– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
There was one in particular and that was Eleanor Roosevelt. Although I wasn’t primarily interested in politics at the time of her supremacy, I understood that she garnered the world’s attention and that it was beyond unusual for a woman to achieve that at the time. I did understand that she changed the role of the first lady, and that she fought for women’s rights and civil rights. Also I fell in love with a character Judy Garland played in a movie called “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Her name was Esther Smith. I wanted to be her, to be part of her family, to be in love with John Truett, the boy next door. All this because everything in that fictitious character’s life was wholesome and loving, and my actual existence was far from that. At the cost of repeating myself, I loved the Golden Age of the MGM musicals, and Judy Garland was my favorite. Her talent was outsized: a great singer, a marvelous dancer, a convincing actress – she could do it all. A sad paradox in my life was that she coincidentally entered my life professionally, and the reality of her existence was tragic. However, what I endured working for her informed the person I am to this very day.
“Judy Garland was my greatest teacher. She taught me how not to fold.”
Women who inspire you now?
There are too many now for me to name names, but they are the women who have broken the glass ceiling and entered what was formerly a man’s realm. Women have now done that in science, medicine, entertainment, Wall Street, and as entrepreneurs in many fields. I did that in my small corner of the world as an agent in the motion picture business, and it’s my proudest accomplishment, next to my daughter.
Most valuable lesson taught by your mother?
Kindness. My mother had a very tough life and managed to be kind throughout. Kindness matters to me very much.
Have you made career changes over the years?
Yes. I have reinvented myself out of necessity to earn a living. I was an agent for many years. That came to an end both by choice and by default and I needed to find the replacement. For me it was Broadway production. I was blessed as a producer with a hit in my very first show.The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. It ran on Broadway just shy of five years.
Broadway underwent changes I couldn’t support, and so I started writing.
My memoir was published in June 2015 and I am now hoping to translate that in some way to TV.
Through the Decades !
While pursuing my career, I have always been something of an adventurer in every decade of my life. I have run the wild rivers in the American West, hiked many of Colorado’s ‘fourteeners’, climbed Kilimanjaro for my sixtieth birthday, and backpacked through a few third-world countries. I have no professional regrets and I’ve already spoken too much of my accomplishments. I do have personal regrets, but no regrets about what I learned from my mistakes.
“I would still like to produce another musical on Broadway, and write a film that goes into production.”
What are you most grateful for?
I’m most grateful for my daughter, my successful career, and my wonderful amusing, amazing and supportive friendships.
Thoughts on aging,
The downside: Gravity. I am not one of those women who are proud of their wrinkles. I find it hard to embrace what is happening to my body. I do what I can to limit the deterioration by remaining very active physically and intellectually. I stay involved however I can through my friendships and my interests.
The upside: I like what I’ve learned. I’ve learned to listen. I’ve learned that I no longer need to be right: I can allow other people to be right without being wrong. It means I don’t argue anymore. I love that.
“Regarding aging, I would say don’t be afraid. Fear is a monster that needs to be kept at bay, or else it will dominate your choices”
Do you think older women are valued or celebrated enough?
I think today’s world extols the young and the culture of youth. I think this is closely tied together with the technology that presently defines our existence. It is the age of communication and, as such, it leaves out anyone who is not a functioning part of that.
Your advice to young women of today?
Always be kind, work hard if you work, and plan intelligently.
The rest is out of your control
Images courtesy of Stevie Phillips unless credited otherwise.
FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS!
Film: I was interested in show business from the get go. Movies were my entertainment of choice and there was one in particular with a message that resonated with me: Joel McCrea starred in a film directed by the amazing Preston Sturges entitled Sullivan’s Travels. Its message: in a world where shit happens, entertaining people is a noble pursuit. I bought that concept totally and have lived to prove it true, at least for myself.
Another favorite On the Waterfront. Love them both! The first for the message, the second for the performances and the direction.
Book/Novel: I could go back to the classics, but I read a book recently that was amazing:
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Song: Burton Lane and Yip Harburg wrote the music and lyrics for one of my favorite musicals.”Finian’s Rainbow”. One of the songs.
“When I’m not near the girl I love”
Scent: St. Laurent’s Opium. I have used it more than 40 years.
Flower: I love having a basket of anemones when they’re in season.
City: Far and away New York City. Having been in most of the major capitals of the world, I still come back to this one and think it’s the greatest. London would be the runner-up. Aspen is beautiful in the summer and I loved skiing there for many years.
Skincare product you can’t live without: I have a skin care regimen from my dermatologist that is saving my face. It’s personal. I owe her.
My Swedish chair – it has saved my back; my Armani jacket – never goes out of style, high heels, my small collection of Indian rugs and pottery, not only because they are wondrous, but because I sought out and met all the Indians that made them.