Tuesday, August 25, 2020

My friend Naomi Caryl - part 2

In the first part of my post I shared that Naomi's family had a working farm in the Pennsylvania hills built in the 1930s and called Huckleberry Hill Farm; they spent happy times there.  Naomi's father Joseph H. Hirshhorn was a shrewd investor and by August 1929 feeling very uneasy about the stock market he sold all his shares for several millions.  The Wall Street Crash started a month later in September 1929 in what was to be The Great Depression.  The family had another holiday house in Miami Beach, Florida.  Miami Beach had started to become a vacation spot for the wealthy - the era when its Art Deco district was developed.  Naomi recalled how her father, Daddy Joe, would love to spend time at the Everglades Cabana Club while Naomi would stay at the swimming pool there.  Below vintages postcards of the Everglades Cabana Club swimming pool.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

The pool was next door to the Roney Plaza Hotel.  Opened in 1925, it was the first grand beachfront resort of Miami Beach and attracted a cosmopolitan crowd from Hollywood stars to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  It was the "in" place to be, be seen and have fun (it was demolished in 1968.)  Below vintage postcards showing the atmosphere then.

The Hirshhorn's family's house was located on North Bay road, looking out onto Biscayne Bay.  They would spend the winter months there where Naomi and her siblings would attend school.

Following my research instinct I looked for the house and, eureka, I found it.  It is on the market as a "rental" with 4,467 sq ft, 7 bedrooms, 5 baths, a pool and private deck with bay waterfront and views of downtown.  Right now it is listed with a seasonal monthly rate of $45,000 and a $18,000 security deposit.  Anyone interested in renting it?  It is owned by the founder and CEO of Green Plant a large Florida juice processing plant (4 million bottles of juice per month.)  Here are photos offered on the rental site.

Unfortunately Naomi's parents separated and the family did not go back to Huckleberry Hill Farm or the Miami Beach home.  They divorced several years later and the properties were sold.  The farm was sold to the Kress family, owners of the S. H. Kress & Co., variety stores.  Naomi and her siblings stayed with their mom in the Great Neck home on Long Island Shore, NY.  This is where she attended school.  Later on she studied acting, music and singing.  She had an outstanding voice and made several records.  She also sang in night clubs for a while but did not like the atmosphere.

 Naomi was an "apprentice" in Summer Stock at the Sea Cliff Theatre in Sea Cliff New York.  As an actress her first paying job was in the Sea Cliff original production of "A Streetcar named Desire" by Tennessee Williams.  She was casted as Eunice Hubbell (the woman upstairs.)  Her father was very proud that she participated in the creation and performance of Spoon River Anthology, a play based on Edgar Lee Masters' book.  Naomi performed in the play, sang, played the guitar and violin and wrote the music for 4 original songs.  This production had a 5-month run on Broadway.  In the photo below Naomi as Eunice Hubbell in the horizontal pictures and in Spoon River in the vertical pictures.

From the first lived shows in New York City that she attended as a 4 years old wee child, Naomi has loved the theatre and taken part in many different roles and tasks such as directing, producing, box office, ushering, dresser to a star, intermission piano music between scenes, off stage sound producing, and more.  In addition to playing the violin and piano she also plays the viola and the ukulele.  She wrote plays (she wrote her first play at 7 years old,) was a composer and lyricist, has appeared on television as an actress and singer, nominated for an Emmy, and is a talented painter with one woman show in several cities.  Naomi is very gifted in the arts: she has painted 850 pieces, mostly in acrylic and has drawn up to 2000 drawings.  She is listed as a notable artist by Marquis Who's Who.  One of her paintings is shown in my heading.  Her first job in films was as a Paramount Film extra for a picture on location with Bing Crosby and Nancy Olson called "Mr. Music."

