Friday, January 31, 2014

Gone Girl

The last time a book really pulled me into its world and had me wanting to turn each and every page as quickly as possible was "Looking For Alaska" by John Green which I read in 2012. Before that, "Drood" by Dan Simmons which I read in 2009. It's not very often that a book does that. I can be entertained by reading without having to be completely immersed in the world the author has created and in love with every character. In fact, the most recent book that did this, doesn't even have likable characters, let alone lovable ones.

"Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn is the story of Nick and Amy Dunne, a married couple who have hit a rough patch in not only their marriage but life as well. Nick and Amy are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy goes missing. As per usual, Nick is considered the prime suspect even though he didn't do anything but the fact that he's a less than perfect husband begins catching up with him.

It's honestly really hard to talk about this book without giving any of it away but after Amy vanishes, the reader quickly learns what actually happened. What really bothered me about the book is with the exception of a couple people, all the blame is placed on Nick which makes sense up to a point but one would think that after awhile the police would realize that Nick isn't really acting like someone who just disposed of his wife and they would start looking for new leads. But the lead investigators are from the small town of fictional North Carthage, Missouri along the Mississippi (not to be confused with the real Carthage, Missouri near Joplin) so their investigative skills are more than likely very lacking.

The best part is that Amy is treated just as badly as Nick sooner or later but there's no happy ending for this story. If anything, the story of these two people just wind up getting sadder. It's a wonderful, perverse look into the lives of two psychopaths. As much as you want to hate it, you can't help but getting sucked in.

I also recommend reading "Gone Girl" before the movie comes out. The movie, starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris, will be out October 2014 and was recently showcased in a creepily-cool Entertainment Weekly cover.

Until next time, I remain...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Morrie Turner, 1923-2014

Morrie Turner, the first nationally syndicated black cartoonist who created the comic strip "Wee Pals" has passed away.

Turner spent his entire life in Oakland, California and when he questioned why there were no minorities in newspaper comic strip, Charles Schulz, his mentor, told him to create one. "Wee Pals" debuted in 1965 and was the first comic strip to have an ethnically diverse cast featuring African Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans and Native Americans among many others. "Wee Pals" was turned into a animated series in 1972 named "Kid Power." 17 episodes were made.

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Name Is Molly

Yesterday was my school's annual Mardi Gras Diversity Day. Mardi Gras is designed to celebrate and include people with a wide range of disabilities to show that any and every one can become upstanding and productive members of society. Area schools are invited and an entire day is made of it with zydeco music, Cajun food prepared by the culinary arts team, a myriad of games and prizes, there are also local businesses owned and run by people with disabilities like Poppin' Joe's Gourmet Kettle Corn. The day is capped off by a parade around the high school. I am immensely honored that I have been a part of this for the last two years. This job, that I've had since August of 2012 has changed what I originally thought about people with disabilities and my appreciation and respect for them has grown a lot.

Each year, a main topic is chosen and presented at an assembly that includes the entire high school and our invited guests. Last year it was about Downs Syndrome and was very informative. This year's topic was aphasia. Aphasia is a language disorder that can cause a person to forget to read, write and speak. It is normally caused by a brain injury or a stroke. The reason is, back in November 2012, Molly Ogden, a sophomore at Baldwin High, suffered a stroke which left her right side paralyzed and unable to talk. Over the past year, Molly has had extensive therapy, multiple surgeries and was even in a coma. Molly has emerged stronger and more resilient but she still has a long road to go.

A local company, Sunflower Development Solutions, created a video to help get Molly's story out there and hopefully raise money for speech therapy through a site called GiveForward.  I have been fortunate this school year to actually work with and help Molly try to have a normal school life. She is so strong and optimistic and a great inspiration for others her age. The video details Molly's life before and after the stroke and is just really well done.

My Name is Molly from Brian Pitman on Vimeo.

During the assembly, Molly's parents spoke about her. Her mom focused on the medical side talking about her surgeries and the hectic existence they lived for the four months after the stroke. Her dad focused more on Molly herself and how she has always been the strong one and told stories of her growing up. To be honest, if you didn't tear up listening to her mom, dad or watching the video then you should get your soul checked out.

I don't talk about my job much, mainly due to confidentiality and it would get pretty boring calling everyone student or something, but it has been a wonderful experience. I am learning so much and my view of kids and people with disabilities has changed drastically in the two years I've worked here. There are times I complain and kvetch but overall I genuinely like my job and like being around the kids I'm charged with helping.

Until next time, I remain...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Comics Featuring Superman

My very first comic book purchase wasn't even my purchase. My mom had picked me up from school and said that she got me a book. I tried to guess what it was but I suck at guessing so I asked what it started with. She said "T" but I still couldn't guess. When I got home, I learned that it was "The Death of Superman" trade paperback. I told her that you don't include the "T" when the title starts with "The" and then backhanded her and demanded that she make me a sandwich. I loved it. I read it all that afternoon and then I read it again and it began my love for Superman.

I had missed the first few issues of 1993 and my first issue was Superman: The Man of Steel #20 which was Funeral for a Friend part 3 and featured the funeral for Superman. I collected Superman comics until 2000 when I just kind of lost interest. Missing the first few issues of 1993 meant that 1994 was my first full year of Superman comics and now 20 years later, I'm going to talk about them. First up, January cover dates.

Superman: The Man of Steel #29
"Blood Thirst"
Written by Louise Simonson
Penciled by Jon Bogdanove
Inked by Dennis Janke

Sorry to start this on the last part of a storyline but you don't really miss anything. Part one introduced a racist Bloodsport, a character that was originally introduced in Superman #4 in 1987. Part two saw the return of Hi-Tech, a female robot introduced in Action Comics #682 in 1992. Both are being ordered around by someone named Bloodthirst who, after months of vague references, finally appears.

Bloodthirst claims to be responsible for everything bad that happens on Earth from the Crusades to Hitler to JFK and MLK assassinations and even Superman's death. Bloodthirst shows off his powers of slowing down time, morphing into other people and even hitting Superman a couple times and then vanishes. He gives a cryptic message about Lex Luthor and Metropolis but Bloodthirst is never seen again. Seriously.

Bloodthirst was hyped as kind of big deal in the issues before this one and I don't know why he ended up being such a worthless character. I blame the outfit.

Superman #85
"Dark Retribution"
Written and penciled by Dan Jurgens
Inked by Josef Rubinstein

Last issue in Superman #84, Cat Grant's son, Adam, was kidnapped and murdered by the...Toyman? That's right. In an effort to give Superman a better rogues gallery, Toyman was given a gritty reboot despite having already been reintroduced in the post-Crisis Superman stories.

