Thursday, March 7, 2013

Missing Julie


     The weekend arrived and I went home to West Covina, taking my new album “The World of Julie Andrews” with me. “It is beautiful, funny, witty, silly and hauntingly gorgeous,” I wrote in my diary. I was especially in love with the song “Oh, Dear, What Can the Matter Be.” I knew it as a sort of children’s song, but Julie’s rendition took it to a whole new level.
That Saturday evening, February 25th, 1973, Mother Virginia Mary, an old friend of my late grandmother, was invited to dinner. She and my grandmother had met around the time my grandmother founded The San Marino Players. At that time, Virginia worked for the Hollywood Reporter and most of her days then were spent mingling with Hollywood movie stars. This was in the 1940s. In fact, Virginia always called my grandmother “Billie” because my grandmother reminded her of Billie Burke.

I was a teenager when I first met this special family friend. My grandmother took me to the Mayfield Convent in Pasadena, where Mother Virginia was visiting. While we waited for her to arrive, we went into the convent chapel. As we knelt to pray, my grandmother said,
“Do you see the diamond earrings on the statue of the Christ Child?”  
I did.
“Those are the earrings Cary Grant gave Mother Virginia Mary before she joined the convent.”
I couldn’t help staring. How amazing that the Christ Child was wearing them.

It seems Mother Virginia Mary had long wanted to be a nun, but to please her mother, she waited, waited until her mother passed away. Then, after joining the convent, of course, all her worldly goods, including her jewelry was given to the church. But it seems the nuns had a soft spot for Cary Grant, so his gift went to the Christ Child.

Mother Virginia Mary was a lively woman, who loved to laugh. She was loads of fun to be with. And it seems her life as a nun was more even more exciting than her life as a Hollywood reporter. She lived all over the world, including Rome. She also worked as a missionary in the Belgium Congo, where, as she told us, she had some wild adventures.

This Saturday was Mother Virgina Mary's birthday and my mother had bought a cake for her. Later, while we were talking, she asked me what I was studying and I told her  "singing and acting." “That’s wonderful,” she said, in a very excited way.
My mother, who was not so pleased, turned to her and said,
“I wish she’d study something else.”
Although my mother repeated this several times during the conversation, looking to Mother Virginia Mary as if she hoped she’d get some back-up, but she got none.

When it was time for Mommy to take her back to the convent, Mother Virginia Mary wanted me to ride along with them. “I’m afraid your mother will be lonely on the long ride home,” she said.

Meanwhile, a re-run of the first Julie Andrews Hour episode was on television. I had long wanted to see it again, and I was feeling "homesick" for Julie. I found myself clinging to her image on the screen, knowing that that was all I had left of everything I had experienced in the last months; I would not see her again.
  
Because I didn’t appear to want to go with them, my mother and Mother Virginia Mary went out the front door to get into the car, but my mother’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Prefontaine, who was visiting, got mad at me and said, “You should have gone with your mother,” so I ran out the front door, saying, “I’m going! I’m going!”

Then, just before I closed the door behind me,  I turned back to catch one last glimpse of Julie on the television. She was singing, “If Ever I Would Leave You,” and my eyes filled with tears.  I cried softly all the way to Pasadena, half ashamed and half glad…

February 26th, Monday

I must never be called “dead,” “dull,” or “boring” ever again! Mr. Martin said my pantomime was good but because I was doing two things at once, he said it wasn’t good and he gave me “D!” He did, however, stop and help me with the pantomime while I was on stage.

Oh, I want to see Julie again. Just the person—beautiful, silly, swearing, serious, working hard— Julie, NOT “Miss Andrews” as Lynn calls her. I know I should call her “Miss Andrews.” It’s improper for me to say “Julie,” but that’s who she is to me.

***
On Tuesday, February 27th I learned that the show had been cancelled. At that point, it didn’t matter too much to my plans. I didn’t think I’d ever be back at the studio, but I was sorry for Julie. The show was so splendid, it deserved to be loved. Still, I knew she would move on to do other things, as would I.

