Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Friends of Zelda Google Map

I've begun a Friends of Zelda Google Map so we can try to keep Zelda's memory alive by connecting with one another and continuing the tradition of "Zeldaing".

Zelda: Final, Final

The video montage that was part of Saturday's ceremony at the Vista Theater.

We all miss you, Zelda!

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Zelda Stories - by Janet Carroll

“Zelda May” and I met on the set of both of our first TV pilot called “I Gave At The Office” in 1982, I think it was. It was the story of Brandon Tartikov’s early years working in Boulder, CO as a clerk at an advertising agency with the usual unusual characters involved in that wacky stressful business. I can see it and see her so vividly – Zelda played the sandwich cart person named “Scruffy” who came around each day to give out refreshments and sage advice. Type casting? Anyhoo, she wore bib jeans and a baseball cap on sideways and was so completely comfortable with herself and her role ~ I was fascinated with her candor and her ease ~ we could have been chatting at some posh luncheon spot rather than a sound stage at the network.

Zelda latched on and never let go. She called me regularly to assure me I was thought of and cared for by her and her army of unseen forces. I was studying for the ministry then in my “spare time” and we shared philosophies and superstitions, theories and Judeo-Christian ideologies. She assimilated my background info thoroughly and I knew that was always on file in our subsequent conversations. She never forgot anything I told her, it seemed. She treated my son as her own, of course.

One of my very favorite recollections is the time she came over to my apt in Santa Monica to chat about her audition for “The Gambler, part 5” or whatever sequel it was. We discussed her dialogue and then got around to “what to wear?” We went upstairs to my closet and poked around - I pulled out a skirt that I thought was sort of Westerny – she stepped into it and pulled it up under her armpits and with her little boots on, it just reached the floor. Aha! Then came the printed fringed scarf over the shoulders and then... the large red feather plume which she decided she could wear in her hair or just carry as an idiosyncratic prop of her flamboyant character as the bar-keep or madam or whatever it was. Oh my god, we laughed and carried on like little girls playing dress up – cuz we were ! She got the part and thanked me forever afterward. What could I say? We all need that kind of reassurance when going on an audition, right.

Now, while writing this just now my dictionary fell off my desk and smacked into the leg of same, knocking the leg askew and causing the desk to fall over at a weird angle. She’s gotta be here sharing the moment. God bless you, my sister/friend Zelda. Oh, and thank you for the gazillian laughs and the indelible memories ~ not the least of those of our trip to Paris, of course.

Zelda’s singing always touched my heart deeply, as well. Her “February Man” and those special songs written just for her were so precious and unique unto her alone. And she was the most faithful fan one could ever have. She came to every singing performance of mine in L.A. over all the years and was so appreciative of my music and for “making the scene”. She introduced me to wonderful jazz musicians I didn’t know, like the brilliant pianist Benny Green. We’d meet at Catalina’s and watch two sets in a row if we liked the musicians that night.

There’s an essence of Zelda that has infused itself into my being and I am better for the thoughtful nudging that I feel from her from time to time. I didn’t know she was gone in January and I would have to suppose that’s because she’s NOT now, nor ever will be completely away from any of us who shared her love and boundless energy. I am grateful for and enriched by the very extended family she introduced to me and I welcome the opportunity to keep her very present when you and I meet...wherever that might be.

“I’ll be seeing you, dear Zel”

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Irene Adams Remembers Zelda

Zelda and I met in 1959, were best friends right up until her last breath, travelled all over Europe together in 1961, went back to Europe in 1962, lived together in San Francisco when she came back from Italy.

She visited me wherever I lived: from Maracaibo to my current home in Belo Horizonte.  My children have loved their Aunt Zelda since they were born and my grandchildren loved their Boobie Zelda from the moment they were born.

I used to refer to her as my sister, she referred to me as "my best friend".  We were so much a part of each other's lives and the wound of losing that part of myself isn't yet distant enough for me to even know where to start to put pen to paper. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vista Theater Celebration of Zelda's Life

The memorial is at the Vista Theater on May 15th at 10:30am, and is open to the public.

David Rosenbaum Remembers Zelda

These memorials seem to start out with the year one met Zelda and the bizarre location of said meeting (ie a bank robbery or a bullfight). For me, it was 12 years ago on a plane to San Francisco. At thirty thousand feet that little foul mouth told me so many dirty jokes I hoped the oxygen mask would deploy so I could catch my breath from laughter. As we stood to disembark, she peeped, “Well, you now know I’m a naughty little thing and judging by your laugh I now know you’re a big gay thing. We’ll be friends for years.” And from that day forward we joked on the phone or in person at least once a week.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Barbara Totschek Remembers Aunt Zelda

I'm Zelda's niece Barbara, partnered with nephew Paul, her brother's son.

My words get jumbled when I try to express my love and appreciation for Aunt Zelda.