Naomi moved to Los Angeles in early 1961 and has been there ever since.  She joined Theatre West, a young professional actor workshop in Hollywood, when it was established in 1962.  Years later Naomi made a two hour documentary at Theatre West for Spoon River Anthology twentieth anniversary.  Some of Naomi's early fellow members at Theatre West included Betty Garrett (who became a long time close friend) Richard Dreyfuss, Jack Nicholson, Lee Meriwether, Martin Landau, Beau Bridges and later Jeff Bridges (who played piano duos with Naomi,) Gavin McLeod and Carroll O'Connor.  You can read more about Theatre West here.  (photos courtesy Theatre West.)

Naomi had and still has many friends in show business, such as Ed Asner and the late Valery Harper.  Naomi made several guest appearances in television series, in Ed Asner's Police Story and Lou Grant, in Cloris Leachman's Plyllis show and in a Mary Tyler Moore episode with actor Gavin McLeod, a good friend who is a global ambassador for the Princess Cruise Line and who played on The Love Boat.  Naomi also had guest appearances in The White Shadow, The Jeffersons, Barnaby Jones and Police Woman.  Below, top left, are front left to right Valerie Harper, Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman and below Gavin McLeod, Mary Tyler Moore and Ted Knight.

Once she was invited for a special book signing for a book of poems by Maya Angelou (1928-2014) the famous American poet.  Maya talked to her and autographed the beautifully illustrated over sized book with a very limited edition.  Naomi is an avid reader and has books in many rooms of her home with one room devoted to her favorite books.  In the photo below you can see several ceramic pieces from Picasso.  Naomi purchased them in France.

Her father, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, had a house in Cap d'Antibes on the French Riviera where he spent his summers.  Once he sent Naomi a first class ticket and invited her to join him and his fourth wife for several weeks holiday.  There her father would meet artists, art dealers and other people and purchase art for his collection.  Several times her father took her to lunch and for a swim at the legendary Hotel du Cap.  It was built in 1870 for the owner of the French newspaper Le Figaro, Hippolyte de Villemessant.  At first a luxury boarding house for writers in search of peace and relaxation it welcomed Jules Vernes and Anatole France.  In 1889 it became a hotel and later still welcomed writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and others of "The Lost Generation".  It was a winter escape for the wealthy - at its restaurant Rita Hayworth met Prince Ali Khan and married him later.  Also guests were the Kennedy family in 1938 when JFK was 21 years old.  Marlene Dietrich, Orson Wells, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and so many other personalities stayed there.  At one of her lunches at the hotel with her dad he introduced her to Marc Chagall the painter.  The Kirk Douglas' also lived in a cabana on the hotel property.  The hotel celebrated its 150th anniversary this year and is still a world-class favorite amongst artists, writers, etc.  Below are several photos, courtesy Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1936 next to Marlene Dietrich in 1950.  (Be sure to click on collage to see better.)

Naomi's father knew Picasso well as he had purchased several of his work.  Olga Hirshhorn, Naomi step mom, called Picasso's second wife Jacqueline, to tell her that Naomi was visiting from America.  Jacqueline invited Naomi's parents and her to visit Picasso in his studio adjacent to Le Mas Candille, their house in the historical town of Mougins.  Picasso had first seen this house in 1961 and fell in love with it.  He purchased it immediately from Loel Guinness, the son of the original owner Benjamin Symour Guinness of the famous family.  Winston Churchill, an amateur artist, visited the Guinness often and painted scenes of the area.  Picasso who liked attractive ladies was taken with Naomi.  The following day Naomi and her parents were invited by Picasso to come to the Galerie Madoura in Vallauris, France, to attend the opening of an exhibit of Picasso's new ceramics.  There Naomi purchased the limited edition pitcher and plaques that are shown in the collage above.  Picasso was in attendance at the opening.  In photos below Naomi is with Picasso and on the right is her father, Daddy Joe, with Picasso, then Picasso's house in Mougins and a panorama of Mougins.

