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.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Talking with my friend Naomi Caryl, part 1

Several months ago I read a post on Ronni Bennett's blog about the disappearance of blogging friends - those who no longer visit blogs, or at least her blog.  She wondered if they had moved on or even may have died.  She said "One thing I've learned from producing this blog for so many years is how much of ourselves and our personalities we reveal over time in words, phrases and ideas we choose.  Years of reading the thoughts of people on a variety of topics cannot help but lead us to care about them, to feel a connection."  This is so true; we do get attached to our blogging friends.  One of the comments to her post jumped at me.  The author was wondering about a friend blogger who had stopped writing since 2015, who lived in California and loved special flower arrangements.  I immediately thought about my friend Naomi.  Remembering how much Naomi loves flowers, I called her florist in Hollywood and had a special arrangement delivered to her that same day, with a note that it was from me and all her previous blogging friends.  The arrangement is in the heading.  I decided to write this post for her followers.  They will remember the charming flower arrangements Naomi often showed in her blog, below are a couple of them (I talk often with Naomi.)

Many of my reading friends may not know Naomi.  I wrote several posts about her.  Please look at them so you can get a better idea about her career - see Old Lady from the Hills, part 1
and Part 2 here. She wrote her blog Here in the Hills from 2005 to 2015.  It can still be read on the Internet.  She must have written 1000 posts explaining her interesting life and career in show business.  She often included pictures of flowers from succulents in her garden, close-up of flowers and flower arrangements created by her favorite florist. (Click on collage to enlarge.)

A long time ago a friend from Oslo, Norway, listed his favorite blogs and told his readers to pick a couple.  I picked Naomi's blog "Here in the Hills" in California because my daughter lived there and Ginnie's blog "In Soul" because she was in Atlanta - but soon moved to The Netherlands. I met both of these bloggers in person.  My eldest daughter lived in Long Beach, California for several years and that is the way I visited Naomi in Hollywood.  She lives in a beautiful house on top of the Hollywood Hills and has a splendid view of downtown Los Angeles.  Below are photos I took on some of my visits to her.

Naomi was born in New York City on June 27, 1931.  Her full name is Naomi Caryl Hirshhorn, but she likes to be called Naomi Caryl.  Her father, Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981,) who she affectionately called Daddy Joe, had emigrated from Latvia with his mother and settled in Brooklyn, NY.  Joseph Hirshhorn went from rags to riches - his life the quintessence of the American Dream.  He became a mining magnate, financier and philanthropist.  He had a passion for art and throughout his life collected an enormous amount from international masters.  He donated the largest private art collection to the people of the USA: at first he donated 6000 paintings, sculptures, drawings and a large endowment to build The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, as a part of the Smithsonian Institution (https://hirshhorn.si.edu/visit/  .)  At his death in 1981 he willed another 6000 works of art and a $5 million endowment to the museum.  His art collection included many worldwide masters, such as Marc Chagall, Virginia O'Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, Auguste Rodin, Alberto Giacometti, Salvador Dali, Emily Carr and too many to list.  Below are some of the paintings in the collection.

Top left: Woman with Hat, Pablo Picasso, Spanish 1851-1973, below is Landscape, Man Ray, American 1890-1976, center is The Houses of Parliament, Winslow Homer, American 1836-1910, Below is Borghese Gardens, John Singer Sargent, American 1856-1925, the Soft Grey, Alcalde Hills by Georgia O'Keeffe, American 1887-1986 then a book on the Hirshhorn Museum.

Naomi grew in Great Neck on the Long Shore of Long Island, 17 miles from New York City.  Several years ago my late husband and I visited Long Island for a vacation and traveled to Great Neck.  We were invited into Naomi's former home.  I wrote a post about it - Read it here.  Below is a photo I took of the Long Island Sound at the time.

Naomi's parents built a farm in 1938 in Angels, Pennsylvania, a beautiful area of the Pocono Mountains.  They called it Huckleberry Hill Farm because the surrounding hills were covered with wild  huckleberries.  But Naomi's family was not welcome because they were Jewish.  All the inns and hotels in the area were "restricted" meaning no Jews (of course it also meant no Black people.)  Naomi even remembers one sign that said "No Dogs or Jews" with second billing to the Jews.  Some were more polite with "Gentiles only" signs.  You don't forget things like that.  However, all summer long Naomi and her siblings sold the huckleberries they collected on the hills to the restricted hotels there, including a large resort hotel called Skytop Lodge, then they gave the proceeds to Jewish charities... Below are vintage postcards of Skytop Lodge, established in 1928 (now a member of Historic Hotels of America) and the way it looks now.

They also sold their wild huckleberries to another "restricted" resort called The Buck Hill Inn and Conference Center.  I checked the history of the inn - because why not.  It was built in 1901 by a group of Quakers and became a 500 rooms and 1000 acre retreat in the Pocono Mountains.  It had an amphitheater, 27-hole golf course, indoor pool, swimming, tennis, fishing, horseback riding in a  300,000 square feet facility.  In winter it offered skiing, sledding, toboggans, sled dog derbies and lovely Christmas decorations.  From the 1920s to 1940s it was the grandest hotel in the Poconos and was named one of the best convention centers in the country.  It was popular with honeymooners but also the mob - 73 people died there.  By 1970 it had lost its appeal and it was closed.  It sat abandoned until 2017, looking quite decayed and scary.  Hunting ghost groups have photos claiming proof of paranormal activity.  In 2017 the Buck Hill Inn was demolished and 132 acre of land and some remaining fireplaces were signed over to the Buck Hill Conservation Foundation.  Below are vintage postcards and photos of the inn in the 1920-30s.  The bottom two postcards show the inn in the early 1960s.

 Below are photos of the Buck Hill Inn as it stood before its demolition and after.  Dommage (a pity.)  (Photos courtesy the Buck Hill Conservation Foundation.)

 After talking about the Huckleberry Farm with Naomi I checked and their farm is still there, now and upscale Bed and Breakfast ostentatiously named The French Manor, advertising "Experience Sublime Tranquility in a country inn like any other, secluded and private, separate from the populace."  Rooms starts at $245 per person. Their site gives wrong historical information, I guess for snob appeal, telling that Joseph Hirshhorn "brought some 165 German and Italian craftsmen and artisans to 500 acres on Huckleberry Mountain to construct his summer retreat."  Not true since the family had been proud to employ local workmen only because of the Depression, no foreign craftsmen.  This was no summer retreat either said Naomi but "an actual working farm with cows and horses and chickens, where we grew our own corn as well as other vegetables, too.  We had an actual "swimming hole" there which we all loved!"  But to top it off the French Manor site had written this: "One of Joseph Hirshhorn's daughters, Naomi Hirshhorn Campbell kindly posted some great "then and now" photos of what her family lovingly called the "Huckleberry Hill Farm," now known as The French Manor."  Naomi Campbell?  really?  Well, Naomi Campbell is also an actress, a British actress born in 1970.  She is a glamorous lady and a talented businesswoman but the only thing they have in common is their first name.  I asked our Naomi if this second Naomi was any relation?  She laughed and said "no, no relation!"

This is getting long so I'll finish in my next post.  In the meantime if you wish to write a comment for Naomi in my comment area, I'll make sure that she gets it.   More to come....

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