Saturday night I had the pleasure of seeing Lillian Helman’s The Little Foxes on Broadway with two theatre actresses I am absolutely enamored with – Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon. I saw Cynthia Nixon in Wit years ago and vowed to see her on stage whenever I could. On the subway ride home, I got to thinking about the fan mail I recently wrote to one of my favorite actresses, Sally Field. In March, I saw her in The Glass Menagerie and it took my breath away. But more than that, it left a deep imprint on me and the show kept flashing through my mind weeks later. This new interpretation of this great work has been controversial but boy did it ever hit the nail on the head.
A week ago after reading an article in the Sunday Styles I decided to write Sally Field a letter. Not just about my thoughts about the show but about her career and what it has meant to me throughout my life. I sat outside at the Sweet Corner Bakeshop on the corner of Hudson and Charles in the West Village and put it all on paper. It started on an Iron Curtain Press card and continued on Rifle stationery. As it usually happens, the words just flowed out of me. I started with Gidget and and the Flying Nun and went through each role, without using Google, just my memories of Ms. Field each time she touched me the deepest. With each of those roles she became that person and I could find each of them within me. As I type this I realize that in my stream of consciousness letter writing, I forgot to include the movie I have seen 10 times – Steel Magnolias and the line I quote to myself all the time – “Your colors are pink and pink”. Oh well, she won’t mind the omission.
I used to work for a celebrity who wrote back to every single piece of fan mail she received. Quite and achievement. I don’t expect Ms. Field to write me back, that wasn’t the purpose of this letter or any of the others I have written to famous people who have touched me. It was simply to let her know that what she set out to do with each role was achieved. She knows when she looks at all her awards and reviews and wealth that she has succeeded but sometimes it makes all the difference in the world to hear it from the person who showed up at the theatre or tuned into the show week after week (Brothers and Sisters – boy I miss that show!). And that is reason I write letters – to let someone know that I was holding them in my mind with love.
After I finished the letter and lettered the enveloped in true Devoted Diarist style, I had the brilliant idea that I would walk it over to the box office where I bought the ticket to The Glass Menagerie and ask them to give it to her. My office is right next to the Theatre District so I always buy my tickets in person to hand pick my seats and avoid service fees. I sprung the news on my colleague, Kara that we were walking to the Belasco Theatre at lunch to see if they would accept a letter for Sally Field. She was game.
Much to my excitement when I asked if I could leave a letter for Ms. Field, the gentleman at the box office said “you need to leave it backstage. Go around to the stage door and ring the buzzer”. The man who let us in was so lovely and said he is the first person Ms. Field sees when she arrives and he would be happy to deliver it. I was so thrilled to know that she would actually receive the letter that I skipped up the street on our way to get lunch. I don’t expect a response from her. This particular fan mail, was a deep and sincere thank you to a role model and icon – and a thank you note needs no reply.
Until the next note, Rhea