I had to go to the post office two Tuesdays ago to get the mail for the office. Russell Bennett usually goes but had no car, so I offered. I opened our box, extracted all of the mail, and was headed to the mail counter to pay for some postage-due receipts. The gentleman who was also headed to the counter held the door open for me. It was Eli Wallach!
I said, “Thank you very much,” and then stood in line behind him. He was dressed impeccably and was carrying a cane, although he didn’t seem to need it. I leaned over to him and said that I had seen him in a reading at Guild Hall last year or the year before, and how much I had enjoyed it. He told me that he was doing another one on Aug. 5, reading excerpts from a play by his good friend Tennessee Williams.
I said that I was going to go back to the office to see if I could still get some tickets, then proceeded to tell him how much I enjoyed him in the movie “The Holiday,” with Kate Winslet. And he told me that she was getting divorced.
The line at the post office was not moving, no one at all at any of the three counters, but I didn’t care, I was talking with Eli Wallach! I only had to pay for some postage dues, which I would not normally have waited to pay for that day, as the line was at a standstill, but it is not every day that Eli Wallach is in front of you at the post office.
He told me that he was 95, has been married to Anne Jackson for 64 years and that they have three children. He also told me that he had been in Tennessee Williams’s plays “Camino Real” and “The Rose Tattoo” and that he is currently in two movies that are still in theaters, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” and “The Ghost Writer.”
As the line started moving forward, the women behind me started to get involved in our conversation, each choosing their favorite movies and plays that he had been in. He responded to everyone with funny comments and anecdotes about his co-stars and directors. Sadly, he reached the counter with the gentleman who accompanied him.
I took care of my postal business and we both left the post office at the same time, as he held the door for me again on our way out. All the women were waving and saying, “Goodbye, Eli!” I had a grin on my face all the way back to the office. What a great trip to the post office, the best ever. I immediately e-mailed Barbara-Jo Howard at Guild Hall to ask if there were still any tickets to the show on Friday. She e-mailed me back to say that there would be two tickets with my name on them at the box office. How exciting!
I called my friend Rori, who is an actress and a theater person; we made plans to go, and that Friday found ourselves watching a great reading. The cast — Mercedes Ruehl, Justine Lupe, Vincent Piazza, and Harris Yulin — was amazing, and they saved the best for last — Eli!
It was a wonderful tribute to his good friend Tennessee Williams, who would have turned 100 on March 26. Needless to say, Mr. Wallach received a standing ovation. Everyone loves Eli! And, by the way, he will also be at Guild Hall on Aug. 27 at 8 p.m. for the Night of Stars celebrating Guild Hall’s 80th birthday. I’m not going to miss it!
Jane Bimson is an advertising representative for The Star.