Saturday, September 30, 2006
los angeles - july, 1961
When I first moved to Los Angeles (on February 1st, 1961), I only had my sister and one friend living here…Oh, I knew a few other people, but not really well, and I was in a terrible state at the time. I had really come to go to a therapist I had met two years before who I felt possibly could help me to find my way, once again.…
My one dear friend here in Hollywood was my soul-mate, Sammy. I’ve written a little bit about him before…we had met in New York, the first day of drama school and knew instantly we would be fast friends, forever. I spent a great deal of my free time, those first months here in L.A. when not in therapy, with Sammy. We would go to the movies all the time and most of the people I met that first year here in Los Angeles, were all through Sammy.
Along the way, I met his friend John Erman who was a casting director in television at that time, later to become a very successful Emmy winning television and film director.(John with Gena Rowlands)
Somewhere around mid to late July of that first Summer of 1961, Sammy was asked by John Erman to Stage Manage a play he was going to direct called “The Cave Dwellers” by William Saroyan. (John was trying to 'showcase' himself as a director, and not just as a Casting person, which is what he was doing at that time...he wanted people in the business to see him as the talented Director he knew he was, and the best way to do that at that time was to direct a play...thus, this particular play...) It was to be done for just three performances at a wonderful small theatre called The Coronet on La Cienega Blvd.
I was familiar with The Coronet Theatre because that very first summer---the summer of 1947---when we, my family and I, had come to Los Angeles for the Summer, we went to the theatre a great deal, which was something we had always done in New York from the time I was a young child. At that time, in '47, the Coronet was putting on a series of plays Produced by Charles Laughton. And I believe we went to two of the plays in that lovely 180 seat house during the summer of 1947....and now, it was the fall of 1961. (The following year...in the spring and summer of 1962 I would produce a play there at The Coronet Theatre...the first West Coast production of "Call Me By Ny Rightful Name" by Michael Shurtleff, a wonderful wonderful writer....another story for another time....)
Sammy felt he couldn’t take on the job of Stage Manger for this particular production because of other commitments and said to me that I should do it and he told me he was going to recommend me to John Erman. I really didn’t think I could do the job and I protested, “No, no no”. And I remember Sammy laughed and said…”Oh, Nooma, you could do this with your hands tied behind your back…”, He had a lot more faith in me than I did. So after struggling with the question in my therapy sessions of weather I could actually take on this huge job or not…I decided, I would. And thus began a journey to a new life for me.
Most of the rehearsals were held at one of the actor’s homes….a wonderful character actress named Angela Clarke. Angela lived in a sprawling house that she and her husband had built, up on Mulholland Drive. (dear Angela, at 94 years old, still lives there…). It was kind of a rustic home but very comfortable with a big spacious living room and an incredible view of the Valley side of L.A.. And that is where we rehearsed most of the time till we moved into the theatre. Angela had been under contract to Columbia pictures and had a lovely career working in films and on television.
Angela was a wonderful actress, and a very warm loving woman. There was an actor in the cast named John McLiam, who played Angela’s husband in "The Cave Dwellers". Both Angela and John were kind of the ‘elders’ in this cast. John McLiam was an actor who worked all the time in television and films and he had also written a play that had been produced on Broadway and was published by Samuel French. John McL. was a lovely actor and it turned out that it was he who opened up my ‘new’ life in the theatre in Los Angeles through Theatre West…but that’s another story for another time, too…..I only mention it now because by Stage Managing “The Cave Dweller’s” and meeting John McLiam…my theatrical life in Los Angeles became a truly viable thing.
Another member of this cast was a young and very good looking young man named John Considine. He was a sweetheart of a man and a wonderful actor and writer, too, who in this production played a ‘mute’.
John’s background was wonderfully interesting to me because he came from a great theatre and film tradition. His father, also John Considine but Jr., had been a Producer/Director at MGM during the glory days of the late thirties and early forties and his mother was a ‘Pantages’, a name synonymous with a great theatre chain, including the great movie/stage palace here in Los Angeles, The Pantages Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Johnny Considine was and is truly part of Hollywood Royalty. There were some other people in the cast, too, all of whom were quite wonderful. The job of a Stage Manager is a complex one and covers a tremendous area of responsibility. Everything that goes on ‘on stage behind the curtain’ is your responsibility. The props, the sound, making sure the costumes are their and clean….and of course, the Stage Manager holds the book, as they say, all through rehearsals….writes down all the stage directions, feeds the lines to the actors when needed, and calls the show. “Calling the show” starts with getting to the theatre very early and calling ‘half-hour’ to all the actors, when that time comes, and eventually '15 minutes', '5 minutes' and 'Places'...which signifies that the curtain is about to go up. The Stage Manager also makes sure all the props are set in place before the show, checking that the sound is cued up and ready to go, etc….The Stage manager makes sure all the actors know when and where rehearsals are and, any changes that might be required, and the S.M must also make sure that every actor knows any and all changes. The phone is a Stage Manager’s ‘best friend’, now email, too. And, during the run of a play, the Stage Manger "calls" the show, which includes 'calling' every cue for everything....as well as calling "curtain", when the play begins and then when the play is over....Plus, the Stage Manager rehearses all the understudies and makes sure they are ready to go on at any given moment....It is, to say the least, a very very responsible and daunting job.
