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Wednesday, September 28, 2016
One Year Later
Photo courtesy of Ellen Deutsch
Note: There are no insider stories of Hollywood in this post -- nothing snarky, witty, or in any way insightful as to what it's like to live and work in an industry town. I wrote this one because I'd been thinking a lot about Penny lately, and when that happens it means I have to sit down at the keyboard just to get it off my chest. It's all part of the process, I guess. If you want to read it, fine, and if not, that's fine too.
It's been a year since Penny Nichols passed away, but I still feel a dagger in my heart every time I drive by her old apartment, which -- due to a quirk of urban geography -- happens to be on my way home from work. That means I pass by her building several times a week, and the world gets a little darker every damned time.
You don't get to my age without losing a lot of people along the way. Such losses are the awful price of living. Most of the departed were older than me -- although some not by much -- but more than a few were younger. Penny was one, which makes her death all the more wrenching. She was a truly lovely woman who should have had another thirty or forty years on this planet doing what she did best: making everyone around her smile.
This photo tells all you need to know about Penny -- that sly grin, the playful tilt of her head, the script which she'd been studying right up until the photo was snapped. Always a diligent pro, Penny was a delightful person who brightened every day on set.
I'd give a lot to be able to meet her again at our local Astroburger for one more long, talkative lunch, but those kind of second chances only happen in the movies.
This last year has been a nightmare for her family back in the midwest, of course. Their daughter left home determined to make it in Hollywood, where she enjoyed some success* -- but instead of returning in a limo, she came home in a pine box, and they've been through Hell trying to deal with the awful reality of that loss. Like too many others, I know what it's like to be a member of a family that has suffered such a crushing blow, and it's something mere words can't convey.
I miss you, Penny. Everyone who knew you does...
* Not nearly as much success as she deserved, of course, but Hollywood can be one cruel bitch when it comes to being fair...