I always called her Aunt Zelda which she and I loved. I got the "I like this girl" when there were a bunch of us at lunch and I said "gendershmender" about something. After that we were bonded. She would call every week to find out how her great nephew, Hayden, who is almost three, was doing. Every week we'd give her an update, she'd check up to see if his cold was better, how his talking was coming along, to just send loving over the phone.

When she came to town or we'd make the trek back to LA, she would hold my hand, look in my eyes and tell me how she adored me and of course, Hayden. She always made me feel strong and powerful even if I didn't feel like that before she smiled at me. I still feel the love of Aunt Zelda around me. She is with us all.

Davis Mikaels Remembers Zelda

I met Zelda working as a waiter (oh yeah... and actor... lol) at one of Zelda's favorite Los Angeles eateries ORSO (the now defunct and closed ORSO). I'm a newbie to Zelda's life... I've only known her for about 3 1/2 years as a dear friend as opposed to most everyone else that's been touched by ZB's glorious soul for a much longer time... and I'm jealous about not meeting her a lot sooner. Zelda sat in my section one night... and it changed my life forever... I wound up neglecting all my other tables because Zelda and I couldn't stop chit chatting and laughing. I don't even remember what we talked about... because it didn't matter... we were like a gaggle of girls just catching up on things. I remember I was kneeling for so long speaking with her that when it was time for me to stand up... both my legs were asleep. I didn't care... I had been touched by Zelda... and I was hooked. We were friends... there was no doubt about it...we were instant friends. I attended her birthday that year at El Cid's on Sunset Blvd... she opened up a whole new side of LA for me that I was missing out on. She introduced me to so many amazing people that I still consider good friends... including my long time agent. The reason I loved Zelda so much is because of her amazing heart... her big, no her GIGANTIC HEART. She always cared about other people... and she really did care. Case in point... we all know Zelda had her own health issues... but that didn't matter... whenever we spoke she made sure to ask me about my sick mother... and not just asking to be polite... REALLY asking about her... and I'll never forget that. I miss her smile, I miss her laugh... and I miss her dirty jokes... I miss you Zelda... I'll never forget you... I aspire to have a heart half as big as yours... one day we'll get Dim Sum together again.

Dale Reynolds Remembers Zelda

I had known Zelda for about three years when she got the role in POLTERGEIST. Of course we were all thrilled for her good fortune and I awaited stories on the filming, personalities, etc. So to my surprise, one day, I get a panicked call from ZR so full of fear that I barely recognized her voice. "Dale," she said, "I'm going to shoot tomorrow and I can't memorize my speech; I'm going to fail." "Whoa," sayeth I, "let me come over right now and work on this with you." So I dropped everything, drove over and spent two hours working with her. The first hour was just undoing the damage Steven Spielberg had done to her by a lovely conversation he had after casting her. "I wanted a Little Person in this role because I think there are too many talented folk out there not being given a fair chance. And this role will make you the most famous Little Person in America and will make you a star and give you a chance at an Academy Award," etc. The kind of bullshit that interferes with an actors' process. It's the work that counts, not the rewards. So we cleared up that bit of nonsense and then worked on her monologue, which she had down perfectly. She was just hung up on that Hollywood crap that drives careers, but interferes with the work. The next day she rang me in the afternoon to say she'd done her whole speech in one take and that they asked her if she could do another "for coverage." When I finally saw POLTERGEIST, a film I love for reasons far removed from our darling Zelda, I cried when that scene came up. Zelda was a talent and a gem and I was so proud of our work together.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jay Fruchtman Remembers Zelda

The black and white shots are from the LA opening of Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding back in October - November of 1989 ... the first day I met Zelda! I was in full make-up as an old man and as you can see, Zelda was so very dear and kind to my character...and of course, we had an immediate connection!! We spoke Italian together, had a little dance and spent a large portion of the event with each other.

Then we had a chance to actually "meet" at the opening night party and our wonderful friendship began! It was great to see her reaction when I came to say hello to her out of make-up and all dressed up! Needless to say, and no surprise to you--I'm sure!, Zelda was thrilled to find a fairly nice-looking youngish guy under all that make-up!! (That's me on the right..) What a wonderful flirt she always was and what a ball we had together from that day forward!!

During my time in LA--just under a year--we saw each other quite a bit. That year the Tony 'n' Tina company was asked to host the LA Weekly awards and what a night it was!! Because of our friendship, we were asked if we might consider doing a skit together and we did!! We did "our" version of a scene from A STAR IS BORN. Zelda was accepting a fake "special" award and I came out from the audience drunk a la Judy Garland and James Mason...

Until people caught on to what we were doing, it was kind of shocking to many and then of course, a riot to all!! Because of Zelda's size--the moment when I accidentally am supposed to slap her in the face--I actually swung and went right over her head!! The audience went wild with laughter!! What a great lady and sport she was!!!

We were friends for the next 20 years--how lucky for me!!!! I loved her.

