The run of Matthew Lombardo's "Looped" starring Stefanie Powers as Tallulah Bankhead at Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts this week prompted a letter from Henry E. Josten, 90, of Deep River.
He said the actress performed at the Ivoryton Playhouse four times and enclosed a piece he wrote for an anniversary booklet for the theater published last year. For 25 years he was the media representative. for the playhouse.
The shows, he writes, were all romantic comedies produced between 1954 and 1964, under producer Milton Steifel.
"Every time she arrived in Ivoryton she would plop herself down on the couch in her dressing room and tell us, 'It's good to be home' -- although we suspected she probably used the same line at all the other summer theaters, too. Tallulah was very easy to work with, very cooperative in helping me promote the shows, but she was a rabid baseball fan, particularly of the New York /San Francisco Giants and their then star, Willie Mays.
"When she was on stage performing, I used to have to listen to the radio backstage or watch television and fill her in between scenes as to what the Giants, and especially Mays, were up to. If the Giants were winning and Mays was playing well, she was on top of the world and take an extra bow or two that day."
Later in the piece, Josten, who was on the board of trustees of the Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation , said he wrote to actress Katharine Hepburn about the possibility of naming the playhouse after her.Hwepburn starred uin seven shows at the playhouse, including her first professional starring role.
He sent me a copy of her 1990 reply:
"Dear Henry Josten -- I honestly would not like that theatre or any theatre to be named after me -- Thank you for asking me -- Katharine Hepburn."
I wonder what she would think of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, .established after her death in 2003?
Thank you, Mr. Josten.