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2011 In Memoriam: 5 To Reunite In Heavenly Project

December 30, 2011

As 2011 draws to its end,  sadly, so many famous and good people passed on in 2011. Here are some brief recollections on five; an all time beauty,  a great director,  a player/author,  a great publicist  and a highly praised woman in the field of publishing.

 
Elizabeth Taylor was beautiful on the inside and out. She truly was a giver and some say a receiver as sympathy for an illness helped her win an Academy Award for Butterfield Eight.  It still was a great performance. She was even better in” Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf “as she played the role of an alcoholic, caustic wife of a college professor with little or no makeup. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course,  but few if any ever looked better than Taylor when she presented the Best film of 1969 award. Jerome Hellman ran up to receive it for Midnight Cowboy and loved being presented the award by Ms.Taylor almost as much as winning it.

 

 

Elizabeth Taylor

Sidney Lumet directed some of the greatest films ever made. He was uncompromising in his quest to bring out the intensity of the characters in his films. Whether Al Pacino was yelling “Attica,Attica” in Dog Day Afternoon or Rod Steiger’s concentration camp survivor could not be near a dog without it evoking horrible memories in the  too powerful for TV,( Is it ever on at all and if so before 3 AM?!) “The Pawnbroker”, Mr.Lumet had no peer in bringing out such emotions.

 

 
Peter Gent was a pretty good receiver for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960’s but is better known as an author who took on some of the hypocrisy of the National Football League in such books as “North Dallas Forty.” I interviewed Mr.Gent , after he appeared on Bob Costas’ fine radio show “Costas Coast to Coast.” He was extremely gracious and intelligent. I learned a great deal from this genuinely sincere author/athlete. When Nick Nolte walked into the premiere of “Prince of Tides” roughly 20 years ago, he was going straight ahead and not turning around for anything or anyone. I spoke and said I was a friend of Pete Gent and Mr. Nolte , close to the entrance and beyond the horde of reporters, photographers and fans turned and smiled.

 

Publicist Claire O’Connor knew how to work the fine line between celebrity and members of the media. Though it is far from easy, she made it look so, perhaps because she was as genuinely charming and caring a person as I ever met. Once at an event Claire publicized,  all the tables were full and that left actress Sylvia Miles without a seat. One reason Ms.Miles is such a good actress is her determination to get things. This night, a seat at a table was one such thing. Using her wonderful voice, Claire asked that Sylvia could sit. Two or three people jumped up ready to yield their seats as if doing so meant a prize in the lottery. They did so with such earnest because Claire ,as she always did, asked the right way.

 

 
People who worked with Cheryl Mullner at Simon and Schuster wrote heartfelt praise to her when she left her position there. She was personable and a great worker. Those letters are treasured by her parents a small consolation for losing a daughter. Cheryl,whom I never met, and Claire both fought the illnesses that took their lives in their early fifties with a rare kind of bravery. Maybe Cheryl is helping Gent with his book which will become a movie. Maybe Lumet will direct it, Taylor will star in it and Claire will publicize it. Bet it gets many angel’s wings as the equivalent of a thumbs up (there.)

 

Andy B

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