I was lucky enough to be in LA for her 70th birthday celebration and her 75th....and we saw each other whenever she was in NY. Even when I spoke to her last while she was in hospital--she still managed to make me laugh...and we had a great giggle together...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hal Rubinstein Remembers Aunt Zelda

The last time I saw my Aunt Zelda was at my sister’s funeral in Tennessee in September. The image of her in a wheelchair, David by her side, tossing a handful of dirt into Ellen’s grave is still with me. And it speaks to who Zelda was.

Zelda was the youngest of three siblings. The health issues she faced throughout her life would not have led one to conclude that she would be the last of the three to go. But she did come from tough stock. Her family were great storytellers. I remember my father telling tales at the dinner table. Of the family back in the shtetls of Poland. Of their parents’ different but difficult journeys to this country and to an industrial steel town. Of their life as a family in the east end of Pittsburgh . Though the specifics have faded, the sense of it, the richness of the storytelling remains with me. It doesn’t surprise me that Zelda had the strength to seek out her future by leaving her hometown of Pittsburgh. To do that at a time when
people of shorter stature faced more difficulties than today. To travel extensively before settling in LA. And that storytelling became part of her journey.

It is evident that Zelda was keenly aware of a central truth in life. That truth is the longing within all of us for connection and love. And she obviously felt that to such an extent that she reached far beyond family and the smaller circle of friends many of us have. She collected a universe of people she cared for. I was fortunate to make two of her birthday parties that spoke richly of the results of this life of reaching out. People came from great distances to celebrate with her.

I will remember Zelda. Her continued invitations to come out, visit, even stay in California. Her calls on birthdays and in between just to see how things were. Her coming to the weddings of two of my sister’s children.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Danny Feld Remembers Zelda

I met Zelda in Brentwood in the summer many, many years ago. My father, an actor, Fritz Feld and my mother an actress, Virginia Christine, both for 10 years created an annual outdoor variety show with music, singers, actors and entertainers in Crestwood Hills. It was there that I met Zelda one night being her gregarious self.

We immediately befriended each other and for many years prior to David enjoyed occasional dinners out on the town, mostly in Silverlake. We had just plain fun, chatting and enjoying life. Zelda was all about enjoying life, an example to all of us. Thanks Zelda.

As life is so complex living in LA and traffic divides even the best of souls, weidn't get to see each other as much as I would have liked in the last years, but we always stayed in touch and shared birthday wishes over the phone. And, of course there were Zelda's delightful birthday parties where we always had fun.

In life, we are all touched by wonderful human beings. They leave their mark on us, in our hearts they leave a piece of themselves. They mold us and rub off on us, and we copy them when we like them. And as things go, Zelda was one of those special people who left her imprint in our hearts and soul. Oh, how lucky we were to have known Zelda, simply one of a kind.

Thanks Zelda, you will be sorely missed.

Old Sins Cast Long Shadows

In a previous post, Mark Perry wrote about a role that he'd written for Zelda in The Ghost Whisperer. The air date for this episode, which was filmed after Zelda's last heart attack and was played by another actress as a result, is Friday, March 12, at 8PM on CBS.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bonnie Paull Remembers her Sister, Zelda


Zelda and I were sisters-in-law for 26 years but sisters of the heart for 50. Even after her brother and I divorced, Zelda and I remained fast friends. Our birthdays were in the same year but she had a 3 month’s jump on me. She loved to call around her birthday and give me a weather report on the year ahead for both of us.

We were 19 when we first met at her home in Pittsburgh, PA and she was the maid of honor at my wedding in 1953 in Minneapolis, MN. Once her brother and I were re-located in San Francisco where he was doing his medical internship, Zelda came to visit, and, although she returned home for a while, she definitely left her heart in the City by the Bay.

It wasn’t long before she re-located, found a charming little apartment in North Beach, became a gourmet cook and began cultivating her rich garden of friendships which continued to flourish for all her years. As far as I know, she never left anyone behind. I was amazed at one of her birthday soirees in LA where there were people there from all over the world and from all the decades of her adult life, still adoring and adored, still in communication with her.

During her years in the Bay Area, she worked as a med tech while her love of the theatre began to grow. I remember seeing her in one of her first productions directed by her dear friend Ray Tatar and performed at Merritt College where I was teaching. I may have history a bit garbled, but I recall that someone suggested she do voice overs because of her special vocal sound; she did this and before we knew it, she was in LA, launched in a new career in “the industry.”

I told Zelda many times how much I admired her—her courage, her guts, her total unwillingness to regard her size as a handicap. Her Mother Dincha, whom she adored, had a lot to do with this. As Zelda was growing up, Dincha always infused in her the attitude that she needn’t take a bad seat to anyone and that she could do in life whatever she set her mind to do. And so it was. Look at her career. Look at her relationship with dear David as examples of this winning attitude.

And I admired with awe Zelda’s great, great gift of friendship. Once her friend, always her friend. She forgot no one; Her cast of characters traveled with her around the world, and a very large cast it was, indeed.