Anyway, this issue deals with Superman trying to find Toyman after Adam's murder and Cat dealing with her son's death. Cat decides to do exactly what Toyman did to her son and goes to the police station to confront him, bringing a gun along. Cat is able to get by the metal detector and threatens Toyman who thinks she won't do anything. When Toyman figures out she's serious he begins begging for his life and Cat pulls the trigger to reveal it was a toy gun.

To be honest, I liked this version of Toyman. I think it would've been better if Toyman had become a serial killer and we had several issues lead up to this instead of two issues focusing it and then nothing else from Toyman until Superman #99 in 1995.

The Adventures of Superman #508
"The Future Is Now"
Written by Karl Kesel
Penciled by Barry Kitson
Inked by Ray McCarthy

According to a narration box, this issue takes place between panels 1 and 2 on the last page of Challengers of the Unknown #4 from 1958. I don't have that issue but in this issue, the Challengers of the Unknown arrive in 1994 Metropolis chasing after Darius Tiko but immediately lose him. They decide to enlist the aid of Superman to help them track Tiko down. Meanwhile, Tiko pauses to look at the bounty he swiped (rings that give you elemental powers) and is promptly knocked unconscious and the rings stolen. The now-elemental thugs rampage through Metropolis and Superman and the Challengers spend a few pages battling them until Tiko shows back up. Tiko uses the last ring to create a massive void, sucking everything into it. The Challengers are able to stop Tiko by using an unloaded gun and bring him back to 1958.

The villain of the piece is taken out by Ray of the StreetSerpents.
This was my first introduction to the Challengers of the Unknown and I really liked them at the time but otherwise thought this issue was pretty forgetful. It wasn't until I read it later in life that I decided that it was a really good story and utilized the Challengers very well.

Action Comics #695
Written by Karl Kesel
Penciled by Jackson Guice
Inked by Denis Rodier

A giant robot shoots his way through a bunch of crates at Metropolis Harbor and stop some people from importing or exporting something. It's revealed that the robot is a creation from Project Cadmus, the local government research facility specializing in mutants and clones. Cauldron is then taken control of by Dabney Donovan, a crazy person who is trying to bring about the downfall of Cadmus, and uses Cauldron to rampage around Metropolis. Cadmus finally regains control of Cauldron and uses Cauldron to prop up a building so Superman can save some people, sacrificing himself. Superman then shows more compassion for this robot dying than he did when Adam Grant was murdered. Also, Lobo is headed to Earth.

Jackson Guice draws a damn sexy Lois.
No one seems to know why this issue has an enhanced cover. The only thing I can think of is that it introduces a new character (who won't be seen again until 1997) and/or the issue number ends in 5.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Broken Neck Blues

It's used mainly to show that someone is dead without having to show blood. Not that it makes anyone less dead but for some reason snapping someone's neck in a movie or television show is perfectly fine but god forbid you show any blood. There used to be a time when breaking someone's neck was a crime of passion--it was only used to show how truly insane someone was and just to shock the audience seeing something being killed with bare hands. But it has become a standard trope of TV and movie writing. I first noticed it in the first season of The Vampire Diaries, the only season of that show I watched. I didn't like it. And there was one in if not every episode then every other episode. And from what I understand 3-5 people die every episode now. If people die every episode, then why does any death matter? I then noticed the neck snap used excessively in the trailer for the movie "Safe House" with Denzel Washington.
Why Denzel didn't win an Oscar for this scene where he's breaking a CIA agent's neck
I'll never know.
This trend, at least for me, continued when somehow I wound up viewing the last ten minutes or so of "Paranormal Activity 2" where Kate kills the family.
I don't want to spoil what happens here but that guy's head ends up backwards!
I tried thinking of why I don't like shows using breaking someone's neck just for suspense. Part of it, I think, is the sound effect commonly used but mainly it's because neck snaps are supposed to induce gasps of "Oh!" from the audience but if they are all-too-common then how is it shocking? Denzel could've killed that agent any other way but I guess it's to show his character just doesn't give an eff. It kind of works in "Paranormal Activity 2" because it's supposed to be scary and startling which is what breaking someone's neck is supposed to convey but anymore, TV and movies use it just to avoid showing blood which I think is worse. It conveys a way to kill someone without having to get a gun or knife.

My first encounter with a broken neck was the comic book Green Lantern #50 where Hal Jordan kills Sinestro with his bare hands. To me it was kind of shocking because here was a hero...that killed. I had only been reading comics since the Death of Superman and had never seen that. It probably would've been even more shocking had I known who Sinestro was.
Don't worry. He gets better.
I tend to stay away from things that show necks being broken. It bothers me and turns me off for the rest of the movie or show. There is nothing that depresses me more when a show I watch that has stayed away from this now all-to-common occurrence, uses it. It makes me want to stop watching immediately. And I know I am probably alone in this and possibly even overreacting. Most people seem perfectly fine with it or don't even notice it when it happens.

Science has reassured me that breaking one's neck isn't as easy as it may seem. It takes a lot of strength to do it and do it effectively in order to actually kill someone. You would essentially have to twist someone's head far enough around to do damage to the spinal cord, if not then you just end up with someone who is paralyzed and can still scream in pain. And yes, I did shudder the entire time I was writing that.

And I don't even watch that much stuff. There is a plethora of shows on basic cable and premium cable that I am sure dip into that well a lot more than the shows I watch. For those of you who watch more than me, am I correct in saying that broken necks are becoming more prevalent? Or is it something that always happened and I just never noticed it before?

Until next time...


Friday, January 17, 2014

These Are Questions This Father Doesn't Want to Answer

A father in the Shawnee Mission (Kansas) school district is upset that a poster in his daughter's school mentioned ways that people can express their sexual feelings. Those feeling include anal sex, oral sex, hugging and your basic fondling, among others. First off, I do have to admit that that's a weird poster to be hanging up in a school whether or not it being a part of the sex ed curriculum. Trust me, if I saw that poster in my school when I was 13, I'd probably be like, what the hell? My school answered questions of "what if we pull out before we cum" with "we only teach abstinence" and "can two sperms impregnate the same egg" with "we only teach abstinence."

I've never understood why parents get their vas deferens and Fallopian tubes all in a bunch when sex ed time rolls around in their children's lives. My son has had two sex ed classes in his school career and my wife and I have always prefaced each class with "if you have questions, please ask us or the teacher." I would like my son, and if I ever have one, daughter to know about sex because, like with most things, if you educate yourself about something, you end up respecting it and are less likely to abuse it.

Part of the problem Mr. Ellis has is he thinks 13 is too young. Some people believe 13 is already too late. The average age of teenagers losing their virginity is 17 but studies have shown that kids can start having sex as young as 12. Middle schoolers involved in a committed relationship isn't unheard of and they are going to hold hands and kiss. Maybe even a couple of things that show up on that poster. If your child isn't one of those kids and/or they know better then good for you and good for them.

