Archive for October, 2011

No Complaints

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

I’m Maurice Duke’s daughter, remember me? I said that a lot growing up. Still do. Just said it a lot at a memorial I crashed for one of my dad’s friends. The only time in my entire life that I asked someone if he knew my father and he said no was when I was a teenager eating lunch at Nate n’ Al’s deli in Beverly Hills. The person who said no was Johnny Carson. And I spent the rest of that lunch not believing his answer. Because my dad knew so many people, there was an illusion that he was much more famous than he really was. I actually didn’t and don’t care if he was famous; he was my idol just based on how wildly unique he was.

I can never celebrate my father enough. In our family, my dad’s birthday is a national holiday. We tend to celebrate him every day, so on his birthday, we step it up a notch. Last year, October 27’th, would have been his 100th birthday. I invited a lot of my friends — and what friends of his were still alive — and I screened a movie I made about him.

I should be ashamed to say, greatest night of my life!!! I gave birth three times. What gets me off the hook here is that the births were during the operative word, day. Technically, I might have been married in the early evening, but let’s just say late afternoon so I can keep saying the screening was the greatest night of my life. You know, without hurting anyone’s feelings.

My father never hurt anyone’s feelings on purpose. He was, however, blunt and outspoken to the point of being shocking. He used the C-word as if it were a term of endearment. When he used the word cooze, that’s when we knew the person he was talking about was a real c-u-n-t. A bathroom he always called a terlet. He moved to California from New York in the 40’s, yet a toilet was a terlet until the day he died in 1996.

Speaking of terlets, he often didn’t get up to use one. I cringe when I think of it, I didn’t speak of it in the movie I made, though others I interviewed did (I cut it) — but my dad used what he called a pish bottle. Shamelessly. He kept it sitting right there next to him all day long. Oy. And my brother and I had the nasty job of emptying the pish bottle. You see, my dad was handicapped, in case you haven’t been following my blog. He had polio and throughout his life he was saddled with a leg brace and a cane. It wasn’t always easy for him to get around so he ordered us around instead. We would bring him, fetch him, do for him. And we loved every second of it.

My dad woke up every morning of his life singing. He was happy to be here, always. We all strive to maintain being grateful. Everyone is always reminding themselves and others, be grateful. This was his natural state. Eternal gratefulness. Happy to have been given a blessed life. But we were the blessed ones. The ones who got to be around him and loved by him. (more…)

Please God I Need That Job

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

me, Tracy, on location in Texas

I went to bat for my friend Tracy. She wanted the starring role in a movie my dad was producing, but it was really his friend Bob who was the money guy and director. If it were just my dad, it would have been a slam-dunk. So, I went to work on Bob. I pitched him for months, relentlessly. That’s me when I want or need to be – a dog with a bone. “Have you seen Tracy in Christopher Guest’s new movie?” I asked. “She’s brilliant.” Or: “Check out her credits, you’d be lucky to get her.” And: “Bob, let her audition, you won’t be sorry.” Finally, when I had exhausted all other angles, I went for the Boys Club Secret Society as a last try: “Your lead actor has always wanted to fuck her.” Yep, that did it. The part was hers. (more…)

Travel Abroad(s)

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011


The commercial kept calling out to us. A catchy tune and the promise of a round trip ticket to anywhere in Europe for under $500.  None of us could resist and the plan was in motion.  Andrea and I would fly from L.A. and land in New York for a layover where we’d meet Stacey at JFK.  Actually, it might be tricky since my two friends hadn’t even met yet.

It was the dead of winter.  Stacey called to let me know about this great coat she bought.  She couldn’t wait for me to see it because she just knew I was gonna love it.

Andrea did some research and picked out a boutique hotel, within walking distance of the Spanish steps.

Speaking of walking, those two girls were planning on walking the whole city every day.  They are both hardcore exercisers and felt that would be the best way to really see Rome.  I tire easily, so that was so not going to be me.  But, I would happily arrange to find some great restaurants.  We all know what we’re good at.  That’s my specialty.

When Andrea and I got off the plane to greet Stacey in the airport, she was hard to miss.  Her big, poofy, fuzzy, brown coat made her look like a bear, albeit a bear the color of cat barf and with an extra small head.  Yes, I was off to Rome with Fozzie Bear.  I couldn’t help myself and burst out laughing the moment I saw her.  All that build-up for well … it was indescribable. (more…)