That night I spoke to Vivian for a long time. Although Julie was working this week, when Vivian spoke to Carol, Nick Vanoff’s secretary, she said it was going to be a closed set. Then she added, 

“I hope for your sake there is an audience on the last show.”  
Yes, there was only one more show for them to tape.

Kelly was the one who told Vivian the show had been cancelled, and she said she had learned it from Carol. Vivian told me that Kelly was very upset. Then, she told me two funny stories Julie had recounted on The David Frost Show.

The first story took place when Emma was quite small, just after Mary Poppins came out. Julie had taken Emma shopping in the toy department of a store and there was a huge Mary Poppins doll for sale.
“Look! Look!” said Emma, “There’s my mummy!”
“Oh isn’t that funny,” said a lady standing nearby. “She thinks Mary Poppins is her mother!”

Another time Julie was out with Emma and this time Emma was really misbehaving so Julie said,
“Emma, if you don’t stop misbehaving, I’m going to smack your bottom.”
Emma kept on, so Julie patted her on the behind. Emma began screaming and wouldn’t stop. Just then, someone, seeing Julie with Emma, said,
“Oh look! There’s Mary Poppins!”

When I told Vivian I had borrowed a copy of Julie’s book, “Mandy” from the public library, she told me how it came to be written, which explained the lovely dedication, “For Jenny because I promised.”

Vivian and I also talked about how much we miss Julie, and about why we thought we were put out. Sometimes now I felt as if Vivian was my sister. She was the only person who could understand, even a little, how I felt. We had not seen Julie for almost a month and rather than feeling better about the whole thing, we actually felt worse. That night, I wrote in my diary, “We both have an unexplainable sorrow in our hearts because Julie is leaving.”


February 28th, Wednesday

In the afternoon, I spoke to Claire Priest. Then, I called John Monarch, the Unit Manager at ABC, and introduced myself. I asked if I could get into the studio for the last show, even if there was no audience. He told me to call back next week. I also asked him if he knew what NARM was (something my new pen pal had asked about, but he said no.

Then, because I wanted to find out where Liza (Minnelli) was playing that night, I called Kelly and asked if she had Elizabeth’s phone number.  As it happened, Elizabeth was right there in Kelly’s apartment, so she put her on the phone with me.

Elizabeth seemed very happy to speak to me. Although she didn’t know about Liza’s performance, we talked a bit. Then, she asked me what I thought was a very strange question:
“I haven’t seen you lately on the closed sets, have I?”

Well, of course, I hadn’t been there. Only later, would I realize the meaning fo this question.

Elizabeth then told me that she had spent three days with Sammy Davis Jr and Julie, and she couldn’t believe how well they worked together. When they were working, Sammy said, “Come on, Soul Sister!” to Julie. After telling me this, Elizabeth said goodbye.

March 1st, Thursday

I was so sad at my singing lesson today that Mr. Loring asked me what was wrong and I ended up telling him about the situation at the studio.  I don’t know why. I wonder if he understood. After I told him my story, he said he had worked with Julie, adding, “She can be temperamental.”

Well, I had never seen Julie behave in a way that could be considered tempermental. A lot of other stars might have thrown fits or pulled rank on things that Julie simply went along with, so I decided that Mr. Loring must be trying to make me feel better about myself. I let him and thought no more about his comment.

“Tony Charmoli’s a friend of mine,” he said. “Tony’s always been nice to you, hasn’t he?”
“Yes,” I replied. I had only spoken to Tony a couple of times, once on the telephone by accident, but I knew he was a sweet man.

After our conversation, Mr. Loring made a call and ordered two pieces of sheet music for me: “From This Moment On” and “Say a Prayer for Me Tonight,” the song Julie had sung on the show with Angela Lansbury. I was so happy I was going to learn to sing it.

