1926 - 2019
Nothing really matters.
It's all meaningless.
Sue Casey, bodysurfer, mom, Goldwyn Girl, movie & TV actress, Footlighter, grandmother, and real estate agent, died just short of the age of 93 on February 21st. A native-born Los Angeleña, she was proud to be a fourth-generation Californian, descending from a Hanoverian sailor who came around the Horn in '49. Beloved sister of Lou and Burke, daughter of sweet Mildred.
Sue relished her long film, TV, and TV-commercial career, with showgirl and acting roles in such classics as "Annie Get Your Gun," "An American in Paris," "Showboat," "Monster From the Surf," and a terrific musical featuring famous singers Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin, "Paint Your Wagon." Sue swam at the side of Esther Williams in MGM's aqua-extravaganzas, sun-bathed in "Rear Window," partied with a sharp-clawed cat in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and shimmied next to future-dictator Fidel Castro in "Holiday in Mexico" (you can Google it). Sue experienced a few vertiginous frissons when seeing many of her friends and lovers memorialized on postage stamps and one largish US coin.
Sue enjoyed her work as a successful real estate broker for almost fifty years, most recently with Coldwell Banker in Beverly Hills. She also contributed a half-century of effort to her favorite charity, the Footlighters, which raised funds for the LA-based "A Place Called Home." Sue's careers and charitable organizations led to lifetime friendships that she treasured.
But above all other things, beyond being a dazzlingly beautiful part of Hollywood's glorious Golden Era, beyond her career, her charity work, her myriad interests, Sue will be remembered by her children as a sparkling and burning light who illumined, inspired, and guided her family to lead lives as joy-filled and giving as hers. Her infectious ebullience, curiosity, enthusiasm, and love nourished and guided us all. She showed us what we could be, how we could give, and what a well-lived life was.
Her proudest achievement was her role as a mother to six fortunate and grateful kids, grandmother to around a dozen, great-grandmother to perhaps a dozen more, and great-great-grandmother to one, (remarkably, all Sue's progeny are above average). Sue understood that the world is distressingly overpopulated, but one of her prayers was that of St. Augustine, "Lord, make me chaste - but not yet!"
Sue gave birth to Colleen, John, Chris, and Diane, raised her adopted daughters Joy and Kristen, and enjoyed the love given to her by stepchildren Kathy, Jack, Julie, and Erik. Sue cherished her many grandchildren, being graced with her first, Brian, at the ripe old age of 39. Several dozen other descendents followed in rapid succession, unfortunately too numerous (read costly) to list here, and virtually all of them are grateful to Sue for having made possible their existence.
Sue lived by the maxim "Live as if you would die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever." Sue's southernmost, less prolix son John spoke for all of us kids when he wrote this week, "Una madre hermosa, graciosa, y cariñosa que hizo de cada día una especie de juego." Her energy and spirit will live on in us, and we will forever be grateful for her presence in our lives. Sue made the world a better place for her having been here.
What did Sue teach us? That it's all meaningless, but endlessly fascinating and achingly beautiful. All we can do is forgive quickly and be kind, to others and ourselves; know that we are all doing the best that we can. Cultivate gratitude; believe that enough is a feast. Be of service and generous; try to escape the prison of self. Know that your death is real and coming at blinding speed, so stop struggling to hold onto the intrinsically ephemeral and let go, relax, and remember to have fun.
Published in Los Angeles Times from Mar. 1 to Mar. 3, 2019.