The main complaint I have about these parents who refuse to let their child learn from the sex ed classes the school create is where are your children learning about sex and their growing body? Are you teaching it or are you shying away from it, leaving your child open to hearing about it from their friends or ill-worded Internet searches or the creepy guy with the crazy eyes and the walker on the playground?

My mom had her flaws but she at least got a pretty comprehensive book about puberty and sex and was always open to me asking her questions. We even had a set of health encyclopedias that gave me basic information on a wide range of topics including a lot about sex, reproduction organs and puberty so I was more well-versed when we got around to watching videos in fifth and sixth grade about our growing bodies. I complained routinely about all the things we skipped over because "we only teach abstinence." Something I now think of as a double standard is that they only taught abstinence but spent an entire class period showing us the twisted ramifications of herpes, gonorrhea and chlamydia. In my school's defense, that did make quite an impression on me.

Until next time, I remain...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dave Madden, 1931-2014

Dave Madden, known for his portrayal of band manager Reuben Kincaid on The Partridge Family, has passed away at 82.

Russell Johnson, 1924-2014

Russell Johnson, best known for his portrayal of Dr. Roy "The Professor" Hinkley on Gilligan's Island, has passed away at the age of 89. Johnson also appeared in numerous television and movie roles, both big and small, for four decades. His death leaves Tina Louise and Dawn Wells as the only surviving cast members of Gilligan's Island.

Baby Galoshes

When I was growing up, I loved old musicals particularly ones featuring singing and dancing children like Shirley Temple. One of my favorite Shirley Temple movies is "Bright Eyes", the story of an orphaned girl embroiled in a custody battle between her godfather and the head of the family her mother worked for before being killed in a car accident. Shortly after first seeing this movie, I made up a character called Baby Galoshes who was another child star in the early days of film whose trademark was a pair of red galoshes she would wear in most of her movies. Since then I've kept the character in the back of my mind and have attempted several times to flesh out a story based on her, each with varying results.

When I finally decided to sit down and get an outline going for "Baby Galoshes", I tried to pull a decent amount from movies from around that time and even mid-century ones. Originally I planned to do something similar to "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" and have the mother and daughter basically at each other's throats, trying to destroy each other's careers until ultimately no one wanted them but then I decided to ease up on the hatred and backstabbing and just focus on the ebb and flow of a career in Hollywood. Each character would hit a low point in their career and hit a high point but then I tweaked it ever so slightly to have the daughter's, Natalie's, career peter out well before her mother's, Vivian's.

As for the movies, I originally planned to come up with a "script" for each year presented but I couldn't do that so quit about halfway through. What did get written was a portion of a script called "And a Wife Makes Three", "A Kid In the Ointment", "Play in Peoria" and a portion of chapter 16 of "The Secret Garden." "The Secret Garden" is the only adaptation in the story. The other movies and shows mentioned were supposed to have script scenes but it would've meant writing more than just the story I wanted to tell so I either quit mentioning the films or detailed the shows. The one movie I'm glad I didn't get scripted was the western "Tumbleweeds" because I'm actually thinking of turning that into a story but we'll see if that actually happens. "Tumbleweeds" was supposed to comment on why westerns, especially in that time, were geared toward kids or strictly family fare. Serious westerns were few and far between at that time and didn't start becoming more serious until John Wayne came about and even then they were pretty tame. The other movies were generic claptrap that was being produced at the time. "And a Wife Makes Three" detailed the story of a widower, no divorces allowed back then, with a kid who falls in love again. "A Kid In the Ointment" about a working, widowed mom with a kid who falls in love again. And "Play In the Peoria" about a family act who fall in love with the people of a town they were just passing through. All safe, family-friendly fun but back then movies like this did perfectly fine entertaining the masses and it's a shame that, aside from animated movies, you need to have violence, sex or swearing to produce a hit.

The cast of I Love Lucy. From left: Vivian Vance, William Frawley,
Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball.
As for the names of the characters, I originally wanted to find names of actual producers and movie studio executives and agents to throw around but decided that would be a lot of work to find the names and match them up with their time at a real studio so instead I created my own studio and just chose names that were similar to real people working in Hollywood at the time. The only real names I give are Harold Lloyd and NBC and both are just in passing and I had to do a lot of research on Harold Lloyd in order to make sure how I was going to use him was plausible. As for Vivian and Natalie Parrish, Vivian is named for Vivian Vance who played Ethel Mertz on "I Love Lucy." I've always been a fan of Vance and always considered her an unsung hero of "I Love Lucy." Natalie was not named for anyone in particular, I just thought it was a classy name that would've been used in the 1920s for a little girl. The last name Parrish was at first going to be Edgerton but I changed this to honor Helen Parrish, an early television star who hosted the series "Hour Glass" on NBC in 1947 and succumbed to cancer in 1959 at the age of 34. I first heard of Ms. Parrish in my bible and always wondered what happened to her. Did she move to movies, did she quit acting, what? It wasn't until I got the internet that I could look it up and learned that she had died at an early age. I had originally planned for Natalie to be named Helen which was quickly abandoned. Carrie Hall is clearly an homage to comedienne Lucille Ball.
Helen Parrish

Getting the script format down wasn't the hardest part as there are numerous websites out there that post silent movie scripts online since most of them are in the public domain and I already knew how to format a modern movie script since there was a brief period of time where I thought I wanted to be a screenwriter. I still have one of my movie scripts, after it was returned to me after four years, so maybe someday I will get that posted somewhere.

I'm hoping that this story is as realistic as possible as well as enjoyable. I have a lot of respect for this era of movies and find the biographies of stars in that era fascinating. I got interested in it when I read condensed bios of Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle. It's amazing how quickly their careers plummeted when their dark sides were discovered. That doesn't happen as easily these days.

The movie "Bright Eyes" also features the song "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" which is one of my favorite old-timey songs. I still find myself singing or humming it some days. The song is based on famed trapeze artist Jules Leotard (yes, that Leotard) and was written in 1867. The song was the basis for a Popeye theatrical short where Popeye is distraught over Olive Oyl leaving him a trapeze artist. It's a very entertaining short as you can see:

You can read Baby Galoshes here.

Until next time, I remain...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No. 45: Baby Galoshes

Living-room at LIONEL’s house. Three o’clock in the afternoon. Ramona is marveling at the furniture and the beauty and enormity of the house as the camera circles around her. LIONEL comes in from the kitchen, drying his hands on a dish towel, smiling. Wide-eyed, Ramona says:

On screen.

Back to scene.
LIONEL smiles bigger and places the towel on a table and walks closer to Ramona, saying:

On screen.

Back to scene.
LIONEL reaches out and touches Ramona’s cheek. She tilts her head down to meet his hand slightly and closes her eyes. Lionel says:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Ramona speaks:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Ramona continues:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Lionel turns away from Ramona, places his hand alongside his mouth and shouts:

On screen.

