Throughout the day Sunday as I was thinking of the upcoming 80th Oscar Presentations to take place in the evening, I couldn’t help thinking of an old friend of mine from Las Vegas. Ardis was one of the core members of the senior writer’s group, for which I was the facilitator. She was close to her mid 80’s when I last saw her around 2003. She lived alone–and insisted she liked it that way–in a complex of condominiums for senior citizens.
Looking every inch like a glamour girl from yesteryear herself, Ardis enjoyed dressing up every year in her finest clothes for a party of one, complete with a nice dinner and champagne, while she watched the Oscar presentations on television in her home. She had grown up in Los Angeles in the glamourous days of a Hollywood where young ladies could be “discovered” sitting on the stool at the fountain of the local drugstore.
Movies made a vivid impression on me as well, and at a very early age. The first movie I remember seeing was one of a series from Republic Pictures called Red Ryder. I would go home afterwards and make horses from scrap pieces of wire with string loops for the “flowing” mane and play out my own horse stories in the back yard. There was also Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Hoppalong Cassidy to keep me entertained–on the screen–as often as I could get anyone to take me to the movies, and–in the yard–during solitary play.
In 1954, after I saw Elizabeth Taylor in The Last Time I Saw Paris, I pretended she was my real mother, having been forced by an evil mother to give me up for adoption when I was born. (Actually, she would only have been 10 years old herself when I was born!) I wanted a glamorous mother, not the slightly overweight one I had, and my imagination was one way to have one.
One day a few years later, when I was around 14 years old, I saw Rebel Without A Cause, and fell head-over-heels in love with its star, James Dean. A year later, George Stevens came out with Giant starring Dean along with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. Of course I had to see it because I had to see my one true love onscreen once more. Problem is, these movies had come out in 1955 and 1956 respectively, and by the time I saw them, Dean had already been dead for several months. He was actually dead the first time I laid eyes on him. I cried myself to sleep every night for at least six months after learning that.
I didn’t fall in love onscreen again until 1962 when I saw Lawrence of Arabia and those blue eyes of Peter O’Toole. Then I fell in love a second time in the same movie as soon as Omar Sharif showed up with those dark eyes of his. I hadn’t known until that moment that a girl could be in love with two men of such contrast. As it turns out, those two would be my last onscreen crushes. About five years later my own “Omar Sharif” showed up, the one I now call Hubby.
Since we see a lot of movies in retirement, including a fair number reflected in the various Oscar nominations, I was eager to see how the Academy’s choices matched up with my own. We turned on the television at 7 o’clock to watch the awards show already in progress. I was wearing my pajamas, and we had eaten leftover cream of spinach soup for dinner with a delicious salad Hubby made. I couldn’t help wondering while I was watching the show what my surely-still-glamorous old friend was having for dinner and what she was wearing that night?