At that time John Erman was working on the 20th Century Fox Lot casting the original “The Outer Limits”. Because of this, he was going to be able to borrow all the costumes for the play from the Wardrobe Department on the lot. “The Cave Dwellers” is a period piece of sorts so the costumes were very specific to that time and place. As we got closer to being ready for costumes, John arranged for the whole cast…which was about 7 people and me, to come to Fox, have lunch in the Commissary and then go to Wardrobe to pick out the needed clothes. He had arranged for us all to have ‘drive-on’ passes so we would not have to walk miles and miles….This was very exciting to me because I had only been on that lot once before back in 1949 when I was an Extra in a Paramount film called “Mr. Music” that was using the ‘small town and train station’ on the Fox back-lot, where Century City is now. And at that time, we were bussed from Paramount to Fox.
To eat in ‘The Commissary’ where the likes of Tyrone Power and Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe all came to eat…this was heady stuff.
Of all the people connected to the show I was the least experienced in film and television at that time, so for me, this was a big deal. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was a very big deal for Angela Clarke, who had worked on the Fox lot as she had on every lot in town, besides Columbia Pictures.
We all met there at the Commissary where John had reserved a big table for the nine of us. Angela was sitting next to John at this particular lunch. We all ordered and were then just waiting for our food to arrive. At one point, a man came over to the table and whispered in John’s ear. John excused himself as he got up from the table moving away with the man to the other side of the room. None of us took too much notice of this…Well, none of us except Angela.
A few minutes later, John returned to the table and sat down next to Angela again. She leaned over to him and whispered…”It’s me isn’t it? They want me to leave the lot, don’t they?” And John was quick to reassure that that was not the case, at all, “Oh No, Angela, it was someone from the ‘Outer Limits’ needing to talk to me about something.” She still looked terribly scared.
The moment passed, sort of....but I was aware that something quite terrible had happened to Angela that I had never seen before...some terrible fear stayed on her face....I really didn’t quite know what she was had meant by what she said to John, nor did I understand his answer---but I knew this lovely talented woman had suddenly become terribly frightened till John reassured her that his leaving the table had nothing to do with her. Later, I asked John about what had taken place with Angela at lunch. He said that Angela had been Blacklisted and that this was the very first time in almost 10 years that she had been on this lot, or any Studio Lot for that matter. And she was sure that someone saw her there and was insisting that she get off the lot. That story hit me like a ton of bricks. This lovely woman had been truly frightened in that moment and her experience of being blacklisted had scarred her so badly that she was positive she was going to be thrown out of the commissary and told to leave the 20th Century Fox lot, all together! I learned from John, that Angela had not worked in many many years because of this ‘list’. Her livelihood had been cut off, all because she had gone to a few meetings of The Communist Party in the 30’s!
People now do not understand how horrible that time was for so very many many people in the film industry. It wasn’t just Hollywood, but all of the film industry in this country and television, too. Many people never recovered. Some actually killed themselves or their lives were cut short by the strain and humiliation of loosing their careers, and being shunned by their co-workers and more horribly, shunned by their friends. It divided people in a terrible terrible way....and believe it or not, there are people still, who have hateful feelings towards other people who were friends back then. It was a very scary time, too. And back then, in 1961, even almost ten years after the fact, I was seeing first hand a tiny example of the results of this shameful time.
The frightening thing is, this could happen again. I see the seeds of it right now. Oh no, not about Communism….that was a rouse, anyway….Now, if you say anything against our current government you are considered “un-American” by certain factions. The ;aws that are being passed, as I write this....the flagrant disregard of our constitution, by the people in power now, is very frightening....
I’ve never forgotten that day in the commissary at Fox…it was the first of a number of first hand encounters and incidents that I became aware of as time went on. Over the years I have known quite a few people who were blacklisted during that period, all of whom I met after moving to Los Angeles in 1961. I am and have been very close to four of those people. All four of them suffered terribly in their careers. They are Angela Clarke, Larry Parks, Betty Garrett and Lee Grant.
