by sally mierop
Our trip to Florida to see Roddy McDowall’s lectures, January 13 - 21, 1998.
The temperature in Cleveland was a mere 12 degrees and wind chill, who knows. We, my husband and I, were thrilled to be leaving this cold, but the forecast for Florida didn't look too promising for shorts either.
Roddy first read a letter to a Miss Winsome dated New York, April 12, 1916 about the perils of motion picture work from Mary Pickford. The letter was to his *mother.*
Mae West - RM's first meeting with her was during the filming of a Planet of the Apes movie. She started telling Roddy how much she admired him in a certain part in another movie. The only thing wrong was that it wasn't a part that he did. But he decided not to let her know. They became good friends.
Marlene Dietrich - RM took a few pictures of her including one during her show in a mink coat which he wanted to use for his book. She said that wasn't her in the photograph. RM said what do you mean? Marlene said she never has that expression in that coat. RM says who's the broad then? Marlene didn't answer.
A third of the way through the lecture, the spotlight burned out and left poor Roddy in the dark. But he took it like a man and went on without a spotlight. When the spotlight came back on, it was a different color and they changed it a few times while Roddy would comment on each color that they shined on him.
During one of the slide switches, Roddy placed his hand over his forehead, and gazed into the audience and said, "There you are. I must have gotten the days mixed up or something." He appeared to be looking straight at me.
The last 15 minutes was the Q & A session which didn't last long, because the senior citizens were leaving in droves, so RM ended early.
Who were his 5 favorite male actors?
What did he think of colorization?
What's his favorite film?
Did he know Gloria Swanson's son,
How's Elizabeth Taylor doing?
Did he know Dick Powell?
What was Donald Crisp like?
An 80 year old lady said she met
7 year old Roddy and his mother on a train when she was traveling with her
mother and she gave him her movie magazines. Did he remember her?
My husband had our new automatic zoom 115mm camera and took about 15 photos of Roddy during this time but unfortunately, all came out too blurry.
A few people gathered around the stage for an autograph but Roddy said he had to leave. He shook hands with one woman next to me. We thought he would return but the director said he didn't intend to come back out.
When we returned to the parking lot, it was deserted. We didn't know if Roddy left or not, but we drove to the side of the theater and saw his limo and chauffeur waiting. A moment later Roddy emerged from the door. I opened my car door[I thought it would take too long to open the window.] and said, "Hello, Roddy...It was great." He replied, "Thanks for coming to the show." I told him, "I'll see you at Melbourne but our seats will be way in the back." I didn't mention who I was though. When we pulled out of the parking lot, the limo was behind us and stayed there for about a mile before it pulled into a Holiday Inn. We kept going.
The next day we were at Melbourne's Maxwell King Center for the afternoon lecture. Our seats this time were about eight rows back to the far right. The opposite side of where Roddy stood. This audience contained more young people than Avon Park. Roddy wore a gray velour suit with a gray turtleneck. He looked simply gorgeous.
We noticed a few slides were changed and perhaps he told one or two more stories than the previous night.
The Q & A session went to the full 15 minutes with alot of people asking questions and less people leaving.
What was Margaret O'Brien like?
Is he in contact with Anna Lee?
A local Hedda Hopper/Pam Harbaugh
did an interview with him, did he want to respond to it?
A lady confessed that she had a
crush on RM for 30 years. Never misses a Roddy McDowall movie.
What happened to Peggy Ann Garner?
What's his favorite movie he's in?
Who are his favorite male actors?
Was Donald Crisp Irish or Scottish?
Tell us about the Black & White
Ball(November 28, 1966)?
Did he love working in radio?
What was Mollymauk?
Will you watch the Golden Globe
Are you the voice of Snowball on
"Pinky & the Brain?"
Roddy did not stay around for autographs nor photos either.
Out in the parking lot, my husband noticed some young guys heading for the back of the theater. My husband asked if the limo was back there and they said yes. This was another opportunity to see Roddy, so we took it. The limo was there and so were four young men, two seeking RM's autograph and one his photo.
We waited for about five minutes and Roddy peeked his head out the door and said he was looking for a lady he promised a photograph. There was nobody else out here. I waved and he ducked back in the theater. In about five minutes Roddy returned and went straight to the limo door which the chauffeur was holding open. One of the guys pleaded with Roddy for his autograph, so Roddy gave in and proceeded to sign.
Well, I didn't want his autograph but a photo, so I went behind the guys and stood by Roddy while my husband took a few pictures. Roddy did not recognize me nor did I inform him it was me again. I asked Roddy where he was going next. He turned to the chauffeur and asked him, which he replied, "Sun City Center." Roddy then turned to me and said, "Sun City Center." After that, Roddy got into his limo and left.
One of the guys said rumors were that Roddy was staying at the Comfort Inn down the road.
On the way back to our car in the parking lot, we met a lady who was taking pictures of the Maxwell King Center building. My husband approached her and said she must be a real Roddy McDowall fan. She looked into the car, where I was seated, and said, "You must be the infamous Sally Mierop. You look like your picture." She told me that she admired the work I had done on my old website (where my work was posted at the time). I found out that she was a friend of Roddy's. Naturally, we had lots to chat about and even took a few pictures together also.
After leaving an hour and a half later, we saw a limo at a gas station next door to the Comfort Inn. Hmmmm . . . could have been Roddy.
A few days after returning home, I received a souvenir Florida postcard from Roddy. He was wondering if he caught a "glimpse" of me at one of the lectures. Ha-ha! You can imagine what my return letter said.
These were my last encounters with Roddy, at least, until we see each other in Heaven. God bless you, Roddy! Bye for now.
In My Father's house there are many
mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place
for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and
receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Copyright © 1998 by Sally Mierop. All Rights Reserved.