Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Old Friends, New Friends, Desert Dreams.

Perhaps I gave the impression that my brief visit to Palm Springs was strictly about a little getaway vacation.  Well, yes and no.

Ostensibly the trip was planned to help the ever-lovin' kabuki zero unload his worldly lucre from the U-haul upon his arrival to neighboring Desert Hot Springs.  It was hard work but also a joy, as I haven't physically laid eyes on 'the kabook' since 1987.  I'm delighted that he is safely ensconced in his new headquarters and only two hours away from me!

As luck would have it another very dear old friend of mine George, just happened to have rented a place in South Palm Springs for the same week and so the decision was made to extend the visit by another couple of days on the front end before kabuki's arrival.

Then, as even further luck would be conferred on me, (interwebs research is a wonderful thing)  I stumbled upon a cyclonic force by the name of Shirley Claire.

The Unsinkable Shirley Claire!
The singer/actor/showgirl/trooper has lived in Palm Springs for the last twenty years or so, but she debuted on my computer a couple of weeks ago in a role that she played over sixty years ago:  That of a showgirl at the Earl Carroll Theater here in Hollywood.

Shirley is on the far right.
As the former Carroll Theater is on my tour route, and discussed at some length, you can imaging my thrill at finding Ms. Claire.  With the typical nerves that come with any schoolboy crush, I sent her an email describing myself, my tour, my upcoming visit and asked if we couldn't perhaps meet for an interview.  Her reply kicked off a series of emails and phone calls and culminated in a three hour visit that left me both dazzled and flummoxed!

The indefatigable Shirley (she eschews the phrase 'Senior Citizen' for the more appropriate 'Seasoned Citizen') made time for me after a morning of household chores (she maintains a very large home by herself with no help) and taking her four little beauties to the doggie park.  She said she would simply cancel her regular yoga class and stretch at home instead, but she would need to be wrapped up in time to go to the theater that evening.  Just hearing about her schedule wore me out.  Oh, and did I mention, she's 83 years old.

Charity Fashion Show 2009
Charity Fashion Show 2010

Having returned from the dog park moments before, she greeted me all hugs and smiles, with her knock-out body clad in a black V-neck sweater, fitted black slacks and black leather ballet flats.  Her first order of business was to have me follow her back to her dressing room so she could get out of those flats and put on a pair of black sandals with a 3" heel!  Once a Showgirl....

We then went to her office where she showed me several scrapbooks.  I got to see the original contract she signed with the Carroll organization.  Finally we settled at poolside for an extended period.  From the moment I walked in till the moment I left, we were both talking a blue streak like two people that had known each other (or had been looking for each other) for ever.  She was frank, forthcoming, wise and funnier than hell.

I don't think either one of us wanted the visit to end.  After we came back into the house for me to take off, more things to talk about came up and we found ourselves sitting side by side on a black leather bench in the living room.  It was an awkward set up to communicate sitting side by side like that.  At one point, feeling the need to face me, in mid sentence she did a fan kick with her left leg that went over my head and resulted in her straddling the bench facing me!

Apparently Shirley never got the memo that we live in a youth oriented culture.  She has never stopped (and doesn't intend to) working.  Since her move to Palm Springs she has appeared in a few seasons of The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies and done numerous club dates and one woman shows.  Please take a moment to scroll through her website, you be glad you did.

And rest assured, Palm Springs hasn't seen the last of me, Shirley Claire hasn't seen the last of me, and you haven't seen the last of Shirley Claire!!!


Ask the Cool Cookie said...

I want that hat!

normadesmond said...

wow felix....wow.

(ps-i feel like i've met shirley too!)

MJ said...

I'd like to see kabook in some of those outfits.

Jon said...

Sounds like a fabulous lady - you were destined to meet her! Jx

ilduce said...

well, first I was simply jealous of a trip to palm Springs Now I am double jealous! It also puts me in mind of the T.A.L. episode "Teen Getaway" where Cheryl Trykev narrates meeting Shirley Booth in Palm Springs.

HoraceAlan said...

See Shirley as an Earl Carroll Girl
GO TO: http://earlcarrollgirls.com/