Screenwriters, Start Your Engines!
No, really, we’re here to offer you your next Academy Award, guaranteed. Vanity Fair ran a piece last year about the rise and fall of Janet de Cordova, the widow of Freddie de Cordova, longtime producer of Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show. Years of spending and entertaining eventually drained the kitty, until Janet found herself touring low-rent retirement communities with her beloved housekeeper, Gracie.
Gracie tells me that their search for a home for Janet upset her. “Oh, my God, it was not what I expected, and when she saw the conditions, she said, ‘Me neither.’ So the time comes when she said, ‘Gracie, you are all I have.’ And that’s understandable: I worked with her for 40 years. My children are very lovely and everything, but I didn’t feel them as close as she was with me. So I asked her, ‘Would you like to come to Mexico with me?’ She said no. I said, ‘Think about it.’ A minute later she put her hand to her head, closed her eyes, and said yes. And I said, ‘Think real good, because you don’t have a doctor there or your friends.’ And she said, ‘But I have you.’”
And Gracie took Janet to San Luis Potosí to live out her days. Imagine the casting! Who is the brittle, aging socialite? The middle-aged Latina housekeeper? Who plays Janet in flashbacks to her roaring twenties? Freddie? Gracie’s husband, who died in the middle of the night, but Gracie insisted the paramedics mute their sirens so as NOT TO WAKE UP “MY LADY”?
Oh, and you need to work this bit in, too:
Joanna Carson recalls checking in, with trepidation, on Janet in San Luis Potosí by telephone. “I was crying when I heard her voice, but then when we spoke, she said the most lovely thing. She said, ‘Joanna, for the first time in my life, I have a family.’ I cried more for her, but this time tears of joy.”