Shelley Winters

shelley winters

Let’s all take a moment to remember Shelley Winters.

Shelley was born Shirley Schrift in St. Louis, Missouri. She became a big star, who won not one but two Oscars.

And she was a hot tomato and a sharp cookie to boot.

Shelley Winters Story #1:

Back in the 1980s, a director wanted her for a movie, but insisted that she read for the part. Fine, she said. She arrived at the reading with a backpack. She sat down and removed from the backpack: 1) a copy of the script; 2) an Oscar, which she put on the floor to the left of her; 3) an Oscar, which she put on the floor to the right of her.

She got the part.

Shelley Winters Story #2:

Elizabeth Ashley, the memorable actress who revived Maggie the Cat on Broadway, was wondering whether or not she should marry James Farentino. She asked Shelley’s advice. “Honey,” Shelley said, “if you ever have the opportunity, you should marry an Italian. I’ve done it twice, and I’ve never regretted it.”

(In case you’re wondering: Shelley married both Vittorio Gassman and Tony Franciosa. Neither marriage more than a few years, but I’m sure a good time was had by all.)

Shelley Winters Story #3:

Shelley went to Italy to film a movie, and asked a writer friend to housesit for her. After being in Italy for a week or so, she realized with horror that she hadn’t given her friend instructions on what to do with the garbage (the local rules were very strict). She called her house, and a strange man (with a strangely familiar voice) answered. “Is George there?” Shelley asked.

“George went out for a few minutes,” the strange man said. “We’re working on a book together.”

“Okay,” Shelley said. “I don’t care. As long as you’re there, can you do me a favor? Go out and drag the garbage cans to the curb. The neighborhood is very strict about this.”

The man on the phone paused and then said: “Okay.” He came back after a few minutes. “All done.”

“Would you do me a favor?” Shelley said in her most kittenish voice. “Would you go out and hose off the sidewalk? They’re kind of fanatical about that in the neighborhood too.”

Another pause. “Okay,” the strange man said. And he came back in a few minutes and said, “All done.”

And Shelley thanked him, and hung up the phone.

Guess who the strange man was?

Richard Nixon.

Shelley Winters made Richard Nixon take out her trash, and then made him hose off the sidewalk.

My kind of woman!

Mitt Romney: the sour-grapes candidate

romney bribed with gifts

There were many times during the 2012 election when Romney appeared to have lost the election. One of the most significant was the 47% video:

So, from this, we learn that Mitt Romney believes that almost half the American people are unrealistic, selfish, and greedy.  They can’t be enticed to vote for him, so he won’t bother talking to them.

Whether because of this video, or for many other reasons, he lost the election.

Most Presidential candidates shut up promptly after losing the election. The exceptions are interesting. Nixon complained in 1961 that Kennedy had stolen the election. Nixon then roared back in 1968 (and six years later resigned the Presidency in disgrace, having committed most or all of the crimes he’d accused Kennedy of in 1960). Al Gore didn’t shut up after 2000, with good reason; he’d won the popular vote, and the electoral vote depended on Florida, which was (effectively) decided by the right-leaning US Supreme Court.

But Mitt Romney won’t shut up.

He said, shortly after the election, that Obama won because he promised “gifts” to his followers. Please follow this link to hear that the Salt Lake Tribune had to say about that.

A MSNBC commentator made a very sensible point about this recently: of course Presidential candidates offer us “gifts”! They’re called campaign promises! If I’m presented with two candidates, and one of them promises to end legalized abortion, eliminate “unnecessary” programs in the arts and sciences and education, and opposes gay rights – I will tell him that these are not the “gifts” I require.

Most lately, Romney’s son Tagg (I love that name!) has stated that his father didn’t want to be President in any case. As follows:



“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” Tagg Romney told the (Boston) Globe. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside.”

The Globe article also noted that “Tagg … worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency.”


So what’s all this about? Did Mitt want the Presidency or not?

Perhaps, as the New Yorker recently remarked, the GOP really ought to have run someone for President who really wanted to be President.

Living under an enemy administration

On Election Night 1980, I was in the Graduate Center Bar at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, watching the election returns. The media declared Reagan the winner over Carter fairly early, as I recall. I was standing next to a short fat guy, who muttered: “Now it’s our turn.”



I got the creeps all over as he said it.



As it turned out, I had the creeps for another twelve years.



I have lived under a Republican Presidency for most of my life, as I calculate it: 1957-1960 (three years of Eisenhower, which I barely remember, as I was a toddler); 1969-1976 (seven years of Nixon/Ford, which was intermittently disastrous, but not entirely catastrophic); 1980-1992 (eight years of Ronald Reagan, tragedy/comedy, and four years of G. H. W. Bush, mostly comedy, with the terrifying exception of Operation Desert Storm); and eight years of George W. Bush (pure disaster).



So that’s thirty years of my life under a Republican administration. And I am still alive.



To be sure, Eisenhower was not out to kill or disenfranchise me. Nixon, much as he was a rascal, did not try to do so either. Gerald Ford, God bless him, was not the kind of person to do harm to a little periwinkle like me. G. H. W. Bush was a quasi-jerk, but not as extreme as his son. G. W. Bush was a total jerk, and eight years of him was agony.



Mitt Romney has declared himself against gay marriage, abortion, Affordable Care, etc. He says he wants to “take back America.” From whom? I don’t have it at the moment; I feel, in fact, that I am not so much in control of anything in America. So who’s he taking it back from?



Mitt Romney is the total anti-package. He is what I do not want.



I do not want to find myself on election night in November 2012, with a sweaty little fat man standing next to me, watching Romney being declared winner, and hearing him say: “Now it’s our turn.”



Once is enough.



Kids: you know what you have to do.



Vote, please. Vote your hearts. And make sure your friends and family vote. (And if you’re unlucky enough to have family in a Republican-controlled state, help them get their ID cards.)



Keep climbing.



We can do this.



Ladies and gentlemen: President Richard Nixon.

From the 6/23/09 New York Times:

Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster “permissiveness,” and said that “it breaks the family.” But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases — like interracial pregnancies, he said.

“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding, “Or a rape.”

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