Zelda was a great storyteller, very funny, very entertaining. One memorable tale was of two Jewish ladies who went on a Safari in Africa; While Sophie’s back was turned, a gorilla abducted her friend Sadie and carried her off into the Bush. When the friends were reunited weeks later in the hospital, Sophie looked at Sadie with horror. She was bandaged from head to foot. She tried to commiserate with her but all Sadie could mutter from under her swathed face was, “He doesn’t call; he doesn’t write.”

Although Zelda won’t be writing, which she rarely did anyway, or calling any more, which she did often, I know she is with us and her friendship and love are forever.

With abiding love to Zelda, her family members and her many friends.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Judith Lazarus Remembers Zelda

Zelda and I met in 1993 when I was assigned to do an interview with her for the LA Times TV Guide when she was doing "Picket Fences." Little did I know I would find a soul sister. Now I realize I was not the only one that thought of her as family. Zelda was instantly a friend, sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, to all who were lucky enough to fall into her circle.

I should have known: Whenever we were out together, people would approach her with such warmth and love, and she gave it right back. At our lunches--Paul's Cafe, Orso, ChaChaCha or Jerry's Deli--someone always came up to the table to talk to her. Unlike some other "celebrity lunches," the vibes were amazing, from the fans or friends, and to them from Zelda. I remember her at a dress fitting for an awards show that turned into a comedy routine, drawing everyone at the tailor shop around for an impromptu show...working the room at her birthday parties, where there were too many Zelda lovers to even say more than hi...perched on a stool for one of her cabaret nights...calling with details of her travel adventures for work, play or family events--she was enthusiastic about it all. There was always an aura of love and appreciation around her. And there was nothing like one of her hugs.

From our first meeting, Zelda was in my thoughts as a frequent inspiration. She was such a special person, and her existence was a comforting antidote to the ills of the world, and to my own tribulations. Even when circumstances eliminated our lunch outings, there were always the phone visits. Yes, we kvetched and cried sometimes, but always with an appreciation of the good things in our lives. I still think of her first when I hear a new joke, find myself reaching for the phone to hear her laugh.... Hard to believe she was so angelic and earthy at the same time. I think of her as a realistic optimist.

In that article, I quoted Zelda: "I don't think my past is as interesting as where I'm going. We all have something special, and those who have the courage to put it out there are troubadours in a way. We have to model ourselves positively, then see how we can work together to make it happen." Zelda certainly had the courage, recognized what was special in each of us, and shared what she knew to help make the world a better place. I hope wherever in the Universe she has gone now, she is rewarded for the love she shared on this planet. I miss her.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Elvira Cano Remembers Zelda

I met Zelda in Cannes film festival 5 years ago. I was at the Hilton reception waiting for a job meeting. I was sitting in the reception area and then a lovely sweet woman asked me where was I from. We started talking, she invited me to join her and David for lunch and we become friends! What impressed me from the very beginning in Zelda was the fact that she saw no limitations in life. The limit is the sky!!!!! And she enjoyed life to the fullest.

It was very funny to talk about boyfriends with her. She was always there for me,specially when I decided to move to the USA. She was always there for me. And it made me feel very well knowing that I had her as my friend.

She was a sweet sweet friend!!!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mark Perry Remembers Zelda

As I read the obits and tributes that began to appear in the wake of our Zelda’s passing, I was struck by all the adjectives used to describe her: diminutive… petite… tiny… small… little… and one website even used the word “wee.” Those of us who knew her can chuckle at those words, because we know that whatever the divine Ms. Z. lacked in physical stature, she more than made up for with heart.

For a little person, Zelda was larger than life.

How truly blessed were we that she took a shine to us? For me, it began on the set of Picket Fences back in ’92. It was my second TV show as a writer, and not a very satisfying gig creatively given that the series creator wrote all the episodes. Sadly, I don’t recall the circumstances of my very first encounter with Zelda, a lapse of memory I can only chalk up to the mutual feeling that she and I had always been friends. Thankfully, for whatever reason, she took me under her sizable wing. The only line of dialog I ever wrote for her that actually made it to film was in a story about Human Growth Hormone. Zelda’s character staged a protest, chanting over and over: “Hell no! We won’t grow!” Honestly, I consider that a milestone of my career.

It wasn’t long before we were meeting for dinner at her beloved Orso, or she was coming to the parties my former wife and I would throw. I remember vividly the night she stood in our kitchen when I came out to her. She had a very emotional reaction, immediately concerned about my well being and my wife’s, and when we assured her that we were getting through the transition, and had waited to tell our friends until we were ready, she smiled sincerely and offered her love and support to both of us. I had no idea at the time what a unique and fierce advocate she had been for the gay community – a group I had just publicly joined. Perhaps the greatest honor of all was having her at our wedding in 2008, when my partner Mark and I officially became, in Zelda’s words, “the Marks Brothers.”

I survived one season on Picket Fences, and left after that, often saying that the only good thing to come out of the experience was our friendship. I was deeply honored when she said the same.