The last two were affected by default….the fallout of their respective husbands blacklisting, and in Lee’s case, in speaking at the funeral of an actor who killed himself because of the Blacklist. Lee did not work in films or television for a good twelve years and then the first things she did came out of New York, and then finally, she did some shows in Hollywood which broke the Blacklist against her, pretty much once and for all. Lee went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the film "Shampoo", among many other Awards over the years as a Director, as well as as an actress….but for twelve years the only place she was able to work was in the theatre, on Broadway….
This was a truly terrible and terrifying time….and as I said, a shameful time in our history....we really must learn from the past or we are most assuredly going to repeat it....Going back to Angela for a moment....here is another photograph of a Birthday Lunch in 1997, when she turned 85. It was a group of actresses from Theatre West, and here it is: "The Ladies Who Lunch"....Me, Betty G., Margaret Muse, Janet Brandt, Seemah Wilder and Jeanne Bates, all standing. And Seated: Angela Clarke and Connie Sawyer....Betty, Angela and Janet Brandt all were effected by The Blacklist...
And, sad to say, Margaret and Janet are both gone now....
Connie Sawyer and Angela Clarke are both in their 94th year, and Connie is still a working actress, God Bless Her!
UPDATE: Wendy, over at Wendy's Whimsies is holding her monthly Casting Call Comment Game....For the next 48 hours you can join in the fun....Do go on over to her place and leave a comment....and remember you can go back as often as you like....All Weekend Long....and at the end of the weekend she will pick a winner! So go on now and have some jolly good fun! You get to meet wonderful people, too!
More To Come….
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| posted by OldLady Of The Hills at 2:12:00 AM
Friday, September 29, 2006
party time at craziequeens!
There is a party over at our own Craziequeen's....it is in honor of lots of Blogiversary's, and a couple of Birthday's too...there is the wonderful Queen, herself, Celebrating her Annivsary...and WendyWings who just had a Birthday and a Blogiversary....and our own Mar, who also had an Blogiversary and dear Fizzy who just had a Birthday.......well, you get the idea! There will be lots of good things to eat and drink and much fun and frivolity! It is TODAY, Friday, September 29th, at 10pm, BST...(2pm Los Angeles time)....and I am supplying the Ice Cream....Besides these scrumptious Ice Cream Cones, it will be available in many forms...like this cake, below! Or it might look like this..... Or...even like this.....yum yum yum! And it also may appear like this...And I know we can count on the Queen to have plenty of this, below... A good time will definitely be had, by all! So put on your best Bibb & Tucker, and join the 'Virtual Party' at the great and grand Craziequeen's Palace....And just a reminder, it begins at 10pm BST and that translates to 2pm Los Angeles time....(the rest you will have to figure out the times where you live....)I look forward to seeing all of you there....
I LOVE A PARTY.....oh, yes I do!
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| posted by OldLady Of The Hills at 12:47:00 AM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Coming up on this 200th post, I thought well, maybe I should post a second hundred things about me....Not sure there are another hundred, and I fear I may repeat some of the ones from the first hundred...but, what the hell...Nothing ventured and all that Jazz....So, here goes.....1. I failed three subjects in 10th grade.2. And back in 5th grade I got 15 U's (Unsatisfactory) out of a possible 30 Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory marks on my Report Card....well, that was half, wasn't it? Scary.3. That was the year my parents seperated.4. My excuse for 10th grade? I was an emotional mess, again, yet, still...5. School was never my favorite place to be for 12 years...I think I said before, I didn't eat breakfast for 12 years because I was afraid I would throw it up. Fear is a terrifying thing, isn't it? I hate to throw up, will do anything, not to...including not eating breakfast for twelve years....!6. My sister Robin who was 8 years older than me was Salutatorian of her High School Graduating class.7. I was 212th (or near that) out of 270 students in my graduating class from High School. Not exactly a high number, is it?8. My three siblings and I all went to the same Grade School, Junior High and High School. I don't think school grades really tell you a whole lot about what a person really has to offer or even if they are a good student or not. But those grades might just tell you a lot about a certain time in their life. 9. I was the worst student in my family. I always said if my mother had had another child after me, he/she would have flunked out of school completely.10. My mother died of a rare kind of breast cancer. Pagets Disease which is cancer of the Nipple. It was April 2, 1966. I watched my mother take her very last breath.11. My mother was 67 years old. I was 34 years old. (Well, I turned 35 two and a two thirds months later...)
