Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mae West: Recalling Ramfis Diaz

Continuing our coverage of the MAE WEST collector extraordinaire, Ramfis Diaz [1963 — 2011], whose memorial service is being held today on the West Coast, here's an intimate recollection by the woman who knew him best.
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Always in My Heart, My Son Ramfis Diaz • •
• • Mrs. Genevieve Robles remembers this about her loved one: My son Ramfis was born in Arizona on 22 February 1963. My father (and his maternal grandfather) was Lalo Robles, who conducted his own orchestra — — The Lalo Robles Orchestra — — for over 50 years. He played for more than 500 weddings, and was in heavy demand for parties in Tucson, Arizona, as well as a regular fixture at local dances and concerts. In 1960, he recorded a record album that was also sold in Europe. Lalo played piano, tenor and alto sax, guitar as well as the clavia.
• • Growing up in such a musical household, by age of 9, Ramfis was determined to be a musician and started piano lessons.
• • During my first marriage, I gave birth to three sons: Danny, Alexander, and Richard Rico. Richard died at 17 years of age in a car accident in 1978. Then my second marriage produced Ramfis Diaz in 1963. At that time, the family, along with a Diaz half-brother, moved to Long Beach, California from Tuscon, Arizona.
• • Ramfis was a gifted, intelligent, alert child. By the age of four, he was in an early school start program. One week he was ill and my little boy had to stay in bed. As luck would have it, there was a Mae West Film Festival on a local television station and my young son sat and watched, completely captivated by the personality of Mae West. When the motion pictures ended, he was puzzled and even became upset.
• • In 1975, I was at the Lakewood Center Mall in Long Beach eating lunch in a restaurant by the front window. Someone shouted out: "There she is, there's Mae West!" Mae West was making an appearance at a book shop in the mall promoting the paperback release of her stage play "Pleasure Man" and autographing copies for her fans. I found a payphone and tried several times to call Ramfis, hoping he could rush over, but my 12-year-old son was out riding his bike, so he never got to meet his idol in person.
• • By the late 1980s, Ramfis had moved to Los Angeles, specifically to an older apartment tower in Hollywood, off Sunset Boulevard. An earthquake ruined some of his prize ceramic Mae West collectibles! Subsequently, he found an apartment for rent at the Gramercy Towers [in suite 701] where he has resided ever since.
• • Ramfis has scored many film scores for small local independent films and, over the years, has been working on recordings of his own.
• • Meanwhile, from 1986 — 1991, I had operated an independent music store called Musicia Latina de Las Americas in Tucson, selling Latin music from all over the world, including Cuba, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico. No doubt, my appreciation of these musical selections also made an impact on Ramfis's early musical direction.
• • Ramfis always had two passions: his music and the massive Mae West collection he gradually acquired, including thousands of original Mae West movie stills and candid pictures.. He also owned carnival chalkware statues
— — and perhaps his most rare and treasured keepsake was a Mae West lamp that was produced for a short period of time in the early 1930s. Very few of these are currently known to exist.
• • At this time his extensive Mae West collection has been placed in storage and his beloved apartment will be vacated, renovated, and released by the managent of the Gramercy Towers. His family fervently wishes to continue his legacy of the annual Mae West Birthday Party and, ideally, it can be held on the roof deck of the Gramercy Towers this coming August 17th.
• • • • By Genevieve Robles as told to R. Mark Desjardins, who very kindly permitted this to be used on the Mae West Blog.
• • Funeral services for Ramfis Anthony Diaz will be held on Thursday, 26 May 2011. Visiting hours will be from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM in order to accommodate Ram's loved ones, coworkers, and neighbors. Ram's older brother Danny tells me that McKenzie Mortuary seats 70 people only, so the family decided to hold services at the church in Long Beach instead; capacity there is 400.
• • WHERE: First United Presbyterian, 600 East 5th Street [corner of 5th & Atlantic], Long Beach, CA. First United Presbyterian is more suitable for the crowd of mourners that will be expected next week.
• • INFO: Tel. (562) 436-9707.
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• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • It seems peculiar that a Mae West quote would be inserted into a discussion about adultery since the Hollywood icon preserved her single status for decades. No matter. When a journalist needs something interesting to say, oftentimes s/he will reach for Mae.
• • Debra Ollivier concludes her Huff Post piece with these four sentences: When it comes to ordinary French men and women, adultery is a wilderness that they enter at their own risk. In this the French share with everyone, including Americans, a universal struggle between passion and a host of other complicated emotions that drive people to push the envelope on propriety. As Mae West once put it: "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted." Contrary to popular opinion, adultery is not a French trademark.
• • Source: Article: "Why Americans Are As Adulterous As The French: Questioning a Tired Cliche" written by Debra Ollivier for The Huffington Post; posted on 19 May 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 1942nd blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.
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1 comment:

  1. Waldo9:54 AM

    I just heard the news of Ramfis passing! Such a beautiful man, inside and out! He was the first person I met in LA when I moved there in 2002. The friendliest, funniest and most fabulous bartender in SoCal. There is an empty space in LA, that's for sure!!