The hardest thing about her passing is that Zelda was such a constant in my life, as I know she was in all of her friends’, which makes her absence all the more achingly palpable. The phone calls were frequent, as were the dinners. Oh, and those spectacular birthday parties she’d throw for herself. I was further blessed on those occasions when she’d attend my own birthday party and grace us with a bawdy, ribald song. No one could sell it like Ms. Z.

It was always a delight to hear that incomparable voice on my answering machine when she’d leave a message for us, “Hi Mark, hi Mark, I feel like I’m the ditto girl. I just wanted to say hi and find out how you guys are doing and what’s new in your lives that’s exciting to report. All right my darlings, be of good cheer…”

How lucky have we all been to receive those messages from a woman who apparently counted friends above all else?

I still have Zelda’s last few messages on my answering machine. There are maybe a dozen or so, and I just can’t bring myself to delete them. True confession: I’ve saved more than that. And now I’m glad I’ll be able to indulge myself on my birthday by hearing Zelda sing “Today today today today today today’s your birthday…”

I think she would have wanted it that way.

I miss her terribly. Her naughty and wicked sense of humor. Those filthy jokes. The words of love. The nick names. The long chats. Those hugs that were genuinely filled with love and seemed to last for hours.

For me, one of the saddest things about her passing is that after years of talking about it, I had finally written a part for her that was tailor made for Zelda Rubinstein. I’m currently working on Ghost Whisperer, and pitched an idea to have Zelda guest star as the evil ghost of a medium from the 1920s. A fierce and formidable presence in a vintage wooden wheelchair. The role was written to make it as physically easy as possible for Zelda, despite her health concerns, to deliver a real tour de force. I even had the character at one point saying “Don’t go into the light!” When I ran that by Zelda on the phone, during one of our very last conversations, I expressed my worry that I might be exploiting her fame from Poltergeist. Zelda actually laughed and said, “Oh, I’ll say it honey,” and then, in a chillingly dramatic delivery, she acted out the line for me on the phone in that inimitable voice:

“Don’t go into the light.”

While I was finishing the script just prior to pre-production before the holidays, Zelda left another message: “Mark, I’ve had a heart attack…” When we visited her at Hollywood Presbyterian, we talked about her getting out in time for the shoot that started the first Monday in January. I honestly thought she’d bounce back in time to do the role. I honestly believed that if anyone could recover from a similar ordeal, it would be our Zelda. There was just no imagining life without her.

But she finally let go. God knows she tried not to, hanging in there for as long as she possibly good. I remember telling Mark while she was drifting in and out that whoever or whatever was the keeper of Death’s Door, they were getting an earful from Zelda as she tried to talk her way out of crossing over. She was so unbelievably fortunate to have David at her side, looking out for her, and we are now incredibly blessed that he has become such a good friend to all of us. But then, Zelda had a knack for collecting the most amazing people.

Finally, we had to cast the Ghost Whisperer role with someone else. To her credit, the actress we cast was wonderful, and I never once told her that the role had been written for the iconic Zelda Rubinstein. But please tune in to Ghost Whisperer for our 101st episode later this year. It’s called Old Sins Cast Long Shadows and the role of Madame Greta was supposed to be Zelda. It’s eerie to watch it now and realize how brilliant she would have been, but if you do, just picture Zelda in the role. She would have been astonishing.

Goodnight Zelda. Mark and I love you. We thank you for the priceless gift of your friendship.

Be of good cheer…

Monday, February 8, 2010

Peter Landrock Remembers Zelda

In 1982 myself and some friends went to see the new movie POLTERGEIST playing at the Zeigfeld Theater on W. 54th St in Manhattan We loved the movie, but were blown away by the woman who played the medium Tangina. Everyone in our group agreed that whoever the newcomer Zelda Rubenstein was, she had just asserted herself as an icon in cinematic history.

I could never have anticipated that one day this unique and talented woman would bestow on me the mitzvah -one of her favorite yiddish-isms - of her friendship.

Six years after that movie, I would move to Los Angeles, and become part of the original staff of ORSO Restaurant. ORSO grew into quite a show business hangout and Zelda became one of our most beloved regulars. (Notably, ORSO - which rarely closed it's doors for private parties - agreed to play host for Zelda's celebratory party when she adopted her daughter and family in the early 1990's).

As was Zelda's way, she very quickly flirted, joked and warmed her way into my life and my heart. Hearing her voice on my answering machine always made me smile: "Hi honey! How the hell are ya? Give me a call when you have the time - let's have a meal together!!!"

I have many great memories of our lunches at CHA CHA CHA in Silverlake - usually on a Thursday or Friday - it was a great way to end the week and start the weekend. We used to call it 'our place' - but there's not a doubt in my mind those fried plantains and bowls of guacamole must've been shared with innumerable dates on other days of the week too.

