Teri Orr: A few of my favorite things
It is the “good night” song I hear now…you know- the one where the little children are heading off to bed in the castle and they bid the guests goodnight in song.
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu-
Adieu, adieu to yieu and yieu and yieu…
And now to you, Heather…
She played Louisa in that movie, “The Sound of Music.” The family she had on screen turned out to be a lifelong family — they had frequent reunions and were present for weddings and birthdays and even a passing.
Heather Menzies also was featured in Playboy Magazine in 1973. And was an actress in “Logan’s Run” in 1977. By then she had married the love of her life — actor Robert Urich.
She was a woman with many roles.
In Park City, she played the role of Patron Saint for the performing arts. She and her husband, actor Robert, had moved to Park City to raise their two adopted children. Robert could easily fly to California from here as needed to act in shows. The couple hosted endless dinners and fundraising evenings in their lovely home in Solamere in the ‘90s. They skied in the Ski Classic events at Deer Valley to see funds raised for a full performing arts center to be built. They raised the bar in imagining who we thought we were and could be.
Heather — along with Gary Cole and Ann MacQuoid — hired me to help raise money for the building. Heather thought we were officially on our way when Robert Redford sent us a donation.
Robert Urich was the emcee of our Opening Night. He had helped us land a huge celebrity for the event — Bill Cosby (yes, we did book him). And Cosby performed an entire show first for the students and teachers of the Park City School District in the afternoon. At night we included pieces of the Utah Symphony, The Utah Opera Company, Ballet West, and the high school jazz band. We had no idea what we were doing. And no one seemed to mind.
We invited the construction workers to join us along with the donors. Ditto the miners’ widows at the senior center. We had fireworks over the cemetery. Heather and Robert moved from Park City to Southern California not long after that to be close to great medical care when his cancer was detected. They had adopted another child to celebrate life and their love. Robert passed away in 1992. Eventually Heather came back to Park City for a few years to have her youngest daughter in school here. And then she moved to New York. And she had her home in Canada that she and Robert built on a lake…
About 10 years ago she came out to Park City to be part of a summer outdoor screening and costume contest and Sound of Music sing along. She brought with her another cast member from the movie. It stormed that night so much we moved the event into the Eccles Center — one of only two times we ever had to do that. … The place was packed with good sports. We had the costume contest on the stage with our own made-up applause meter. Heather and Kym Karath judged the contest. I think the two gay guys dressed as the nuns who took the carburetors out of the Nazi’s cars in the film, won the contest. But maybe they were just my personal favorites.
We kept in touch. Little notes. Random calls.
In the fall when I called her about being the emcee for our 20th anniversary party she was giddy. She made us a video we showed in September at our sponsor party. She retold how we asked the Eccles family for One Million Dollars to complete the building. And she recalled how we did a real Happy Dance in the hallway after the meeting once we figured out they were donating the money. She was so excited to be returning to celebrate the success of the project she and her Bob had first dreamed of 25 years ago.
About a month ago she called and she said she had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. But she thought she still would be okay enough by January — so she was going to find a cute hat to cover the hair she expected she would lose from radiation and promised to make a video. Two weeks ago she called to say she wouldn’t be making the video. She wasn’t going to do the radiation. She told me with great certainty she had had a wonderful life — she loved her career and her children and she had the love of her life, Robert — who had left her in death 16 years ago. We said our I love yous. I called her a few days later and it went to voicemail. I learned she had left New York to return to her home in Canada — the home she and Bob had built together.
Her son Ryan let me know she had passed there on Christmas Eve.
Many will miss the actress. And many will miss their friend. And her children and grandchildren will miss her warmth and support. Here in Park City, we will remember her generosity of spirit and her vision and her hard work to create a space where all the performing arts would have a home.
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,
snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
silver white winters that melt into springs,
these are a few of my favorite things.
Thank you Heather for dreaming for us something so much bigger than we could ever imagine for ourselves. I will miss you on stage in two weeks and I will miss your laughter and your wit I know at random times in the days and years to come… some Sundays in the Park…
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