Back to scene.
The camera, now focusing on the main staircase, Bethany, a child of about four comes running down the stairs excitedly. She runs down the stairs and leaps into Lionel’s arms, shouting:

On screen.

No one ran down the stairs. “Lionel” and “Ramona” waited for the little girl to run down the stairs but nothing happened. “Where the hell is Virginia?” the director, Lyman Zukor, shouted. A woman ran up to Lyman and whispered into his ear. “She doesn’t want to do it? Then I will find some other kid to do it!”

Vivian Parrish, who was playing Ramona, scoffed angrily. “I never liked that Rackham brat,” she said to her co-star Alan Matte who was playing Lionel.

“Mommy!” a little girl ran out on stage toward Vivian. She collided with her in a huge hug. Vivian giggled uncomfortably.

“Natalie, you know you aren’t allowed on stage with Mama,” she picked up her daughter and held her in her arms. “Sorry, Lyman,” Vivian smiled at the director.

“Don’t worry about it,” Lyman said. “She may be able to help us out. Do you think Natalie could do this scene?”

“She would just have to run down the stairs and into Alan’s arms, right?”

“Yes. And then she can go over the next five scenes she’s in and do those later in the week.”

“We can at least see how she does,” Vivian turned to Natalie. “Honey, do you think you can run down those stairs when Mr. Zukor shouts ‘Action’ and jump into Mr. Matte’s arms?”

“Yes,” she nodded excitedly.

“All right. Places!” Lyman shouted. A stage director took Natalie up the stairs as Lyman sat back down, cameras got ready and Vivian and Alan returned to their places on stage. “Cameras and…action!”

Back to scene.
The camera, now focusing on the main staircase, Bethany, a child of about four comes running down the stairs excitedly. She runs down the stairs and leaps into Lionel’s arms, shouting:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Lionel and Bethany give each other a peck on the lips. A slight look of shock is on Ramona’s face. Lionel turns back to Ramona and says:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Lionel continues talking:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Ramona smiles at Lionel and places her hand on Bethany’s cheek and says:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Ramona and Lionel kiss.


“And cut!” Lyman shouted. “Beautiful! Natalie that was some fine acting you did. You got a real good daughter here, Viv!” Lyman boasted.

“Yeah. The only good thing Harold Lloyd ever did for me,” Vivian took Natalie from Alan and kissed her on the cheek.

And a Wife Makes Three did moderately well but the actor that people and critics wanted to see more of was Natalie Parrish. Her acting was considered unique and natural, her appearance, markedly different from the beautiful, near-beauty queen children normally seen in movies, was considered more inviting which movie-goers were drawn to.

Two months after the film was released, Lyman Zukor and studio president Leonard Van Meter called Vivian and Natalie in. “We want to sign Natalie to a three-movie deal. The public loves her,” Lyman said.

“That’s great!” Vivian faked. “I don’t mean to be selfish but what about me?”

“We love you, Viv, and we want to extend that contract to you on the stipulation that you play Natalie’s onscreen mother,” he revealed.

The look of excitement left Vivian’s face. “I can still play young, Lyman. In fact, I would rather play young.”

Lyman and Leonard chuckled and tried to cover their faces. “Ms. Parrish. Vivian,” Leonard sighed. “We want you with Natalie because she is young and inexperienced. It would make sense that you would be her mother and you would be in every scene with her for support.”

“I could play her sister or a young aunt…”

“The movies we have scheduled for you and Natalie don’t have those characters. And one has a brother, not a sister,” Lyman explained.

“Then rewrite it. It shouldn’t take much to change the character from a boy to a girl,” Vivian said angrily.

Lyman and Leonard looked at each other. They both sighed and Leonard spoke. “We will rewrite the brother role to be a sister. We will see how it works out but any negative review about you playing a teenager and we’re not accommodating you in the other movies,” he said sternly.

“So you had better bring your best performance, Viv,” Lyman said. “You’ll be playing seventeen so do what you have to in order to channel a 17-year-old.”

“It’ll be the best performance of my career!” Vivian ecstatically stood up as she shook Lyman and Leonard’s hands.

“It better be,” Leonard pointed. “We’ll get someone to send over a script to you and Natalie when we get the changes done.”

“Thank you,” Vivian said and left the office.

“We better get our best makeup artist on this thing as well,” Leonard said.

Jim runs over to David and his family as they walked solemnly down the street. He’s shouting:

On screen.

Back to scene.
The family stops and turns to Jim who catches up to them, stops and pants:

On screen.

Back to scene.
The family all look at each other and talked amongst themselves. A small crowd had gathered around them. David speaks:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Jim and David shake hands. The small crowd cheers. Mary turns to Harold, smiles and says:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Harold speaks:

On screen.

Back to scene.
Mary and Harold kiss. The camera pulls out to reveal the family and crowd cheering and being jovial as Mary and Harold continue kissing.

Fade out.

On screen.

The film ended and the lights came up slightly. Seated in the small theater was Leonard, Lyman, director Ellis Dow, another producer Adolph Blair and screenwriters John Zaputa and Wallace Donner.

“That was good,” Lyman said.

“It was,” Leonard said. “I have to give kudos to Vivian. She was able to play young…”

“She even changed things that we had written in the script,” Wallace began. “She’d say ‘a 17-year-old wouldn’t say this’ or ‘a 17-year-old doesn’t do this,’ and we’d change it and it would always make it better.”

“She can play young but unfortunately she doesn’t look young,” Ellis said. “Make-up tried to do what they could but they aren’t miracle workers.”

“We can just hope that her performance is so good that no one notices or cares how she looks,” Leonard said.

“But the movie was popular,” Vivian complained. “All of our performances were well-received.”

“Yes, but the most common complaint was that you were too old for the role. A couple reviews even said that you were better suited for the mother’s role,” Lyman said.

“But Play in Peoria clearly shows that I can play Natalie’s older sister.”

Lyman shook his head as she spoke. “I’m sorry, Viv. The role of Natalie’s mother in any future movies is yours if you want it.”

Vivian sighed. “No. I need some time off. I want to make sure Natalie is taken care of and treated fairly,” Vivian said. “I have my daughter’s interests to protect.”

A Kid in the Ointment was about a singer, played by Vivian, whose daughter, played by Natalie, is starting to show talent of her own which starts causing Vivian’s character to lose out on jobs. She meets a man who wants to represent her daughter and she starts learning to accept her daughter and soon became a popular and successful mother-daughter team. Nobody expected the movie to be popular.

The Monday after it came out, Natalie Parrish was a household name. As Vivian and Natalie walked to the studio to see Leonard, three people came up to Natalie, calling her ‘Baby Galoshes’, the stage name her character had in the movie.

“Why do people keep calling me ‘Baby Galoshes’, Mama? Don’t they know my name is Natalie?” Natalie asked as they continued walking.

