1/26/13 – So, I left Western Costume Company in June 1990, I was completely miserable leaving this place with so many people I loved …but I just couldn’t work for that man any longer. Once again, my old boss Jane Rosenthal recommended me for a position with a Japanese distribution company that was moving to LA from NY, they hired me immediately and made a lot of promises never kept. I’m not going to write about them, because the experience was short, and painful … not nice people at all. Although I did meet a terrific guy that shared space with me, he was young and so very smart … and spoke Japanese. We got along very well … he stayed a while longer than I did. I recently found him on Facebook after all these years. He’s doing very well, living in Hoboken, NJ and married with a son.
I was actually out of work for almost a year, very scary times. I lived in Burbank on Screenland Drive near Magnolia. One evening my sister and I took a walk around the block on Hollywood Way and spotted a small pizza stand, JOE MAMA’S.
We ordered a slice and it was fantastic … best since leaving Chicago. The next day we went back, another great slice. We asked the owner, Frank Garibaldi, where he was from, Taylor Street in Chicago … impossible, that’s where we were from. After talking to Frank for a while we discussed all the people we both knew (including his sister, Sherri, who I knew, but never met him) … talk about a small world. After that, I think we spent 5 or 6 days a week sitting outside under the umbrella tables talking and laughing til we could barely breathe. I love this photo…
… an old friend, Cookie, from Taylor Street came to visit, as usual we spent every afternoon at Joe Mama’s. She is a hilarious person with fun stories … but before she would tell one, she always looked over each shoulder, as if some mafia guy was gonna hear her … here’s Frank, me, Roger Faustino from Western Costume and Bree in the background, all looking over our shoulders so Cookie could tell her story! Frank was definitely one of the funniest guys we had ever met … his stories were crazy and almost unbelievable … like the one about his next door neighbor who was 100 and had fallen in the bathtub and couldn’t get out … so her daughter and son in law (who was 90, no kidding) left her there all day til Frank got home to get her out … he suggested they put a towel on her and empty the tub, he would be back in a few minutes.
After a while, I’m not sure how it happened, I started working afternoons at the salad bar (always loved to cook) and shared the kitchen with Steve the cook, and Francisco, his helper and food delivery guy …
OMG, those were fun times. It got pretty busy in the afternoon, but that didn’t stop Frank from ‘cracking us up’ constantly. On Friday nites, Frank delivered several pizzas to The Tonight Show, at Jay Leno’s request. Jay even stopped by to eat when he was out driving one of his many cars or motorcycles. After we finished the lunch shift, we got into Frank’s 1972 green Mercury Cougar and drove straight to Barron’s … a mom and pop restaurant a few blocks away, and had lunch there every day!
Sometimes we would be at Barrons for hours … with even more stories and laughter and pranks … like the time Frank put salt and pepper in Bree’s shoes and she didn’t realize, it til she got home and took her shoes off. Or, when I found silverware from Barron’s in my purse when I got home. And, the time Frank called Barrons from Joe Mama’s and asked if they had banana cream pie, they said no … then he told them that he worked at Bill Clinton’s Democratic offices a few blocks away and it was Bill’s favorite … they made the pies .. then he had to confess to Mom and Pop, of course, they forgave him. Pop used to go into his restaurant at 4am to slice the apples, etc. for the pies, those pies were famous … at Thanksgiving there would be a line around the block for the pumpkin pie. Mom cooked in the kitchen along with their son and daughter, who also waitressed … we loved that place, great food and wonderful people. Here’s a photo of Frank, me, Bree and her friend at Barron’s…
One of Frank’s funniest stories … he was driving his new Chrysler Cordoba with the Corinthian Leather (remember those commercials with Ricardo Montalban?) and when he stopped at the red light, a couple of girls in the car next to his were checking him out … he put on his best suave’ look and pressed the electric window button, BUT it was the seat button and as he slowly slid backwards towards the back seat, he gave them the best look he could muster in that situation!
And, speaking of cars, here’s what I was driving then … my all time favorite car, it was a gift from a long time, generous ‘friend’ that I had been seeing off and on for years … he didn’t live in California, but we always got together when he was in town, or near town, sometimes he would fly me to San Francisco, etc. He was having a particularly good year and told me I could pick out anything I wanted up to $30,000, but it had to be American. I was able to talk him out of that stipulation and chose this gorgeous 1992 Subaru SVX, check out those cool windows .. it had a dark grey suede interior … OMG, how I loved that car … I think they only made it for 3 years … always wish I would have kept it.
During this time I had been trying to find a job and having no luck .. so I got out my Studio Directory and sent a letter w/resume to all the companies I would like to work for … and guess who hired me ………MTM (yep, Mary Tyler Moore), altho she was connected to it any more. Loved loved that job … that will be my next story. Eventually, Joe Mama’s closed to the dismay of everyone who loved and frequented it … but Frank’s landlord was giving him problems and so were the Burbank Health Dept. inspectors who made demands he could never meet … like parking space, etc. So, a great chapter of my life closed … but Frank and I are still friends. The last time we saw each other was many years ago, when my ex husband got married in Las Vegas, and we both attended. Too long ago. And in closing this story, here’s a photo of Frank, my old friend, Maxwell from Western Costume … at my 50th birthday party.
9/9/12 — Shortly after I started working at, WESTERN COSTUME COMPANY, Bill Haber, one of the partners, also one of the founders of Creative Artists Agency, and now a successful producer, decided to hold his 25th wedding anniversary at Western. It was a huge success and a gorgeous event. The entrance was decorated beautifully and the food stations, representing different countries, were spectacular, great music too.
As guests walked in, men went to the left and ladies to the right, and chose a costume they wanted to wear for the party. I remember Candy Spelling having a difficult time putting her arm into her costume because her diamond wedding ring was too large to go thru the sleeve! The entire first floor had costumes displayed everywhere … the green gown from Gone With The Wind…
and Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch were 2 of the favorites … at the end of the night we discovered that someone had stolen the hat from the Charlie Chaplin costume, shocking. All the employees dressed in white/black
and helped wherever they were needed – that handsome man at the far left of me, Bobby Pecina, was a costumer that used to dress Charlie Chaplin. I remember Robert DeNiro’s designer would only work with Bobby, who would retire, then come out of retirement to work with him, and a few others. Bobby used to wear ascots to work .. always perfectly tailored and elegant … everyone adored him.
I loved this job so much … it was perfect for me … always loved movies and I’m still a clothes horse. People sent packages from all over the country, I went thru them and chose what we should keep and put in stock and what we would return … and occasionally find something small enough for me, I would ask to buy them, at a nice price. Once, a woman walked in with 2 gorgeous old linen suitcases full of vintage lingerie that had never been worn … we bought the lingerie, and she gave me the luggage. Every so often we would get a call from a vintage store asking us to come look thru their inventory to see if we could use anything, that was really fun.
Many artisans worked there for decades … Mauricio, a terrific shoemaker who made a replica of the ruby red slippers from the WIZARD OF OZ (here they are on my feet),…
Eddie Baron, a fantastic hat maker, an amazing seamstress (feel awful I can’t remember her name) who beaded the gown Nancy Reagan wore for the inauguration that is now in The Smithsonian. She was beading a gown for Madonna designed by Oscar winner, MILENA CANONERO for DICK TRACY, when I started. She worked 24 hours straight to finish it … we sent a huge bouquet flowers to her as thanks. I remember the costumers complaining about Madonna, saying she would just dump the costumes on the floor after the fitting. I watched them create amazing costumes for JOE TOMPKINS, who designed for Eddie Murphy‘s HARLEM NIGHTS … and create COLLEEN ATWOOD‘S amazing designs for EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, one of the young costumers would stand in for Johnny Depp. At one point, Bree and her girlfriend, Danielle, did some of the hand painting on several of the Indian costumes for DANCES WITH WOLVES. It was tedious work, but they loved doing it. I was a costume stand-in for LAURA SAN GIACOMO when the fabulous designer, WAYNE FINKELMAN, was building her costumes for QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER with TOM SELLECK …
here’s a pic of Laura and Wayne, and another of Wayne and me (in the hat!)
