Wednesday, April 7, 2010
In Memory of Betty Paraskevas
"Junior Kroll, Junior Kroll
Looks like he has a cereal bowl,
upside down - on his head,
and he won't eat his veggies,
and he won't go to bed...
Junior Kroll made his mother irate
when he couldn't find a brush,
but he found some paint,
and he painted a monster 6 feet tall
with the tail of the cat
on the living room wall"
- From "Junior Kroll" by Betty Paraskevas, illustrated by Michael Paraskevas
I read this passage from a children's book almost 20 years ago.
There might be a few mistakes in my quote. I memorized it - years ago - that's how much I loved it - and it's always stayed with me.
Betty and her son Mickey Paraskevas were among my first clients at William Morris. An unbelievably, unparalleled mother and son team that told stories reeking of character, attitude and heart.
They always had a zillion projects and ideas at any given time and working with them was like working inside a high-end, boutique candy factory where a wide variety of new, fabulous, tantalizing, highly stylized (and NEVER too sweet) goodies were being manufactured.
Every year, when I went out to my mom's beach house, I sat around their art gallery in West Hampton late at night while Betty smoked cigarette after cigarette and gave me the latest dirt on the biz. Mickey and I talked shop and I'd try to convince him to give me artwork for free.
There aren't many people you can say this about, especially as you get older, but Betty and Mickey have been a part of almost every stage of my adult life. And I've been richer for it.
Betty was a HUGE personality, a Broadway gal with wit sharper than broken glass. She was a GRAND Dame in every sense of the word. At least, to me.
I got an e-mail from Mickey today. Betty died.
Apparently it was a short illness. I had no idea she'd even been sick.
Isn't it strange? People - people you don't even see or talk to all of the time - people who aren't even a part of your intimate daily personal circle - can leave such an imprint on us? Become such a part of our daily expectations and life's backdrop. Being her agent defined me. It set the stage for who I was to become and for what I do now.
I'm going to miss you so much Betty.
And every time my kids refuse their veggies, or God help them, paint on my walls, I'll smile (just a little) before I yell my head off because I know you're around there somewhere.