Our days of taking in shows on Broadway and spending time together in the city became a tradition that continued throughout high school and into my college years. My mother and I loved to see matinees and have lunch at Sardi's. The very first time we went there, Vincent Sardi, the owner himself, met us at the door. He was extremely pleasant to us, especially since he was used to more sophisticated patrons than we were. He personally escorted us to our table, which I thought was quite extraordinary -- that is, until I saw where he was seating us. He stopped at the front table underneath a row of the very famous caricatures drawn of the celebrities who had eaten there. I didn't realize that this particular table in the front and center of the restaurant was a very sought-after place to be seated. At the time, I thought he didn't want his other guests to see the two of us. My mother and I were all too happy to be there, even if we thought Mr. Sardi was not. We had a very nice lunch. As we ate our meal, Mr. Sardi approached us and pointed to a table of well dressed gentlemen who looked like Hollywood producers.
"I am sorry for the interruption. The gentlemen at that table would like to know who you are." He was talking to me. I was very flattered, although I had no idea why they thought I was anyone notable in this restaurant of notables. I was a mere "nobody" enjoying lunch in the big city with my mother. I wanted to be an actress. I was studying to be one, but at that time I was still a total unknown.
My mother and I continued to frequent Sardi's in the summers that followed. Every time we went there, we were greeted like old friends. Vincent Sardi was always so very nice to us. And, every time, people wanted to know who we were. One day, we were introduced to Marian Probst, who said she was one of the editors of something called the Celebrity Register, a chronicle of who's who in the world of entertainment made famous by Earl "Mr." Blackwell. Marian said she would like to include me in their next edition, which was amazing since I hadn't been professionally cast in anything yet.
I cannot explain what the draw was, but throughout my early life, it seemed that people had an instinctive sense that I was going to be famous. I can't say this with any authority other than my own experience, but from the time I was a young child, I always knew that performing was all I really wanted to do. I suppose there is some merit to the correlation between the image one projects out to the world and what the world sees. If you're lucky?very lucky -- and you work hard, that portrayal can and often does turn into the stuff that dreams are made of.
© Susan Lucci, All My Life, It Books, 2011