Changing The World One Pansy At A Time!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

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Alice lived in the valley, on Sunshine Terrace, which is exactly where she belonged. Because that’s what she was… sunshine! Alice Ghostley, the Tony Award winning actress who died on Friday, was best known to TV Fans as Esmeralda on BEWITCHED & later as Bernice on DESIGNING WOMEN. She was one of my first friends when I moved to Los Angeles, I’m lucky enough to say. She & her handsome, charming husband, the late actor, FELICE ORLANDI were just the kind of people that you wanted to be around. They were fun & funny, kind & terribly in love with each other. In the news stories regarding her death, the legendary actress, KAYE BALLARD, who along with Alice played the ugly stepsisters in a TV production of CINDERELLA starring JULIE ANDREWS, said that “Alice never said a cruel thing about anyone!” And that was true & so rare in someone so funny. The joke was always at her expense or maybe “our” expense but never mean! And she was so mischievously funny. She & the late CHARLES NELSON REILLY used to write commercial jingles together which they would perform years later at dinner parties & still be letter perfect! Her character was always named “Sheila” for reasons I never could figure out, except that Charles liked the drama of the name. When Michael Jeter won the EMMY AWARD for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (EVENING SHADE) Alice & Felice sat right behind us. She looked beautiful in a sparkly white evening gown. She was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy that year. Michael won, but Alice did not. But she honestly seemed as overjoyed with his win as she would have been with hers. That’s the kind of class act Alice was. Alice & Felice, & Charles & his partner Patrick Hughes & Michael & I, would go to dinner every few weeks on Sunday evenings at ADRIANO’S in Beverly Glen. I learned more about comedy, timing, humanity, love, life & sorrow at those dinners than at any acting school you could imagine. I laughed till my sides ached. And now my heart does.

After Michael & I split up, Alice & Felice would come & take me to dinner every few weeks. At MUSSO & FRANK or THE DEW DROP INN in the valley, or some great Hollywood haunt. They did their damdest to keep my spirits up & they did. They didn’t take sides, they didn’t play favorites. If they loved you, they loved you for keeps.

When Michael & I adopted our little boy, Sam, the English Springer Spaniel; we had a conversation. “What if something happens to us?” “What if our plane goes down?” “Who will take care of Sam & Pete & Jack?” (the cats) It took 2 seconds for us to answer: “Alice & Felice- they’ll take care of the boys!” Thus our little animal menagerie had two blessed God Parents, who took their duties very seriously & never missed a birthday!

Felice Orlandi died in 2003, the same year as Michael Jeter. Alice, riddled with cancer & struck by stroke, died in 2007. When I heard about her passing on Friday, I was saddened. But my sadness quickly turned to joy. I thought of how happy she would be to be reunited with her beloved Felice. And how much laughter their would be in Heaven when Felice took Alice over to where Charles & Michael were playing charades & a little black & white dog named Sam, sat at their feet. No, Alice doesn’t live here anymore. She’s an angel in Heaven… as she always was.


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