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.