Another time Naomi's dad invited her to spend several days in his house in La Quinta, California, and they had lunch at the home of novelist Truman Capote (1924-1984) who lived in nearby Palm Springs.  But Naomi kept having recurring bouts of pneumonia, often several times in a year.  As a child her pneumonia was misdiagnosed and her lungs were badly damaged.  She has no cilia, the little hair that cleanses the lungs.  Because of her illness, called bronchiectasis, she had frequent unusual respiratory bacterial infections until it happened so often that she was confined to her home and has been there for years now.  She has been involved with several charitable causes for decades, including co-chair of the AIDS fund raiser.  She created a cactus garden in 1986 and in 1989 was the recipient of the Los Angeles Beautiful award Cactus Garden.  She has been awarded many accolades such as the Crystal Apple award Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome project in 1991, the Spirit of Hope award in 1999.  She started her blog Here in the Hills in 2005 and published her posts until 2015.  There she shared her show business remembrances and her beautiful photos of birds, succulent, flowers and the view from her balcony.  Here are several below.

Naomi is a member of the American Society of Composers, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Dramatic Guild, Theatre West and a member of the Screen Actors Guild.  She is a voting member for the Emmy of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She has a thorough knowledge of telesion shows, theatre plays and movies.  Her blogging friends enjoyed all her insights about the films and actors for the Oscars as well as her perceptive reviews of the Emmys.  We are missing all this now.

Naomi never married and always had numerous friends, mostly in show business, who adored her.  But with the passing of years members of her family and close friends have died.  It has been painful and difficult for Naomi who loved company and having fun such as with her convivial "Ladies who Lunch."   Through her posts we would witness her elegant place settings, the lovely flower arrangements and all the cheerfulness.

 But after ten years of blogging Naomi told me that it been time to stop - she was out of fresh ideas for posts and the arthritis in her hands prevented her from typing on the keyboard.  In addition her vision was poor.  She has not used her computer in several years and has forgotten her password.  She regrets to be unable to chat online with her blogging friends and asked me to tell everyone that she is sending virtual hugs.  I read the messages you left for her on my previous post and she was delighted to hear them and thank you.  Her health issues are difficult to bear but she is as fun as ever with her quick wit and warm personality.  She is an intelligent, kind and generous lady and I wish she felt better.  In addition she told me she is quite saddened by the way the country is mismanaged.  She does not recognize her country with its current inept, mean and racist government with so many of Trump's officials being indicted and found guilty.  As for me, I hope the Post Office won't be completely sabotaged so we can vote to stop this spiraling downward.  If you wish to send Naomi a message, please write it in the comments section and I'll convey it to her.  She asked me to make sure to tell everyone that she was grateful for her blogging friends' friendship all these years; it has meant a lot to her.  Below is the flower arrangement I had her favorite Hollywood florist send her for her birthday last June.


Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Thank you for the interesting, and beautifully written post. It has been a pleasure reading about Naomi's life. The richness of the people, the music, theater, countries is mind boggling! Her art is beautiful.

I hope, Naomi, that ways are near for you to create art, let your soul breath and refresh. I believe no matter how old we may be, creativity will never abandoned us. As the arthritis creeps into my hands more and more, I think one of those voice recording computer things, whatever they're called, may be in my future. For your future, Many thanks for living a life, accomplishing so much...that makes me smile.

Arkansas Patti said...

This was such an informative post. I followed Naomi and knew some of the things you mentioned but so many are new to me. What an amazing and accomplished woman. I always admired her, now I am in awe.
Always enjoyed the "Ladies who Lunch"---what a great group. Enjoyed the updates on her well known friends and always looked forward to her Oscar insights.
I so wish she were healthier and felt like posting but I am so grateful to you for this wonderful update on such a special woman.
Tell her I miss her posts and wish her only comfort and ease.
Thank you.

David said...

