Celebrating 85

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I want to talk about my husband David who, with the help from the staff of The Tolucan Times, went so high over the top, I’m still bedizened. Where to start saying thank you?

Mardi and Sara Rustam, the loving and lovely publishers of this sweet newspaper, thank you so much for the kind birthday wishes, David and I so love being your friends.

A copy of the November 9 paper was on every chair for those who attended the happening upstairs at Vitello’s Studio City. David had high jacked my column and filled it with sweet wishes from many of my friends who were there for dinner and the special show with Jim Caruso, Jane Monheit and Billy Stritch—Hollywoodland: Songs from the Silver Screen. The show, and the food, was delicious.

In New York, Jim and Billy are a staple every Monday night at Birdland presenting their now infamous Cast Party. Luckily, they steal away to Vitello’s Supper Club every now and then to visit us devotees in Los Angeles. Seeing their show was my birthday wish and it was so (how many ways can one say wonderful?) perfect to be joined by so many friends from every decade of my life! And, it’s all in the details… David arranged for special wines, and a caramel candy apple for all. And a birthday cupcake with my picture (who else?) in frosting!

The décor was a special surprise from my cruise ship friends, Gary Sullivan and William Squire. They set a tone of elegant fun with floral, visual and playful essence. A little toy puppy was next to a wide variety of framed pictures of me. (Me, me, me, me…) and speaking of me, they made a dramatic presentation of a glam photo that William had arranged for me to represent his cosmetic line this season, “Billy’s Blues.” Heady stuff!

The best part was the incredulous flow of affection that permeated the evening. It caught me off-guard, and touched me deeply. Connections and reconnections flowed between my friends and family. It was like drowning in the best of ways; life flashing by with a klieg light, with girlfriends, boyfriends, dear ones from school days, theatre days, Ken, motherhood, divorce, starting over, Actors and Others for Animals, Valley Street clan, Doris Day, cruises, David…I told David, when it’s my turn, I don’t need a memorial, I know in my heart what I need to know.

The truth: What is it like to be 85? Incomprehensible! As a youth, it wasn’t an age even thought about.  Epiphany! At 60, we assume we are old. At 70, for sure. At 80, it’s “wait a minute?” And now, at 85, I realize it’s a fallacy. We’re not old; we’re the same person, just in a container that is getting frayed, tattered, and unraveling here and there. Good news—our basic self is still charging ahead!

It’s great to look back and it’s essential to look forward. My life has been full of the great unexpected. Joyful, tragic, rich, struggling, energetic, plotzing, thrilling and overwhelming. And so it goes…waiting for the next surprise.

This 85th birthday was stunningly wonderful and I am grateful beyond measure. Saving the best for last, my most heartfelt thanks to the always-astonishing David Lawrence…first, last and always.

And we’ll talk…

Jackie Joseph is a writer and actress best known for her TV roles as Alan Brady’s niece Jackie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” the voice of Melody in the animated “Josie and the Pussycats” and as Jackie Parker on “The Doris Day Show.”

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Jackie Joseph is a writer and actress best known for her TV roles as Alan Brady’s niece Jackie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” the voice of Melody in the animated “Josie and the Pussycats” and as Jackie Parker on “The Doris Day Show.”

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