Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Here's To You Mama

I can't choose a favorite movie any more than I could chose a fave pair of shoes. I have so many of both that I can't close either my closet or the door to my TV cabinet.

Over the weekend I saw an old Alfred Hitchcock movie at a friend's house, Notorious, and it reminded me of why I started loving movies in the first place. It's all because of my dear mother. She is 100% responsible. Mama dearly loved movies and because she grew up in Burbank, CA around the movie business she had the good fortune of joining SAG. That's Screeen Actor's Guild for anyone not familiar with the acronym. Instead of discussing my favorite movies, I hope you don't mind if I dedicate this post to my beloved mother. She died a year and a half ago of cancer and it's nice to spend a few moments in her memory.

I grew up hearing wonderful stories about all the dashing, leading men of her day and I remember begging her to tell me all about them. Although she was at times reluctant (she never wanted my sisters and me to have a false sense of who and what was important in life) if the mood hit her just right she would give me an ear full. She knew how much I loved each and every story. Pictured here is Mama with Cary Grant during the filming of To Catch A Thief. Mama described him as "perfectly lovely." A man who would take the time to talk with anyone and everyone on the set. Clark Gable, she said, was such an amazing talent that a hush would fall on the set from the minute he walked on. Even the cameramen, grips and the set dressers were in awe of him and watched every move he made.

One of my favorites stories was the one about Elvis. All the girls on the set would swoon when he walked by and he never failed to smile and wink at them and call each one of them by name. He signed Mama's arm with lipstick in the movie King Creole (I think that's the one). As a child growing up in Memphis I thought that was the coolest thing going.

If you happen to run across The Man Who Knew Too Much starring Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day on the AMC channel, that's Mama seated behind Doris Day on the bus at the beginning of the movie. Mama claims Doris asked her a question in the original movie but it wound up on the cutting room floor. That's okay, I love seeing her just as she is.

Some of the other movies Mama had the pleasure of working on are Love Me Tender, also with Elvis, A Star Is Born with Judy Garland, Teacher's Pet with Clark Gable, How To Marry a Millionaire with Marilyn Monroe and my personal favorite, Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra. It's not at the top of my list because of the content of the movie but because it's the one which brought my parents together. So the story goes, my southern father happened to be out in Hollywood and happened to be visiting the set and happened to take notice of a certain blond beauty. Mama claims "he was such a southern gentleman that he made all the Hollywood guys seem like phonies." So whenever I see Frank Sinatra I can't help but think if it weren't for him just maybe I wouldn't be here with you all today.

Thank you for allowing me to tribute my mother. She didn't live long enough to learn of the sale of Whistlin' Dixie In A Nor'easter but she was a wonderful encouragement throughout all the many years it took to finish it! I miss you, Mama, more than you would have ever known.


Jillian Cantor said...

Lisa, what an awesome post! I love the picture of your mom and all the tidbits about her acting career, too. You should totally use that for a book some day!!

lisapatton said...

Thank you, Jill. She was a very special person and she would have loved this blog. Would have loved leaving comments, too!

Tracy Madison said...

Wow, Lisa...what an incredible post, and what an amazing life your mother had! I love the story about how your parents met, and that picture is awesome!

I'm so sorry about your loss. Huge hugs.

lisapatton said...

Thank you for your sweet comments, Tracy. It's good to reflect on nice memories.

Maureen Lipinski said...

"Perfectly lovely"--what a great description! Definitely use it in a book!

Maureen Lipinski said...

"Perfectly lovely"--what a great description! Definitely use it in a book!

Carolyn McTighe said...

That was beautiful. I am a huge fan of classic movies and will make a point of looking out for your mother. I think it is amazing to know that our parents had interesting lives before we (children) came on the scene. Your post was heartfelt and very moving. Thank you.