Valerie Harper and Me

Valerie Harper and Me

Ten years ago Valerie and I were named Co-Chairs of the Elections Committee for the divisive Merger Vote (that lost by 640 votes that year but has since passed overwhelmingly). Since we, as individuals, represented opposite sides in the Merger debate we knew we were swimming in deep water. Valerie crossed the Board Room to tell me that we would “make a great team” and “show everyone that we can work together like professionals.”

In 2003 it so happened that Tabulation Night (vote counting) occurred on my 58th birthday, and in the middle of a tense situation at a Wilshire hotel, Valerie stopped the process and produced a birthday cake for me, an act of kindness I will never forget. How she knew I’ve never been able to find out. We may know the character of people by the manner in which they handle the small things in life.

As National Co-Chairs, I’m proud to say, Valerie and I conducted an important election that was not contested by either side…for the only time in the past 30 years of SAG/AFTRA elections. That September night we laughed about an old show business maxim whose truth we were making real:

“The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.”

Valerie Harper is coping with a really big Big Thing just now, and doing so with dignity and grace. There is a lesson in this.

Thank you, Valerie…for your talent, your accomplishments…and my birthday cake.

Paul Petersen