Wayne adored my daughter Bree, and let her wear one of his designs that GOLDIE HAWN wore in OVERBOARD, for her prom .. he even did her hair/makeup…
very lovely man, gone way too soon. Another photo of me in one of BERNIE POLLOCK’S designs for HAVANA with Robert Redford …
Bernie was Redford’s favorite designer … and the brother of director Sidney Pollock. I loved these people … they were so creative and dedicated to their work … and I was lucky enough to mingle with them during their time at Western. Once, designer ANN ROTH a multiple Oscar winner, chastised me for wearing open sandles to work, she was very proper. She was designing for POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, and introduced me to MERYL STREEP after her fitting, oh yeah, that was special! Once ROBET DENIRO came in for a fitting … my desk was positioned at the top of a large staircase in the foyer … he looked up, and I said “I’m Judy, I worked for Jane Rosenthal” (his partner) … he waved back and said, “yes, she told me you would be here and to say hi.” Need I say more?
In September 1989 we had a huge company picnic,…
it was fun and meant to bring everyone together … Western had been in financial trouble for quite a while, and the new owners wanted the employees to celebrate the new beginning. Here’s a couple of photos … the picnic … and one of Mack Adler, me and Tzetzi, the star seamstress.
In February 1990 Western was part of the Aids Project LA dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel …
costumes from dozens of films were modeled for the event … here’s Bree in one of the dresses from CLEOPATRA.
Also, a photo of me with my dinner date for the event, genius MAXWELL BARR, who designed and created most of the period undergarments for Western. That was a very special night.
In June of 1990, we moved from that beautiful old building, next to Paramount Studios, to a huge, dirty warehouse in the valley … it took them forever to steam clean it, and it never felt completely clean. I rode to the new location in a van with the STAR COLLECTION … costumes from CLEOPATRA and THE SOUND OF MUSIC, and dozens of other movies … pieces that were priceless and were kept on the top floor of the building in a locked room, I had the only key. That ride was heaven.
Eventually, the new boss/owner began firing people that had been at Western for many many years, he was a numbers man and was ‘cutting costs’ … the shoemaker, the hat maker, the laundry people, etc. … it created a very shaky environment … everyone wondered if they would be next. It broke my heart to see these people leave … where would they go with their particular skills, at their age? And, the relationship between him and I deteriorated .. he had a quick temper, and nasty mouth … i.e. “get the bitch on the phone” meant call my wife, and they were newly married. I adored Mack Adler who was kind of the GM and had been there forever … he was the heart and soul of the place and we were good friends … but I wanted to leave, even though I loved the job with all my heart … I just couldn’t work like that … and I wasn’t doing a good job any more, because of the environment. So, in June of 1990, they gave me a terrific going away party, everyone came … it was heart tugging to leave these lovely people. Here’s a couple of pics … the food table,…
and the other is designer Bernie Pollock, Roger Faustino (father of David Faustino and head of the mens’ dept.) me, and the ever dapper Bobby Pecina.
So .. once again, Jane Rosenthal recommended me for another job, with a Japanese distributor who was moving to LA from NY and they hired me immediately. What a HUGE mistake … but more about that next time.
6/20/12 – Before Jane moved to NY to work with DeNiro, she recommended me to Lauren Shuler Donner, who had an office at Disney … so back I went, and happy to do it. Lauren is one of my favorite bosses, and there’s very few … she is talented, genuine, kind, smart, hard working and respected by everyone in the industry. She has produced many films, here’s just a few of my favorites: Ladyhawke, Pretty in Pink, Dave, You’ve Got Mail, Bulworth, Any Given Sunday, and dozens more. She was in post production with Three Fugitives (Nick Nolte and Martin Short) when I started working for her. The first week, there was a screening of Three Fugitives, Nolte showed up in green scrubs, that was his daily wardrobe at the time … again, that quizzical look, as if maybe he knew me??? Again!!
Lauren had an assistant, Karen, for 8 years that she adored, they were very close. When they were on location in Seattle, Karen fell in love with the city and decided to move there, with very short notice. So, I met her at the office and she only had one or two days to teach me the ropes, not enough time for such a big position, especially because I had never worked in production before … always worked in the studio system. Consequently, I didn’t feel like I knew enough to take over the job, and always felt like a bit of a disappointment to Lauren … although she would never say that.
Shortly after I started, we lost our Disney office because her deal was over, so they moved us into a trailer on the back lot, we didn’t mind, it was kinda fun and it didn’t last long. We moved to Warner Bros. into a small, but nice office in an interesting area … her fabulous husband, Richard Donner (director of scores of movies, Superman, Lethal Weapons, etc.) was to the right of us, across from us was Joe Dante (film and tv director), Steven Seagal, and to the left of us was Joel Silver (mega producer, Lethal Weapon movies, Matrix, etc.). Shortly before I left, Albert Brooks moved in next to Seagal. I remember Lauren being in a meeting and Dick knocked on her office window and dropped off her cleaning! Another day Dick ran into Seagal going into his office, I heard Dick say “hey Steve, are you putting on weight”? The next day an exercise bike was delivered to Seagal’s office and several cases of water! And then there was Phoebe … a dog that Dick found running loose and put her in his car and brought her to the studio … when the guard objected, Dick told him it was Mel Gibson’s dog … Phoebe was the office mascot for 11 years … their waiting room was small with only one small sofa .. where Phoebe stretched out every day and guests stood up waiting for their meeting. Cece was Dick’s assistant then … and still is now … she took Phoebe home with her every night.
The first meeting I set up for Lauren was off the lot, she called me from her car and said I forgot to give her directions and a map … I had no idea Karen did that for her every meeting, I felt awful. Lauren had been so used to Karen, that she just expected things would be the same … but they weren’t, because I was never fully trained. Another time she gave me a script to read … I gave her a few notes, and she actually used a couple. What I didn’t realize was that Lauren loved to promote her people and always wanted input, I had always worked for people that told me what to do, and I did it well. So, I totally missed my opportunity to actually have a career, instead of a job. We had a talk about it at one point, and a couple of days later she took me on the set of Lethal Weapon 2 on the lot, and Dick was directing … during a scene where money was flying everywhere … and she introduced me to Mel Gibson, it was brief but nice. So, she tried to get me more involved, but I never quite felt like I fit in, it was devastating to me, especially because I liked her so much … I always took pride in my work, and was always considered an excellent Assistant.
The Saturday before Easter that year, 1989, I went to church (and I’m not a religious person) .. just felt like I had to talk to HIM, and try to figure out what I should do … I loved Lauren, but felt incompetent and knew she would never tell me that … so I sat there for an hour and listened to the choir rehearse. What should I do??? AND THIS IS THE GOD’S TRUTH …..I went home and there was a message on my phone from Jane Rosenthal’s ex boyfriend saying that he and his partners had bought Western Costume Company, and would I consider working for him!!! Unbelievable, ha? But absolutely true … brilliant timing. I gave my notice to Lauren, she was lovely about it, naturally… she took me to lunch with a couple of the other employees and bought me a beautiful heart shaped perfume bottle with made to order perfume in it … I still have it. Before I left, she hired a girl that had come in to meet with her after she hired me … I knew she liked her then … so I figured it had all worked out the way it was supposed to. Many many years later, when my sister passed away and I was working at MTM, Lauren sent me flowers … had no idea how she knew where I worked, but that’s Lauren! I’ll write about Western Costume next … I loved loved that job … all of it, except my boss.