12. My father had just turned 82 twenty days before he died. It was a heart attack. It was August 31st, 1981. He had a history of Heart Disease.13. I had turned 50 two months before he died.14. I have known more than 45 people who have died of AIDS related illnesses. Most of them were friends from the theatre. But not everyone.14. Music has always been a lifesaver for me along with some other things, too, like chocolate.15. I bought my first Ukulele---a small one, a soprano---in the fall of 1949 in Hollywood, CA. at Music City, which was a wonderful Music Store where you could go into a private booth and listen to a record,16. I was going to USC Extension, at the time. I didn't have the grades to get into a regular college, anywhere.17. I lived in a Co-Operative House at USC---a Dorm funded by The Soroptimist Club of Southern California.(It was really an old house they converted into a dorm.) I had two roomates. 18. The Soroptimists were the women's version of the Optimist Club.19. We all had our jobs. And they changed from day to day. One day you would be cooking and the next day you might be doing the cleaning.20. I experienced my first Earthquake tremor while living in that dorm.21. I remember sitting at the dining room table and watching the chandelier sway while feeling the house move slightly. And even though I had never felt an Earthquake before I knew that's what it was....it was unmistakable.22. Their were about 15 students who lived there. 23. It was somewhat International. We had a student from Iran when it was called Persia and another student was from Iceland.24. I went to college because I didn't know what else to do.25. I bought my second Ukulele in early 1963---it was a Baritone, which is the biggest Uke that was made at that time---again, at Music City in Hollywood. Isn't that odd that I buy both Uke's at the same Music Store 14 years apart.26. I played my Baritone Uke on Broadway in "Spoon River Anthology".27. "Spoon River Antholgy" opened on September 29th, 1963 at The Booth Theatre, off of Shubert Alley on 45th Street and eventually we moved to The Belasco Theatre on 44th Street. That was a very exciting time in my life.28. I still have both these fine instruments. They are both Martin Ukulele's...the Stradivarius of Uke's, I might add. If you try to buy one on Ebay, it is very very 'dear' as they say, if you can find one, at all. Martin doesn't make The Baritone anymore, sad to say. I love my Ukes, a lot!29. I had finally figured out what I really wanted to do while spending a year in the dentists chair, having returned to New York after only one semester at USC Extension.30. Four dentists chairs, actually.31. The first was the dental surgeon. The second was The Root Cnnel Dentist. The third was the Gum Dentist and the fourth was the genius who saved all my teeth from being pulled at age 19 and proceeded to do a comlpete mouth reconstruction. And I do mean complete.31 1/2. That was the first of four complete mouth reconstructions in my lifetime and then, my teeth went downhill from there! 32. 1950 was a very very hard year.33. One day, I took the Long Island Railroad into Manhatten on the way to one of those dentists and ran into a High School friend. We sat together as the train wended it's way into the city and she told me she was in Drama School.34. I knew the moment she talked about it that this was what I wanted to do.35. That fall, when the year of dental hell was over, I entered The Feagin School Of Drama & Radio.36. They added the word 'Television' to the name of the school soon after I began my Junior Year.37. Finally, I could eat breakfast in the morning, cause I loved going to this school. Taking classes in subjects that really excite you makes all the difference, doesn't it?38. Feagin was on the 6th floor of The International Building of Rockerfeller Center, an exciting area to be in. NBC was nearby and Radio City Music Hall, too. We were on Fifth Avenue, between 50th and 51st Street. I loved every wonderful moment of it.39 The Feagin School was were I met my Soul Mate, Sammy...my Bestest for 35 years, till he died (much too soon), in 198540. My very first 'paying' job as an actress was in a production of "Arsnic & Old Lace". I played Abby...she was one of the old eccentic sisters. I was not even 20 years old, at the time.41. It was a production we had done at Feagin and then we did one performance for somene's church group and we each got paid $3. a piece. My very first dollar earned as an actress!42. That first summer after my Junior year at Feagin, I was an Apprentice at The Sea Cliff Summer Theatre. As hard as we worked...and we worked non-stop, day and night, I loved that too!43. I was chosen to be Eva Gabor's "dresser" during the week she played Sea Cliff in a light comedy called "Her Cardboard Lover".44. She called me 'Gertrude' for the first 2 or 3 days...that was the name of the dresser no doubt at the previous theatre she was at. And I'm sure, when she moved to the next summer theatre the following week, that person was called 'Naomi'...well, at least for the first few days.45. I turned 20 that first summer at Sea Cliff.46. Switching gears here: I've never been to a Starbucks.47. I've never eaten a McDonalds French Fry!48. I've never eaten a McDonalds Hamburger!49. I've never eaten a McDonalds anything!!!50. I have smoked pot. (More than once.....)51. I've never had a baby, though I thought about it.52. I've never had an abortion.53. I've never been married...(but then you already know that...!) 54. I've been in love (or thought I was) 4 times, not counting grade school and high school.55. It never worked out, I'm afraid.56. I really don't know how to do that. I wish I had known, but it just wasn't meant to be.57. I've never been good at 'love' type love, but I'm great at friendship type love, if that makes any sense. Well, it does to me.58. I wanted to have a baby with two of the men I was in love with. (those were the baby's I thought about having, as mentioned earlier...)
