Human Condition: Star-struck in Los Angeles

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National news in late September told of the recent discovery of “Stella Maris,” a 1911 film starring Mary Pickford. It brought to my mind this experience:

In 1928, my maternal grandmother, Munno, leased an apartment in Los Angeles for the summer, so my mother and I left Covington to spend a few weeks with her.

Sightseeing was a priority, so we visited museums, missions, Universal Studios and Catalina Island.

On our island trip, a tour bus drove us around, and I happened to be seated next to a lady — I’ve since forgotten her name — who befriended me. I was 10 years old.

She told me she was Mary Pickford’s aunt, and, if I liked, she would take us to meet Mary.

When we all got back to L.A., being movie star-struck at that age, I could hardly wait to tell Munno and my mother, who was quick to tell me “you can’t believe everything anyone tells you.”

She was dubious, to say the least.

So it was a surprise to her, but less so to me, when the lady called to ask when she could pick us up to see Mary. She was chauffered in a limo, and said Mary was at the beauty salon but would come out to meet us.

And so Mary did. She was very friendly to the strangers from Louisiana. She kissed me on the cheek and gave us a couple of photographs and asked if we would like to see their beach house. So we were driven there.

It had a pool so I was invited to swim. I did not have a bathing suit with me, so I was shown into a bedroom to see a dresser drawer filled with swimsuits. I was impressed again!

Everyone lounged poolside while I swam Tchefuncta River-style.

Suddenly, who should appear from indoors but Douglas Fairbanks!

It’s a wonder I could make it across the pool to his side I was so excited. Another short, friendly visit, and we were driven home.

Imagine our good fortune — getting to meet the swashbuckling Fairbanks and his wife, “American’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford.

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