By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Eva Marie Saint’s Falcon spirit does has its limits.
President Rodney Rogers found this out before he left for Bravo! BGSU on Saturday.
Saint, the Oscar-winning actress and 1946 graduate of Bowling Green State University, was staying in the president’s house with her son and daughter, during their visit back to campus.
The visit was capped off by her receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the university. (Click for related story.)
Standing at the podium to deliver the award, Rogers said he’d started to leave the house wearing an orange bowtie.
“Lose the orange tie,” Saint told him. “Black is classic.” When Eva Marie Saint tells you to do something, he said, you do it. So the president of BGSU appeared at Bravo! BGSU with nary a patch of orange.
The awarding of the Lifetime honor to someone Rogers called “our most celebrated” graduate, capped off an evening celebrating the arts are BGSU.
Bravo! BGSU now in its fourth year raises money for scholarships for arts students. This year 340 tickets at $125 were sold, more than last year when $75,000 was raised, according to Lisa Mattiace, the president’s chief of staff. Another $9,000 came in from the silent auction.
Students who benefited from those scholarships were evident throughout the night. Performances and art demonstrations were staged through the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Students screened their films and read their poetry. They sang musical theater tunes and art songs. A jazz group jammed and the Combustible Ensemble improvised music for dancers.
One of those Bravo! Scholars, Kimberly Tumblin, was painting in a hallway. She appreciated the scholarship. “It just helps out my family a lot.”
She also saw it as “a validation” of her work.
Tumblin, who is from Coshocton, came to BGSU on the recommendation of her high school art teacher, who is a graduate of the university.
Tumblin intended to study digital arts, but really loved painting. She was intimidated by the medium’s long tradition, especially given she was interested in more traditional styles.
But at BGSU she got the encouragement she needed, and switched to painting, studying with Brandon Briggs.
The figure painting she was working on was inspired by the art of the Italian Baroque. This was the first time she’d worked in such a public setting, and was surprised how much work she was getting done.
In another hallway one of her fellow Bravo! Scholars, Emily Avaritt painting a figure in a more contemporary style. She came to BGSU from the Toledo School for the Arts, which is sponsored by the university.
Given that relationship and her familiarity with BGSU, the Toledo resident felt this was her best option for college.
Christine Hansen was standing nearby admiring Avaritt’s art. “I’m watching this picture come to life in a matter of minutes.”
Hansen came to Bowling Green six months ago from Wayne State in Detroit to become assistant vice president for major giving. “Everywhere I stop, I’m struck,” she said. “You can’t imagine what you see. The passion and talent not only that the students have but the faculty who are teaching them.”
She said she wishes her stepson, who is an artist with Disney, was here to see the work. Hansen said before coming to BGSU she was unaware of the quality of its arts programs. “This is a secret.”
As someone involved in raising funds for BGSU she was glad to have the university sharing that secret with donors.
Dick and Annette Sipp, of Perrysburg, were attending Bravo! for the first time. He consults with the College of Health and Human Services, and they wanted to see the work being done by both students and faculty.
What they were saw was “impressive,” he said.
Annette Sipp said the students they talked to are “so articulate and engaging.”
Stan and Kathy Korducki, of Bowling Green, were also first time Bravo! attendees. They were strolling near the scene shop looking at the costumes for the forthcoming production of “Threepenny Opera,” which opens later this month.
Kathy Korducki said it was enjoyable to speak to those who work back stage “who you don’t usually get to meet.”
Former student Saint got top billing, though.
She took questions from Lesa Lockford, who chairs the Department of Theatre and Film, in the theater named for her.
Asked about her feelings regarding the removal of the 42-year-old Gish Film Theater from its place in Hanna Hall to the Student Union, she said things change and people have to accept that. She said she’s had many telephone conversations with Ralph Wolfe, who established the theater and served for many years as its curator, about his dismay at the theater’s displacement.
Saint expressed confidence that the university and Rogers will do well by the venue in its new location.
She also spoke about her days doing live television. There was the incident in which, after assuring the women in the television audience that “even” they could pull up the antennae of the new Admiral TV, she couldn’t.
Then there was the scene in which another actor blurted out a curse when he forgot his lines. She improvised, and said it was time to nap as the show cut to commercials. After the shooting was done, she said she sat in a daze with the whiskey she’d requested close to hand. She never drank it.
Then, she was shooting a scene with her in a pool. Saint said she was focused on those within the scene and intentionally ignoring the crew just off camera. Then something in her peripheral vision caught her attention. A crew member was signaling that her bathing suit had slipped down. “I was showing my boobies coast to coast on live TV.”
She slipped lower into the water and finished the scene.
She also recalled as a young actor new to New York she approached an agent about representing her and he said she’d have to change her name. Noting that her mother was also Eva Marie Saint, and her father was Merle Saint, she refused and walked out.
That kind of firmness marked her career. In a session Friday with students, she told of an exchanged with another agent after she was established. She had been offered two films. She said with two small children she could only do one.
“I guess you’ll never be a super star,” he said.
Saint fired him.
Saint, who grew up in Albany, NY, said she, and her older sister before her, came to BGSU because her family couldn’t afford the “Eastern girls schools.”
A friend of her father’s recommended BGSU.
“I don’t know his name, or I’d write him a love letter.”
Saturday night, she could have gotten a lot of people to co-sign that note.
The students instead expressed their affection in a showcase at the end of the night.
After Saint was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, a group of musical theater students performed “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” with the three lead singers stepping off the stage in the Donnell to greet the star, who has shown how far a BGSU education can take them.