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The Kid (1921), with Jackie Coogan, combined comedy with drama and was Chaplin’s first film to exceed an hour

MOVIES! I love’em! And, I come by this affinity quite naturally. My mother was a beautiful stylish woman who managed family, career, and volunteer work without batting a perfectly lined eye! One of her favorite ways to relax and enjoy herself with her daughters was a night out at the movies.

In those days it was always a double feature. My dad happily acquiesced to his three women. As if this wasn’t enough, there were Aunt Eva, Uncle Ed and Uncle Al. They lived in Los Angeles. Every summer we piled into the Chrysler, wearing hair nets, with the windows down, and headed south for a three-week vacation. We would stay with Eva and Ed. Uncle Al’s part in all this would be to take us on a tour of Paramount Studios where he was the favorite prop man for Bob Hope and other stars.

Through the iron gates and huge stone arch we would drive. I was majorly star-struck! Uncle Al looked like Joe E. Brown (the Shell Oil millionaire in “Some Like It Hot”) and he wore spats! Nobody wanted to talk about it, but Uncle Al lived with Mabel AND Grace at the beach. I wanted to talk about it – but nothing doing! He would kiss the hand of any woman he came within a foot of, so we tried to remember to wear white gloves. Uncle Al was the epitome of “debonair.” We lunched at the Brown Derby, and always went to Grauman’s Chinese, where I would kneel down and put my small hands in the imprints of the rich and famous.

I loved the old black and white movies on Eva and Ed’s television set. The patio doors would be open to the scent of jasmine and roses. I would be allowed to stay up late and watch Fay Wray on top of the Empire State Building. Somehow, it all be came a part of me – and I became, yes, a drama queen.

First at Portland Civic Theater and then at OSU directed by Don Henry (who might as well have been Cecil B. DeMille as far as I was concerned!). My life to this day is a series of “flashbacks.” I think in terms of vintage Disney, Lucille Ball, Jennifer Jones, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Lon Chaney, Charlie Chaplin, Kathrine Hepburn, and Laurel and Hardy. I love the original “Cat People” and its sequel “Curse of the Cat People.” The eerie light and dark shadows against the snow – somehow became a part of me. I pay rapt attention to room settings, vintage clothing, buildings, movement, expressions – in short, smoke and mirrors…I’m all about that. I love Woody Allen, Billy Wilder, William Wyler – I can easily watch a movie over and over. Duty goes out the window if I can lose myself in “Seabiscuit,” “The Rocketeer,” “Tucker,” or “Portrait of Jennie,” “Juno,” “Adams Rib,” “Secret of Roan Inish,” “LA Confidential,” “Waitress,” “Mighty Aphrodite,” “Manhattan,”…well, the list is long!

I have a friend, Amy, who adores Charlie Chaplin. She sketches him and then paints huge life-sized canvasses of him – not for sale at any price. I love Charlie in “The Kid” and “Limelight” and I always cry when I hear his music – the lovely score from “Limelight” and my fave song, “Smile.” Just before Christmas I got out a drawing pad and pencil and did a sketch of Charlie in his bowler hat. I sent it to Amy and now it’s in a frame. She loved it. Amy happens to be the proud owner of a painting done by Billie Dove, who lived her last years in Desert Hot Springs.

My current wardrobe is pure “Juno” – jeans, striped knee socks, t-shirts and hoodies. When the kids were little, a friend and I took her kids and mine to see a Benji movie – the one where the little dog goes to Greece and is dognapped at the airport by bad guys who tattoo a secret code on his foot. The movie ends with Benji finding his family as they are leaving the hotel in the hands of the bad guys. One of them has a gun to the head of Benji’s little girl. Benji’s eyes make it clear that he knows what a gun can do and he heroically leaps forward and knocks the gun out of the way. None of the kids cried, but I was sobbing so hard that I had to stay in my seat until I could see to get up! I’ve been raising dogs ever since!

Well, “we’ll always have Paris”, and “a man’s character is more easily kept than recovered”, and “the world needs illusion like it needs the air.” I’m like Mia Farrow in “The Purple Rose of Cairo” – and it ROCKS!!! Seriously, the best medicine!

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