Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Hometown Hero from Hollywood

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Hometown Hero from Hollywood

Article excerpt

I Love the town I live in. For one thing, it's a village, only one square mile big. It's full of flowering trees and gardens. It has a library and a Hagen-Dazs. Plus, if you live here long enough it's like that TV series "Cheers" - everybody knows your name. And if not your name, at least your face. People smile and say hello.

If you're a mom like me, you can see the same people (and by "people," I mean moms) three or four times a day: at school, the supermarket, the video store, the bank. After the third run-in, you're allowed to act as if you don't see one another. But if l had to come up with the single reason why I love this place above all other places, the answer would be: Gwen Verdon.

You wouldn't think that living in the same town as Gwen Verdon, who was a really big star in the 1950s and '60s, would be such a big deal to me, since I grew up in southern California. I saw as many actors, dancers, and movie stars as most people see policemen, teachers, or - I don't know - waiters. Actually, most of the waiters I saw growing up were actors. At least that's what they told me.

So seeing celebrities shouldn't be such a big deal. But what can I say? Gwen Verdon is different. She is a goddess walking the earth. Maybe she has this effect on me because I first saw her dance when I was a child no older than my own daughter is now. It was a movie version of the hit Broadway show "Damn Yankees."

Miss Verdon was a whole lot of wow: sultry, snazzy, funny, but also vulnerable, tender, and boy oh boy could she dance. I wished with all my heart that I could look, act, and dance the way she did when I grew up. I didn't get my wish, but I got a close second: I get to see her when I'm doing my errands.

Now, I'm not implying that Miss Verdon is jet-ing down the main road in my town, picking up her dry cleaning wearing fishnet tights and a leotard. …

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