4/17/12 – Here’s an interesting and funny story I forgot to include in the Allen, Ingersoll & Weber story, where I worked in 1971. They were an important PR company in LA, and had an amazing roster of stars that included almost everyone that was important at the time, Rock Hudson, Ryan O’Neal, Jane Fonda, Debra Kerr, Susan Hayworth, etc. One of their clients was Richard Harris, hugely popular then … his girlfriend Catherine was coming to LA to try to find an agent. AIW put her up for a nite in a Beverly Hills hotel, Harris refused to pay for her expenses. So, the company asked if anyone could put her up for a few days … have no idea why I volunteered. I had company that weekend, my cousin Barbara and her family from Orange County, we always had a great time with them. We were living in a great old house on Sycamore, above the Magic Castle (there’s a photo of it in the LA Stories section) it was down 52 stairs on the side of a hill … funky, furnished and fabulous. Barbara and I drove to the hotel to pick up Catherine, we pulled up and out walked this 6 ft red haired Glamazon, she was unbelievably gorgeous … all I could think was that Michael was going to wet his pants when he saw her. She was bright, friendly and funny, we had a terrific nite … I made a huge dinner and we ate in the sun room, which was an enclosed porch, all windows with a brick floor. As we sat and chatted after dinner our usual family of raccoons dropped by for a dinner of Purina cat chow that we always left outside for the cats, it was perfect. She told us about an old mansion that Harris bought, that turned out to be haunted … a child cried late at nite. He did research on the house and learned that a child had died in that old room upstairs many decades ago … so he went to an antique store and bought a couple of antique dolls and put them in the room … the crying stopped! She was out at meetings most of the next day, but we did have dinner together … we really enjoyed her company. About 6am the house began to shake horribly, OMG what was happening, we had never been thru an earthquake but this felt like one! We both jumped out of bed and ran into the living room (and here’s where the fun part comes in, and my ego goes out) I had a semi-permanent bridge at the time and the roof of my mouth was inflamed so the dentist told me to take it out at nite, oh yeah, and the cotton nightgown didn’t improve the picture … so we’re in the living room freaking out, and Catherine came running in (and this is true), wearing knee high boots and a lace teddy looking like she stepped out of Vogue . We were all wondering if the house was going roll down the hill … and as the 3 of us stood in the middle of the living room (I can still see Michael in between us looking down at me, looking like Ma Kettle and her looking like THAT) we could see the hills rolling up and down as it moved thru the city, UNBELIEVBLY SCARY! Our lovely guest packed her bag that morning and was on a plane back to England that day … we wrote for a while, but sadly lost touch. She left me a beautiful scarf and an astrology book I still have. I think about her sometimes and wonder what happened to her.
2/29/12 – I was very sad to leave Disney, but Warner Bros turned out to be a great experience, although too short. Jane’s new title at WB was VP of Movies of the Week and Mini-Series … we were in a fantastic old building on the lot and we shared a floor with the Mirisch Brothers … Walter Mirisch and Marvin Mirisch were one of the most successful producing teams in Hollywood history. Their Mirisch Company produced such diverse hits as Some Like It Hot, Magnificent Seven, West Side Story, The Pink Panther and dozens more … it was a wonderful experience to share quarters with them. And … the building next to us was Malpaso Productions, Clint Eastwood’s company … he had a big fat old cat that used to lounge on the stairs to our building and he would come by occasionally and sit down with her for a while. Nice! There was a big green plot of grass in the middle of all the bungalows that used to be Harry Warner’s tennis court. The commissary wasn’t great, but you never knew who you would see there … and the executive commissary had pretty good food, and even more eye candy. I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember a single project we did there … but I do remember Pat Conroy coming in for a meeting … one of my very favorite writers (Prince of Tides) … I was thrilled to meet him, and Jane said the meeting was amazing … he pitched a project, but I don’t think it went further than that. I loved working on that lot … it has tons of old Hollywood history and it was friendly. Launa Romoff was my first friend there, and we are still in touch … she’s a very talented artist now. Check out the invites for the xmas parties that first year … yep, that’s me sitting on the lap of a stripper, Launa is the pretty blonde in the middle top … they knew how to throw a party!
Not sure how long we were there when Jane received an offer to move to NY to work with Robert DeNiro … she was suggested to him by Scorsese, who she worked with on Color of Money. The money was less than she was making, and he was looking for a development person, not a VP. She wasn’t sure what to do, how could she pass up this opportunity? So, someone had told us about a clairvoyant who was supposed to be amazing … we went together, he was on Moorpark and Lankershim in No. Hollywood. He told her that she had a job offer and it was in NY and she should take it, even though she had misgivings about it! There were meetings, and negotiations and she accepted the position which led to her now being his partner in Tribeca … not sure what her involvement is with the buildings, restaurants, etc. but I know she was one of the founders of the Tribeca Film Festival and she is Producer of many of his films. She did ask me to go with her … but I couldn’t leave LA, Bree was only 16, and NY was expensive and the money for me wouldn’t be much. I often think of what my life would be now if I had accepted her offer. Jane was always very generous to me and also Bree … she continued to send me xmas gifts a few years after we parted. I have very fond memories of her.
And … I ended up going back to Disney, to work for one of my all time favorites … wonderful woman, very successful and just a good human being!
1/10/12 – That’s what they said when Michael Eisner and Jeffery Katzenberg left Paramount and went to Disney … they awoke The Sleeping Giant. The company was worth $2 billion when they arrived in 1984 … it was worth $61 billion 7 years later. I arrived in 1985 with Jane Rosenthal from Universal Studios … she was the only executive to work in both television and film, and the only woman exec on the creative team … it was a definite boys club. I was hired to work 7:30am to 7:30pm weekdays, and half a day on Saturday (some execs brought their dogs) … the mantra was “if you don’t show up on Saturday, don’t bother coming in Sunday”. I had a temp that would come in from 6pm to 9pm weekdays to do my filing, etc. Everyone worked long, hard hours … and had fun doing it. My first friend there was Cynthia Park... (Cynthia and me)
who came from CBS with her boss Jamie Bennett … we are still good friends til this day and she has been working for Jerry Katzenberg for 26 years! On Fridays around 5pm we could hear the margarita blender firing up in Keith’s office for anyone that wanted to indulge …(me, Keith and Lisa, his assistant)
that’s when he would hand out the weekend reads to all the execs, usually at least 10 scripts that had to be read and comments/notes ready for the 8am Monday morning staff meeting. On Monday mornings fresh flowers would be delivered to all the exec offices and a small vase for the assistants. Also, a beautiful tray of fruit, and muffins delivered to each of us for meetings, and because we were too busy to leave our offices. We all had coffee/tea setups in our offices … and a candy/chip company would visit weekly to refill our canisters with whatever we chose … snacks for guests, etc. Most of this came out of our office budgets … and each exec had a budget to have their office decorated to their liking .. Jane’s was gorgeous.
It took a while for Jane and I to get in sync, but once we did, we were a great team. We were located in the old animation building and moved offices 5 times during the 2 years we were there. She had a real instinct for new talent, especially writers … here’s a few of my favorite memories of those days:
A young writer came in to pitch his story … he had a potato in his hand with a little flag that read “this is not a half baked idea” another meeting he brought bagels … I liked STEVE SLAVKIN very much, I remember him mostly for “Salute Your Shorts“.
Jane also green lit a script for a TV movie from a 19 year old writer, and he was promised that he could direct it … unfortunately, 3 days into it, they had to replace him with Jackie Cooper… a movie with kids and a deer was too much for a first time, very young director. Since then, JAMES MANGOLD has directed “Copland“, “Girl, Interrupted“, “Walk The Line“, “Knight and Day” and many more … and his actors have won Oscars.
One of my favorites was TOM SHULMAN, Jane bought his script about the first filly that won the Kentucky Derby, the project was eventually dropped. However, in 1989 Tom won the Oscar for writing “Dead Poets Society“. He also wrote “What About Bob“, “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” and many more. We stayed in touch for a few years, he’s a terrific man.
I also met MICK GARRIS in Jane’s office … a fantastic writer/director who worked with Stephen King on the tv mini-series “The Stand” and the television version of “The Shining” … his writing and directing credits are enormous. I used to run into Mick and his wife Cynthia once in a while, great couple.
One of the execs brought a huge man into our office wearing a white suit, with a white topcoat over his shoulders, ala The Godfather … I think he was Michael Ovitz’s trainer at the time, and he wanted to work in the movies, so everyone was supposed to meet STEVEN SEAGAL … when I asked Jane about him when he left, she just rolled her eyes! A few years later, he had an office across from mine on the WB lot when I worked for Lauren Shuler Donner.
BURT REYNOLDS came into our office one day .. he was extremely thin, wearing a Mexican loose shirt … he was friendly and funny as hell. He wasn’t working much at that time and there were crazy rumors about his health, he was just walking around the studio meeting people, it was kind of sad. Years later I met him again when I worked at MTM and he was doing “Evening Shade” .. now that’s a story!
