January 3, 2016

"It's a Wonderful Life" ... Ready to Live It?


Now that holiday season is officially over, we are gorged on drink, cookies, chocolates, and making pretend we are happy to go to just one more party. (I kept telling my husband, "This is the last one of the season. I swear." Little does he know what we already have on the calendar for next weekend.)

By January 1, we are also replenished with hope and joy after watching (for the crazillionth time) such classics as "White Christmas" (with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen), "A Christmas Carol" (with Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge), "Miracle on 34th Street" (with Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood, et. al) ... and my all-time favorite, "It's a Wonderful Life" (with Jimmy Stewart).

I had the great opportunity to work with Mr. Stewart as his press agent when he appeared in "Night of 100 Stars" at Radio City Music Hall in the early-80s. The star-studded tribute to mark 100 years of the Actors' Fund of America was produced by Alexander Cohen and his wife Hildy Parks (former Pound Ridgers). I had to pinch myself as I watched one of the rehearsals. The hydraulic stage lifted and there was Jimmy Stewart with Betty Davis (who was about 75-years old and looked devilishly chic in leather pants, a fur vest and black beret), Gene Kelly and Myrna Loy. 

Along with "Night of 100 Stars"Mr. Stewart was in town for a 2-part interview we had booked on "Good Morning America." We decided to conduct it in Leona Helmsley's office at The Helmsley Palace on Madison Avenue. Okay ... Leona was a bee-yatch, but I loved that her office was right next to Harry's. They were like boy/girl offices: she had opulent pink moiré on the walls and he had rich mahogany panelling. There was something sort of adorable about it ... except when she opened her mouth. 

I had taken a stretch limousine to pick-up Mr. Stewart and his beautiful wife Gloria at JFK. He was a gentleman from the first minute we met. Mrs. Stewart was elegant, down-to-earth and just as thoughtful. One of the most impressive qualities about Mr. Stewart was walking with him on Fifth Avenue. Star gazers and autograph seekers were everyone. Mr. Stewart stopped for each and every one.  "We love you!" they would say. In Jimmy Stewart's inimitable cadence, he responded, "Why, thank you."

Here was an internationally renowned movie star acting as humble as a regular citizen. He had no airs (like several of the other celebrities from film, television and Broadway with whom I have worked. NO names!) Mr. Stewart epitomized his character George Bailey from "It's a Wonderful Life."

Are you ready to live your Wonderful Life? Start the New Year with clarity of objective. It's a new day and a new year. Live it to the max with humility, gratitude and grace. Use Jimmy Stewart as your beacon.

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