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I was the shoemaker's wife

Periodically I wander onto the Internet to check out a junior high/high school friend who has made it pretty big in the film world. Most of my classmates and I are pleased to see him frequently on the silver screen or on television. I must admit it is a hoot. He was a funny guy way back when — quick, wry, enjoyable, and a champion of humor. He was big in every talent show we ever had for whatever project was at hand and we thought he was a comedy genius. He left us rolling.

Shortly after we had all settled into our life choices, I started receiving updates from my mom and a couple of high school friends about his elevation to semi-star status. Well, who WOULDN’T want him to be “the guy” in their movie? Duhhhh … we all knew he was talented, trained, and ready. His career has been rewarding to follow.

From time to time my mom or one of The Daughters will call and say, “Dick Jenkins is in a movie I’m watching.” He has been in so many that we all recognize him on sight anymore, even as he ages.

I’m sure you have seen him. He is what is called a character actor … he is usually the cop or the judge, the dad or the FBI agent. In his most recent trip to the big screen (this past spring), he was Professor Vale in the movie “The Visitor.” Previously he played the father of River Phoenix in “Little Nikita,” the psychiatrist in “Something about Mary,” the dead guy in the HBO series “Six Feet Under,” the police chief in “Snow Falling on Cedars,” and the dad in “North Country,” as well as many other roles.

He is a cohort of the Farrelly brothers, Cher, Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Michelle Pfeiffer, the Coen brothers, and dozens of others with whom he has starred or for whom he has worked.

And guess what? I am one of his cohorts as well. Yup, way back before dirt, he and I were in a ninth grade operetta at our junior high school. It was a musical rendition of “The Shoemaker and the Elves.” He was the shoemaker and I was the nameless Mrs. Shoemaker. Some reporter from the local paper attended a production and snapped our picture, which ran (in grainy black and white) in the next day’s edition. I still have a copy of that photo.

As a co-star to Dick Jenkins’ Shoemaker character, I get to be on the same list as Brad, Cher, Scarlett, Michelle, and the Farrellys. Woo-hoo!!

I have no big editorial point to make with this information, except that life takes some strange twists and turns. And sometimes we get a chance to co-star with unusual people. How cool is that?

—Susan Marshall

Last modified Oct. 1, 2008

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