As much as Char loved travelling the world, she equally loved an excursion to Hollywood. There was a small set of stars and starlets whose families had worked with or known Char’s father, and she always enjoyed catching up with them over a cup of tea.
One friend she always checked in on was the lovely Margarita Cansino. Rita would try to teach Char the latest dance steps, but the result was always a hopeless, riotous mess where they both ended up in a heap, laughing on the floor. (I was always tucked safely away in my carrying case!). For all the money Char’s father had invested in Rita’s father’s dance studio, Char most decidedly had two left feet.
I remember one visit in particular when we visited Rita on her movie set. Her last name had been changed to Hayworth at that point, her mother’s maiden name. Char would often bring one of her latest tea favorites with her. On this trip, it was a particularly bold Irish Breakfast blend in honor of Rita’s Irish-English mother. As they exchanged stories of mutual acquaintances, her co-star joined us for a his usual afternoon cup of tea. Char froze and made a sort of high pitched squeak. Cary Grant! The George Clooney of yesteryear! She could hardly speak, and when she tried, she just stammered out sounds. Rita found it hilarious. Mr. Grant, gentleman that he was, instantly worked on breaking the spell by doing horrendous imitations of Rita’s former Brooklyn accent. Within minutes, they were chatting and laughing like old friends. He even commented that I was quite ‘the lovely tea cup.’ It was a nickname that I became rather attached to. I remember it like it was yesterday and often reminded Char of it.
That’s the lovely thing about tea, though. Whether you’re the most famous actor in the world or a poor soul without a nickel to your name, tea is a common and accessible luxury.
So, who will you join for tea today? And who might show up unexpectedly? So many things can happen over tea!
*Rita Hayworth played opposite Cary Grant and Jean Arthur in the 1939 movie Only Angels Have Wings.