The Jane Withers finale at Cinecon
In the cocktail area, I saw Jane Withers alone. I headed towards her until I spotted Julie Adams on a sofa chair surrounded by no one with an empty sofa chair beside her. I spoke to her the previous day when I bought her book at her book signing. Due to her Arkansas roots and Creature from the Black Lagoon fame, the title is The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon. I just had to approach her to let her know I too am Southern. Plus that sofa chair looked comfortable. I wanted to relax a bit.
There were so many fans for Jane Withers. I didn’t want to see Julie alone. I was so focused on Julie being Southern, I had forgotten Jane was originally from Atlanta. That was the reason I wanted to speak to her. I was overwhelmed with all the Southerners. North Carolina born Anne Jeffreys was present too.
So there I went, I told Julie I had started reading her book and I too am Southern. I added I would see Piper Laurie at the upcoming Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in a month. Piper Laurie is mentioned in Julie’s autobiography since both were Universal players. Julie’s son, Mitch, commented that Piper is a good writer. Piper will also promote her autobiography. I’ll probably buy it.
I discussed my classic crushes with Julie. She only worked with one, Robert Ryan, but I did acknowledge her co-star Tyrone Power was handsome although never a crush of mine. She, like France Nuyen, asked if I am an actress. I told her I was a vagabond who loved travel. She seemed to approve. Her trip to Peru while filming a Dennis Hopper movie is given a few pages in her book. Eventually a fan approached her so I decided to finally get to Jane Withers but Julie’s son Mitch stopped to thank me for buying the book, which we discussed for bit. They are touring the country and getting it out there. Julie has a large fan base due to her Black Lagoon fame. I’m one of the few who hasn’t seen it. I‘ve mainly seen her Westerns.
Finally I saw Jane Withers alone. I approached her, offered my hand to shake hers and introduced myself. She had a big smile. Behind her was 91 years young Anne Jeffreys holding what looked like a mojito or gin and tonic or maybe it was just water with lime. Perhaps I should have just smiled at Anne Jeffreys because at these events you have to speak fast if you want to ask a question or take a photo. It was my first time so I didn’t know. Instead I was too excited to see Anne Jeffreys blurting with a big smile “Oh you’re Anne Jeffreys. I used to watch General Hospital.”
I asked Jane Withers if I could take her photo, which I did. Then I tried to see if someone could take a photo with us together but no one was available. By then a photographer spotted Marsha Hunt speaking to Anne, both behind Jane so the photographer had to have this rare photo opportunity. My chance to tell Jane I was from Georgia and if she ever visited was over…. for the time being.
I had one last chance at the banquet. Her table was diagonal to mine so I headed there after the banquet finished. There were only two fans with her. One left but then another came from nowhere. The other original fan waiting was too passive and considerate. By the way, this considerate fan used to speak to silent star Blanche Sweet. The fans grew, tapping her shoulder or interrupting without shame. They spoke forever too. I don’t know if they were genuine friends or extremely talkative fans. The considerate fan and I just couldn’t act like that. I began to feel it wasn’t worth the wait. I really felt I had reached a threshold of desperation and obsessiveness. I am a fan but want to still have a life. My last resort was asking her manager if she has a website to post questions. I figured I already shook her hand and shared a smile. Wasn’t that enough? He told me this fan behavior was normal and I just have to jump in. I couldn’t do it. He kindly went up to her, gave my name and let her know I had a quick question.
At first I thought she was a little upset with me. She remarked, “I remember her. She took two photos. “ I thought “Oh no, does she think I’m greedy with her time?” I asked if she visited Atlanta. She replied, “It’s been 22 years, “ adding she’s 88 years old and thankful she’s still going strong. She didn’t look at me as she was holding a fan’s book for photographers. She was multi-tasking for her fans. I then told her I am from Atlanta. She turned and smiled. I don’t remember her exact words but she said she noticed me when she first saw me in the lobby and sensed I had good style or presence. Again I’m not sure her exact words but they were complimentary. I don’t know if she meant my etiquette or my physical presence. She ended her comments by stating she was glad to have met me and wished me luck in my future.