59. It is a really good thing that I didn't have any baby's, because it would have been a disaster, all around!60. I love tomato juice.61. I love chocolate. Well, Dark Chocolate, to be precise, though I will not turn my nose up at milk chocolate.62. I used to love Shrimp Cocktails with Russian Dressing.63. I rarely if ever eat shrimp anymore.64. I love Bumble Bee Tuna Fish and used to buy it by the case. 65. In truth, I don't trust anything that lives at the bottom of the sea...think about what else is at the bottom of the sea and I'm sure you might understand why I don't trust all those things that crawl around down there.66. I ate Mussells once, in the South of France and was sick all night. I never ate them again. Lesson Learned.(lol)67. I loved the South of France.68. The Best Chocolate Mousse I ever ate was in the South of France.69. The Best Chocolate Souflle I ever ate was in the South of France.70. It was so good, we went back to the restaurant the next night just to eat their chocolate mousse desert, and they didn't think we were crazy! Like I said, I loved The South of France!
71. The Best Croissant I ever ate was in the South of France.72. The Best Creamed Spinich I ever ate was at Sardi's Restaurant, in New York, N.Y. Sardi's was like your home when you were in a show on Broadway. It was and is a theatrical restaurant and they really took great care of you, especially on matinee days. I loved it there.73. As a child my family used to travel by train from New York to Florida.74. We always had a little goody box that we took with us filled with little candy's like Tootsie Rolls, and we were allowed to eat one or two of these before going to sleep at night in our drawing room on the train.75. I loved our house in Florida. It was on the water....the bay side.76. There was a rather large beautiful Hotel down the street from us. I use to walk there to the Arcade and that is where I would buy my Juicy Fruit Chewing Gum, when the package was muilti colored stripes. I loved Juicy Fruit Chewing Gum. I bought all my movie magazines and comic books there, as well. I sure loved my movie magazines and my comic books.77. The Hotel was called The Nautilus, and lots of very wealthy people would come their from up north on their very large yachts which they would dock at the Hotels Dock right there on the bay.78. During World War 2, the Hotel became a Hospital. And as far as I know it still is a hospital to this day. I know it was a very needed thing at the time, but I was really sorry it wasn't a hotel anymore cause I thought it was truly special I think because of the beautiful Spanish style architecture.79. One year, when we were in Florida at Passover, we were having our Sedar, and just before it was time to open the door for Elijah, our doorbell rang. It was pretty amazing. 80. I remember our dining room table in the house on North Bay Road. It was a beautiful Cobolt Blue Glass see-through table....It was very Deco. Well, the whole house was very Deco because that was the time of 'Deco', only it was just called 'moderne' back then. It was the 30's.81. I shared a bedroom with my sister Gene and my brother Gordon when we would be in Florida, otherwise, we all had our own rooms in our home in Great Neck.82. I had three very dear friends all through school...well, one from Kindergarten and the other two from the 10th grade. We are all still good close friends. We are all still alive! We are all 75!83. They all were married and all of their husbands died of Lung Cancer. 84. They all smoked and we all smoked, too.85. None of us smoke anymore, Thank God!86. None of these three women lives here in California. I miss them.87. I still miss Sammy, after 21 years. Love never dies, unless it is killed by something really horrible, but truthfully, I'm not really sure it's actually dead even then.88. I watch too much television.89. But I enjoy so very many varied 'entertainments'.90. I love Netflix!91. I use to be hooked on daytime Soap Opera. It started when I was so sick when I was nine and was in the Hospital for three weeks. These were radio Soap Opera's. "Portia Faces Life", "Young Widow Brown", "Guiding Light". Etc....They saved my life.92. Then I gave them up for many many years, till I had Mono and couldn't even pick up a book! Someone said, 'watch daytime television'...and I said, 'Oh, I can't watch daytime tv'...!93. But I had no choice, because I didn't have the energy to hold a book. And in three days I was totally hooked on the television soaps.94. "Young Doctor Malone", "From These Roots", "Search For Tomorrow", "Guiding Light", and "Love Of Life"... 95. And later...the innovative-it-changed-the-face-of-soap-opera..."The Young And The Restless" and "Guiding Light", again...96. "The Young And The Restless" brought glamour, couture, music, and sex, to daytime....no other soap opera had done what they did. It was 1974.97. Soap Opera was never the same, and it was a true revolution! A good one, at that!98. Sammy was hooked on 'the soaps', too, Thank God! Eventually, he began writing for "Search For Tomorrow"...I was able to tell him everybody's back story. That was the one soap, he had never been hooked on.99. I finally kicked the soap habit about 20 years ago. Finally and I hope, forever. It was not long after Sammy died, actually. But, I couldn't turn the television off at night after Sammy died...and I still can't.100. I guess I replaced daytime "Soaps" with all the nightime soap operas...Did you know that the revenue accrued from Daytime Advertising pays for Nightime Programming? (Well, it used to...I don't know if it still does....but I wouldn't be surprised if this is still the case)
And, there you have it....another 100 things about me and my life....I guess if I had to, I could write another 100....but, not today!ENJOY!More to come.....
