Monday, December 7, 2009

My Claims to Fame

When I was 11 years old, my mother decided she wanted a Himalayan cat. My sister and I went along with her to meet a breeder in Maryland who told us she had a new batch of Himalayan kittens, all balls of gray and white fluff with pink noses.

They were so adorable that my mother decided we'd get two. As we were picking out which kittens we wanted, the breeder happened to mention, between "They are strictly indoor cats," and "If they jump on counters, you can spray they with a little water," that their great grandfather cat was a movie star.

He had appeared in the 1971 James Bond Film, Diamonds Are Forever, as Blofeld's cat - the one with the diamond collar.

* * *
When I was 15 years old, I sailed aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2, or "QE2," on a 6-day transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton in June 2001 with my parents, my two siblings, and my grandparents on my dad's side.

I can still vividly recall the QE2's elegance - the ice sculptures in the middle of the midnight dessert buffet, the spas with the ultimate pampering, and the tea room with the white-gloved servers and tiny sandwiches. But I digress...

One evening, after indulging in lobsters, my siblings and I decided we'd take the elevator to our deck with our grandparents, who were beginning to have a difficult time getting around, especially on a rocky boat. As we stepped into the elevator, we were greeted by Julia Child.

At the time, I didn't realize how famous she was, but I'll always remember her tall height and the sound of her high-pitched voice as she cracked jokes with my grandfather. I wish I could remember what she said.

We later learned there was a theme to the cruise - "Chef's Palate," - and we got to see her again while on board, though when we did, she was speaking in front of an audience as a chef prepared some of her favorite dishes.

* * *

About a year ago, my grandfather was reunited with his sister who lives in Louisiana. They were never very close growing up, and they hadn't spoken in years, so they had much catching up to do.

They traded stories of their family, and she mentioned a relative named Marguerite Clark, who had passed away in 1940. My grandpa learned that she was a famous silent movie star who had appeared in many Broadway shows and films from a young age, winning numerous awards.

Turns out, she starred in the first film version of Snow White in 1916, and she made such an impression on Walt Disney, he chose to base his classic version, the one we all know so well, on Marguerite, my great aunt's sister's child - a distant cousin of mine.

I'm related to Snow White.

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