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.