Remembering George Manupelli
The last time I saw George was at the 50th Ann Arbor Film Festival. George was the founder of the festival and for the 50th Festival the organizers invited him to attend, but not to show his films. They treated him very well they got him from the airport, set him up in the Bell Tower Hotel, and got him a personal assistant. He was not in the best of health, almost blind from macular degeneration and having some difficult walking do to circulation problems. I visited him in his hotel room the first day he got to Ann Arbor and found him in great spirits surrounded by a group of people who were focused on his every word. The old George holding court with female admirers.
We talked about what he was going to say at the opening of the festival in the Michigan Theater. He was writing in big letters on file cards some ideas. He was going to use the cards as a reminder of what he was going to say. I suggested that he shuffle the cards and forget the order. After he was introduced he told the audience that I told him to shuffle the cards and use the order that came up. Of course he never looked at the cards and just talked. George charmed the audience with stories of the beginning of the festival and about himself.
The next evening I came to watch some films and saw him moving around the theater. We just said a short hi and planned to have dinner or a drink soon. The next time I saw him was at the University Cardiac Hospital.
He developed gangrene in his toe could not walk and after being looked at by a doctor they got him admitted to the Cardiac Hospital. I heard about it the next day and went to see how he was doing. Pat Olesko, who was also invited to the festival, was already with George. One of his personal assistants was in and out of the room doing various tasks for him. We all spent a afternoon talking and telling stories. Since it was Saturday the doctors were just keeping George comfortable but were not going to do anything about his toe or the circulation problem. They were going to evaluate him on Monday and see if he needed any procedure.
Monday I called him in his room in the Cardiac unit to see what was up. I got no answer and after several attempts I was getting worried. I then called the nurses station on his floor. I asked the nurse about how was mister Manupelli. There was a pause and the nurse said she could not give me and information. I was really worried now. Had they done a procedure and George did not make it? After much discussion with the nurse she said not to tell that she gave me any information but George had left the hospital. They had decided that his doctors at Dartmouth NH. could take better care of him. Ok, he was not in difficulty. I waited for a call to see if he needed any help. He never contacted me. The next day I called him at home in his Church in NH. He got a flight back on Monday and did not think to call. The old George again. I will miss him.