Monday, September 27, 2010

Gloria Stuart, R.I.P.

The actress passed away at the age of 100. She was a contract player in the 1930s, working with director James Whale in The Old Dark House and The Invisible Man, and Busby Berkeley in Gold Diggers of 1935. Roles were few and far between in the 1940s, although she did appear in the first of The Whistler films. She has a lovely scene in My Favorite Year in which she doesn’t say a word, simply dances with Peter O’Toole.

And then, of course, came her role as Old Rose in Titanic.

I spent an extraordinary morning listening to her speak in January 2002 when she visited Seattle. In her nineties but still sharp and vibrant, she told one amazing story after another. About her long friendship with Groucho Marx, hosting Humphrey Bogart at dinner parties, meeting Dorothy Parker, organizing the Screen Actors Guild. It was a small gathering, and it snowed while she talked.

Rosemarie bought a copy of her memoir I Just Kept Hoping that day, and used the short version of her name when she asked Miss Stuart to sign it. Which is why our copy is inscribed, “Best wishes to (another!) Rose.”