Her diary of the trip as it happened!.....
Actually, my first day in Tinseltown began at night. The plane touched down at LAX at 10:30p.m. PST and by the time I reached the hotel it was past midnight. Oh, the stars were all out but not the ones I was eager to meet. The Hotel Roosevelt proved to be a very special surprise. The inner lobby was beautiful and the night clerks were so smiling and gracious that I was almost tempted to stay right there. But a smiling gentleman was whisking my bags off toward the elevators so it was time to unpack or sleep, which ever came first!
Just a little bit of history about the hotel… old Hollywood captured in time. Back in 1927, a stellar group of film people ( Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., L. B. Mayer and Sid Grauman among them) chose the site to house east coast V.I.P.’s who were coming west to make moving pictures. It soon became the meeting place of the stars. Now some nice people are restoring the place to its original glory.
Back in the room after the day’s meanderings, we dressed
for the dinner Diane Flaherty and Helen Crawford were hosting downstairs
at the hotel’s Cinegrill. It was so good to see Elia Wansard-Bonora
Tents were set up at both the new street sign and at the gravesite so that guests could sit comfortably out of the hot sun. The unveiling ceremony was delayed awaiting the arrival of Helen Browne*, a frail lady with a big dream… to find a a fitting memorial to Nelson Eddy. Mayor Johnny Grant was unable to open the program due to illness but Tyler Cassity and Andy Martinez ably took over and introduced Sharon Rich who unveiled the sign (after the wind tried to do it for her). Sharon is the author of several books on Nelson and Jeanette including the popular “Sweethearts”. Then Kathryn Grayson arrived , beautifully suited all in red, accompanied by her secretary, Sally Sherman. She was just as lovely and sweet as ever....a true star in every way!
Afterwards the entire gathering walked or rode the short distance to the gravesite. Golf carts had been thoughtfully provided for those who needed them. Again seats were comfortably arranged under a tent just beyond Nelson’s simple grave. Frank Laric, who was with Nelson in “Northwest Outpost” (as one of the American G.I. Chorus) talked about Nelson’s expertise on a horse. Linda Tolman read a lovely poem that seemed to reflect Nelson’s image. Judy Burns, a former scriptwriter with Paramount Studios, recalled her first meeting with Nelson when, as a girl of 16, she boldly walked up and knocked on his door. Gracious as always, he invited her in for a few minutes chat.
Then we all moved to the chapel for a marvelous time of recollection and inspiration. This was the same chapel where they held Tyrone Power’s funeral in 1949. But now the room was transformed with small tables dressed in white linen and flowers with more baskets and sprays of blooms gracing the entrance and inner foyer. On the dais, two large photographs of Nelson on easels were surrounded by floral tributes.
Two vocalists sang duets from the MacDonald-Eddy films. Dr, John Paton, professor of voice at USC, spoke of Nelson’s phenomenal vocal talents and Kathryn Grayson talked about her memories of Nelson at the MGM studio. She was presented with a huge bouquet of red roses by Rachanee Clovis. Both Rachanee and Sharon Rich were given awards for their contributions to the street project, and Perry Pickering, retiring co-president of NEAS was honored for his years of service. Linda Foster of Hollywood Forever cemetery , told the story of Helen Browne* who now had her dream of a fitting memorial for Nelson Eddy realized. …with the help of Nelson’s fans. Annette Lloyd presented the Nelson Eddy lifestory on video and it got rave reviews from all present. With Nelson singing in the background, champagne, finger sandwiches, platters of fresh veggies and fruit were enjoyed by all present.
Taking the flowers to the stars!
The evening brought friends together again, first at Diane and Helen’s cocktail party where we remembered other gatherings and other times. Then at Sharon’s “Meet and Greet” where we met new friends with fascinating anecdotes and charming insights. It was quite late when we four buddies retired…for some more Nelson on video!
The house tour! We gathered after breakfast and the four of us
(in Joan’s car) joined the motorcade from one lovely part of town
to another. All the houses were beautiful but the most awe-inspiring was
the “Mists”. We couldn’t see the house from the gated
road but the view from atop that mountain took your breath away.
We ended the tour with lunch at the Paradise Cove Beach Café where Nelson and Jeanette often dined( I even saved the napkins) ! Sharon told us she had been there with Blossom when it was called “Sandcastle”.
*A sad note.....
"A Perfect Day...the Dedication of Nelson Eddy Drive 9/27/03"