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Mama (part 2)

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

When Mama arrived in California she immediately searched for an apartment for her, her daughter, Lili, and her mother and aunt. With her incredible perseverance, she found the perfect three-bedroom apartment in the heart of Hollywood. She had saved money from her work at the club in Texas as well as Rose’s generous cash gifts to her. They were set.

It was 1950 and Mama made it her business to seek out Hollywood parties. She clung to her dream of being “discovered”. She hung out at all the hotspots of the day: Patsy D’Amore's Villa Capri, Musso Franks, La Scala, Café Trocadero (The Troc) Macambo, Ciro’s and others.

She met many directors, producers and stars: Frank Sinatra, Myrna Loy, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Henry Fonda, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Elia Kazan, etc.

Mama knew how to mingle, and boy did she mingle! 

One evening she went to Villa Capri, one of the “Rat Packs” favorite hangouts—especially Sinatra’s. Mama was sitting at a table with a girlfriend. Sinatra was at the bar with a date. He got up and walked over to Mama’s table, passing her a tiny note saying, “Call me, beautiful.” Mama may have had her faults but she was always a lady with principles. When it was time to leave, Mama walked by the bar and threw the note at Sinatra saying, “I don’t call men.” Sinatra followed her out leaving his date behind. He tapped her on the shoulder saying, “Come on honey, you know who I am. We can have some fun. “Go back to the girl you came with,” Mama said. "You obviously took me for the wrong kind of woman.” Mama was never star-struck. After all, she had worked with many well known film directors and actors in Italy.

A few years passed. My grandmother was working as a seamstress for the Ice Follies and my Aunt Maria was taking care of my half-sister Lili. 

One night, Mama went to a party at The Beverly Hills Hotel where my father saw her for the first time. His life would never be the same. Mama told me he followed her all evening, telling stories and entertaining her with his wit. Mama enjoyed him. But he was more taken with her than she with him. Dad would call her afterwards, stopping by to visit and always sending her flowers. He slept outside her apartment so he could see her the first thing in the morning. A week after they met he asked her to marry him. She turned him down many times but Dad persevered.  A few months later, Mama gave in to Dad’s incessant advances, accepting his marriage proposal. Mama had grown weary of supporting the family. My sister Lili’s father was not around to help raise her, and Mama wanted a solid male role model.

Liliana Bona Aikin married my Dad, Norman A. Cook, in the summer of 1954 at the Ventura County Courthouse. They spent the weekend at the well-known Pierpont Inn on Ventura Beach.

Dad traveled a lot with various films, taking Mama and Lili with him. He treated my sister like his own, taking her to Paris, giving her ballet lessons, music lessons, and spoiling her with frequent gifts. Lili wanted for nothing. Even today she appreciates his kindness and generosity.

But Mama was unhappy. You see, she never fell in love with Dad. She had yet to meet the love of her life. Her family came first. But the longing for deep love never left her heart.

The Cook household was never the same after I arrived in 1956. Up until then, my sister Lili had been everything to them. Without my even knowing it, I became the apple of everyone's eye while my sister took a back seat.

Until next time...

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