Sunday, January 15, 2006

My Telephonic Brush With Greatness

In my 2000 memoir, Early Plastic, I wrote:

"This is Shelley Winters, 225 Riverside Drive," the party on the other end of the line said to me. "Perhaps you recognize the voice. [Who wouldn't?] Do you know who this Emma Goldman person is? I'm auditioning to play her in a movie but I've never even heard of her." I would have sworn that left-leaning Winters had not only heard of Goldman, but somewhere in the heart of her Riverside Drive co-op had a shrine dedicated to the legendary feminist/communist/anarchist.

The call came in at NYC's Eighth Street Bookshop one evening in the early 1970s just before midnight closing time. Winters wanted to know if we had any books on Goldman. We did; practically an entire section. That night the store stayed open past its usual closing time, just long enough for a driver to arrive and pick up "one of everything" on Red Emma.

I can remember Winters on a panel show talking about getting kicked out of a weight watchers group because she said, "I always thought 'menopause' meant a pause between men."

And now at last Shelley (to invoke the ad line from one of my favorite Winters films) has gone "back, Back, BACK to the world of the Mambo." Wotta gal!

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