Jane set a meeting with a new director that she wanted everyone to meet … he was directing mostly videos then, but she thought he was a major talent … I don’t think anyone else agreed with her at that time. But Jane knew talent when she saw it and DAVID FINCHER is huge now … some of his recent credits are “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“, “Social Network” and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” … all Oscar winners.
My all time crush, and favorite director is MARTIN SCORSESE … one day he left his luggage in my office when he and Jane met with Jeffery Katzenberg … I couldn’t help it, I opened his garment bag and checked out his suits … so close and yet so far!
I was busy typing one day and I heard a familiar voice in my doorway asking where Katzenberg’s office was … it was BARYSHNIKOV (devastating)... definitely a highlite in my work life!
I got a call from one of the secretaries saying MEL GIBSON was on the lot and would be in the first floor screening room in a few minutes … don’t tell anyone, just go down to the first floor women’s room across from the screening room and I could check him out … when I got there, about 20 women were crunched in there waiting! We all laughed and got a quick look at him, he was gorgeous back then …and new to LA. I met him years later at WB when he was making the second LETHAL WEAPON directed by Richard Donner and I was working for Lauren Shuler Donner.
I also met Henry Winkler in Jane’s office … one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. I met him again years later when I worked at Disney/ABC … and after that, ran into him at a restaurant near my home in Toluca Lake … and he always remembered me!
Jane’s first movie at Disney was “Adventures in Babysitting” … and the second was “Color of Money” directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise … now that’s an auspicious beginning! She talked about sitting next to Scorsese in Chicago and watching him shoot, and what an amazing experience it was. That meeting with Scorsese would lead Jane to where she is today. When Jane’s contract was up, she wanted out of the boys club … I didn’t want to leave Disney, but I went to WB with her and it was a great experience.
More to come ……
11/15/11 – When the Riverbottom closed, I knew it was time to find a real, permanent job with benefits. I wanted to work in a studio and immediately knew Universal Studios was my best shot because of my years at Maison Gerard where I met so many executives. I wrote a letter to Mel Sattler who was head of Business Affairs … he was a regular at Maison Gerard and even though he was small in stature, he was mighty in presence. He could be very intimidating, but I liked him and he was always nice to me. He set up a meeting for me in HR and they set up an interview for me with a new lawyer in the legal department, Bernardine Brandis. We had a great meeting, but she eventually hired Karen Elliott who had more experience in studio work. I was very disappointed, but a couple of weeks later I got another call from Universal and met with Jerry Barton, who was second to Mel Sattler and he hired me immediately. He had a paralegal, Karen Brown, who I assisted … we liked each other and worked well together, and I loved working with both of them.
Unfortunately, working in that department wasn’t as exciting as production or casting because we mostly negotiated and worked on contracts, etc. However, we were on the 11th floor of the famous Black Tower with the President, Frank Price … he brought in Wendy Margolis as his VP, Michael Chinich was head of casting, Sean Daniels was also on our floor and so was Jane Rosenthal. There was a famous story going around about Margolis … in a story meeting she said how much she liked F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing and wanted to meet with him! Chinich’s assistant, Rene, and I were good friends … one day we walked into work together and when she walked into Michael’s office, it was a complete mess. Seems a couple of days prior Margolis admired the beautiful huge glass/wood case that held all of his scripts, he told her it was the only one like it … and now it was in Wendy’s office and Rene had no idea how that transpired. Chinich was left with a tiny bookcase and all his scripts were piled on the floor! A couple of us girls told Chinich about a new actor on TV, Bruce Willis, that we were crazy about … Chinich hadn’t heard of him so we gave him a tape of MOONLIGHTING … he thought we were nuts, who’s gonna be interested in this balding guy! Another day everyone came up from dailies singing the praises of a beautiful scene they just saw with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford flying a plane in OUT OF AFRICA … it’s still one of my all time favorite movies.
One day I got on the elevator, and there he was, Tom Selleck, gor-gee-us! We were the only two in the elevator and it seemed like forever from the 11th floor to the first … yikes, I dropped the change I had in my hand, he apologized and said he would pick it up, but he had a bad back. Looking for a way out, I immediately told him my ex husband had done a MAGNUM PI with him, he asked his name and I told him Michael DeLano … he said he remembered him and thought he was terrific. When the doors opened, he said goodbye …….lovely man.
Another day we heard that Kevin Kline had just left the building … we ran to the window and there he was standing on the corner by the company store. That was right after THE BIG CHILL came out …who didn’t love that movie? I took the elevator down, crossed the street and went up to him … told him all the 11th floor girls loved him, and would he mind waving at them … and he did, and blew a kiss ………sweet man.
Once, I heard a lot of screaming and that was very unusual for this floor of execs … Sean Daniels and Joel Silver were arguing and it got very heated … Joel came out of Sean’s office steaming and got on the elevator, the doors closed and they were both still yelling thru the closed doors for quite a while, as the elevator went down … it was hilarious. Some of these names may not be familiar to you, but they were big names back then, and some still are today.
And … one day a very handsome man in a leather jacket, smoking a cigar was on our floor, we made big eye contact when he took the elevator down. I asked who he was, a writer from Saturday Night Live, making a deal with Universal. A couple of days later I was still thinking about him, and decided to be bold and wrote a letter to him addressed to the show in NY. He called and we went out for drinks next time he was in town … we had a nice night that ended in a very nice kiss … and that was it. Damn, can’t remember his name.
*****The legal department was on the 6th floor … nice people, but a little buttoned up (we thought) … one day a temp who was working for one of the lawyers (sweet, grey haired, chubby man) came upstairs to use our xerox machine and she was shaking … when we asked what was wrong, she told us that he was wearing heels and hose on the bottom, which didn’t show when you walked into his office and just saw him from the waist up! Wow, did we laugh, who would have thought … he was such a nice, ordinary guy! Another time they had to fire one of the assistants for doing drugs … when security came to clean out her desk, they found quite a few S & M items … leather, handcuffs, etc. ………..so maybe we misjudged the legal department??
After a couple of years, I was itching to go into a creative position, even though I loved the people I worked with. Jane Rosenthal was leaving for Disney and I asked to go with her … she was considering Karen Elliott (who got the job I originally interviewed for) but eventually took me with her. I think Karen is still with Universal and is an executive in the anti-piracy division. We were great friends for a long time, she had a quick wit and was very smart, my family and friends adored her … but as happens, we lost touch. Also, Bernardine Brandis landed at Disney a few years after me, and is now an EVP for the studios. I was overjoyed to be going to Disney, Jane was the only exec that would be in movies and television, it sounded very exciting. Jerry Barton and Karen Brown had a terrific going away party for me and we all swore that we would keep in touch … and we did for quite a while … but Dopey Drive kept me very busy … lots of Disney stories coming! I was at Universal from 1983-85 and they were happy, fun years. Here’s the party invite … first photo is Karen and me … second is Jerry Barton, me and Mel Sattler.
10/19/11 – When Bree and I returned to LA, we stayed with friends for a while … then my sister Pat and I rented a fantastic house in North Hollywood in a very nice area. We decided to try our hands at a restaurant, but we didn’t want to do anything big, just catering and lunches. So we rented a kitchen in a bar on Cahuenga and Magnolia and TWO SISTERS FROM CHICAGO was born. Here’s Pat, Janet and me ….
We set about figuring out our menu and who would do what. I would take Bree to school, then go to the Italian deli for bread and meats, then the grocery store, etc. … meanwhile Pat would go straight to the restaurant and start cooking … she would make the hot food, I was in charge of salads and sandwiches and deliveries. We would make one delivery at 11:30am and the second at 1pm … mostly to Universal Studios, Technicolor and offices in that area. We hired a terrific kid, Todd … this is Todd, me and Pat …
to do deliveries with me … that could get very hectic, but we made it fun and we had great customers. It was hard work but we were having a ball. THEN, the owner of the bar asked us to make some changes … there was a full bar at 8am when Pat arrived and in a couple of hours they were hungry (and he wanted to keep them drinking) … they were mostly men from the studio night shifts and they wanted a hot lunch. Ugh, that was not what we wanted to do, but we had to, so we began to make daily specials, hot soups and lunches … Pat was an amazing cook. Thankfully there was a fantastic waitress, Janet, working for the bar and she helped us tremendously. Oy, then the owner asked us to make small bar food before we left, for the afternoon drunks … we would get pretty creative with that!
