In LA I became friends with Michael Riva, the truly gifted and very kind, film art director – through my friends, Ken Friedman and Corrine Mann; they were all friends with my then boyfriend and I was new to the group.
So one evening, sitting in Ken and Corinne’s living room after a dinner, we were telling grandmother stories. I told the story of how – during the height of the depression – my grandmother found out that her husband, my grandfather – a fire captain – was cheating on her – they had two small children, my mom and uncle. A friend had seen another woman, the maid of another family in town, driving my grandparent’s car, you know like a model A Ford. My grandmother was so angry she got my grandfather’s handgun called her sister Pidgie and had her drive her to the house where the maid worked. The family car was parked in front of the house. My grandmother got out with the gun and yelled out to my Grandfather in the house that she was going to teach him a lesson and to get out of that damn house because he was a lying bastard. My Grandfather came running out of the house yelling at her to put down the gun and stop being a child, the mistress screaming at my grandmother that she was crazy. My grandmother aimed the gun, everyone was screaming and she shot out all 4 tires of the family car, hopped into Aunt Pidgie’s car and took off.
Everyone laughed and then Michael said he had a really good grandmother story as well. He said when he was about nine years old, the late 50’s, he was walking with his grandmother down second avenue in NYC heading south around 42nd street in the Turtle Bay neighborhood. She was holding hand and they were talking when suddenly she noticed someone across the street, gasped, let go of his hand and raced across Second Avenue dodging cars and taxis and buses, making it to the other side – throwing her arms around a woman in a knee length coat with a cap on her head. They were laughing and hugging. Michael continued, “My grandmother looked up smiling and waving for me to come over. So I crossed when safe and ran to join my Grandmother. As I reached them the woman in the coat looked up and my grandmother said to me, “Michael look who it is! It was Great Garbo!”
I was stunned and blurted, “Greta Garbo! Wow! How the heck did your Grandmother know Greta Garbo!” He laughed and smiled to me, ‘Oh, gosh, well my grandmother is Marlene Dietrich!”
I loved this moment so much, and Michael was such a lovely person to me in those days when we were in LA so when we were designing a logo for Cinema Sounds & Secrets, it came to me that we had to do a profile of Marlene as she and Michael represent a lot of what the podcast does – connecting generations and great stories and the love the film and celebrates friendships at the same time.
That is our Marlene Story. It’s a good one.
Janet & John…and of course, Pendleton!