“They might but that’s how people identify with you. You’re not Natalie to them but you are Baby Galoshes because you did so well in your movie,” Vivian tried to explain.

Natalie seemed to understand but still had a blank look on her face. They got to the studio where more people—both tourists and fellow actors—came up to her. Vivian took her hand and began walking faster, practically dragging Natalie behind her.

When they got to Leonard’s office, he was beaming from ear to ear. “I am so glad you two could make it today. This is a big day for both of you!” Leonard motioned to the chairs in front of his desk. “Please have a seat.”

“Leonard, what’s going on?” Vivian asked as she sat down.

Leonard sat down. “We want to do a series of Baby Galoshes films starring Natalie. In case you haven’t noticed, Natalie has become an overnight sensation.”

“I thought something was a little odd on our way over,” Vivian said to herself. “How many movies are we talking about?”

“As many as the public will pay for. We would like one or two a year with a holiday themed one every two to three years.”

“She may be working year-round. She needs to go to school and be around children her own age,” Vivian said.

“We can work around her schedule. It’ll be no problem,” Leonard said.

“Give us the week to think about it. This is a big decision for both of us to make.”

“I bet Natalie would love to make more movies and entertain people,” Leonard smiled, looking right at Natalie.

“Yeah!” Natalie squealed.

“I’m sure she would, Leonard, but she is five-years-old and can’t make this kind of decision on her own,” Vivian stood up, grabbing Natalie’s arm. “We’ll let you know at the end of the week.”

Vivian and Natalie left the office. “I want to make more movies, Mama,” Natalie said.

“I know, sweetie, but this is a big decision. It’s a lot of work and you could be typecast doing just one character. And with a name like ‘Baby Galoshes,’ it could ruin your career,” Vivian huffed.

The Baby Galoshes franchise had spanned four years and seven movies. Natalie was known around the world and had grown from a precocious 5-year-old to a rather mature 9-year-old. While Baby Galoshes was a household name, people didn’t know who Natalie was. To the world she was only Baby Galoshes.

The series had undergone many changes over the last four years. The first two movies starred Vivian and Natalie as mother and daughter. Vivian’s character was killed off and it became a story of a young star and her stepfather for the next two movies until they, for an unexplained reason, became about a talented orphan. The most recent movie changed the plot again to an orphan star now in the charge of her maternal grandparents played by Rita Carlyle and Frank Sheridan. All the performances were praised but everyone agreed that the Baby Galoshes series had run its course.

“What do we do now?” Vivian asked Leonard.

“What are you talking about?” he asked.

“Where does Natalie go from here?”

“She can still audition for movies with the studio. However, her time as Baby Galoshes has embedded that image into the public’s heads.”

“Just like I knew it would,” Vivian sighed.

After Vivian’s character was killed off in the third Baby Galoshes movie, she had become a manager and agent to Natalie. Vivian made sure she was treated fairly and that she went to school and still had time to be a kid.

“I heard a rumor of a movie being produced about a girl who lives in the shadow of her talented sister,” Vivian said.

“Mm-hmm,” Leonard nodded. “We’ll be starting production soon but Natalie is a bit older than we were planning on.”

“But she could be the older sister.”

“The older sister doesn’t sing or dance.”

“She doesn’t need to. Natalie wants to be an actress and I’m going to make sure that she accomplishes that.”

Leonard nodded again. “Auditions will be held in the next month. We’ll get a script sent over to her and tell Natalie ‘good luck’ for me.”

“Why are they talking bad about me, Mama?” Natalie asked Vivian during breakfast after reading a review of her new movie in the newspaper.

“You shouldn’t be reading those reviews, Natty,” Vivian said with a sigh and taking the newspaper away from Natalie. “People expected you to sing and dance in your movie and when you didn’t, they just got a little upset.”

“Was I supposed to sing and dance? Why didn’t they like me?”
“It’s just what they expected. Because of Baby Galoshes. Don’t worry about it. It’ll just take people a little longer to understand that you aren’t a singer or dancer anymore.”

Tell Colin that I can’t come and see him yet.

That’ll put all the humor out him if I tell him that, Miss Mary.

I can’t stay. Dickon is waiting for me. I’ll visit him later.

MARY runs away from MARTHA down the path to the garden. Nearly all of the weeds were cleared out and most of the roses and trees had been pruned or dug about. DICKON was already working when MARY arrived.

[not looking up]
There’ll be apple blossoms an’ cherry blossoms overhead. An’ peach an’ plum trees in bloom against the wall, an’ grass’ll be a carpet o’ flowers.

Montage of MARY and DICKON working in the garden along with scenes of animals and birds in the garden. Tiny foxes run around, birds flitter about and robins fly down to observe MARY and DICKON. Squirrels also come up and MARY and DICKON feed them nuts and seeds. Soon, DICKON sits down with his pipe and MARY joins him.

This is looking very different. Even you are changing, just like the garden.

I’m getting fatter and fatter. Mrs. Medlock will have to get me some bigger dresses. Martha says my hair is getting thicker and not so flat and stringy.

The sun begins to set.

I’ll be at work by sunrise.

So will I.

MARY runs back to the house. When she opens the door to her room, she sees MARTHA waiting for her with a doleful face.

What’s wrong? What did Colin say when you told him I called come?

I wish you’da gone. He was nigh going into one o’ his tantrums. There was nothing we could do to keep him quiet. He would watch the clock all afternoon.

MARY purses her lips and a look of anger comes on her face. She angrily leaves her room, storming off to COLIN’s room. When she gets to his room, COLIN is lying in bed, on his back and doesn’t even move to acknowledge MARY.

Why didn’t you get up today?

I did. When I thought you were coming. I made them put me back in my bed this afternoon. My back ached and my head ached and I was tired. Why didn’t you come?

I was in the garden with Dickon.

I won’t let that boy come here if you go and stay with him instead of coming to talk to me.

If you do that, I will never come in this room again.

You’ll have to if I want you.

I won’t!

I’ll make you! I’ll have them drag you in!

They may drag me but they can’t make me talk! I’ll clench my teeth and just sit there and never tell you one thing! I won’t even look at you. I’ll stare at the floor.

MARY and COLIN stare at each other intensely, glaring and fuming.

You are a selfish thing!

Then what are you? Selfish people always say that. You’re more selfish than I am. You’re the most selfish boy I ever saw.

I’m not as selfish as your fine Dickon is! He keeps you playing in dirt when he knows I am all by myself! He’s selfish!

MARY gets angrier and takes a couple steps toward COLIN.

He’s not! He’s the most unselfish boy I know. He’s…He’s like an angel.

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, the story of a spoiled young girl who learns of a garden at her uncle’s manor when she is sent to live there after her parents die, wasn’t supposed to be anything special but somehow became the most talked about film of 1937. Natalie was soon in high demand with nearly all the producers and directors at National wanting her and the public wondering what her next role would be.