We never made a lot of money, just enough to pay our bills and buy the food for the restaurant, but we were living our dream and singing in that kitchen at the same time, we always had music! Friends would drop by constantly, especially for the Chicago Beef sandwich …. and we always had company for dinner because we took the leftovers home every night. In fact, Michael’s ex wife after me, lived down the block from us and she would join us frequently. It was a great party house,
especially at the holidays, (Christmas w/ Cowboy John, Pat, ?, Me, Andrea, Ulla, on the bottom Pat’s daughter, Denice, unfortunately can’t remember the 2 guys) with a huge yard and hot tub and we definitely used it. At times we even had the musicians from our favorite hangout, THE RIVERBOTTOM, playing in our living room…(Cowboy John, Pat, ?)
These years were very special to Pat and me, she was married at 20 and I was 15 when she moved out … so here we were, sisters and best friends, living together, working together and almost every night having more fun than we ever thought possible.
Eventually, I got tired of having no real money in my pocket and I had Bree to support, so I got a waiteress job at THE RIVERBOTTOM on Friday and Saturday nights … can’t say it was really work, just spending time with friends. It was directly across the street from Warner Bros and the most popular bar in the area … it had the best jukebox in the valley and everyone went there, especially the stunt men from WB. It was a party every night, I think we laughed more there than at any other time in our lives,…
(here’s that mystery guy again, Margie, Ms. Dixie, Me, my good friend, the fabulous Faith Burton) and a lot of it was thanks to Richard Wright, a hilarious, adorable mess of a man. Pat dated the bartender John, a tall, thin, witty man who everyone loved. One of my favorite songs is “Piano Man” by Billy Joel … if you know it, there’s a line that goes “John at the bar is a friend of mine, he gives me my drinks for free……” that’s John,…
he bartended at a small bar in Hollywood where Joel played in his early years. They dated for quite a while and Pat was crazy about him, I think he felt the same, but he never showed his emotions. Pat used to leave the key to our house for John in the little milk box in back of the house. One night she told me she was tired of him taking her for granted, so she wasn’t going home, she drove with our friend Cowboy John to Bakersfield to a huge flea market. The next morning I was having coffee in the kitchen and John walked in from the bedroom, I had no clue he was there … we chatted for quite a while and laughed a lot as usual, he was a very funny man with a huge sweet tooth, he ate half a package of cookies while we talked. When he left I went into the bedroom to wake up Pat, figuring she had come home … she did not … and John never asked where she was … when she came home I told her what happened and she was pretty nervous about his reaction … he never said a word to her!
One Saturday night Nick Nolte came into the bar alone … he usually came on weekdays, and almost always with his friend and stunt double (can’t remember his name). It was usually quiet on Saturdays so we chatted a lot … he seemed tired, hung over and sad. By the end of the night he was feeling and looking better and asked if he could come home with me ……hmmmm…. I knew this wasn’t going anywhere but he was charming, and I thought it would make a great story/memory. I hesitated, then said yes … he followed me home and we sat in the living room talking for a while … Pat and John came in, smiled and said hi, then disappeared. Eventually, he crossed the room and knelt down by my chair … “I’m going to kiss you now, and if you don’t like it, I’ll leave”. The next morning we talked briefly while he sat on the edge of my water bed … and asked me not to look at his body (he was definitely overweight). I walked him to the door and we kissed briefly … and the next time I saw him it was obvious I looked familiar to him, but he just wasn’t sure! The memory was worth it and I never felt guilty about it … he was very romantic and surprisingly tender! (and if you’re wondering, Bree stayed at her dad’s every other weekend). I ran into him years later … once on the CBS lot when I was working for MTM, he was making that awful movie, I LOVE TROUBLE with Julia Roberts … and again at a screening of THREE FUGITIVES when I was working for the producer, Lauren Shuler Donner… one of my favorite people ever. He had that same puzzled look both times when he saw me.
Here’s a few of the other characters that frequented THE RIVERBOTTOM:
Nick Nolte – Actor
Michael Parks – Actor
Richard Wright – Stuntman, actor, hilarious human being
Robert Reed – from the Brady Bunch
Michael Haynes – The Marlboro Man
Bud Davis – he’s in the Stuntmen Hall of Fame
Lee Horsley – Matt Houston and dozens of other shows
Pat McCormick – hilarious writer/actor … he wrote for Johnny Carson, Happy Days, Red Skelton, Get Smart and so many more … his acting credits are huge.
Peter Cullen – prolific voice actor … i.e. Optimus Prime from the Transformer movies, Eeyore from Pooh and Tigger … and so many more.
And … Josh Taylor, Sandy McPeak, The Vint Brothers – Alan and Billy and John Chandler … they all have tons of credits.
Eventually, Tom Simcox…(below with the grey hair, and above him me, ? and Pat)
sold THE RIVERBOTTOM … it was a sad day for all of us …that last night John and I made a ton of money because Tom gave away all the food and drinks so the tips were huge. For quite a while all the regulars tried to find a new hangout, mostly at The Money Tree on Riverside Dr., but it never happened… and it was always melancholy when we ran into each other.
After a while, we closed TWO SISTERS and with the help of one of my regular customers at MAISON GERARD, I got my first studio job at UNIVERSAL STUDIOS …the beginning of a terrific career for me … and so many more great memories!
9/15/11 – I loved Maison Gerard, but felt I needed to make a life change after 6 years there. While I was pondering that change, my beautiful assistant, Holly Gagnier and her boyfriend, Mark…wanted to introduce me to someone they thought I’d like … and I did … Doc Severinsen, band leader from Johnny Carson’s TONIGHT SHOW. Mark was Doc’s road manager and had told Doc about me, because he had recently broken up with his fiance. He invited us over the next night, his home was in the Hollywood Hills off Cahuenga and it was gorgeous. We had a terrific time, he was charming, fun and interesting … they eventually left and Doc invited me to stay. We had a very romantic night, strawberries and champagne etc. and when I left the next morning I remember him calling after me that I looked just as good leaving, as I did coming in (always had good booty). I can still remember what I was wearing, great jeans, cream silk shirt and cream stilettos. (I know what you’re thinking … “walk of shame” etc. …definitely not) Next day Mark told me Doc thought I was great and wanted to see me again … they were going on the road and we would get together when they returned. Unfortunately, Doc’s fiance pursued him and they got back together, big disappointment to me. Great guy. Years later, Holly became a very successful actress in soaps and appeared in many TV shows like ER and House and I heard she was briefly engaged to Alec Baldwin … and she’s still working today.
So, in 1980 I decided to leave Maison Gerard and LA and move back to Chicago, thinking it would be great if Bree could grow up with family and friends there. Simone had a fantastic going away party for me at her place, that great patio and pool and everyone came, that’s Simone and me below … it was very bittersweet…
But, you know how it is, you go home for a visit and everyone comes to a big party for you, and you think why did I ever leave this great city and all my wonderful friends? I would visit Chicago every year and that’s what would happen, night after night you’re visiting, going to your favorite restaurants, etc. … I really missed that. My sister was living in LA with me at that time and told me to leave all my belongings in storage and see how I felt about it, but not me, I just barreled ahead and took everything with me. BIG MISTAKE!! I left LA in October, great road trip with my Maison Gerard friend, Susan. My dad was getting married … amazing that my remarkable, handicapped dad found love again at 70. He met the fabulous Josephine thru a relative and soon after they were engaged. Not a dry eye in that church as the 2 of them took their vows,…
with my brother as best man and her maid of honor from her first wedding standing by. Here’s the family outside the church … my dad in the center, I’m on his left, Pat’s son Joe on my left, Bree next to me, Pat on his right, her daughter Denise next to her, her daughter Vicki in back of her and my brother Carmen behind my dad. My mom’s family were there and Josephine’s first husband’s family too. They had a big Italian ‘peanut wedding’ beef sandwiches, sausage, etc. … it was perfect. Soon after they left for Naples, Florida where Josephine had a winter home, she also had a summer cottage on Lake Marie near the Wisconsin border and she would buy a new Pontiac every 2 years. Everyone loved that cottage, it had a screened porch and old comfy furniture, a bar/restaurant shaped like a boat with pool tables nearby and she had a motorboat which “Lovey” (my dad’s nickname for her) drove while he sat next to her and smiled! Check out the photo of the cottage and you’ll see the street signs from the corner of my dad’s newsstand …Randolph/Canal…. that’s Pop, Lovey, Bree and my niece Connie, my brothers daughter. I’ll be adding more lake photos here.
