Two events recently in the news have made quite an impression on me, as I’m sure they have on many others around the country. They have made me aware of just how fragile and precious life is, and how in one instant, everything can change.
The tragic skiing accident and subsequent passing of the talented and beautiful actress Natasha Richardson, at the age of 45, seemed almost beyond belief. One moment she was laughing and talking about her fall, and within an hour she was unconscious and slowly passing to the other side.
My condolences go out to her beloved mother, legendary actress Vanessa Redgrave, her highly-talented aunt Lynn Redgrave, and to her immediate family, husband Liam Neeson and their two sons.
While the media and the public dealt with that passing, another great talent was in the news for a serious health problem – actor Stacy Keach, who suffered a condition with an “S.” I do not use a word if I feel there is a negative connotation to it, since I feel this gives the negativity a certain strength, but the condition can leave people paralyzed – I’m sure you’re aware what I refer to.
Again, this was an event that came totally unexpectedly and illustrated how quickly life can be changed.
I had actually seen Stacy Keach only a matter of days before his “S.” I was invited to the opening of his current play, “Frost/Nixon,” at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center.
When I arrived in the lobby, members of the press were taking photos of Jane Seymour and then me. Jane and I had a brief talk, sharing the information that we have a birth date of February 15 in common. Several years ago, Jane played one of my precious clients, the Duchess of Windsor. Jane’s husband, director James Keach, is of course the brother of Stacy.
Stacy Keach was superb in the role of Richard Nixon but at the curtain call, I leaned over to my companion and whispered that I was reading his aura. “He’s sick,” I said. He’d given a strong and excellent performance, but psychically I felt Keach needed medical attention.
Unfortunately, he was taken to the hospital a matter of days later. Little had he known, as he prepared for the role that he would only play it a handful of times before a crisis would strike. Fortunately, as I understand it, Keach has returned to the production and it is indeed worth seeing. I only hope he will guard his health as best he can, not only for the rest of the run of the play but in the future.
A few nights after seeing “Frost/Nixon,” I attended another theater opening where, fortunately, tragedy has not struck. But the subject matter of the play ties in to the theme of not taking one’s life for granted.
The current production at the Falcon Theatre is the West Coast premiere of “Everybody Say ‘Cheese!’,“ written by film and television legend Garry Marshall. This is a most interesting and amusing production. It stars Joe Regalbuto, perhaps best known for his long run on “Murphy Brown,” and DeeDee Rescher, often seen on “King of Queens,” “The Nanny,” “My Name is Earl” and many other series. Both are delightful in their roles, and in fact, the entire cast is gifted. In particular, there is a standout performance by Roberta Valderrama as a lady of the evening – hilarious!
The play addresses the issue of Rescher’s character turning 50, and being not a bit happy about it. She wants to make a change and feels her life has not been worthwhile. She wants to find herself. Suffice to say, without giving away too much of the plot, she realizes what she truly has by the end of the play.
During the after-theater party at the Falcon, I had a nice chat with Jackie Zeman, who has been playing Bobbie on “General Hospital” for many years, as well as with cable talk show host Arlene Peck and talented composer Paul Williams, who was a neighbor of mine for a while in Malibu.
But as I thought about the production on my way home, I was again struck by the fact that we must cherish our family and friends, and truly appreciate every moment of our lives, good or bad. I’ve always said during my lectures and books that if there is a change you want to make, whether it’s a career goal, finding a soul mate or whatever – do something about it. Set a goal and go after it; don’t wait for tomorrow. Make each moment count.
But also treasure what you have. Perhaps this theater production, as well as two shocking news events, will make us all aware that the gift of time is a precious commodity. In closing, I wish you all an extremely happy and healthy week, and forever.
Please do continue to write to me. I have a bag full of letters to go through, and I’ll be getting back to answering them in the next column.
Personally handwrite a letter to Kenny, seal and mail it yourself, then look for his answer in a future issue. Send your question to Kenny Kingston, PO Box 1857, Studio City, CA 91614. For more information on Kenny Kingston, visit www.kennykingston.org.