Saturday, November 21, 2015

Grandma Jennie & Arlene Francis

Recently Marash Girl sold Arlene Francis's ARLENE FRANCIS, A MEMOIR. (You know that Marash Girl sells out-of-print books on the internet, right?)  Why should that sale call to mind her mother Jennie?  Because Arlene Francis was a household word when Marash Girl was growing up.

Marash Girl's mother Jennie (born Lucille Mae Vartanian) always spoke of Arlene Francis with great pride. Yes, Arlene Francis was a well-known actress and popular television personality in the 1940's and 1950's.  But that was not all.  Arlene Francis was born Arlene Francis Kazanjian on Oct. 20, 1907, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Her father, Aram Kazanjian, was studying art in Paris at the age of 16 when he learned that both his parents had been massacred  by the Turks   during the 1894-1896 Armenian massacres. The same massacre that murdered both of Marash Girl's  great grandparents --  her father's mother's parents -- and her mother's mother's fiancee!) Arlene Francis' dad Aram Kazanjian  became a painter and portrait photographer, an Armenian immigrant to the United States  who married Leah Davis (daughter of actor Alfred Davis).

Despite the fact that Arlene Francis had changed her last name, all Armenians in the United States knew and took pride in the fact that Arlene Francis was of Armenian descent.  Arlene Francis was Armenian (at least half) and was a world famous actress.  Jennie identified with Arlene.  Jennie loved to sing, play the piano by ear as she sang the popular songs of the day, dance (despite the fact that Grandpa Peter had promised his mother that he would never dance -- and always kept that promise). Jennie laughed and loved life and people.   Never a cross word; never a negative comment.  She was the happiest woman Marash Girl has ever known.  

Arlene Francis became known for her aphorism, "Life is the best party I've ever been  invited to."

Jennie could have written that line!  She actually may have!


  1. "Life is the best party I've ever been invited to." Yes indeed, and, "I won't let anyone crash it," would be my synecdoche to Arlene's and Jennie's sentiment.

    1. I'm not sure about Arlene Francis but Jennie sure let everybody crash her party (that is, if she hadn't already invited them), and she cooked for them as well! Too bad you never knew her! You would have loved her. Jennie, that is!