Celebrating America's Birthday, My Own and My Mentor's

Mary Stuart
Celebrating America's Birthday, My Own and My Mentor's
By Nelson Aspen

I always loved my July 1 birthday because all the festivity of the long holiday weekend meant that I got to stretch it out for those extra "lazy, hazy days of summer." When my unique friendship with Mary Stuart began in the early 1980s, it became even more fun with the additional celebration of HER birthday on July 4.

Summertime meant trips to her Connecticut country home and ice cold cocktails in her Upper East Side Manhattan penthouse. Like her memorable Christmases, Independence Day was a magical time. I remember the July 4 episode of Search for Tomorrow in 1986 with Mary's character, Jo, singing a duet with our pal Anita Gillette (Wilma) at the Liberty House's rooftop party. They hilariously belted out "Friendship" from Anything Goes. I wish she'd gotten to sing at one of the Bauer Barbeques when she was on Guiding Light as Meta.

I'm glad Mary, who passed away in 2002, is so lovingly remembered by her family, friends and fans. While the shows that made her famous are now gone, too, her legacy is firmly in tact. No matter what you think of the state of today's soap operas, there's no denying that the genre of serial telling is thriving like never before. And "BookPALS," which Mary founded with the Screen Actors Guild 20 years ago to advocate children's literacy, would be the lasting tribute of which she'd be most proud. In fact, at her memorial service in 2002, her wonderful husband Wolfgang asked that, in lieu of flowers, contributions could be made to that fund.

Pausing to remember her this weekend (as I confess to doing almost daily--she taught me so much about so many things!), I looked at the program from that service in the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church where we all gathered to laugh and cry. Inside was printed the poem she wrote for her 1980 Christmas card. It meant a lot then and, now, even more. I wanted to share it with you.

Have a safe and reflective Independence Day....Mary loved sharing her birthday with America.

Everything is everyone
And everywhere forevermore
But who can comprehend it
I don't know.
Yesterday is silent as
The stars that light tomorrows
Still unborn across eternity
and so,
It seemed to me that what we
Ever really have to feel
And touch or call our very own
is small.
Until he said this moment
Of this hour of this day
Can hold the wonder
of it all.

- Mary Stuart, 1980

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you look closely at the teaser video below for Janet Iacobuzio and Nelson Aspen's upcoming series, you can catch a quick glimpse of Mary Stuart.

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