It was a letter about a job, which is always nice, but it came with some pretty astringent warnings attached.
See, Woody wrote Stritch back in the ’80s asking her to appear in his film September. But in the process, he specified that he knew she had a reputation for being let’s say challenging to work with, so he advised her to just wear the assigned clothes, say the written lines, and don’t ask too many questions.
Stritch did so, and that worked out fine. (But I would have told her, “Please come by and just be yourself! During the breaks, anyway.”)
That story is told in Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a brilliant documentary playing at the Tribeca Film Festival next week.
The film shows Stritchie in all her leggy, irascible divadom, with all her mouthy mannerisms and wonderful wisdoms intact. It’s hilarious and bittersweet as Stritch decides it’s time for her to hang up her bowler hat.
A quitter at 87? Don’t count on it. I’m sure she’ll be back, “pounding 42nd Street to be in a show.”
By the way, at an event for the film the other night, I asked Stritch’s accompanist Rob Bowman how he’s dealt with her constant begging for a “Line!” Surely this man has the patience of Job.
“She cracks me up no matter what the situation,” he replied, calmly. “There’s always humor. It’s just how she is. She’s fighting to do it right. She’s working so hard I want to work with her.”
Well, I guess it’s better than all those stars begging for a line of coke.