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.