and at 6:00 am my step dad took me to catch the bus for Los Angeles where I caught another bus to Hollywood. Everything was dark as night when I left the house.

Despite California’s bad public transportation, I arrived for my lesson at ten to nine. That was the only time Mr. Loring had for me and I wasn’t going to turn it down. He told me he doesn’t want any more pupils and said he wouldn’t have taken me if I didn’t have talent.  (See Blog 35 - First Singing Lesson)

Eugene Loring, unbeknownst to me
was a famous choreographer
Mr. Loring said that for the first two lessons, we would spend most of the time talking. He wants me to forget about listening to my voice. He explained that expression, concentration and emotion are the most important things.

When he asked me who my favorite singer was, I said, “Judy Garland.” I could have brought Julie up too, but I didn’t.

Mr. Loring told me I had picked a "good one" with Judy—"no, a great one." He said he had worked at the Palace when Judy did, and told me a story. 

One night--the night his parents came to the show--he was backstage afterwards and introduced them to Judy.  Then two of his friends, who were also working on the bill, said,
“It would be fun to have breakfast together in our hotel room tomorrow.”
Just then they heard this little voice say, “Well, am I invited too?”
It was Judy and they were all so surprised that Judy Garland wanted to have breakfast with them, but they told her, “Yes, of course.” So she came to breakfast and they had a wonderful time.

Backstage, his mother asked Judy, “How do you know you are going to cry every night on that certain line of “Over the Rainbow?”
“But I don’t know I’m going to cry,” said Judy, “until I do.”

Then, Mr. Loring asked me to sing, “You Made Me Love You.”
When the lesson was over, he told me he thought in some ways I sounded a like Judy. When he played back the tape of my singing, I was surprised at how much I did sound like her. Not that much, but I never thought our voices would have anything in common.

Today, I also found that I am broken... When listening to the recording Mr. Loring made of me at my lesson, I could hear all the failings that my teachers at school have said I have. I could actually see how I act in class just by listening to myself.

In the afternoon, I had to usher at Los Angeles City College. I got back to West Covina after dark, and tried to get a lot of homework done that night.

                                                      ****

As the year wound down to a close, I spent my spare time studying music and being inspired by my wonderful Christmas present, “Judy at Carnegie Hall,” which I listened to in the family room after every one had gone to bed. I wanted to listen quietly in the dark with my eyes closed, so I could pretend I was really there; I wanted the experience of being at one of her live performances.

****
From the concert style show with Robert Goulet
when Julie lost her earring.
Courtesy Ruth and Vannie Schaufelberger

December 27th - ABC repeated the concert style show with Julie and Robert Goulet. I was delighted to see it again but, in doing so, I realized how much had changed for me in the last months. I was in love with the theater and considered anyone who inspired me to be my friend. And while I was not in any way fooling myself that Julie Andrews was a personal friend or ever would be, the inspiration I received from her had not come to me off a movie screen or even a theater show. It came from being present for hours and hours of work, breaks, discussions about the work - it was real. 

As I watched Julie at work, I never thought I was seeing "Maria" or someone famous; she was just Julie, the person I came to watch on Friday afternoons. Over time, I had grown rather fond of her; I grew to like her from being around her, more than any image I had prior to that time. I suppose that is why I noted in my diary while watching the re-run of the Goulet show, “It is a shock to see her on television.” There were movie stars and there were the persons in my life. It was difficult to put the two together in my mind. 

Now, as the year drew to a close, with all the sad and difficult things that had occurred, I had to count the happy things and look to them as a sign that the future was indeed going to be bright. I was looking forward to 1973!

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