Barbara Luna and Ethnicity Talk at Cinecon 50
My era is mainly before the 1950s but I like other eras with a soft spot for the 60s and early 70s. At Cinecon Classic Film Festival I attended a panel called The Sixties Kids that included Francine York, Diane McBain, H.M. Wynant and Barbara Luna. I had only heard of Luna. She was one of my father’s crushes along with Olivia Hussey, Diana Rigg, Yvette Mimieux, Barbara Carrera and Julia Nickson.
Luna portrayed the character Maria Roberts on One Life to Live, a soap opera my grandmother occasionally watched. Luna’s notable movies include Elmer Gantry, Ship of Fools, and The Devil at 4 O’Clock. As a teen I was drawn to Luna because I “looked” like her. We aren’t twins. She has better hair, a little darker and different head shape but we “looked” similar.
I first saw Luna in the Egyptian Theatre lobby prior to the panel. Before grabbing my seat for the event, I ran into her primping in the ladies’ room. I told her I used to watch One Life to Live when I was younger. She was very receptive to my statement. She found it a good show and felt Maria was a good role, adding when it ended, some cast members went to General Hospital, another soap opera I used to watch thanks to grandma. Later at the Cinecon banquet, I was giddy to have met Anne Jeffreys who played Amanda Barrington on General Hospital.
In the ladies’ room, I was going to ask Luna about her ethnicity but then decided it didn’t matter. I myself often have to fend off ethnicity questions because it isn’t very meaningful in my life. I didn’t want to put her in the same spot having her believe that I judged her face, culture and identity based on my needs and perception, not hers. Yet I was only interested because I felt she “looked” like me and sincerely was being inclusive not exclusive, as the ethnic query is often presented to find differences rather than similarities between persons. During the panel however she did bring it up, disclosing all her ethnic backgrounds because like myself she is often bombarded with the interrogation over her heritage-–probably more so since she is a professional actress. She loved her work in science fiction (Star Trek and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) because she stated she got to play a person—well really an alien–but as an actress, she got to be a non-ethnic specific character.
Unlike myself, she seemed to enjoy reveling in her extremely mixed ethnic background. She’s vocal about it and her volunteered disclosure is why I’ve always felt asking or worse, guessing ethnic background, is very unnecessary, at least with someone like Barbara and I who are obviously American by accent and manner, because when it is important and meaningful in one’s life, it will be disclosed immediately. I never had to ask Luna. She volunteered…and quickly.
Many love to disclose their ethnicity because it is a part of their life and meaningful in their goals however my heritage and culture is a mixture of old movies, dance, international food, travel and other admixtures like ice-skating and swimming. And guess what? I look like it too. My phenotype screams old movies and traveler. I just didn’t grow up in a household of ethnic specific ways as others may. Catholic is the closest to an “ethnic culture” label for me.
Anyway after the panel, I told her I was as mixed as she. She replied “I thought so when I saw you.” She sweetly signed an autograph and agreed to a photo with me, however she had the photographer retake the photo because she was afraid the first one would be blurry since the camera wasn’t held steadily. I later saw her at the banquet but she sat on the other side of the hall. Instead one table from me sat France Nuyen…….