Zelda loved to get together for one on one's with her nearest and dearest - but she also loved to gather all those friends for her fabulous birthday parties which were held - literally - from one end of Los Angles to the other . . Without a hint of irony she would say "Honey, this year I'm going to have to have a smaller party - I'm keeping the guest list down to 50 . . . or 100"

Another example of Zelda's humor came in the fall of 2002. She left a message on my voice mail:
"Hi honey, it's Zelda Mae . . . I've got a favor to ask of you . . they are honoring POLTERGEIST at the Vista Movie Theater in Silverlake on Friday . . and they want the remaining and attending cast to put their hand-prints and signatures in cement in front of the theater. I'm wondering if you could come and give me some support. And I mean that literally!
I'm a little top heavy these days and I'm worried that if I don't have someone holding on to me when I bend over to put my hand-prints in the cement, The Vista will end up with my tit-prints as well! Let me know!!!

Zelda never lost that ribald sense of humor . . . Even as the years went by, she became a more frequent visitor to Cedars Sinai . . .but whenever she was up to it, she took great fun in sharing her 'blue material' with visitors, nurses and doctors alike. And I never saw anyone take offense - you couldn't help but like - and love - Zelda.

But any memory I have of Zelda would be far from complete with mentioning the love of her life and her life's partner, David. I don't think I ever, ever spent time with her that she did not tell me what a special man he was and how deeply she loved him - as she would often tell me: "I love him on a cellular level". And David's devotion was the perfect match. His love, understanding and care of her through the years was something wonderful to witness. True love.

I truly feel blessed to have known them both.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Stephen Mendel Remembers Zelda

My Friend Zelda

I met Zelda Rubenstein in 1982. I had arrived in Los Angeles in the fall of 1981 from Montreal. Like so many others I had come to the mecca of LA seeking fame and fortune. I was standing in a line at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on the last day to submit photos for the next edition of The Players Directory. I was not alone; many others had waited until the very last moment to do the same. One of those was Zelda. I knew she was an actress, what would she be doing there otherwise, but I hadn’t seen Poltergeist. She looked me up and down (I’m exactly two feet taller) said something to me about being a tall drink of water and we began a conversation that continued until she lapsed into a coma in late 2009.

2009 was not a very good year for Zelda; she was in and out of the hospital the whole year with one health issue or another. Over the years, but most especially in ’09, I’d often taken her to her various doctors when her dear friend and companion David was working.

From 1984 through 1989 I lived in Toronto while working on a TV series. Zelda came to visit me there and also in Montreal when I shot a movie there as well. We were neither of us wealthy and I remember vividly driving from Montreal to Burlington, Vermont to pick her up from the much lamented People’s Express ($99.00 one way across the US!) You should have seen the looks on the immigration and customs man’s face when she pulled out her passport and answered the questions about what she did for a living!

I had a small SUV for many years and it was always a bit of a chore for Zelda to get in. So one day I went into an auto parts store and found a step that could be attached to the passenger side of the vehicle and we called it the Zelda step from then on.

She had a temper of course, one day we were walking about the site of the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal and some hillbilly came up to her and said something to the effect of “ain’t you that little girl from the movies?” I won’t repeat what she said but suffice to say he retreated tail between legs.

She always called on birthdays of course and never missed any plays I was in or musical gigs I performed at over the years and I did the same and saw everything she was in.

Sometimes we’d go for weeks without a conversation and then one of us would pick up the phone (usually her) and we’d catch up.

I saw her many times over these last few years, I’d go and pick her up at home and we’d go out for lunch or dinner and she would never, ever let me pay. I visited her at home and when she was hospitalized or needed to be transported somewhere.

I loved her and always will. She will be forever in my heart.

Valerie Orrock Remembers Zelda

When I met Zelda, it was because she had agreed to come to Seattle to work with kids interested in drama or storytelling at a summer arts camp that I coordinated. We hit it off right away. Before she arrived I was explaining the program and the kids it served. She agreed to be an honored master artist at two sessions. At some point in a phone conversation she asked about the student ages. When I explained the students in the second two weeks were middle school age, she got very quiet. "Oh", she said hesitantly. She explained that she had had a bad experience with children that age and found them in which they were cruel. She was not sure about working with them again. Before I could suggest an solution or alternative, she reversed her reaction and declared that she would do it. She explained that this was an excellent opportunity for her to face her fears. She said that what could they do now, she's older and they are lucky to be at the camp. "Besides, its a camp of artists. We're all artists."