“This could be a very controversial role, Vivian. Are you sure Natalie is up for it?” Leonard asked.

“Definitely,” Vivian answered. “She seems to have a natural talent for drama and we need to make sure that talent is being utilized. Also, we need to see what she can really do.”

Leonard sighed. “All right, Vivian. Guthrie will be ecstatic that Natalie is on board.”

The movie was called Tumbleweeds and was to be directed by Guthrie O’Dowd and was a western set in the 1850s. Natalie starred as Emma Anderson, whose father is killed and homestead burned by John Custer, a notorious criminal. Emma hires George Jefferson Armstrong to hunt down and kill Custer and the two travel around the west searching for him and getting into additional trouble because of Armstrong’s temper and reputation.

The movie featured lots of killing and, unlike most westerns at the time, was aimed toward adults. Scenes of Emma brandishing and using a gun during a shootout were discussed, scenes of Emma and Armstrong sharing a bed were cut and refilmed to show them in separate bedrooms or on opposite sides of a campfire circle. In the end, the movie did very poorly. Guthrie was let go from National and Natalie was released from the holiday movie she was scheduled to be in. Soon, people calling her to be in their movie stopped and Natalie was let go from her contract with National, her last on-screen appearance being in a “Two Goofs” short subject in 1938.

One of the biggest names in Hollywood in 1940 was Jimmy Hicks. Jimmy’s first movie made him a star and his next movie proved that he deserved the stardom. In 1939, Jimmy was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Billy Lasker in Eyewitness. In it, Billy witnesses the murder of a young doctor but a black man is accused and tried instead. And even when Billy confesses to what he saw, people don’t believe him because Billy’s father is defending the black man in court. Eyewitness was very well-received and offered topical conversations on many things.

Jimmy was also a part of the Tawney Family series of movies, the third one of which was going to start filming in another three months.

As Jimmy left one of the studios, Natalie ran up to him and introduced herself. “Jimmy Hicks? I’m Natalie Parrish; I used to be Baby Galoshes.”

“I remember those. They’re a nice little escape from thinking,” Jimmy said.

“Thank you. The reason I want to talk to you is that I know the next Tawney Family movie is about to start filming and the role of a possible love interest for your character hasn’t been cast yet.”


“I was wondering if I could audition and if you like my performance, you could put in a good word for me for the role.”

“Yeah, I could do that. Can you come by my hotel room at about eight tonight?” Jimmy asked. “You can read some lines and see where we can go from there.”

“Of course! I’ll be there at eight on the dot,” Natalie exclaimed.

Natalie arrived about five minutes before eight. Jimmy answered the door wearing a robe. Despite Jimmy being Natalie’s age, he was pretty much left to his own devices.

“So glad you could make it,” Jimmy invited her in. “I selected a couple of scenes I thought would best represent the character you are trying out for.”

“Great. I really appreciate you doing this,” Natalie said.

“No problem at all. I know how rough it can be out there,” Jimmy smiled. “Please sit down and we can begin.” Jimmy handed Natalie a script and motioned Natalie to the couch.

The role was for the coveted part of Laura Blackburn, a tomboy who starts out as Jimmy’s rival which soon grows into a relationship. The role had a possibility of being in subsequent movies, as well.

Natalie and Jimmy read a couple of scenes together and talked about their lives and careers for several hours until a clock somewhere in the hotel room chimed midnight.

“Midnight? I should go,” Natalie said. She stood up and sat her script on the table.

“Natalie,” Jimmy stood up quickly and grabbed her shoulder. “How badly do you want this role?”

“I would do almost anything for it. I want to get back into making movies,” Natalie said, getting a catch in her throat.

“Go to bed with me tonight and I can guarantee you the role of Laura,” Jimmy said.

Natalie smiled and blushed, looking away from Jimmy. “Jimmy, we’re only fifteen…”

“You would be perfect for the role, Natalie,” Jimmy said. “But the producers are going to be looking for a girl that will have chemistry with me. If we sleep together then you have more chemistry with me than any other girl who auditions.”

Natalie thought about that but still shook her head. “I don’t know if that’s something I want to do. I’m still a virgin and do I really want to use my first time to try to get a job?”

“A job that could change your life,” Jimmy said.

Natalie thought about it again and then she looked up at Jimmy.

She woke up the next morning naked and in Jimmy’s hotel bed alone. There was a note on the bedside table ‘Make yourself at home.’ Natalie smiled and got out of bed, throwing on one of Jimmy’s robes to cover her even though her clothes were in a pile next to the bed. She walked out to the kitchen nook where some coffee had been made and a copy of “Variety” was laid out. She poured herself a cup and glanced at the paper. She noticed a small article on the new Tawney Family movie.

3rd Tawney Family to Start Filming Next Month
‘The third movie in the successful Tawney Family franchise starring Jimmy Hicks and Robert Acarta will begin filming next month after a long search for an actress to play new character and love interest for Hicks was finally concluded with the hiring of Sasha Marco as Laura Blackburn.’

Natalie gasped when she read the part had already been cast. She threw the paper down, stormed back into the bedroom dropping her robe and getting dressed. She stormed out of the hotel room and headed back home.

As Natalie’s career fell, Vivian’s picked up slightly as she began being cast as side characters. The characters weren’t important to the story nor did they move the plot along but Vivian was proud of them because it brought in a paycheck and kept her in front of the camera. Vivian had done a fairly decent job at managing and saving the money Natalie had made making movies but Natalie hadn’t worked since 1939 and the money was being spent quickly.

These days, Natalie spent her days sleeping and her nights imbibing in many drugs and lots of alcohol and sleeping around. She hadn’t auditioned for anything since 1946 because “What’s the point of auditioning if they aren’t even going to consider me?”

“You need to keep trying, Nattie. You’ll find something. Maybe you need to audition for smaller roles,” Vivian suggested.

“Because it’s worked out so well for you the last couple of years,” Natalie rolled her eyes.

“At least I’m working and making money, unlike you. Why don’t you audition for one of the many television pilots networks are creating?” Vivian suggested again.

“Television? I’m a movie star, Mama. Television will never have the respect that movies have and I want respect!”

“You’re not going to get a lot respect with those needle marks on your arms and being arrested for marijuana possession and getting back-alley abortions!” Vivian said reducing Natalie’s last five years to one sentence.

“You’re just jealous of me. You’re mad at me because when I became a star, you became unpopular!” Natalie snarled.

“I was famous before you were even born, little girl, and I stopped being famous because I wanted to make sure you were taken care of both monetarily and emotionally. If you’re so famous then how come I’m going to the set today and you’re going to sleep all afternoon?”

Natalie screamed breathily and stormed down the hallway to her room, slamming the door. Vivian walked to Natalie’s bedroom door.

