Where do I begin to talk about the greatest woman I have ever known? The most beautiful, talented, funny and most loving woman I have ever met.
I would start by saying her name was Anna Navarro and she was my Mother. She wore many hats and she wore them well, juggling her career as an actress and her role as Mother to myself and my brother Tom. She raised us on her own and we always had plenty of cheese and salami from Sal when he had the deli on Tujunga. He was mad for my Mother, as most men were.
She was special. Down to earth and always thinking of others. Those were the days on Tujunga. Berkey's gift shop, where kids could always find a little something for thier Mother's on Mother's Day. Tom and Fred at Valley Stores. They were always so kind to my Mother, never said no to her. "A" liquor on the corner next to the cleaners. The fire house with the best burgers. This is where we grew up, my brother and myself, with this amazing woman.
I'd have to write a book to give proper credit to my Mother. Maybe in a smallway I can show you through pictures what a Goddess she truly was. Her Aunt, Diosa Costello, my great Aunt, who is 99 years young was a big star and my Mother traveled with her. Just recently my great Aunt was honored at The Smithsonian. That's a whole other story but I will include some pics so you can see my Mother's first exposure to Show Business.
The picture of my Mother and her date Robert Wagner was at her sweet 16 party thrown by my Aunt Diosa in the old pink Sony and Cher mansion off Carolwood Drive.
My Aunt Diosa was Bloody Mary on Broadway in the '40s. My Mother would later be the first woman to sing the score of West Side Story for the money people. It came down to her and Carol Lawrence for the role. I have a letter from George Abbott saying how sorry he was. Funny my name is Maria....
Earlier in 1956 my Mother won the Deb Star Ball, a function NBC use to throw for the up and comming new stars. See my favorite picture in the gown.James Cagney asked to borrow her eyebrow pencil and told her how nervous he was. She exclaimed,"Oh Mr Cagney if you're nervous, I'll just die."
He said to her, "The day you are no longer nervous is the day to quite Show Business." Momma asked him for advice regarding acting and he said simply, "Know your lines and hit your marks."
Ironically many years later my Mother was honored in the James Cagney Theater by SAG. She joined Screen Actors Guild in 1953 and as her daughter I will always be grateful to them and the way they assisted me while my brother and I kept her home with her Alzhiemer's.
My Mother began acting very young Catch her in the Perry Mason's first season The case of the lonely Heiress. One of my personal favorites. My Mother started Nosotros with Perry Lopez, Ricardo Montalban, and Henry Darrow but left when it got to political and it lost the vision she had for it. (See the picture in the Gallery above of her on the night of a fund raiser she put together for Nosotros. Glen Ford, Tony Martin and Henry Darrow.)
This is a shot of Momma and Sinatra in First Deadly Sin produced by my stepfather, George Pappas.
My Brother Tom and I went to St Charles for 8 years and it was during this time she was filming Alfred Hitchcock's Topaz at Universal. She actually picked us up from school in full makeup.
She's beaten in the film and we were in shock until she said Momma's just working.Can you imagine being directed by Alfred Hitchcock and thinking about picking up your kids from school. In the picture you will see how Alfred Hitchcock wanted to recreate the Pieta.
Momma played Erik Estrada's Mother on CHIPS. She use to bring him food when he was going to interviews on his ten speed before CHIPS.
My Mother loved to dance. Here she is performing with her brother in Vegas. My Father walked in on leave from the Marines, a Villanova Hall of Fame basketball player and said that's my wife.
Most admirable was adopting my cousin Leela when she was five and Momma raising a child all over again. Tommy and I were already grown.She was that way.
There are so many stories I am proud of regarding her career but most important through it all my brother and myself were loved, safe and happy. The few times she did make it to room mother,
I would just beam as a child when she would glide into my class with cookies. I had the honor of taking care of her with her Alzhiemer's. She then became my little girl. She was mine and I was hers. How lucky can a daughter be.
Happy Mother's Day beautiful Momma of my heart, I will always try to make you proud of me as I was and am of you.
Anna's children live in Colfax Meadows. Leela Navarro works in music management. Tom Foley her son is a videographer and composer.
Maria Foley is a singer. www.mariamfoley.com