Three Cheers for Eva Marie Saint! (And Happy Birthday!)
Happy 91st Birthday, Eva Marie Saint!!
I’m trusting that tons of vintage photos of this luminous star are all over the intertubes today. But here are some I needed to share with you. Please forgive the blurriness—I was in the bleachers with my little Brownie camera!
On the opening night of the TCM Film Festival, the stars who’ll be featured over the next few days walk the red carpet into Grauman’s Chinese Theater for the premiere film. Many stop and chat with reporters and the TCM interviewer, and wave to the crowd in the bleachers set up for the occasion, stopping to chat if there’s time.
This is what Eva Marie Saint did in 2013.
She paused along the way to talk to everyone. Not just other stars, but fans, reporters, anyone who wanted a moment with her—prompting audible harumphs and frustrated sighs from the trained professionals trying to get her to move it along already. And she had a very animated girl-chat with the lovely Anne Jeffreys, about what I don’t know, but she looked about 16 at the time.
Then she got to the bleachers—and as she reminisced about her early years, she suddenly broke into a cheer from her old high school days. Then she laughed out loud—she may be the only woman in the world who can guffaw elegantly—and said, “I have no idea what made me do that!”
Later in the Festival, Saint spoke after a screening of A Place in the Sun, taking the stage while still sniffling. “It always gets to you, doesn’t it?” she asked the crowd, and, spotting me in the first row face-first in my hankie, pointed to me and said, “There’s a girl after my own heart!”
During her interview with Robert Osborne, she confided she’d planned to be a teacher, and then showed us how wonderful she would have been at it—pausing between memories of her amazing career to dish out advice directly to the audience. Recalling her days as a model in a cold-water flat in Manhattan, with few acting prospects, she told us to never give up and always hang onto our sense of humor. When Osborne asked her the secret for staying fit, she leaned away from her host and toward us, and, with the zeal of a preacher, threw her arms out wide and said, “Walk! Walk a lot, every day. It also helps you think.” You got the feeling she was genuinely worried about us not getting out there enough. And when the interview was over, she applauded the crowd, genuinely overwhelmed by the waves of love sweeping her way.
In short, she was an absolute doll. No one wanted the interview to end, and if we weren’t all so damn law-abiding, we would’ve locked her in the theater and not let her go home.
And so I couldn’t let this busy holiday weekend pass without sharing these memories and pix with you, and wishing this wonderful woman a happy and healthy 91st. And hoping she’s out there walking, a lot.