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| posted by OldLady Of The Hills at 2:18:00 AM
Monday, September 25, 2006
Do you love looking at houses just for the fun of it? I always have...especially after I moved to Los Angeles back in the 12th Century....and of course when I was looking for my house 4 centuries ago....but I still would do it if I could get out and about...Now, with the Internet, there is a whole new way to look at homes if you enjoy this pastime...and there is, for some of us, a certain amount of fun in looking at homes completely out of our reach...Here is what $6,900,000. will buy you in Bel Air, California.... Take the tour cause it's pretty amazing... And after you do....here's my question. Is this property worth $6,900,000? I don't know. You tell me! (lol)
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| posted by OldLady Of The Hills at 1:48:00 AM
Saturday, September 23, 2006
I had just finished watching the first two hours of the documentry on Andy Warhol by Ric Burns, on PBS' American Masters...The second two hours were shown on Thursday--9pm to 11pm. here in Los Angeles. It was a fascinating documentary, to say the least.
It got me to thinking and remembering because I was around New York during the late 50's when Warhol was the premiere commercial designer for places like Bonwit Teller's, (one of the greatest and most stunning clothing stores of a certain period in New York City), and I had moved to Los Angeles in February of 1961 and saw Warhol's very first One Man show anywhere, at The Ferus Gallery on La Cienega Blvd. in July of 1962.
And this being his first show the paintings were the now infamous Campbell's Soup Cans....I remember clearly at the time saying that I thought these were ridiculous paintings and I didn't get what he was doing at all. But I did keep going back to see them and I brought people into the gallery to see them and to kind of make fun of them.....They were selling some of them for $200. each, at the time. (I so wish I had bought one....that would have been my ticket to financial freedom! If I had held onto it, that is...) Irving Blum, the owner of The Ferus Gallery was interviewed for this documentary and he reminded me of something I had forgotten. There was a very fine Art Gallery three doors or so up the street from Ferus run by a man name David Stuart and he had gone to the super market and bought 32 cans of Campbell's Soup and put them in the window of his gallery with a sign that said, "Buy the real thing here for $.27 cents a can"... Blum told this story to explain not only the indifference to Warhol's work but the disdain, as well.Irving Blum also told how these paintings came into being and how that first show came into being, as well. What I had never heard before was that the critical response to that group of paintings was singularly indifferent. Blum then went on to say that after living with the paintings for about two weeks, day in and day out while sitting in the gallery during that show, he came to feel that they were incredibly fantistic and that what Andy Warhol had done was deeply profound. He felt the 32 paintings should stay together and should never be seperated..,and he asked Warhol how much money he would want for the whole collection of 32 paintings, and Warhol said $1000. One Thousand Dollars! Amazing.
He then promised Warhol that not only would they stay together forever, but that he would make sure that they would go to a great great Museum. Remember, this was said in July of 1962 two weeks after the show opened....Well, in this documentary Blum went on to say that he eventually sold the complete collection of 32 Campbell Soup Can Paintings for $15,000,000 to the Museum of Modern Art. An interesting point here: He "sold" the Soup Can Collection..he did not donate it to the Museum Of Modern Art...always the business man, I guess. I certainly might have done the same thing...but somehow this promise that he made to Warhol about the 'collection' going to a great Museum---this promise did not cover---"And if the paintings go way up in value, etc., etc., etc.....". In reading an extended interview with Blum...he had sold three or four of these paintings to individual people here in Los Angeles for $100. each...but after he had his epiphany while sitting there in the gallery for two weeks, he convinced them all to return them to him so this great collection of 32 could stay together. I wonder if these people receieved anything for their largess all those years later when he sold it to MOMA for $15 mil. ? (Just sayin'....)
