Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Magic of Little People

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The Magic of Little People
The Magic of Little People

Marcello Mastroianni one of the most incredible actors Italy ever produced. He made his fame starring in Federico Fellini's classic films, like 'La Dolce Vita' and 'City of Women.' But other directors found his talent for expressing himself on the screen equally fascinating and starred him in such films as 'WifeMistress,' 'Gabriella' and 'Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow' where he appeared in three separate stories with Sophia Loren.

One of the last movies Mastroianni made before his death, and one of my favorites, was 'I Don't Want To Talk About It.' In the storyline, Marcello appears as a wealthy eligible bachelor who falls in love with a dwarf.

Charlotte is an attractive artistic woman who is an accomplished musician and horsewoman. Her only problem, if it is a problem, is that she is a little person, something her over-protective mother refuses to talk about.

Against all rhyme or reason, Marcello finds himself captivated by Charlotte and comes courting. The girl's mother thinks he is interested in her and is shocked when Mastroianni proposes marriage to her daughter.

The film was released in 1993. I have viewed it several times and enjoyed it more each time because of Mastroianni's performance.

I thought about the movie recently because of a long past association with Judy, a small person who worked as a receptionist for a newspaper that employed me as a reporter. The Evening American was a daily newspaper owned by Evan Mecham, a Mormon Bishop who would serve as Governor of Arizona a short time before his political enemies managed to remove him from office.

Almost from the first day I met Judy, I knew she was special. Crippled from birth with a spinal defect, she walked with crutches. She wore a wig, glasses and an engaging smile that never seemed to go away.

I don't know if this is true of all little people, but Judy was one of the luckiest people I have ever met. Every time we had an office pool, whether it was on the Kentucky Derby or some other game of chance, Judy seemed to win.

I asked her about her good luck. She simply shrugged.

'Well, the good Lord took away my ability to walk, so I guess He figured He had to compensate me somehow,' she said.

When she traveled to Las Vegas, she almost always seemed to win whether she played the slots, shot dice or played blackjack. She would spend a weekend there with her mother and return to Phoenix with her purse filled with money.

At the office cocktail parties our newspaper occasionally threw for political leaders or other newsmakers, she was delightful. It didn't take much wine to intoxicate her diminutive frame. After a couple of glasses of chardonnay, she would make her way over to me and tell me she needed my protection.

'What for, Judy?' I asked, genuinely concerned.

'That man over there,' she would whisper, pointing into the crowd. 'He has his eyes on me. I think he wants to seduce me.'

It was all her imagination, of course, but Judy took it seriously and because I was her friend, so did I. I would make it my business to stay close to her until the party ended and she could be whisked safely home.

I don't know. Maybe dwarfs have magical powers. Like Judy said, perhaps God gives them those powers to make up for their limitations. That seemed to be true in Judy's case. It worked for Charlotte, who snared Marcello Mastroianni and that isn't a bad catch by anyone's standards.


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