Vagabonde, This was a very interesting family story. Naomi has been blessed to have been able to see so much, do so much and meet so many interesting people. My best to her and to you... Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Vagabonde,
Quite interesting to read this life story about Naomi Caryl. A daughter from very wealthy parents but also a poor child in many ways. Being once in a while invited to stay with your Dad, at his wealthy surroundings, never can make up for missing your Dad on a daily basis, when he's emotionally out of reach.
Love can never be bought, nor compensated. People try to do that with art and whatever fine architecture, to impress others. It is all temporarily...
Wonder why she chose California, out of all places she knew?! Living in the most socialist state is not a great thing. Sure she lives in sheltered surroundings, but still.
When you mention the Post Office, all I can say is that in the 37 years we live here now as an immigrant (proud American Citizens!) we are being forced to ship with UPS. Sending a Birthday greeting now takes some six weeks, it used to be 3 to 4 days to cross the Ocean. So there is a dire need for bringing the Post Office back to 'normal business'.
Our President is a proven business and family man and name me ONE more Leader that accepts such a job, working for FREE?! He donates all his salary. He's not a career politician like so many others, left and right, that only fill their own pockets with the GREED they know.
May God bless our Nation and bring it back to its former days of stability!

kenju said...

I cannot tell you how much I miss Naomi's posts!! Please give her my love and tell her I miss her very much!

If I ever get to California again, I will be sure to look her up!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

What an interesting life Naomi has had. To have met and been friends with many famous people in the arts and experienced so much is certainly a life of much joy.

Yvonne said...

What an interesting woman to call your friend. There's much love in how this story was told. Enjoyed reading it.

Jeanie said...

Thank you, VB, so much for this second post in Naomi's story. As always, you do a magnificent job combining the words and wonderful visuals to tell it beautifully.

For Naomi: I am so very glad to hear you are still with us, even if things aren't what they used to be in the good old days. I miss your blog terribly and have many memories of it. I also will forever be grateful to you for showing me that life with bronchiectasis can still be fulfilling -- and it is. I remember your sweet Sweetie and hope that you have found another furry friend for these days in confinement due to Covid. I believe I may have shared in my other comment the paintings a friend has from a relative who was saved during WWII by your father. I don't remember the details, but I am grateful to him as well. I wish you all the best and send many good wishes your way. ~jeanie from Marmelade Gypsy

DUTA said...

Such a prolific, versatile lady!
In the pictures, Naomi looks sweet both as a girl and as an adult.
Her lung problem tells us what we alredy know - that health is above all, above money, art, careers, connections.

DJan said...

Thanks for introducing me to this wonderful person. I wish you and her the very best in our current existential fight for the soul of our nation.

Nadezda said...

Dear Vagabonde,
how interesting is Naomi's life! She had many talents, I liked her paintings. You are lucky to have such a wonderful friend. Her long life was full of impressions, meeting famous people, especially Picasso.
Naomi, although few people in Russia are familiar with your work, I would like to tell the readers about you on my blog.
I wish you less suffering from your illness, so that your well-being will allow you to enjoy life.
Hugs, take care dear Vagabonde.

Rhodesia said...

A very interesting post. Sorry I am not keeping up with blogs and comments, just too much to do in the garden and the kitchen at present it is ruling my life!! Stay safe Diane

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, always, your postings take me on an adventurous cruise where I learn things I never knew and meet people I've never known. I did not know about Naomi's blog and so never followed her, but your two postings on her life and home, her interests and many careers, and her health have convinced me that she is what I early on learned to admire: A Renaissance Woman.

Back in the 1950s, when I was in high school and studying European history, Sister Edith taught our call that term. Then, of course, it was "Renaissance Man," but being an independent critter even then, I wanted to learn about women who embodied a passion for all of life. The closest I came then was Eleanor Roosevelt. Now there's Naomi! Please give her my best and tell her that I'm sending healing white light to surround her and ooze, like honey, into all the pores of her body. She is a wonder! Peace.

Mae Travels said...

Thank you for the fascinating post. Though I didn't follow Naomi's blog, I enjoyed learning all about her life and accomplishments. Of course I have been to the Hirshhorn Gallery on the Mall in Washington, D.C. so I know of her family. I'm glad to read the following in your post:

"She does not recognize her country with its current inept, mean and racist government with so many of Trump's officials being indicted and found guilty. As for me, I hope the Post Office won't be completely sabotaged so we can vote to stop this spiraling downward."

