Watching an Icon
Very rigid childhood upbringing. Television existed but programs where specifically chosen by my father thus there wasn’t a lot of current content or anything that seemed a bit risqué or just anything that he just wasn’t interested in seeing. No remotes in those days but he controlled the channels with an iron step and an iron voice. While I do believe I missed out on a lot of early television programs that are now classic, our list of “allowable” programs still included such old favorites (now classics) as: Bonanza, Sing Along with Mitch Miller, Lawrence Welk, Perry Como, Red Skelton, I Love Lucy, Ed Sullivan (depending of course who was on that night – never saw the Beetles on it or Elvis), and finally, my most favorite of all, The Wonderful World of Disney. We never, ever missed it. It took me away from the cares and worries and insecurities of daily living and transported me into a magical world where good always triumphed and often good was led by a scruffy young girl or her companion dog or some young kids who confounded the “semi-evil villains”.
One of my earliest heroines was Haley Mills. I so wanted to be her and become like her. I could recite her lines from all her Disney movies and in private; I could definitely act out her roles. I sang her songs from “The Parent Trap” until my whole family hated having me come into the room if it looked like I was singing. I fell in love with her costars in “In Search of the Castaways”. Whenever possible, I watched anything she was appearing in but back then it took years before a current movie would be shown again on Disney. She meant much more to me than any of the Mousketeers. Why couldn’t I have been born British so I could talk like her? Why couldn’t my parents have been actors so I would have the same chance to be discovered? Why, Why, Why??? I loved her so much that the only reason I didn’t end up with posters covering my walls and lunch boxes and comic books and anything else featuring her was because I had no money and we never went shopping. I was so unaware.
And then she grew up and then I followed shortly afterwards and time and interests changed and I lost track. She still showed up in movies occasionally and I would attend but never with the same passion – for me – of her childhood days of Disney.
Now, with good fortune and my husband’s job, I am living in England. I peruse the newspapers weekly to find good and proper English venues and experiences to attend, some with the Women’s Clubs and some with my husband. Last week, purely by chance, I saw she was appearing in “Ladies in Lavender” at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford which is close to us. There was NO WAY I could miss the chance to see my childhood idol in person. OMG, what if I am too late to buy tickets. Thank goodness I was not but it was a close thing and we bought tickets for the last night of the play. For this, for once, I just told my husband that we were going rather than asking him if he was interested like I usually try to do. Luckily he is understanding and interested.
Neither of us had any clue what the play was about but we did read up on it before we attended. Nor had either of us ever heard of the movie version of some years back with even more famous actresses playing the parts. I just wanted to go see Haley.
Tonight we went and now we are back. It was a most marvelous experience to finally see her in person even though it has been a good 40 years since my infatuation as a child. But it’s only been a good week since my infatuation as an adult. I still love her. I still think she’s wonderful and beautiful and still wish I could have been like her growing up. The play was quite good and interesting and all the actors were marvelous. She played an especially poignant part and played it quite well. It had some funny bits, and some sad bits and some bittersweet remembrances of times gone by and some horrid thoughts of the realization that war was coming. So very, very glad we had the opportunity to see her and the play. I can check another thing off my things I would really love to do. Don’t really have such a list until something like this comes around and I realize how much of old habits and thoughts can be drug out of the cellar and become a reality. Seeing an icon! Priceless. Thank you Haley Mills.