“CBS is holding auditions for two new television shows today if you want to go. I’ll be home about six.”

Vivian got home at about six but Natalie was gone. She had left for the house of Dionne Holliday. Dionne made one movie in 1942 and had been strung out ever since. The money she made was long gone and Dionne had made a living essentially whoring out her body and selling drugs. Natalie met Dionne at an audition and became fast friends, mainly because of the way they both thought they were being jerked around by Hollywood.

The inside of Dionne’s house was pretty trashed with the carpet being torn in places, cigarette butts and liquor bottles strewn around the rooms. There were holes in the wall and most of the light fixtures didn’t work because the bulbs were either blown out or broken.

Natalie stood, fairly unbalanced, against the wall across from the bathroom door as she waited for Dionne to pee.

“TV. She wants me to audition for TV,” Natalie said in disgust. “I’d rather stab a needle into my eye.”

“I’ve been to TV auditions. All these people who’ve never acted before or washed-up Vaudevillians, they’re taking jobs away from real actors like you and me,” Dionne said from the bathroom and then came out. “And what’s scary is that when TV goes away, all the actors,” she said derogatorily, “will think they are entitled to be cast in movies. It’s just a load of bullshit.”

Natalie nodded. “My mom just doesn’t understand me. Since I was two, no three…two? I’ve wanted to act and entertain people…in movies! What’s the point of spending all that time and effort learning lines, stage cues and articulation if I’m going to get paid squat for it? TV isn’t going to pay as much.”

“Mm-hmm,” Dionne agreed. “I have a guy coming over here who wants to meet you.”

“What? Really?”

“Yeah. He’s always been fan of yours. He’s hoping that you and he will really hit it off. He even said that he’d be willing to pay for it.”

“I’m no whore,” Natalie giggled.

“He’s asked that if you two do hit it off that you wear these,” Dionne opened a closet and pulled out a pair of red galoshes. “And that you call him ‘Daddy.’”

Natalie laughed. “I’d be glad to,” and she took the boots from Dionne.

Carrie Hall had been trying since 1949 to get a show she created on the air. Since 1947, Hall provided the voice for the character Lizzie Pugh on the radio show Wife in Love. Carrie had written several scripts for a new TV show called The Newlyweds about Carl and Madelyn Allison who have just gotten married and moved into a small apartment in New York City. Their neighbors were Thomas and Anna Barnett, an older couple married for nearly 30 years. It took a lot of prodding to get a network to take a chance on it but NBC agreed and commissioned a pilot in March 1951 and the series to begin in September.

The phone in the Parrish household rang loudly. Natalie was asleep upstairs so Vivian had to run to answer it. “Hello?” she answered.

“Is this Vivian Parrish?”

“This is her,” she replied.

“I saw that you auditioned for the role of Anna Barnett in The Newlyweds. Is this the same Vivian Parrish who was in silent films and the first two Baby Galoshes movies?”


“Oh, I love those movies and I love you. This is Carrie Hall, star and producer of The Newlyweds. I would be honored to offer you the role of Anna if you still want it.”

“Really? That would be great!”

“It’s going to be great working with you. I’ll see you at the studio at nine on the twelfth.”

Vivian hung up the phone. “Thank God,” she said quietly and started to cry.

Life on the set of The Newlyweds was very jovial and the best part was that everybody got along with everybody else. Carrie’s husband was played by Brent Osmond and Vivian’s played by William Tuckfield, who was ten years older than her but she didn’t care. William was a kind man who drank a little too much and gambled a bit too often but he never let that get in the way of work.

The first shot of The Newlyweds was Brent carrying Carrie over the threshold of their apartment. The studio audience was instructed to applaud loud and long during this. The image is now one of the most famous in TV history.

Everyone was nervous for the first five or so episodes as they waited to see what the ratings said about their show. After a rehearsal, Vivian went to her dressing room, sat down at her makeup table and placed her face in her hands. There was a soft knock on the door. “Come in,” Vivian said softly.

Carrie came into the dressing room. “Are you doing okay, Viv?” she asked. “You seemed a bit shaky during that last scene.”

“I’m fine. I’m just a bit nervous.”

“Nervous about what?” Carrie asked as she sat down next to Vivian.

“The show. I’m worried how it will be perceived and the ratings and just what will I do if the show doesn’t last.”

“Let me let you in on a little secret,” Carrie smiled. “The network loves the show. The advertisers love the show. And based on the preliminary ratings that landed in my office yesterday, America loves the show. We have thirty-three episodes to film this season and another thirty-three after that and another after that and probably another after that.”

Vivian smiled. “That’s good to hear. Thanks again for letting me be a part of this.”

“My pleasure. And remember, if that daughter of yours ever comes to her senses, I think we can squeeze in a couple of guest posts for her.”

“I’ll let her know again but she is adamantly against television,” Vivian reminded.

“Give her awhile. She’ll come around.”

“There’s really no way around it,” Gordon Deckel, the president of the network said to Carrie and the three other producers. “We’re going to have to write them out of the show.”

Seven seasons The Newlyweds had been on television. It was still at the top of the ratings and had made each of the four leads a star and a decent amount of money. After the show had wrapped for its seventh season, William had a heart attack while walking along Hollywood Boulevard. He was declared dead at the scene. His funeral was well attended by stars past and present along with family and fans. Shortly after the funeral, the network began wondering how to proceed with the show.

“The show’s been on for seven years. Brent and Carrie are not exactly newlyweds now so we can write out William and Vivian, introduce a new newlywed couple who can become new friends,” said one of the producers.

“Absolutely not,” Carrie said. “Why are we punishing Vivian? She’s been nothing but loyal to the show and the network. Why can’t we write William’s death into the show? We can still introduce the new couple but Anna—Vivian—could become the person everyone goes to for solving marital troubles.”

“I don’t think our viewers want to watch an episode about death,” Gordon said.

“One episode mentioning it isn’t going to hurt. Viewers loved William and they’d want to be there for the characters,” Carrie said.

“No,” Gordon shook his head. “We aren’t going to do that.”

“Then I quit,” Carrie sat back and crossed her arms.

“You can’t do that.”

“I can, actually. It’s in my contract that as star and producer, I can pull the plug on the series at any time. Vivian continues to be a part of the show or I quit.”

The season premiere focused on the cast after the funeral for William’s character. The episode basically became a clip show showcasing William’s best moments. It was the only episode not filmed in front of a studio audience and filming had to be halted a lot due to the cast constantly crying. The second episode introduced the new newlywed couple, the Clarks. Natalie was moved to the short list on being cast as Katherine Clark.

“You need to audition for this, Natty,” Vivian said to her daughter who hadn’t appeared in front of the camera in nearly two decades. “The Newlyweds has been on the air for seven years. Carrie likes me and she likes you enough that if you audition she can automatically move you to the short list.”

