Here’s my story about my meeting director Norman Jewison.
Before I start, though, what triggered this memory was that sometime in January I went to see the documentary HAL, directed by Amy Scott. Everyone has an interesting story—at least I hope they do—and Ashby was no exception. It may not have been over-encompassing, but it was certainly of its time. Ashby had directed a number of movies that are still very well-known, my absolute favourite, not just of his, but a significant favourite, being HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971). It was nice to learn about some of its background, how this 1971 film was made. Plus, since I’m a vintage film buff, learning a minuscule more about Ruth Gordon. Check this doc out.
But what has this to do with Norman Jewison? Well, Norman was one of the earliest interviewed in the documentary and met Hal when he was already a director and Hal was working his way up in studio-land. He had nothing but praise for Hal. Absolutely loved him.
So, this wedding had to be around 1987, just around the time that MOONSTRUCK had either just been finished or the filming had been completed. Somehow, we knew about it since I believe it was partially filmed in Toronto, and Norman was a Torontonian.
I was dating a fellow named Mark and very unusually, for most of us, his grade 2 teacher invited him to her wedding. Now, in 1987, Mark would have been in his early 30s. So, how interesting that he was still in touch with his grade 2 teacher. But, his mother, who was my mother’s childhood friend, was a very new-age person, even before there was such a thing as new-age. Her given name was Rhoda, but she liked to go by the name of Sky, which us sisters respected, and caller her such until the end of her life. But to me, she was always Rhoda.
Rhoda/Sky was always a cool lady and, of course, when I was younger, always wished my mother would be more like her. Now, at an older age, with two grown children behind me, I’m no longer in that mind-frame. But, regardless of all that, she was one of my favourites of my mother’s friends. So that’s how I knew Mark. When we were kids, we, the three of us sisters would play with Rhoda’s three sons. I stayed friends and still keep in touch from time-to-time with her middle son, Leslie, who lives in the Province of British Columbia with his wife and two sons.
Anyway, when I was seeing Mark, he told me about this wedding, which was being held at a swanky downtown hotel, and he wanted me to go with him. I was into sewing my own clothes at that time, mostly Vogue patterns, and I made this black, satin gown which I thought I would wear for the event. I also liked wearing coloured contact lenses. My eyes are brown, and it was fun to wear blue or green lenses. That night, I decided to wear one blue lens and keep the other brown (or maybe I wore a green one, but most probably not, as the brown and blue made a better and more noticeable contrast).
I don’t remember the ceremony at all. I do remember that Mark’s teacher was Jewish and that her new husband was Italian. His name might have been Rocco, certainly something very Italian and very gangster-sounding. Her name was very ordinary. This was, I believe, the second marriage for both. I think the teacher was a widow; maybe even both were widowed.
So, after the possible ceremony that I might have attended, we were led to a room that served drinks and hors d’oeuvre. The appetizer that most interested me was the Shrimp Tree. I loved shrimp and couldn’t seem to get enough of it. I wasn’t much of a drinker, so food was more enticing, and I filled myself up on this delectable sea-food.
Suddenly a wall opened (I know this is a regular occurrence today), and there, before us, was a huge room with stations of food and tables to seat six. Unusual for then, or even today, there was no seating plan. Mark and I headed to the table furthest away from the sliding doors but closest to the head table. We weren’t at all hungry any longer and we just wanted to make sure we had a place to sit. After a while, a couple joined us and introduced themselves to us as Norman and Dety (I know it was some kind of cute sounding nick-name) Jewison. MOONSTRUCK was very much in the news, and I know I commented on it once I realized who the hell I was sitting with. Another couple joined us, friends of the Jewison’s, and we soon discovered they were Mr. and Mrs. George Cohon, founder and senior chairman of McDonald’s of Canada. He talked about how he was working on opening McDonald’s in Russia. Something that, until today, has just stuck in my head.
Of course, Mark and I were quite thrilled that these famous people chose our table to sit at. After a while of conversing and listening to the conversation between the two couples, we decided we would dance. After we had, we headed back to our table only to find our seats had been taken up by other young fans (I was guessing they were Norman’s) and we decided that it was time to cut out. It wasn’t probably very late, but hey, we didn’t know anyone else there and we had probably met the most famous (and maybe even richest) people there.
As an aside, Norman Jewison has been a patron of the film society that I have been involved with since even before I was legally allowed to, Toronto Film Society. I’m not sure he even realizes it any longer, but TFS certainly does. The other connection I had with him, against his knowledge, was that his offices were located on Gloucester Street in Toronto and the condo that I lived in at that time was right next door. I never ran into him on our street, although I did catch a glimpse of his wife sitting on a park bench occasionally.
So, that’s the story of how I once met Norman.
Since I’m talking about directors, my next short story will be about Edward Dymtryk.