A conversation with Gregory Peck

I was watching the documentary A Conversation with Gregory Peck on Netflix earlier this evening (I was very pleasantly surprised to find it there!). It was made in 1999 (4 years before Peck died) during a speaking tour he did throughout the US, where he spoke about his life and his career.

As I watched it, I realized I must have seen at least some of it before although there were also bits I didn’t remember. As an old-time Gregory Peck fan, hearing the stories he had to tell about his career (even though I already knew many) was an absolute joy! At one special moment in the documentary the actress who played his daughter, Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird was in the audience. Apparently she still called him Atticus and he still called her Scout. 🙂  He also invited his wife Veronique up on stage for a little bit…

The documentary also touched on Gregory Peck’s political convictions. He was famous for being a democrat and liberal and in the video speaks of opposing the Vietnam war while at the same time being proud of his son Stephen who had served in the army during that war. He is also shown giving a speech in Philadelphia in 1999 about gun control…

He says,“Is it the culture or the guns that led to the massacre at Columbine High School? And it is of course both. What is wrong with keeping guns out of the hands of the wrong people?” Today, 19 years on, I could still give him a standing ovation for that. Gregory and I would certainly have agreed with each other politically…

What I loved even more in this documentary was the behind the scenes glimpses of him, with his wife and his family. His daughter Cecilia co-produced this documentary and was in it a lot…

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… but there are also glimpses of his other kids (two sons, Stephen and Carey, from his first marriage and a son, Anthony, from his marriage to Veronique). I loved the images of a family get-together, where they all sat around and watched basketball. Look at the anticipation on the faces of Gregory and his son Stephen here!

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I had to blink away a few tears when Gregory spoke of his son Jonathan who had committed suicide at the age of 30, with Gregory wondering whether he could have done more to prevent that. And I blinked away major tears when the film featured Gregory waiting at the hospital for his daughter Cecilia to give birth and then meeting his 10 minute old grandson! Most parts of the documentary are also up on YouTube, I’ll just share this part about the birth here (from 5.20 minutes onwards in this video)…

The fascination with his new grandson and the concern he shows over his daughter just after giving birth so very much reminds me of my own father (and my mother) after my son was first born. Yet again, here is Gregory reminding me of my dad, even in the way he was a dad to his daughter! My parents showed that same love to my baby and the same concern for me…

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… and their love and concern was repeated two and a half years later when my daughter was born..

The look of being in love with a new baby grandchild is very similar… It made me miss Gregory Peck and it made me miss my dad.

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Oh, how I still love Gregory Peck! If you like him too, I recommend you check out this documentary on Netflix a.s.a.p…

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Esther-Daddy Day

This evening the Jewish festival of Purim starts, celebrating the Persian Queen Esther who saved the Jewish people from genocide some 2500 years ago. My parents gave my siblings and me names from the Hebrew bible (old testament). So, my brothers and sisters are called: Rachel, David, Daniel (in fairness, Daniel wasn’t named by my parents; he came to our family age 11 and fit right in, name and all!), Joel, Rebecca and Jonathan. And then there’s me, Esther, named after Queen Esther herself! Hence also the title of this blog – I am named after the biblical queen in The Book of Esther and books tells stories, which in a way I do here as well, sharing stories and experiences in my life.

My parents always enjoyed giving me Queen Esther themed gifts. Many of them I don’t have anymore, or are scattered throughout the house and I don’t know where they are, but I do have two paintings still hanging on my walls here. One of the them, called “The town of  Queen Esther” was painted/printed by an acquaintance my parents had many years ago…

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It’s not my fave painting ever, but I like it enough to keep on my staircase wall.

A second piece of art I own hangs in my living room and was once given to me by my parents. It’s an absolutely fascinating ink drawing they got me when we were all visiting the artistic town of Tzfat (Safed) once in the north of Israel…

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If you look closely you’ll see that the figure of Esther and the pillars next to her are made up of tiny Hebrew lettering. We were told that the whole text of the Book of Esther is worked into this ink drawing! I just love this. This drawing is not only connected to my name and that bible story, it is also forever connected to my parents who picked it out for me. I can still see myself standing outside this artist’s atelier together with my parents, deciding on this particular work of art.

