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Official Invitation

Mercedes Ruehl, one of the few actresses to win a Tony and an Oscar in the same year (for Lost in Yonkers and The Fisher King), saw her first Broadway show when she was in grade school. Her family was in New York visiting relatives and driving through Times Square. On the spur of the moment her parents decided to see if they could get tickets to The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

“I remember waiting in the car,” says Ruehl, “while my mother ran up to the box office. The only tickets left were for box seats. Box seats! To me there were no better seats, and I remember my father saying, sure, go for it. One of the best qualities of my parents was that they liked to have fun.

“As we watched the play, I could not take my eyes off its star, Tammy Grimes. She must have felt my adoration, because at one point she looked up and held my eyes. It was probably for no more than one second, but it seemed like ten seconds. I always felt that was my official invitation to be an actress. With her gaze I was touched like a knight on both shoulders with a sword.”

Madeleine Blais in Lear’s, Reader’s Digest

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