We played cards every nite and fished every morning … my dad would drop his line in the water and say “don’t call me, I’ll call you” and Lovey would put worms on all our hooks. It was just like Summer of ’42! Oh, in case you’re wondering how Lovey could afford all this, SHE WAS A BOOKIE! Yep, her husband passed and left ‘the book’ to her and her son in law ran it for her. They were married 9 years when my dad passed … but those years were very happy for both of them.
I moved into my dad’s home in Westchester near Manheim & Roosevelt Road. Bree went to school across the street, and the kids were awful to her, I felt so guilty. I went into a deep depression, it was winter and every day was grey … my friends all had families and jobs and I felt completely alone. Eventually a friend helped me get a job on Rush St. at Mr. E’s … a private club, absolutely gorgeous with the longest bar in the city…
I worked days and balanced the drawers from the nite before, it was boring, but a job. One day as I was counting the bank, I went to the bathroom and when I returned, all the money was gone, we assumed one of the workmen took it. I left soon after. Another friend got me a job in Oakbrook at a very popular restaurant as hostess, the husband loved me, the wife hated me, and I was let go after a couple of months, I didn’t care, it was an awful place to work. I took Bree to LA for Easter to see her dad, we got off the plane and I wondered how I ever left this gorgeous city with constant sunshine! AND, Michael had bought Bree a pony, we had to move back! That’s Michael, Bree and Michael’s son, Michael, Jr. on Wildfire.
We moved back to LA a couple of months later … I had to sell a lot of my things to afford the trip back (should have listened to Pat) … we didn’t last a year. Lesson learned … big time! But, if I didn’t make that move, what followed would have never happened. To be continued………..
8/29/11 – In 1973 we spent Christmas day with my Chicago friend, Connie Fohrman, who was living with SONNY BONO in a gorgeous French Chateau style home on Sunset Blvd. … they occupied a bedroom suite on one side of the second floor … and Cher lived on the opposite side! It didn’t seem awkward for some reason, I think they were still doing the show together and Cher wasn’t around much. Sonny made a fantastic dinner, the only thing I remember is the breaded steaks, he gave me the recipe and I still make them. He was a terrific cook, (he had a popular restaurant for a while) the kitchen was amazing, very large and 2 of everything. I remember him being cordial, but not friendly. Connie hadn’t been with him for very long, and they weren’t very affectionate. He was generous to her, but controlling … what to eat, what to wear, where to go, and for how long … I couldn’t believe she would live like that, she was a very free spirit. She was working as a cocktail waitress at a private club when they met, shortly thereafter he gifted her with a Mustang convertible. Here’s Connie, Chastity and Bree … underneath is Michael, Bree and me at Sonny Bono’s for Christmas dinner 1973.
A few months later, Sonny chartered a small private plane for Connie, Chastity, Bree and me to fly to his home in Palm Springs … ugh, small planes aren’t very comfortable flying that route.
When we got to the house, Connie discovered she didn’t have the keys … she called Sonny, he wasn’t very nice about it .. called her a dumb pollock and told her to call the realtor who would let us in. The house was gorgeous, not large by movie star standards, but beautifully decorated and very serene … there was a pretty tree growing in the foyer right up into the glass dome in the ceiling … I thought to myself, I could move right in here and not change a thing … it was magical. We had a fun evening, but the next day Sonny showed up and the entire atmosphere changed. I felt uncomfortable being there, and he didn’t do or say much to change that. BUT, he was crazy about kids and was wonderful with Bree …he spent a lot of time in the pool with her and Chastity, teaching them to swim. Here’s Sonny and Bree.
Connie and Sonny weren’t together very long … for one holiday he gave her a gorgeous vase, she was so angry that he would give her something so impersonal, that she gave it to me … it’s in a cabinet in my dining room, I love it. I saw Connie a few times after they broke up, she had a child, moved back to Chicago … and I have no idea where she is now, wish I did.
8/7/11 – MAISON GERARD was the first job I had after having my daughter, Bree. When she was 2 1/2 we put her in Woodcrest School for a few half days a week and I applied for a lunch time waitress job at MG. It was one of the best times ever at a job … it was the epicenter of everything, next to Universal Studios … everyone from Universal and Technicolor had lunch, cocktails or dinner there. (“The Girls” … top, Valerie, me, Karen … bottom Ursula, Susan, Joanie)
I initially worked lunches only, and after a while I worked dinners Fridays and Saturdays. Eventually Gerard offered me an office job on Saturdays and after a few years I became Manager!…
There was a caretaker on property and on Saturdays he would bring me lunch on a tray … he was a lovely older man from Wisconsin, and a terrific cook.
I remember one couple very well, they came in on a Friday night, party of 4, a hefty man with his much younger, striking girlfriend and her sister and boyfriend. I knew he was a player by the way he ordered and conducted himself … I still remember what they ordered … rack of lamb. I gave them great service and we ended up having a lot of fun. He left me a 10% tip and I was really steamed … the sister found me in the back and asked what tip he left, I told her I didn’t understand the 10% … she told me because the change was broken down to singles, according to him I was assuming my tip and he didn’t like that. I told her I didn’t make the change, the front desk did … but she said that was the way he read it. They came in every Friday after that, he always asked for me, they always ordered the same, and he left me very large tips. I later learned he was a record mogul. We became very friendly and I came to really like him … they even took me to a wedding reception for one of the Miceli Restaurant kids. It was at their beautiful home
next door to the restaurant on a Saturday night, and when it was time for me to go to work, they hoisted me over the wall and into the restaurant parking lot. All the staff at MG were friends, – cooks, waiters, waitresses, bus boys … we went out after work and on many nights we all went to Simone’s house to lounge in the hot tub, drink and eat, she was a fantastic cook and hostess and very funny … I even brought my dad … (Bree with pigtails, my dad on right, Simone on left, her daughter in front, Battista at left)
The Technicolor building was next to the restaurant, they were regular customers and knew how to have a good time. Once a year they had a huge golf outing …. bus loads of men and 4 of us girls riding in golf carts serving drinks on the golf course.
At night, a big banquet and awards for the winners … they were perfect gentlemen and great tippers, we all had a fantastic time. I loved that job, everyone did, even though Gerard could be crazy at times … like the time he threw one of the waitresses across the kitchen because she served the wrong sauce with the appetizer on New Years Eve. On another New Years Eve, Simone cut her finger opening a bottle of champagne, he refused to let her go to the emergency room and she cried and bled at all her tables … and made a ton of money that night! I worked there from 1974 to 1980, when I decided to move back to Chicago to be near my family … that didn’t last a year. I met some fabulous people at MG and had some ‘interesting’ dates too … here’s just a few …
SYLVESTER STALLONE – had drinks in the bar on a Saturday night and refused to give the waitress an autograph (which we normally never asked for, but he was huge at that time, he was filming PARADISE ALLEY, big flop) … when he left his copy of the charge receipt she pocketed it … he sent one of his posse to retrieve it from her.
CLINT EASTWOOD – would have drinks in the bar very often … he was terrific, eveyone liked him. Saw him a few times at Warner Bros …wonderful man.
VINCE EDWARDS – completely rude, was angry that he had to wait for a table at lunch time when there were at least 20 people ahead of him … he thought he was special.
ROBERT WAGNER – a prince … he remembered every single person’s name, was always polite and tipped well. One day he came in with his wife, NATALIE WOOD, and said, Judy, I’d like you to meet my wife, Natalie … she was filming FROM HERE TO ETERNITY at Universal Television … she was radiant and very nice. Saw him years later at The Family Channel, he remembered me and we had a nice chat.
MARTY FELDMAN – always sat in the dining room alone, but never ate, he just drank Bloody Marys. I asked him if he was ever going to order food … he said … oh no, I’m a gastronomic voyeur! He was sweet, quiet and always polite.
