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Polly Bergen, RIP. (Please Stay Healthy, Doris Day!)

Illustration for article titled Polly Bergen, RIP. (Please Stay Healthy, Doris Day!)

Doris Day always had the very best co-stars around her. Sadly, Doris Day's co-stars are dying fast this year. Six weeks ago, we lost James Garner, and today, we lost Polly Bergen, which leaves only Doris Day remaining from the classic comedy. "Move Over, Darling"

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I have a special place in my heart for Polly Bergen, because she was "my first real movie star" - the first I got to know personally.

I was just a teenager on vacation from New York, visiting family in Beverly Hills. There was a Christmas party, and the force entered the room. The force field around real stars is such that you know they're there before even seeing them; yet there she was, in a floor length sable coat, looking - and smelling - like the multi-millionairess she was.

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This was after her peak Hollywood days, the days of "Cape Fear", "Kisses For My President", and "Move Over, Darling", when she'd quit acting to go into business; first cosmetics and shoes (this was way before most celebrities could conceive of licensing their names for merchandise - yet she actually ran those companies), then as a Director of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, where she'd become enormously successful.

A few years later, I was now living in LA, going to UCLA and apprenticing at my relative's firm, of which Polly Bergen was a client. I was frequently asked to drive up to her house to get something signed or pick something up. Her house was the only house sharing a top-of-the-Hill cul de sac with Frank Sinatra's. As Polly knew me through my family, this is the Polly I came to know during those years:

Illustration for article titled Polly Bergen, RIP. (Please Stay Healthy, Doris Day!)
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Polly was way ahead of her time in myriad ways, she was still a knockout at 50, and never met me at the door with more than a towel on (often less). For details on her tireless work for Planned Parenthood and Women's Rights, see the LA Times Obit.

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You never forget your first movie star, and I hope she went in peace (I'm sure she went on her own terms, because that's how she lived her life).

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