I too hope we can stop a President who does nothing but instigate hatred and foment violence.

I wish both you and Naomi good health.

stay safe... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Joared said...

Am pleased to read Naomi is continuing to thrive despite the challenges her health presents. I always enjoyed reading her blog posts, delighted in the photos of her cactus garden and miss visiting there now. Thanks, Vagabonde, for such a thorough and interesting update about a favorite blogger. I do wish her and you continued optimum good health with much happiness through these troubling times into a more promising future.

Shammickite said...

Your two posts chronicling Naomi's life are wonderful accounts of her experiences. What an interesting life she has led. I started reading her blog and corresponding with her many years ago, when blogging first started, and was fascinated with all Naomi's stories of the people she has met and the places she has been. I'm so sorry she is in poor health and no longer uses her computer, but I wrote her a letter a while ago and was thrilled to find a reply in my mailbox yesterday. A beautiful soul. Fenella

Kanani said...

Hi! I'm not sure why, but early this morning Naomi and her blog came blazing back into my memory. I looked it up, and that's how I found your blog! I'm so glad that you're in touch with her.
Naomi's blog waa and still is, a source of inspiration. She has so many interests, such a rich experience in the arts, and her friends were all friendly people we recognized. My favorite posts were of the ones where she had the ladies who lunch over, and to see the beautiful food and flowers she always had set forth. I wonder -does she still lunch with them?
I'm sorry she forgot her password --perhaps it was her cat's name? I miss her very much, but thoroughly understand retiring from blogging!
Thank you for posting your photos and sending her that bouquet. I'd love the name of the florist since I'm in southern California, too.
Best, Kanani

Glenda Beall said...

I like to learn something new every day and your blog post was an interesting adventure with Naomi, your friend. Her art is lovely and I know she must be a wonderful person if you care so much for her. Give her my best wishes for good health and long life. Thanks for sharing your photos and your story with us.

Kay said...

Oh my gosh! I'm afraid I didn't know this amazing person/blogger. Thank you so much for telling us about her. What a talented woman. I wish she still blogged so I could see some of her posts.

I agree with you that we all need to vote in November. Our country is a disaster.

Janet said...

I have lost touch with Naomi -- but if you speak to her -- please pass on love and hugs from Janet Brownell. She was very close with my mother. So close in fact, my mother Ada convinced Naomi to get a Universal Life Church license -- and we were married by Naomi in 1986! She was always one of the most joyful and funny people in my life. Please send kisses when you next talk to her.

Unknown said...

Naomi - or Na Na. so many wonderful memories. Several of us have received emails in the past couple fo days that appear to be from you. But not sure if they are spam or legit. I completely enjoy the works of your art that I have gathered over the years. They are proudly displayed in my house in Maine and my new home in Mexico. The very warmest hugs go out to you. Steve Balfour

Eric Franz said...

I can tell you these posts meant everything to me. I still read them and wish I could print them all to re-read. they are full of a life well lived and I think of her so ofter and how she helped me through so many things. I finally got a small art work produced by here and am on the look for ,any more. I purchase a lovely book signed by her father and have sent a card or two to her home. I had dreamed of flying to the West Coast to meet her and to see her beautiful Cactus Garden. I have a few of my home at home. Again thank you dear dear lady. Jeffrey Franz JEff11305@yahoo.com

Emilie said...

I used to follow Naomi's blog (without commenting). Then she stopped writing and for years I've often wondered how she was doing. And now I've found your blog posts about her and I'm so happy to get news! Thanks a lot. It may be strange to worry about someone I don't even know, but I missed her (and reading her) a lot. Love from Belgium!

Sandy said...

I was so happy to find your blog and read about your friendship with Naomi. I also followed her blog for years and was wondering how she doing. I loved her ladies lunches and birthday celebrations and the flowers and her yard of cacti and the views. But most of all her stories and kindness in her words. I would comment sometimes on her blogs, but I don't think she would remember me by name. Tell her Sandy in Gulf Breeze, Florida said hello and I miss her writing. Thank you for writing about her too!

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