The Story of Bob, Part Two

Posted: March 23, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Bob as he appeared in the film "Giant".

Bob as he appeared in the film “Giant”.

Robert Nichols (July 20, 1924- March 21st, 2013) Actor, author, song and dance man, playwrite, husband, father, and helluva nice guy, a gentleman’s gentle man, and for a very short time, my friend.

For me the story of Bob (Nichols) began a very short time ago when a mutual friend hooked us up. Bob had a story to tell (Rosie Of The Rialto) and he needed an artist to illustrate it. Since our first breakfast meeting at Howard’s Station in Occidental a few short weeks ago I have wished that our relationship had started years and years ago. He is the type of person who’s gentleness, even temper, talent and wit makes for the best of friends. And then there’s his more than six decades of experience in show business as an actor, singer, dancer, and playwrite to talk about.
We usually have a weekly meeting to discuss my drawings, to go over his rewrites, and to set an agenda for me to proceed on with my illustrations till our next meeting. I usually cannot contain my curiosity about his wonderful career and try to get him talking about his episode of The Adam’s Family or what the Mutants in “This Island Earth” looked like up close. But we spend most of our time on topic, and I always look forward to our next session.
I was aware of his rather delicate condition, after all he is eighty-seven years old and has had several heart surgeries dating back to the 1980′s. We had already had a couple of cancellations due to his health problems, but a couple of weeks ago his wife, Jennifer, emailed me to let me know that Bob had sustained a serious fall and was in bad shape. She thought he might be okay for a visit the following week however, so I made regular contacts to see if he was showing signs of improvement. A few days before our next scheduled meeting, Jennifer called and said it was all right to come over, and that Bob had something that he wanted to tell me in person. Naturally my thoughts ran the gamut from he’d no longer be able to finish the story to he was gravely ill and would not be able to… I spent a sleepless night before the day of our meeting, needing to know but dreading to hear what he might say. I had come to be quite fond of this amazing individual. I couldn’t look at the work I’d done on “Rosie” or think about the man without breaking down and crying.
It was with no small amount of trepidation that I pulled up in his driveway that morning, grabbed my folder of drawings and went to the door. But from the moment Jen opened the door for me and I saw Bob sitting there serenely in his chair, I began to relax. That is not to say that I didn’t embarrass myself briefly by blubbering in front of this wonderful gentleman who had so stoically accepted the news from his doctor that his condition would not allow for many more days with us. He has had a long and distinguished career in films, theater, and television, he has been accompanied by a talented and beautiful soulmate for many years. Few of us could or should ask for more. Yet I was pained to think that I had just met him and wanted more, selfish me.
We continued our meeting after his announcement and got quite a bit done. He had a few suggestions about how I could improve some of the characters and I made copious notes. I vowed to him that I could work with his text and get the story finished no matter what transpired. We decided to continue our meetings as long as his time and health permitted. I left feeling oddly fulfilled, my fearful apprehension melting like fog in the light of his cheerful smiles.
It has been hot today, the thermometer reads 110 degrees as I look out the window of our air-conditioned trailer. A fine day to stay inside and draw.
(From a blog I wrote back in June of 2012, when we were still working on the book, “Rosie of the Rialto”

Bob and I posing for a book photo.

Bob and I posing for a book photo.

The T

  1. Teri says:

    Oh, Michael… once again I’m sending my hugs to you for losing someone else you loved. What a dear and amazing man, and how wonderful that he was able to have YOU in his life near the end of this transition.

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