By Request: Celebrity True Story
1995. Or 96. I was still married then, and it was fall, but still felt like summer. The summer had been odd, to say the least. We spent a week or two of August with a blonde psuedo-actress/celebrity who shall remain nameless here, but who is easily identifiable by the stature of her breasts and her hips and by the fortunes of her now dead, but then elderly and frail, husband and whom we shall call "A" so as not to place me in the path of people searching google for naked pictures of this model/B-movie actress/celebrity. And no, I have none.
I was, through marriage, related to the person who directed A in several of her stellar theatrical endeavors. This person also "kept the company" of A, if you know what I mean, and when he came to visit his family this summer, he brought the starlet along with him.
There are several stories I could tell you about the week or so that the wannabe-diva was here, but I won't. Not now. But I will tell you about when she returned for a visit in the fall. You should keep in mind that during the August week she was here, her hosts and their family had gone from star struck to scornful in one fell swoop.
It was September, maybe two weeks after school started. My then husband's grandfather had gone missing and the next week his body turned up in a dumpster in the Bronx. It was, obviously, a difficult time for the family. We set about the business of planning a funeral and everything that entails. The relative in California, A's director, was called. He was told to come for the funeral of his father. But not to bring A with him. This wasn't the time nor the place for her histrionics.
The next day he arrives, with A in tow. She wouldn't miss this for the world, she says, as if it were a premiere of a movie. After all, he was like a father to her, too. Yes, right. Because she knew him all of one month. And spent about 20 hours total in person with him during that time. He was so like a father to her.
So the day of the wake comes. Italian wakes are dramatic and overwrought enough without half-witted celebrities in attendance. Especially half-witted celebrities who seem to have taken a little too much of their medication. She struts into the funeral home, dressed for the Oscars but apparently naked in the class department. She's carrying on about something and my ex's parents ask her to please wait in the sitting area while the wake is going on. They do not want her inside the room where the service is being held. She sullenly plops herself in a chair out in the hallway, pouting and petulant and waiting for the people strolling in to recognize her.
Later, I come out of the ladies room and I notice that A, still sitting and pouting in the chair, seems to be talking to herself in a soothing tone. And she's stroking her coat. I stare at her quizzically for a moment and then go back into the room where the wake is being held. I casually mention A's odd behavior to some family members and someone remarks that at least she's being a good sport by staying out there.
And with that comment, the doors to the room swing open and A walks in with a sweeping gesture and stands there, waiting to be noticed and admired. When no one stands up to applaud her entrance, she saunters her way towards the coffin, flipping her hair as she walks. She gets to the coffin, looks down at the man she barely knew yet whom was apparently a father figure to her, turns her head to make sure she has our rapt attention, and begins to wail. She's incoherent, crying, sobbing, and there is not a person in the room who doesn't know that it is all an act. We've seen her movies. We know bad acting when we see it. Suddenly she puts the back of her hand up to her forehead, 50's movie star style, and falls to the floor in a faint. No one moves to help her. She lays there, hand still on forehead, skirt hiked up, a spectacle on display. Finally, the director/relative comes over, picks her up and walks her out to the chair in the hallway.
The service continues. We sit there quietly, talking in hushed tones to people who come to offer their condolences. Every once in a while, when it becomes very, very quiet, we hear a squeaking sound. At first, I think it's a child crying. Someone else thinks it's a person with new, squeaky shoes. Maybe a mouse? We can't figure it out, but it stops and starts until it gets irritating enough for us to go investigate. We follow the sound of the squeak out of the wake room, into the hallway, right to the .....chair. The chair where A is sitting. And she's sitting there, talking to herself again and petting herself, and I realize it's not a squeak we were hearing at all, but a yip. Rising out of A's coat like a beast coming from her breasts is the head of a poodle. A tiny, toy poodle yipping away at us.
She brought her dog to a funeral. No one says anything, no one bothers to explain to her why we are mad, because just the fact that she doesn't understand our anger or bewilderment speaks volumes.
I haven't seen her since. By the end of that year I was separated from my husband, and his family, and I never had to deal with her again. Once in a while, a movie of hers will show up on cable at 3am and I'll get a good chuckle out of her acting, because I've seen her best piece of work and it's not on film.