In all my travels, as an entertainer & a professional speaker, I have never met anyone as totally charming as Olivia de Havilland.
Of course, anyone who has studied her remarkable career, and read about her legal battles with the "big Hollywood Studio system" back then -- which she won every time -- knows she also had some amazing grit.
But her grit wasn't what I experienced when I surprised her onboard the Mississippi Queen Steamboat, by sitting in her lap, in front of a group of people she was visiting with.
At that moment I had just finished one of my entertainment shows, as "The Last of the Riverboat Gamblers." and I was dressed in an outfit reminiscent of the old steamboat days. And I was feeling playful & frisky. (I defy anyone to dress up like up like a riverboat gambler and take a ride on a Mississippi River steamboat, and NOT feel playful & frisky!)
I was strolling by the table where she was sitting with some folks, and someone said, "Why, here's Bodine, the riverboat gambler."
And Olivia looked at me and said, "Come sit with us."
So I walked over and sat right in her lap!
She laughed and playfully started fanning her face with her hand, as if she was emotionally flustered, saying out loud, "Oh, my. Oh, my."
And, still in character from my entertainment show, and still in her lap, I turned to the folks she was sitting with, and said, "My fondest dream as a riverboat gambler has finally come true!"
And then I got up off her lap, dramatically begging her forgiveness for my brazenness. She softly grabbed my hand, and said, in that wonderful voice of hers, "I'm quite fond of riverboat gamblers."
At which point, as we were all laughing in delight, we knew we had just experienced a precious playful moment with this wonderful charming movie star, we will never forget.
And, for so many many reasons, I say to you, Olivia de Havilland, for all of us, one last time, "Bravo!"