"My Rival, The Sky," a military wife's memoir of a wartime homefront, had two happy endings: the end of World War II and the beginning of Swoosie Kurtz. On March 30, 1978, at Gallagher's opening night party for Christopher Durang's A History of the American Film, I met Swoosie — along with parents, Frank and Margo Kurtz.
Margo is the author of the book above and Frank was an Olympic-medalist high-diver who became World War II's most decorated Air Force pilot, flying the only surviving B-17D Flying Fortress. Now in the Smithsonian, the plane was dubbed The Swoozie after a popular Kay Kaiser ditty about Alexander the Swoose, a swan-goose hybrid and, thus, apt for a plane cobbled together from Pearl Harbor's battered B-17's. When the Kurtzes gave birth to a daughter, she had to be called Swoosie.
"There's an analogy in that name for me as an actress, which I never thought of until I was in my 40s: some original parts and then parts from other planes — that's like me and the characters that inhabit me," Swoosie notes — hence, her memoir: "Part Swan, Part Goose: An Uncommon Memoir of Womanhood, Work, and Family."
"I wasn't interested in going anywhere near a celebrity memoir," she admits. "I really was much more interested in telling the story of my parents. I wanted the world to know their story, through my life — their choices sorta juxtaposed to mine.
"My mother is quite a voice in the book, and one of my dreams was to get her book re-released — she wrote it when she was pregnant with me, and it was published in 1945 — with an introduction by me. That's how the dream started a few years ago."
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