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”

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