As those first years went on---the years of Warhol's most productive and inovative work period starting with the Soup Cans---I came to admire his work in a way that surprised even me. The Electric Chair paintings, for instance, in my opinion, are deeply moving and in the simplicity of those images lies a horrific statement about the death penalty...I would say a profound statement. That lonely chair sitting in a lonely room....the paint used in those silk screen images dark and brooding---but even when light colors were used....this is an image one can never ever forget.
I never again had the opportunity to buy a Warhol painting at such a reasonable price....and if I had had the opportinity I don't know that I would have bought it anyway. Irving Blum said that at the same time he showed the 32 paintings (The number of paintings was decided upon by Warhol because that was the number of different kinds of soups made by the company at that time..) he showed some other single soup can paintings in that show...(Maybe those were the ones that were $200. a piece..I know that was the price of the painting I considered buying)....He went on to say that recently one of those single soup can paintings had sold for over $2,000,000 at auction. I'm not sure what the moral of this story is, but I still am deeply sorry I didn't buy one of those paintings when I had the opportunity.
And as an aside: I did have some dealings with Irving Blum (Not as an artist, but as a collector)...which I may write about sometime....I cannot say these dealings were particulatly 'nice', but I did greatly admire a number of artists that he showed during the years of The Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. Ed Ruscha, Ed Keinholz and Kenneth Price just to name a few....Blum certainly had the pulse of that time in the Art World, weather one liked it or not....
I did read a funny story which I just have to share with you.
Sometime in the last ten years or so...I'm not sure of the timing here, Irving Blum attended a dinner party in Santa Fe, New Mexico and was asked by one of the dinner guests, if he had shown the Elizabeth Taylor silk screen paintings at Ferus Gallery, 'back in the day'...and he said yes, that he had. Another guest asked if he had ever shown them to Elizabeth Taylor, herself...and he said, no, that he hadn't but somebody he knew had and that she wasn't particularly interested in them, at all. A third dinner guest said, 'Oh, I think you are wrong about that.......and Blum said...'And what makes you say that?' and the third dinner guest said, 'Well because she has it hanging in her bedroom and absolutely loves it....' and Blum said again..."And how do you know that? " And the third dinner guest said..."Because I am her son." It was Michael Wilding, Jr. one of Elizabeth Taylor's two sons.
I love this story....
Seeing this four hour documentary added a great deal to my understanding of Warhol's thrust in life as a person and as an artist. I still have this vague feeling that he pulled off the greatest "Emperor's New Clothes" of the Art World in the 20th Century....They say you cannot argue with success, but....I'm not sure about that. And yet, I still think those Electric Chair paintings are the most powerful pieces of his work that I have ever seen. There was a retrospective show many years ago and it was pretty amazing to see so much of his work in one place at the same time...and that was a powerful experience, too....He was a strange and rather sad creature in many ways if this documentary is accurate and I believe it is....and he certainly had more than his 15 minutes of fame and he couldn't have been more correct about that evaluation! If he could have just seen these many shows on television today....Everyone is getting their 15 minutes of fame, as he so prophetically predicted all those many years ago....
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More To Come.....
| posted by OldLady Of The Hills at 2:00:00 AM
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Here is a picture of those Hoodia Flowers I mentioned in my last post...'other-worldly' was the phrase I used to describe them...And I said I thought that they looked like they were from another planet. They are most unusual...as is the plant itself.Another view of these strange but beautiful flowers...here below.... Unfortunately they look like they were 'closing up' in this picture, above...And on another day when the light was quite different...here is another picture of this now very famous "for loosing weight" plant.... And one more, below....well, for now, anyway...(lol) Somewhere I have more pictures of these very amazing flowers, but I haven't scanned them into my computer yet...When I get around to it, I'll post some more of these...but, don't hold your breath!
And....I got another couple of pictures of the "katydid"...the next day he was still there on the Pachypodum but had changed leaves and positions... And just one more, below.....take a good look at these back legs...I mean this guy has some amazingly long back legs, doesn't he? I looked for him again yesterday and today, too...but, he is either gone or hiding really well...But he was there for three days!
More To Come.....
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| posted by OldLady Of The Hills at 2:50:00 AM
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
some of my paintings
A number of people in the blogesphere, (particularly pickalish) have asked me about my paintings and expressed interest in seeing some of my work, so, here is a smattering for your perusal. This painting above is called "A Bunch Of Ten" (acrylic on canvas, 24X24, 1990)....this is my abstraction of some of the flowers in my Cactus Garden. No, none of the flowers actually look like this, but it is my 'abstract' interpretation....which sometimes one has no words for, you know? I guess if I had words for them, I wouldn't have painted them.... This is "My Hoodia Flowers" (acrylic on canvas, 24X24, 1990) Yes, I had a Hoodia Plant (this is the plant that has become famous as a diet aid, but this was not the case while I had these plants....that bit of info had not been discovered yet)...well, I actually had two of these other-worldly plants....and they had the most amazing flowers....Again, this is my interpretation in an abstract way of these beautiful...look-like-they-are-from-another-planet....flowers...