I love this story because it shows Zelda's humanity. Her great capacity to care for others and her willingness at any age to learn and grow. These qualities endeared her to me and ten years later we were still phone buddies always checking in, me with my Jewish Grandmother and she with her Portuguese Granddaughter as she used to say. I will miss those phone calls, I already do. But I feel blessed that my life was touched by her and that I was able to witness her touch the lives of those kids who in the end, thought she was very cool.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Joe Bauer Remembers Zelda

I met Zelda at the home of Graham and Alex maybe fifteen years ago. I think I didn't realize her size immediately as her presence was so large. Andre the Giant couldn't have filled the room more. As I recall, she eyed me up and down, decided I had something to offer (she was a proud flirt) and extended her hand, saying "hi, honey! Nice to meet you! Graham has told me so much about you!" Had he? Who knows, but that set me at ease and off we went into conversation about who knows what. I didn't think of the movie career that had so influenced my younger life-- I didn't have a chance. You needed full attention to keep up with Zelda's nimble, darting, inquiring mind. She was the definition of "cutting to the chase". She was a tremendous story weaver (better than "teller"), and worked the pregnant pauses and big payoffs. Her dramatic abilities were indistinguishable from her living, each informing the other at every moment. Some party, I'd passed out on Graham's sofa (not like me, really!) and woke to the strange sensation of small hands messaging my face. My eyes opened and focused on Zelda, hovering ethereally above like a welcoming angel, my head in her lap. She said "lay still honey, this is good for you"-- something in that vein. I'm sure it included "honey", though she also called me "good lookin'" and simply "Joe Bauer" (never simply "Joe"). After her most recent heart attack I visited her at Cedars, expecting to find her flat on her back, monitors and tubes, etc. Instead she was down the hall, entertaining her doctor and some aids in a small dining room, alert as ever. Some would have been deflated by the circumstance but Zelda weighed it, accepted it and moved on. I think that's what I'll always remember about Zelda; she never stopped moving forward.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Scott Hewitt Remembers Zelda

Another wonderful chapter. Zelda reached for my hand and touched my heart about 10 years ago. Zelda and David showed up at the restaurant I was managing and from that moment she took me in as part of her family. Zelda always made me feel as just as important as everyone else in the room. It was amazing she always called me on my birthday which was just a few days before hers. I went to her birthday parties, and it was incredible how she would go around the room and tell us how she met each person.

When Zelda first invited me to one of her birthday parties at Michelangelo’s, I got to meet many of you and was introduced to a group of amazing people she surrounded herself with. I remember sitting there and everyone was so warm and friendly. I continued to see many of the same incredible people each birthday after that. I was even able to host one of her birthday parties at my restaurant in Malibu called Gladstone’s. When I went to open another restaurant much further away in long beach, Gladstone’s also, Zelda and David even made the long trip down on several occasions. Who cannot forget the many times we went to Gingergrass. Zelda commented to me how nice it was that whenever I would leave her, I would tell her if she needed anything to please call. I was able to spend sometime with Zelda on Sunday, I wanted so much for her to tell me what I could do for her then.

They say a person can sometimes be judged by the company she keeps and with all the wonderful people she introduced me to, she was one incredible person.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chris Waddling Remembers Zelda

David, you have been a godsend to Zelda throughout these past 14 years. You have always had Zelda's best interests at heart, not to mention in thought, word, and deed. It was a combination of your relentless dedication and her own will to squeeze every last ounce out of the life she'd been given that kept her going.

Often, when a friend whose life was so full and well-lived passes away, like all of you, I feel a deep sense of sadness at the loss. But alongside that sadness, I feel a sense of joy when thinking of the life lived and the legacy that that person leaves behind them. Zelda will live on through us all, and we must take her life's message of friendship, love, activism, hard work, laughter, and never-say-quit to heart. We must live our lives to their fullest, and on our own terms. Be true to ourselves. Open our hearts to the people around us. Remember birthdays. Call someone we haven't talked to in a while and tell them we love them. Zelda has profoundly influenced all our lives, and for many, radically course-corrected them.

I met Zelda nearly 16 years ago to the day, sitting in Kahala Mall (Hawaii) just days after the Northridge earthquake. She was battered and bruised by the quake, arm in a sling, and certainly not looking like someone who wanted to chit chat. Yet as I, the geeky science student from small-town Canada sat down next to her, she did chat me up, eventually inviting me to dinner at Keo's with her friends. That chance meeting was not uncommon for Zelda, as I know she met many of her dearest friends in similarly unglamorous ways.

The last time I saw Zelda, I had the honor of escorting her to the Tater's 50th anniversary party in San Jose. She was physically uncomfortable, but didn't complain, insisting on flying up for the party. We had a great evening, enjoying the event, the food, the company, and the fun music, and staying much later than either of us thought we would.

My last chance to visit with Zelda was Oct 18, but no sooner had we confirmed Dim Sum than she called back to cancel, saying that Mayor Villarigosa's office had just called and asked her to attend the start of the 25th annual AIDS walk. She was heartbroken, but I told her that only a request from the Mayor could keep me from seeing her that day, and we promised to visit with each other "next time." Somehow I feel like Zelda will find a way, even in death, to make next time happen. We all have experienced that spiritual connection to Zelda, and I just have this strange feeling that, on my birthday, I'm going to get a phone call and hear a far off, yet happy voice on the other end of the line chirping, "Hi, Honey!"

With all the love that Zelda has imbued us with, may we all go forward, better people for having known her.

