Doris Fast Hackney
July 18, 1924 - November 30, 1988

As for something personal about Mom's career as an actress, what struck me most emphatically was her consummate professionalism. She always learned her lines quickly and then worked on the expression and presentation (the "acting") for the entire rehearsal period, so by the time of performance she was superb, and everyone in every show she was in commented on how great it was to be able to rely on her to get it *right* each and every time, and that her consistent quality helped the rest of the cast out of any difficulty someone might get into, and to maintain their energies and cohesiveness.

She was never late to rehearsal and always cheerfully and enthusiastically worked hard at each one -- and I know from my own experience, and from watching dozens of mom's in the balcony with the light man, that rehearsals can be very tedious and boring, and often emotionally draining with the director angry or dictatorial, the actors testy, and the tech people not there or not ready -- but Mom never got flustered or entered into the personality conflicts, she just did her job, remaining focused and willing to take instruction and direction.

She was in her last play during one of her last illnesses, and although the leukemia was getting worse, with fewer and shorter quiet (healthy) periods, she found the strength and will to maintain her professionalism and carry off her part with great skill and aplomb.

After that play ("The Hairy Ape" by Eugene O'Neill) she was healthy for a while again, and we went to Stone Harbor for her 40th wedding anniversary and 64th birthday that summer, and she had a great time joining in all the festivities and enjoying her family around having so much fun. I'll never forget her wearing the Statue of Liberty crown at dinner, and Roger knocking a paper bag mock-up of a ceramic vase that Mom loved out of the window, with a stooge outside to break a plate, leading her to think for a moment that he had destroyed the vase.

As I recall it she had gone into the hospital maybe seven times over the previous seven years to deal with the leukemia, but she always came out after a few weeks in good spirits and eager to partake of whatever more life might have to offer. Her last illness began in October that year (1988), and she entered the hospital for the last time in mid-November, dying (with Jeanne by her side) on November 30.

(c) Penn Hackney, 2003

Return to Charles' poem on Doris's death, read another by Charles about his own death, return to the Order of Service, visit a page of Litany and Hope, or visit some idiosyncratic poetry pages.