Remembering Lady Bird

Lady Bird Johnson

Before I begin, I want to thank our bidders on the Kathy Griffin tickets.  We actually had a surprise for our first and second runners-up, which I will tell you about later.

 I wanted to post a moment about Lady Bird Johnson and her love or our theatres.  She was a frequent patron at both the Paramount and the State, but my favorite memory was her last visit in December of ’05 when she came to see “A Christmas Carol” at the State Theatre.  We actually had to use the elevator down to the production basement and then through the side auditorium door to avoid as many stairs for Lady Bird as possible.  From the side auditorium door she only had to go a couple of steps to her seat once she left the wheel chair.

At the beginning of the show I announced that the former First Lady was in the house and the audience gave her a standing ovation.  Lady Bird’s smile could be seen from every seat as I noticed Luci Johnson wiping away a tear.  It was a wonderful moment that I will never forget.

At the end of the show, Luci let me know that her mother wished to go back stage and thank the cast members for the wonderful performance.  Back stage, Lady Bird smiled, clapped, blew kisses, and made every single member of that cast feel like royalty.  I am not sure words will do this justice because I think you had to be there.  It wasn’t until we had gotten Luci, Ian, Ian’s mother and Lady Bird back into the car that I realized during the whole evening Lady Bird had never spoken a word.  It dawned on me that she probably was unable to speak or had difficulty speaking most likely due to the stroke that had occured in 2002.  And yet, she made me, the audience, and especially the cast feel like we were somehow close and cherished friends.  I bet if I called each cast member tonight many of them would pause and try to recall if she had actually spoken that night back stage…. the hand gestures, the smiles, the facial expressions… the best way I can describe it is to tell you that her spirit came through so strongly that she did not need words.

I got to meet Mrs. Johnson on only three occasions , and yet I feel as if we were the best of friends with years of memories between us.   She just had a way about her to make you feel a strong connection.  All of us at the theatre will miss her – our Leading Lady.

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2 responses to “Remembering Lady Bird

  1. Ken, your Lady Bird tribute was so sweet and beautifully written, now I am the one wiping away a tear. My family stood out on 290 in Dripping Springs to wave to Lady Bird and her family as she was driven to Johnson City on Sunday. It was really touching — Luci and Lynda waved and yelled “thank you” to all of us along the way. I am coming to see Kathy G. on Friday — can’t wait.

  2. Ken, I was at that performance of A Christmas Carol. My mom and I were sitting on the same row as Lady Bird. She was a remarkable woman.

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