“Fine!” Natalie growled. “I will audition but just like every other role I’ve auditioned for, I probably won’t get it!”

“You won’t know until you try,” Vivian said. “I want what’s best for you but you have to meet me halfway sometimes.”

The next day, Natalie went to audition for The Newlyweds. The audition went very well and Natalie, along with three other actresses were called back the next day where the producers would make their decision. Natalie missed the second audition. After doing so well, she decided to celebrate with Dionne. While she promised herself to leave early and not get too strung out, she wound up going to a hotel with some guy, doing lines, having sex and passing out about three in the morning. She woke up naked, parts of her face, breasts and genital were caked in semen, blood and urine and she noticed that she wet herself this morning. She groaned and looked at the clock.

“One fifteen,” she said aloud. Her second audition was at nine. “Shit,” she groaned again and collapsed back into bed.

1962, 1968
The last episode of The Newlyweds was just like any other episode. Long feeling that the name of the show no longer applied—especially after the introduction of a daughter in 1958 and a son for the Clarks in 1961, Carrie decided to end the show. The Newlyweds went out on top and the cast was honored with a standing ovation as they took their final bow.

Vivian was now 56, twice nominated for an Emmy with a slew of offers coming in for work on other TV shows. After production wrapped, Vivian and the other cast members stayed backstage talking. “Have I
thanked you yet for giving me this opportunity yet, Carrie?” Vivian laughed.

“Many times. And it was a pleasure working with you all these years. If I ever need your skills again, I’ll be sure to hunt you down,” Carrie smiled.

“Vivian?” a man came backstage. He was a stocky man with a tweed suit and a comb-over.

“Al! What are you doing here?” Al Frazier was an agent Vivian hired in 1959 when Carrie originally toyed with the idea of ending The Newlyweds. Al became a big help in landing commercials, radio spots and guest
appearances and became one of her closest friends.

“I have some news for you, Viv,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Can I speak to you alone? In private?”

They stepped out into an alleyway. “What do you have to tell me? Why the secrecy?”

“Las Vegas police found Natalie dead…” Al said with a big sigh.

“No. That’s impossible,” Vivian said but she knew.
Natalie had disappeared about two weeks ago which was something she had started to do since her Newlyweds audition. Vivian never knew what she did or where she went but she had ideas and heard stories.

“She was found in a motel outside Las Vegas,” Al continued as Vivian started to shake. “And this is why I wanted to tell you in private; the police believe she went there to get an abortion, something went wrong and…”

“No. Natalie’s had an abortion before but that was eight years ago? Or maybe it was…”

“Viv. They found her naked on the floor in a pool of her own blood. A medical book and surgical equipment were nearby. Police think whoever was performing the abortion realized something was wrong and ran off.”

“They’re sure it’s her?” she was starting to cry now.

Al nodded slightly.

“I want to see her,” Vivian sniffed.

“Viv, she’s in Las Vegas for the autopsy…” he paused to look at her. “Come with me. I’ll drive.”

The Natalie Parrish Clinic opened about a year after Natalie died. It was originally started to help child actors cope with being themselves, actors and children and to get their substance abuse under control if needed but it soon grew to help all children no matter the background or income.

In the clinic was a room where Natalie’s story was told from her first role to Baby Galoshes to The Secret Garden to her unfortunate death. It was incredibly detailed and used for the clinic’s tough cases. It even featured a photo the police took in the hotel where Natalie died showing her naked and dead in the pool of her blood.

“I want to make sure that no other child goes through what Natalie did and not just the children of Hollywood but all children,” Vivian said in an interview. “I take a lot of the blame for not establishing boundaries or working harder on getting Natalie roles but we needed money and if she wasn’t working, someone had to. I’m just glad she’s at peace and I hope I can find peace and forgiveness with the clinic.”

A year after the interview, Vivian was sitting in her office when her phone rang. “Hello?” she answered.

“Vivian, this is Carrie. How are you doing?”

“Carrie! It’s been forever. I’m doing well. Really well actually. The clinic is doing great and I know you are doing good. Seven television show on the air all being produced by you. Very busy woman.”

“Soon to be eight,” Carrie laughed. “That’s actually why I called you. I want to offer you the part of Caroline Freeman’s mom in All of Us.”

“What’s it about?” asked Vivian.

“It’s about a blended family. A woman who’s widowed remarries to a man who is also widowed and they each have three kids. The mom, you, moves in to help the new couple raise their six children.”

“That sounds interesting. Yeah, I can come in for an audition.”

“No, no. No audition. The part is yours. The cast is great, wonderful kids. The network has complete faith in the show which is why we’re being fast tracked,” Carrie explained. “So…will we see you Monday?”

On Monday, the entire cast met backstage in the sound stage along with a couple of writers and producers including Carrie. “I think a couple of you met during auditions but let’s go around and formally introduce each other,” she said. “I’m Carrie Hall, creator and producer.”

“I’m Robert Gleeson; I’ll be playing Scott Reed.”

“I’m Caroline Freeman; I’ll be playing Lois Reed.”

“Jack Jacobs, Michael Reed.”

“Dana Thomas, Lily Reed.”

“Michael Hanscomb, Oliver Reed.”

“Julia Reeves, Lucy Reed.”

“Valerie Gammill, Winnie Reed.”

“Matt Linklater, Eric Reed.”

Vivian looked at the six actors and actresses set to play her grandchildren. Jack was a handsome young man of about 15 with curly black hair. Dana had light brown hair and looked about 13 in age. Michael and Julia were the same age, 11, but Julia had red hair which was vastly different compared to who would be playing her brothers and sisters. Valerie and Matt were the two youngest at 5 and 7 respectively. Matt’s hair was starting to turn from blond to a dirty blond while Valerie’s hair was still a bright, illuminated yellow. She smiled and got teary-eyed as she introduced herself. “Vivian Parrish, I will be playing Grandma Rose.”

A small commotion ensued before Carrie interrupted. “All right, let’s head into the conference room for a read-through.”

The cast dispersed and followed Carrie even further backstage. Dana walked over to Vivian and spoke, “Ms. Parrish? You probably don’t remember me. I’m Dana Thomas.”

“Please, call me Vivian.”

“Okay, Vivian. I just wanted to thank you for your program. You know, the one named after your daughter.”

“You…were at the clinic?” Vivian was taken aback. Dana was young but Vivian knew there had been kids as young as eight admitted to the clinic.”

“I’m now six months clean and feel in a good place. I couldn’t have done it without your clinic.”

“That is so nice to hear. After the kids leave, you never really know what happens to them unless it’s really good or really…bad.”

“Again, I just wanted to thank you and I look forward to working with you,” Dana said.

“I look forward to working with you, too. All of you,” Vivian said smiled.

“All of us,” Valerie joked and everybody laughed.