Wednesday, March 8, 2017

So long old pal

There have been some really wonderful men in my life. Many I’ve known since birth, others I’ve only known for part of my life, and a select few I feel like I've known for a hundred years.
This post is about a man that I’ve never even met. This man by all accounts is a smart, talented and kind person. I dreamed of meeting this man someday, but today that dream died.
I found this man in 2002. I had seen his face before, but I never paid him any attention. On this night I was in a tremendous amount of paid from the car accident I was involved in the night before. I opted not to go to the hospital and save some money, so I was healing with the aid of over the counter medication. My bruised face was filled with glass, and my chest stung each time I took a breath. Sleep was off the agenda for the night, so I turned on the television.
I flipped through channel after channel, until I found a handsome man in horned-rimmed glasses having fun at Coney Island. It was a silent film, and it caught my attention. To say I was hooked would be a gross understatement. I watched through until the end. During the middle of the night, there was no intro to the films, it just went from movie to movie. As the sun started to rise on my marathon classic movie binge, I had developed a bit of a fascination with these old films. I decided to take a bit of a nap and maybe see if I was still interested a little later.
I woke up several hours later. I was in extreme pain and not feeling those movies anymore. They were cute, but maybe it was like a fever dream.
A 19-year-old 'party' girl wasn't going to (in all reality) stop inviting people over to drink and party every night because she discovered this magical channel that had fantastic movies that were so great she had to stay in and discover them all. That stuff didn't happen. Harold Lloyd didn't really happen.
The TV in my room was still on from the previous night, and a man appeared. 'Hi, I'm Robert Osborne. This older handsome man with the smooth, deep voice of an angel called me to class and started my education that day in spring of 2002. School was in session.
For 15 years we met nearly every night or at least until we went off the air for class.
That man who had a kind spirit and quiet demeanor had hooked me. As time went on I found myself searching for his face more often than not. I remember the warm sunny day he introduced me to my second favorite movie of all time, The Women. I was carrying a load of laundry in my new house that I shared with my soon-to-be husband. I heard him say that the film was entirely made up of women, including the animals. This grabbed my attention as I told myself that any movie without a man couldn’t be that great. The music swelled up, and Norma Shearer’s beautiful face flashed across the screen. It was one of the perfect movies I had ever seen. I can remember that day so vividly. I can remember the way my living room was arranged, and there was a grass scented candle burning in my house. It was that important of an event to me.
It became a trend of this man selling me on these classic films that I had never seen. He knew every detail and every behind the scene tidbit you would want to know.
Another day that is so vivid in my mind is the day I thought I was going to break. My baby boy was crying for no reason for hours on end, I was tired and collapsed to the floor to cry. Then this man appeared on the screen to inform me that today was a day of silent films. I listened and learned about the film they were about to show. I knew I wasn’t going to get to sit and watch it as my angry, red-faced baby demanded my full attention.
I placed Alex in his little seat on the floor and as the credits started, a miracle. He stopped crying and focused on the television. The musical score and quick movement grabbed his attention. From then on we found silent movies to be a lifesaver when Alex couldn’t be soothed by us. I felt that this man had somehow known that he was about to swoop in and save the day.
I relied on him for years to get me through the bad times. When I needed a constant in my life, he was there for me. If I needed someone to keep me company, I turned on the DVD of his interviews. When I needed someone to talk me into sitting down and watching a movie, he did that. When I was far away from home and feeling a bit homesick, he was there, calming me down and keeping my anxiety at bay.
The man that can do it all is Robert Osborne, the first host of Turner Classic Movies. I hear a lot of people tell me that they don’t like to read about movies or that I’m way too obsessed with TCM. Robert and TCM are old friends to me.
When the dates were announced for the 2016 TCM Film Festival, I turned to Brian and told him that I needed to go. It was now or never; I wanted to meet and thank Robert Osborne for keeping me company all those years. With my ticket purchased and my plans made, the announcement came that Osborne wouldn’t be attending the festival for the second consecutive year.
I had hoped he would attend this year, but Robert Osborne passed away at the age of 84, on Monday, March 6, 2017.
When I was in Hollywood last year, I took only a few photos of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but I made time to take a photo with one star, and that was Osborne’s. His star was located near the entrance of the Ricardo Montalban Theater. For the festival, TCM had roped it off knowing that it would be an attraction for all the festival attendees. I’m glad I at least took the time to take that photo, but I am sad I waited too long to meet him.
I wonder if he knew how he helped so many people in so many ways. Especially a dumb little 19-year-old girl who partied way too hard. Thanks for everything Robert, you'll be missed more than you know.


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