TOM SELLECK – he would come in with his family on Saturdays … they were all gorgeous and very nice. I ran into him years later at Universal and The Family Channel, devastatingly handsome, a real gentleman.
JACK KLUGMAN – came for lunch with his QUINCY scripts, always making notes. My dad was visiting once and having lunch at the restaurant, he adored Klugman from THE ODD COUPLE .. I told Jack and he went over and said hi to my dad. He asked me out once, I thought I would be cool and say I was busy … he never asked again.
VIC MORROW – strange, and attractive … I thought he was boring, but came to realize he was always high. The entrance to his bedroom was a floor-to-ceiling spice rack in the kitchen of his Sherman Oaks home, high in the hills… at the foot of his bed was a black marble hot tub overlooking the entire valley … gorgeous view, not much happened there! Weirdly, a man I dated many years later was renting that house!
MICHAEL PARKS – ohhhhh, I had a crush on him for years .. James Dean was my teen idol … and his role in BRONSON reminded me so much of Dean. The first time he asked me out, I almost wet my pants. We met at a Japanese restaurant on Sunset .. he didn’t talk much, but he did sing to me, right there at the bar! Jeez, where do you look when someone is singing right to your face? He had a nice voice, nothing great, but he did love singing and had a few albums. I ran into him a few years later and we ‘dated’ a couple of more times … I thought he was completely boring and non-verbal. However, one late night we went to PAT MAC CORMACK’S house … lots of people, lots of laughs, lots of ‘smoking’. He did the best impersonation of JOHN HUSTON directing him in THE BIBLE … it was hilarious. That was the only time I saw him relaxed and having fun. I have a souvenir from one of those dates.
BEN MURPHY – This was at the height of ALIAS SMITH & JONES … he was devastatingly handsome and seemed nice. He asked me to dinner and I agreed to meet at his place in Malibu so we could eat near the ocean. He answered the door in a towel … REALLY? He dressed quickly, pulled a wool hat down over his hair, (he left it in my Karman Ghia, I still have it – his disguise) and tucked a board game under his arm. I asked him about that, he said in case we had to wait for a table, we’d have something to do?? Conversation? We were seated quickly, mediocre restaurant, gorgeous view right on the beach … and he pulled out the game and set it up. I couldn’t believe it … especially when the couple next to us commented on how much they loved the game … I can’t remember the title. So, we ate while we played … absolutely no conversation. The next day he called to tell me what a nice time he had, and wanted to get together again?? I told him I thought he was rude, that we barely spoke, and he didn’t know or care about me at all … so I couldn’t imagine why he wanted to see me again. He apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again … but I said NO THANKS!
*****I do have one sad memory … Pam was the cocktail waitress in the bar, we didn’t know each other very well because when she came in to work, I was leaving … but we were friendly and I liked her. One night she called me at home crying … I couldn’t imagine why she called ME .. she told me how unhappy she was and that she wanted to end her life, I was speechless, I tried talking to her for a while, but then the phone went dead. I called the police and they told me to call the fire department, who did go, and broke down her door and brought her to the hospital. The next day Gerard and I went to see her … she told me she was angry at me for stopping her, I told her she obviously didn’t want to end her life, or she wouldn’t have called me. The hospital kept her for a couple of days, then released her with the promise that she would come in for treatment. She came back to work and seemed fine … a few months later she succeeded in ending her life … she called her mother, but rescue didn’t arrive in time. So very sad, young, pretty woman … no one knew why she was so unhappy, she always seemed so upbeat at work.
MAISON GERARD years were some of my happiest … I have fantastic memories and made friends that are still in my life. I’m sure I’ll remember more people and stories* … and will add to this when I do. Unfortunately, Maison Gerard is no more, it’s now Ca del Sol …on Lankershim in No. Hollywood, terrific restaurant.
7/31/11 – I left Judy’s and took a job as a sales girl at CAPEZIO next door … owned by a crazy woman who, thankfully, wasn’t there much. I met my best LA friend there, Sydney Wicks, the store manager, we were friends immediately … she was smart, funny, and stylish with a wicked sense of humor. Her family adopted us…
and Michael did a lot of house repairs for them … her mom was a great beauty (who was pursued by Howard Hughes at one time) and her dad, Ren Wicks, a very famous illustrator, you can check his brilliant work at artistrenwicks.com… I’m sure you’ll recognize a lot of it! Mimi Gibson also worked with us, she was a very famous child star … “Houseboat” with Cary Grant and Sophia Loren and “Three Faces of Eve” with Joanne Woodward are just a couple of her big hits. She made a ton of money and her mother spent it all … so here she was working as a sales girl in Century City married to a nice guy that sold shoes. Also,a terrific young girl, Debbie, daughter of singer Margaret Whiting … she was very funny and kind of sad, I adored her. And Andre Lachapelle, a pretty French Canadian girl, we were good friends and she lived with me for a while when Michael was shooting his first movie ‘CATLOW’ in Almeria, Spain. It was a very fun job, we all got along and really liked each other and the store had pretty clothes that were easy to sell. (Here’s tiny photos of the store, Debbie and me, and on the right, Debbie, me and Andre … have no clue who the guy is).
One day an interesting looking man walked in and gave us passes to see a rough cut screening of his new film, BILLY JACK. A few of us went, and we liked it and TOM LAUGHLIN came into the store again to get our feedback. Long story short, he offered me a job working for his wife, Delores Taylor, as her assistant and I took it … sounded exciting! I liked her very much, she was sweet and easy going, the complete opposite of Tom. At that time he was looking for someone to do the title song for the movie … I told him I knew Bobby Lamm, from CHICAGO, and he was definitely interested. I called Bobby and he agreed to see the movie, so Tom arranged a private screening for him, he never said why, but he wasn’t interested. Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys ended up doing the title song and it was a huge hit. The offices were on a top floor of the B of A building in Century City … the offices were big, and mostly empty … just a receptionist and the editor, Marion Rothman, (afterwards she edited a lot of big films i.e. “Funny Lady”, “Mystic Pizza”, “Starman”). Tom had a very bright assistant, who he fired soon after I started, and I had to work for him. He would give me tapes to transpose … with ‘requests’ to find the girl with the plaid skirt from Bandstand …. or the woman from a hosiery commercial, etc. etc. … to ‘interview’ them for the sequel to Billy Jack. Oh, and I had to give him an 8 oz glass of water every hour. He had a huge office with almost no furniture except his desk, a couple of chairs, and a large black bean bag … AND A STEAM ROOM! Somehow, I managed to find most of these women … I remember one girl coming in with her mother … and another with her dog, who s— on his office floor! He would give the receptionist a tape when he walked into the office … she had to transpose it and keep 3 copies in separate binders OF HIS DREAMS … he kept one in his office, one in a vault, and one at his home. I remember one of the dreams ….. he was talking to Joan Kennedy and telling her she deserved better than to be married to Ted Kennedy, etc. He lived in Pacific Palisades and when the big fires started, I had to drive his huge Lincoln to his home to save his dream volume … that’s all, nothing else! The money was pretty good, but I hated the job. Actually, we would go downstairs to B of A and cash our checks immediately, to make sure they didn’t bounce. One day he asked me to find a file, when I found the file, which his former assistant made and filed, it was empty and he told me that was not the right answer and to find the ‘fucking file’. He went to lunch …. I called his wife and told her I was leaving, I told her I knew it wasn’t professional to just walk out, but I wasn’t going to take his abusive behavior .. she completely understood and sent me 2 weeks pay. Good woman. It only lasted a few months, but it does make an interesting story!
7/6/11 – My first real job in LA, was at Judy’s in Century City in 1970 … a very popular boutique at the time. I managed the Gear for Guys department … I remember TONY CURTIS coming in with a button on his jacket “I Quit” and he reeked of cigarettes … he was with GENE SHACOVE, very famous hair dresser who was the inspiration for the movie “Shampoo”. I sold Curtis a pair of navy, wool pin stripe bell bottoms with cuffs, he rocked ’em. They came in quite a few times after that, really fun guys … one day we made a bet, forgot what it was … but I won and Shacove had promised to cut and style my hair, a really big deal. I went to his Beverly Hills Salon, one person greeted me, another person took me to change into a smock, another person washed my hair, etc. etc. .. eventually I was in the presence of the big guy himself … he asked what I wanted to do with my hair, I told him it was up to him, as long as he didn’t cut it too short and as I held that part in my hand, he immediately cut it off … just like that, as if he didn’t hear me. I remember being supremely disappointed with the cut/style … but liked Shacove very much. I ran into him at a restaurant in Beverly Hills many years later .. surprisingly, he remembered me, sweet man!
