Member Musings: Iris Shur

Member Musings features the reflections and thoughts of an NPC member

Touching Greatness

Iris Shur

Iris Shur

While I was living in Syracuse, New York in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson came to speak. His motorcade paraded down the street where I was one of the people amongst the throng. Mrs. Johnson waved at me. Well, she waved at everyone standing there, but in my mind she was looking right at ME and waving.

Such a tiny little memory but one that never fades. We always take great delight in sharing memories of celebrity sightings with family and friends, don’t we?

In the early ‘70s we were in a small Mexican town, walking through an outdoor courtyard. Suddenly my husband nudged me. “Look,” he exclaimed, “Jack Benny!” This famous entertainer was strolling around just as casually as we were. Then we glanced at the people walking through the courtyard. No one seemed to recognize him. Wanting to share the moment, we stopped one woman. “Did you see Jack Benny?” She shrugged and said she didn’t know who he was. I guess no one there knew who he was.

In the early ‘60s I was on an airplane in Brazil. A buzz erupted in our rear section of the plane that Natalie Wood was in first class. Hoping to view her, I made my way up to the front of the plane. A young Natalie Wood was putting on her makeup. Now, I hope I don’t offend her relatives, may she rest in peace, but I have to tell you that without makeup you would not have recognized her. She must have been a genius with “cosmetic rejuvenation.”

My very best touch with greatness was in Saint Martin. We were at the airport checking our flight schedule. A jeep pulled up in the parking lot just as we were parking. An attractive woman in shorts was driving—Jackie Kennedy—accompanied by her 20-something son, John. We followed them into the airport and realized that no one even gave them a glance. John got in line to board his plane. Jackie kissed him goodbye and started to leave the airport. She was halfway across the airport lobby when she turned and shouted “John, don’t forget to save your ticket stubs.” It was such an ordinary moment in the life of an extraordinary family.

Author, historian and political commentator Doris Kearns Goodwin and I lived in the same town in Massachusetts. One day I stood behind her at the post office. We had what I like to call a “four-minute friendship.” She was charming and personable. One of her books, Team of Rivals-The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln was partly the basis of the movie, “Lincoln.”

When I first moved to Naples we saw an ad at our community center for a TV for sale in the development. We went to see it in a nearby condo. The condo was devoid of any personalization, for instance, no photos. The good-looking man who showed us the TV told us in accented English that he was Olivia Newton-John’s boyfriend and that this was her condo. When we got outside we snickered about it, not believing a word. Not too long ago, Olivia Newton-John’s boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, was headline news when he temporarily disappeared. His picture was all over the place. Guess what? He was the guy selling us that TV!!

Recently in Israel, I visited the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. As I walked into the lobby, several photographers and journalists were interviewing a white-haired, bearded gentleman—the internationally acclaimed artist Agam. He wore a shirt that was a replica of his type of art. I asked him where I could buy such a shirt but he didn’t answer me. Either he didn’t hear me, doesn’t speak much English or thought it was a dumb question.

I have heard that plenty of celebrities live in Naples. I haven’t seen any of them yet, but I’m on the lookout.

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