Wednesday, February 23, 2022

"A Person I Will Never Forget" by Renato Floris

In life there are many encounters, some decided by destiny, some benevolent and unfortunately some malevolent.

In my long life, I have had many encounters and here I want to remember one of the most beautiful encounters with a person I will never forget.

Because of my experience in the field of video production in the United States, the director Enrico Carlesi, who was preparing a documentary on Rodolfo Valentino, asked me if I was available to give organizational support to his project. Being the adventurous type I said yes and so off we went.

We arrived in a hotel on Sunset Boulevard and set up a space for interviews. The first person we interviewed was Natacha Rambova's biographer, Michael Morris. Enrico Carlesi told me that Michael was a Dominican friar, a father of the OP (Ordo Praedicatorum). I was well acquainted with the Dominican order as I attended part of my elementary school in a Dominican school and those friars with long black robes intimidated me.

On the day of Michael's interview we waited for him to arrive from Berkeley, when the phone rang and we were told that "Mister Morris" was on his way to our set. I went out to welcome him and found myself in front of a well-dressed gentleman not in a religious habit but wearing an elegant blue blazer.

It was friendship at first sight and in the following days he collaborated intensely with the contributions of Patricia Lampinen, a sincere and enthusiastic admirer of Rodolfo Valentino.

After the interview, both Enrico Carlesi and I stayed in contact with Michael hoping to be able to collaborate again. The opportunity came in 2009, on the occasion of the conference on Rudolph Valentino of which Michael was a member of the scientific committee.

I was happy to be able to embrace him again. He was excited to introduce me to a friend of his, saying she was a rising star in the world of Valentino. He told me she was a very good writer who was writing a book that was guaranteed to be a real blockbuster. That person was Evelyn Zumaya and for me and for her, Michael's introduction was our love at first sight inspiring our marital and editorial relationship which has lasted ever since.

After a few years Evelyn and I became husband and wife. Throughout this time Michael and Evelyn were in continuous creative contact until they decided to converge their research into a great book which I was happy to publish. Work began and a contract was signed with Michael for the publication of the book to come, that contract for me had the value of a sacred relic.

One day we received a message from Michael telling us, "Pray for me, I have been diagnosed with cancer." And aware of the difficult situation, he wanted to speed up the publication of the book. One terrible day our dear friend left us to soar into his heavenly flight.

His brethren knew of our collaboration with Michael as well as did his family. After a meeting in Berkeley with the superiors and Michael's family, it was decided Evelyn would complete the book which Michael, from the beginning of the project, wanted to share with her acting as editor. We were entrusted with Michael's archive and the work proceeded to the realization of the posthumous work of Michael Morris with the authoritative and authorial support of Evelyn Zumaya.

It seems that some people don't like the fact that Michael held Evelyn in high regard and this hurts not only Evelyn and me, but it hurts Michael's memory. Sometimes I wonder what this mediocre, foolish, stubborn attitude is based on. I think it is the result of envy and jealousy and, above all, of the petty mediocrity of these squalid characters. I like to say that Michael and Evelyn's work flies high, very high, reaching heights that these poor people will never be able to achieve.

Rest in peace my friend Michael who perhaps is counting on my stubborn upholding of his truth. And about those mediocre people, I share a verse from Dante's Canto III of Hell,

"Let's not talk about them, let's look and pass by."