Tomorrow is not only Purim, the festival of Esther, but is also the second anniversary of the passing of my father. I am happy to have such mementoes as this one that keep me connected to him. So, as this evening/tomorrow is the happy festival of Purim as well as a day during which I commemorate my dad, I am dubbing March 12th, 2017 “Esther-Daddy Day”!

According to Jewish custom you say “May his memory be for a blessing!” and I can honestly say that although I will miss him forever, my father’s memory truly is a blessing. For tomorrow I wish for my family and myself to be filled with not only sad but also many happy memories and in Yiddish I wish to those who celebrate (my Jewish brother and sister among them) “A freilichen Purim”!

30 Day Movie Challenge – Day 6

Day 6 – The first movie you ever saw in a cinema

The first movie I remember seeing in the cinema was towards the end of the 1970s when I was living in Jerusalem and my mother took me (and possibly some of my siblings as well but I don’t really remember that) to see the Cinderella movie musical The Slipper and the Rose starring Richard Chamberlain and Gemma Craven. I must have been around 7 or 8 at the time.

I posted about this movie once before while reminiscing about Richard Chamberlain (go to that post if you want to see some more delightful clips). Seeing this movie sparked a love for Cinderella stories that I am still susceptible to today and an admiration for Richard Chamberlain.

I could have written about this movie in yesterday’s category as well (‘A movie that reminds you of someone’) as I always have to think of my parents when I see this. My mom loved this movie as I did (I think she had a crush on Richard Chamberlain too) and my dad’s nostrils would quiver with pleasure when he watched the “Protocoligorically Correct” song. I even still have the accompanying hard cover children’s book, worn for having been read so often, with beautiful full colour images of the movie that my mom gave me as a present around that time.

Richard Chamberlain is so charming as the prince, I can watch him forever in this! Michael Hordern is a wonderul scatterbrained King, Kenneth More is a lovely, pompous Lord Chamberlain and Annette Crosbie is the bubbly, ever so rushed and overworked Fairy Godmother. Cinderella (Gemma Craven) is admittedly almost too sweet but that doesn’t hinder the fun! She’s the pink princess any 8 year old would love (except my daughter who unlike me never liked princesses).

OK, yes, the film is very sugary, I do realize that, and I can understand that many people would find that a bit much to bear. But there are also some nicely fleshed out characters that make me laugh every time (I mean, come on, I defy anyone to not enjoy that silly king and the pompous Lord Chamberlain) and the cleverly rhymed and fun songs (despite two or so very sappy ones) make this movie such a joy to watch! I think it is mostly a forgotten film now and I find that to be such a shame…

(30 Day Movie Challenge – the full list of questions)

 

Four score years

My mother is 80 years old today!

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This picture of her was taken at a wedding when she was about 5 or 6 years old and she was a bridesmaid.

We  celebrated her birthday last weekend with a high tea, followed by a lovely guided tour through Panorama Mesdag, a special museum hosting a huge panoramic painting connected to her family history as her grandfather’s ships are portrayed on that huge panoramic painting. Afterwards we had cake and dinner at her apartment, it was a lovely, albeit totally exhausting day. I have lots of brothers and sisters and everyone came, including my two brothers living abroad. We were a group of about 20 people. Great day!

My mum is quite fit for her 80 years, here’s to many years more!

A special gift

Fact #1: My mother paints as a hobby, these last few years she’s been doing watercolors (but never signs them – she thinks nothing she paints is good enough to sign).

Fact #2: Two months ago I took my mother to see The Crucible in the cinema and she loved it, she wanted to dedicate a painting to it.

Fact #3: Last week was my birthday…

… and this was the gift I received from her!

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Done after this Richard Armitage / Anna Madeley image that I love so very much:

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Thank you, mama!!