And here below is another painting from that same series...a bit smaller..I think it was 16X16, Acrylic on Canvas, 1990
And then...the one below here I used on the brochure for my One Woman Show in 1997. It was a Retrospective of my work which included things I had painted when I was a very young child as well as the more recent work...I included some of the color drawings from my childhood in that show because you can really see that I have pretty much been paintinga certain way, for my entire life...this painting above is called, "There Is Only One Of You", (acrylic on canvas, 24X24, 1990). And the title was taken from that quotation from Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille....where she told DeMille that "there is only one of you in all of time and this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist"....for me, an incredibly meaningful and inspiring quotation....So, though these flowers look very much like each other, each one is unique---no two are alike....just like all of us....
Going back in time, here is a very large panting, "Bullseye" (Acrylic on Canvas, 64X64, 1987)....And it was a very important painting for me....And it was in fact, a kind of breakthrough for me....the heart image broken apart, but behind it is the light, and the hope....
And here below is another important painting. Also a big canvas...it is called "Breakthrough". (Acrylic On Canvas, 72X80, 1987) Here the heart is still a puzzle and there are pieces missing, but, there is this truly hopeful light that is shining behind it and through it...even more hopeful than "Bullseye"...because the heart is no longer broken apart....it is together.
And here below are a couple of color-pencil drawings....these are from 1998...in fact all 60 or so drawings are from 1998....these have never been shown....so you all are seeing them for the first time.... This one above is called "Feathery Pinks & Oranges Headress" (Mixed Media,9X12, 1998) As I said, I did around 60 of these drawings...no two are alike...many combinations of colors and in general, the shapes though drawn free-form, were all similar....Here below is a drawing called "Multi Colored". The colors in the actual drawing are much more vibrant...richer, more natural....And this last drawing below....(I cannot find the name unfortunarely, but it was done during the same period of time as all the others)...Again, the colors are more vibrant in the actual drawing...and I know this because I did a number of drawings using these particular color combinations....I really loved this combination, a lot! Many of these drawings are framed in a very simple wood frame and covered with glass....You'll just have to come to my house to see all of them....(lol)...And they are for sale, of course....(my Lordy, pimping my own work....well, why not!)
I haven't shown very much of my work on my blog because I have had problems downloading my 4X5 transeparancies---and they are the closest reproductions of the actual works...and I don't have the proper scannig equiptment to do the paintings justice....so, what I've posted here is just about all that I have that look really good. The drawings I actually scanned in themselves....again, it would be better if I had a fantastic scanner....but, what you see is what I got! (lol)
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More To Come....
| posted by OldLady Of The Hills at 1:45:00 AM
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Look who came to visit me this afternoon....Isn't he cute? I went outside for a minute and stopped to smell the beautiful flowers on this Pachypodum, and there he was....He is only about an inch and a half long...amazingly little...I moved around to his front so I could try to get a picture of his eyes....I wish I had a macro lens because if I did have one I could have gotten in much closer...but, considering, I think this is pretty good.... This time of year there seems to be a lot of little creatures that are coming to visit....I see so very many spider webs...especially ones that have been built between plants....I don't have any really good pictures of these webs....but, here is what I got the other day... Not very good, I know....I'll keep trying to get some better ones...
So, back to my little 'hopper' guy...I went into the house for a little while and when I came out to visit him again, he had turned around and I took some other pictures of him from this angle... You can see that there was more light on him after he turned around...I love the eyes, of course, but also the design on his body, too....And how delicate his itty bitty legs are and those antenna-like things coming out of his head...gee, they are long, aren't they?
And just so you get some idea of how small he is, here is the head of the beautiful plant he decided to get on...You may remember it....I posted the flowers and also the trunk about a week or so ago, and all those lethal spikes that are on the trunk... That little teeny tiny hopper is there, but it is very hard to see him cause he is so small in this picture...you can't see the trunk in this picture but in case you've forgotten, here is another picture and a close up, at that...so, take a look at it! And here is the whole plant---trunk, head and flowers, as it stands near my front door....This is one of the Pachpodums from Madagascar that are in my garden...I have about 6 or 7 of them....But this is the only one in the Front Garden..... So this was my wonderment for today....A little "hopper" visitor that allowed me to photograph him...which I think was very generous and kind of him, so thank you dear little "hopper"...and please do come and visit again, soon....
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More To Come.....
| posted by OldLady Of The Hills at 1:01:00 AM
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