Davis Mikaels Remembers Zelda

I've known Zelda for about 3 years... and I can honestly say that even though I've known her for a short time compared to everyone else... she's changed my life forever in so many positive ways...

I have many of the same stories to share that I've read via email today. She ALWAYS asked and truly cared about how my sick mother was doing... asked about me... and truly listened... you just knew she really cared about you. I STRIVE to have a heart like her... but I don't think I could ever compete... not in a million years... when she said something she meant it... she put her money where her mouth is... she spoke w/ conviction... be it a topic that was serious, dirty or even funny... usually VERY funny. She was supportive, caring and loving and DID bring groups of people together... she introduced me to new friends and she introduced me to her agent... and now he's mine too... I have wonderful memories that I'll always remember... going out for Indian food... trying to see her at dim sum and celebrating her birthday. She had a youthful spirit and acted a lot younger than her body showed... I truly miss her... and thank you DAVID for including me on all he updates... you two had an amazing relationship... and I hope I'm lucky enough to find someone as special as the one you had w/ ZELDA... I miss you Zelda...

Nann Lutz Remembers Zelda

I was honored to be legally adopted by Zelda 17 years ago next month. I got to be called “my baby girl”, a term I’ll really miss. Zelda collects people and I was, like you all, collected. We have much in common; the birthday calls, her birthday parties, dim sum, regular phone check-ups, her one-person shows, and occasional visits.

I only got to LA twice during this hospital stay. I was so glad I was able to tell her how much I love her and appreciate her goodness when she knew I was there. Those of you who were not able to visit her would appreciate how her face would light up when David came into the room. I’d watch her sleep for six hours and David would walk in and she opened her eyes and smiled. Her hearing wasn’t working very well during that first visit, but she and David were able to communicate anyway. She was less conscious during that second trip and I ached to see her like that. But, David managed her care, memorized her doses, instructed the nurses, and demanded the best care all along the way.

Love and hugs to you, David. Zelda was a collector of people but you put a new picture in my heart about what it means to be a good friend.

Erika Lenkert Remembers Zelda

I met Zelda (and David, bless your heart) 14 years ago as a fresh transplant from LA. It was during a dinner at Sushi on Sunset, which I attended after being invited by a fascinating group of Swedish film industry people I'd met on the town a day or two before. Looking back, it was no surprise we met this way. Zelda has always been an avid collector of exceptional people. Over California rolls and banter I immediately found myself drawn to her. Her smarts, her humor, and her adventurous, frank, and joyous nature were beyond captivating, as you all know. I've loved and admired her ever since.

As I've been thinking about her over these past days and especially this morning, I continue to marvel at what an amazing woman she was and is. Have you ever met a better friend? I don't know anyone who called on each and every birthday--and even called my mother on hers--remembered the name of my daughter and husband, and inquired about them every time we spoke even though much of our face-time together happened before they entered my life, and made a valiant effort to keep in touch even 10 years after I left LA.

I remember Zelda telling me she wanted to write a book on friendship. In my mind, she did exactly that, through example. Her ability to share so much of herself with the people lucky enough to fly in her orbit, and her strength and determination to live joyously and lovingly are indelibly inked into my mindr. Not to mention her spectacular humor, generosity, and love of food and celebration (those birthday parties!)--what a woman! There will never be anyone like Zelda. She was truly one of a kind.

I am so grateful to have known her. She will always be alive in my heart.

Thank you, David, for being there. Huge hugs to you. You are a true prince.

Carol Neuhaus Remembers Zelda

Zelda was my cousin. She and my dad were first cousins. I have known her since I was a little girl and asked my mom why that little girl (Zelda) was allowed to wear heels and lipstick. Zelda would come to our house and play piano for me and sing the song with the lyrics, "There once was a lady who swallowed a fly. I don't know why she swallowed a fly, etc." and I have remembered that song all my life. I sort of lost track of Zelda until People Mag had a story about her and that she was going to be in Poltergeist. I sent Zelda a letter and she wrote back and we have kept in contact since then. When I lived in LA we lunched and she visited my home. Here in Tucson she visited once when she came to visit Wendy and my husband and I traveled to LA to see her twice. We talked every few months and she always let me know when she was going to be appearing in a TV show so I could watch.

You couldn't help but love Zelda. She made the very best of what life brought her. Her spirit and her giggle (I can hear it now as I write this) will remain with me always. I will truly miss Zelda. My life was all the better for having had her in it. It was so hard to watch her declining and I'm glad she is at peace now.

Thank you to all of you wonderful people who were part of Zelda's life.

Stephen Mendel Remembers Zelda

Zelda was my friend for almost 30 years. I will miss her terribly. Even so, the last few years were very, very difficult for her, she had lost much of the personal mobility she treasured and, as we all know, was in and out of the hospital it seemed sometimes, on a weekly basis. Although I will miss her I am glad that she is finally at peace, the discomfort, the pain, the suffering has ended. She was always dignified and she now has that back again. I will always love you Zelda my dear, dear friend.