In the afternoon, I called ABC just to make sure there was not going to be an audience for the taping that night.
“Julie Andrews Hour, please.”  Mine is now a familiar voice there.
I was transferred and the phone rang a long while. Then a voice said,
“Stage 8.”
“Is there a closed set?
“Not really completely, but no audience” said a smooth man’s voice.
“This isn’t the office?”
“No, the stage.”
I was embarrassed. 
“Oh, I’m so sorry. The girl gave me the wrong place.”

That night, my roommate, Lynn, and I stayed in our room, studying. Lynn had her radio on and when they played, “Oh, Babe,” one of the top hits at that time, I remembered how Thog sang it to Julie and I started to cry. The next song was Harry Belafonte singing “Suzanne,” and a short time after that, I heard a voice talking that sounded strangely familiar.
“Who is that?” I asked Lynn.
“Julie Andrews,” said Lynn as if I were crazy not to recognize her voice.
But Julie's voice had become so familiar to me in-person, I simply couldn’t process the idea that she was on the radio, being heard by thousands or millions of people.

After that, they played,” Vincente,” the song Julie had sung so beautifully on the show with Harry Belafonte and Sivuica.  It was all too much for me. As I wrote at the time,
“Inside I keep saying, “Julie don’t go away, please don’t go!” It’s as if she’s like all the other people in my life that I’ve loved and lost. The dearest people have disappeared forever. But I have to realize Julie is famous. I can’t loose track of her, but I know she must go away, for her future, and for mine. I must stop sitting in the studio dreaming.
It’s been good, oh, so good to see how they work, joke, what is expected and how things go. I have learned so many things, and I have also learned how to make new friends (something so difficult for me), but now it’s my turn. I’ve got to work.”

March 3rd, Saturday

Julie’s show with Sammy Davis was a Wow! Or as Julie would say, “Super!” Julie really goofed off with Sammy. She’s never been so “free and easy.” Maybe she’s learning what she said she hadn’t –to make singing easy… But I felt so left out that I was not been there for any part of the taping or the fun. The medley about spring made me cry.

I also saw Sharri on the show! Julie and Sammy did a modern, I mean really wild, group of songs. You’ve never seen Julie dressed like she was for this. No one would believe it. Although I didn’t think it suited her, a new side of her is being shown. At the end of the show, she looked so terribly happy. I guess it was a good week with Sammy.

Over the weekend, Mommy and I had a long conversation and I tried to explain my feelings about the show and Julie, but it was impossible.

***

Looking back, it meant so much to be to be around someone who sang the music I loved and who understood what it was to perform in this way. I knew I couldn’t be friends with Julie, but I wanted so much to be around someone who was simpatico to this, who understood. The ending had really broken my heart.

March 4th, Sunday

Returning to Hollywood, I found a letter from my new Julie Andrews fan pen pal, Dennis. He also sent me a letter to give to Julie, as I had promised to do. Now I had an excuse to go to the studio on the night of the final show. I also got a brainstorm about what I was going give Julie as a going away present.

***
On Monday, March 5th, I was reading the Los Angeles Sunday Times Calendar section, when something caught my eye. There was a big advertisement for a benefit showing of The Sound of Music. It said that Julie and the children from the film would all be there.  I called the number and they told me the seats would be $5 and $10. I was so thrilled, I could afford to go. I was going to see Julie again, and once again, life seemed happy.


Coming Next: A Final Studio Visit


If you think The Julie Andrews Hour should be released for the public on DVD, along with music releases of Julie and her guests, please e-mail a polite request: dan.gopal@itv.com

If you prefer, you may look up ITV in London or Los Angeles, and send a letter there. 


ALL photos show here are for entertainment purposes only.


1 comment:

  1. "The World of Julie Andrews" was a two record album released during the time Julie was making The Julie Andrews Hour. Actually, the recordings were all taken from various albums she had made over the last ten or fifteen years. "Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be," actually was a live recording from one of her shows with Carol Burnett.

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