Another day, I was selling henley t-shirts (they were very new then) to a stunning man and realized a crowd was gathering around us … duh, it was Robert Redford! Handsome, totally unassuming and polite, he became very uncomfortable and asked me to check him out asap. He was with Rick Ingersoll, his publicist. At that minute, the store manager told me to relay to Redford that she would keep the store open after hours so he could shop, I told her he would hate that kind of special treatment, but she made me tell him anyway, as expected he quickly said no thank you, paid and left. The next day he returned to exchange the shirts because they were too small. About a year and a half later, I was working for Rick Intersoll at Allen, Ingersoll and Weber … publicists to all the biggest stars at that time. I personally met Rock Hudson, Debra Kerr, Ryan O’Neal and Leigh Taylor Young (what a gorgeous couple) Jane Fonda and many more. I remember calling Rita Hayworth one day for Rick, she disguised herself as the maid with a thick Mexican accent, he said she always did that. I also spoke to Dalton Trumbo, a real thrill for me … the company was doing the publicity for his movie “Johnny Got His Gun” … it was an astounding movie, brilliant and completely depressing … I swore to never see it again. I’m pretty sure that Kirk Douglas was the first person to let Trumbo use his real name on the screenplay credit for “Spartacus” after his many years on the Hollywood 10 Blacklist.
6/19/11 Hmm… there is so much to tell here, I thought I’d start out small with a few stories about my LA CATS … now don’t blow me off, these are pretty funny stories. I actually prefer dogs, but cats are easier if you’re a working woman …
He was given to us as a wedding gift 9/28/69 … the gifter promised he would be a prize Siamese cat and we could have the pick of the litter, we decided to name our stud Pharoah, we thought that sounded Siamese. Well, seems mama cat was out cheating on her intended before she was introduced to the prize man cat …..out came this goofy looking striped cat … we named him FRED. He drove cross country with us in the back of my Karmann Ghia with his ltter box, all the way from Chicago to California. There a lot of stories about Ferd Berfel (nickname), but this is my favorite. I noticed Freddie wasn’t eating much lately, he’d saunter thru the kitchen, check out the menu, and leave … odd. After this went on for a while, one day he trotted into the house with a lovely brown suede collar with blue rhinestones … aha! A couple of days after that, a teary eyed woman appeared at our door holding a photo album .. seems Fred had moved in with her and she was moving … she showed me her album filled with photos of him lounging around her house on various cushions, etc … and eating his ‘favorite meal’ of low fat ground meat! She begged me to let her keep him and promised to give me a Champion Siamese cat, again pick of the litter … from her friend’s fabulous feline in waiting. I told her he was a wedding gift, and I was kind of attached to him … and said if I noticed he really missed her, I would call her. The grieving woman left my doorway, and Freddie left with her, jerk! A couple of days later, she moved … Freddie went down the hill to see what was on the menu and found the place empty … from our deck I watched him walk around the house, think about it for a while …..then come back up the hill and moved back in! It was our first LA house … on Sycamore in the hills above the Yamashiro and Magic Castle off Franklin and Highland … down a hill 52 steps –
fantastic, fully funky furnished, big deck with avacado tree, visiting raccoon family that ate the Purina Cat Chow, and a landlady who lived at the top of the hill and used to play organ in silent screen movie theaters … she still played at night and it rang thru the canyon, scared the crap out of me the first time … she was older than dirt and so were her 2 cats … she always had several dishes of raw liver strewn around her house for them!
My all time favorite cat …. back in 1970 a friend asked us to watch her 2 kitties (Ralph and Norton) while she traveled for quite a while. Freddie loved the company, the 3 of them really tore up the house … unfortunately, Ralph was run over by a car and passed while in our care, it was horrible … our friend took it pretty well … she even let me keep Norton, I was too attached to him by the time she returned. No real crazy stories about him …. he was perfect in every way, and totally lovable, that’s how Manx are. When I became pregnant with Bree, he would jump into my arms when I became too big to bend down and pick him up … when Bree was born, he was totally in love with her and followed her everywhere … he’s in most of her baby pictures. He died too young at 8, trying to get away from a opossum in our yard, I was devastated.
BIG BILL –
Giant red Persian, with giant attitude, he was quite a character. My good friend Sydney told me that an acquaintance of hers was going to give him up for adoption because he traveled a lot and hated putting him in kennels all the time. Billy immediately fit in with Fred and Norton, he actually didn’t care, he just moved in and made it his own. He would let us brush his back, but never his stomach, it made him nuts. So, once a year our vet shave him, he hated that. One day he walked in totally groomed and looking really good … I put a note in his collar with my phone number and the woman called me that afternoon … she asked if I was the owner of BRUTA … I told her Billy was mine … she said he ate at her place all the time, and she noticed how matted he was, so she decided to bathe and brush him!!! REALLY, we couldn’t do that if we knocked him out! I asked her to stop feeding him, and he stopped visiting her. As he got older, I worried about the vet putting him to sleep to shave him, so I called around and found a groomer who said she could do it, no problem. I dropped him off on my way to work … when I picked him up, there he was looking just as raggedy as when I dropped him off, with a nice chicken dinner in front of him! Yep, she said he wouldn’t let her touch his stomach and she felt so bad for upsetting him, that she bought him a chicken dinner. So, he had a nice day trip and a chicken dinner, just what he was in the mood for. He passed at 13 from some kind of mysterious ‘virus’ … I always smile when I think of him, he used to lay in the street and not move, cars would drive around him … and that’s just who he was!!!
Small black cat that showed up at our door (in North Hollywood) one day … she was wild, and skittish and would only let Bree pet her, Bree was about 6 at the time. Trixi didn’t move in, she just came by to eat – Freddie, Norton and Billy would step aside and let her eat, and when she was done, they would eat. They were very gentle with her, as if they knew she had a rough life. One day she came by looking a little chubby, the next day, not so much …….I told Bree we would follow her after she ate to see where she went …she walked to the back of the yard and sure enough, there was a little pile of tiny kitties under some wood. Bree was euphoric, she wanted to take them into the house, but I told her Trixi was wild and we had to leave them where she put them. The next morning before Bree got up, I went back to see how the kittens were doing and all I found was some shreds, it was awful. I picked up the mess and tossed it before Bree could see it … of course when she woke up she wanted to go see the kitties and I told her they were gone, she cried. A couple of days later my neighbor Mary called out from her yard … “Trixi had kitties, how nice” … I told her what happened … she said, oh no, come over here and see. Unbelievably, Trixi had scooped up the 3 kitties that were left and jumped the fence into Mary’s yard and put each one of them under a chicken for protection … yep, my neighbor had chickens, and Mary said the large striped cat that impregnated Trixi had killed the males of the litter, only the females were left (supposedly this is common). Trixi knew instinctively that he would never mess with a chicken and those chickens sat on the kitties for about 4 weeks … Trixi went there a couple of times a day to nurse them … and when they were strong enough, she jumped the fence 3 times to bring each one back to us, they were adorable. We kept them in the garage for a couple of weeks, then put them up for adoption with “Actors and Others for Animals” … that chicken story got them adopted immediately. Sadly, when we moved a couple of years later, Trixi chose to stay behind.
ANOTHER TRIXI –
After Billy died, Freddie got pretty lonely and he was getting up in years, so we decided to get him a friend … Bree brought home a black/white, long haired beauty and we immediately named her Trixi. Another perfect cat, she was friendly and affectionate and fun … Freddie didn’t pay much attention to her, but I know he loved her being there. Freddie passed at 19 years old, a good long life and he gave us so much joy … Michael buried him in his yard in Sylmar. Trixi passed at 10, much too young … she had liver cancer and my good friend Janet (visiting from Chicago) was with me when the vet put her down, we both held her while she slipped away …. my second favorite cat, I adored her.