Just sayin’: Talking about Diane Venora

Photo of Diane Venora

Diane Venora

I watched Clint Eastwood’s “Bird” (1988; starring Forest Whitaker and Diane Venora) this weekend for the first time.

How did I miss this gem?¬†Maybe I didn’t take Clint Eastwood seriously then.

The film takes an enormous life (Charlie Parker’s) and focuses on a small but hearty slice: his addictions and his relationship with Chan Parker, who sticks by him through thick and thin. Chan was no ordinary alcoholic helpmeet. She drew great strength from her husband, while remaining her own woman. She was very much in love. Chan used to say that Charlie’s fingers would play over her at night while he was asleep, as of “she were his horn.”

The film only deals marginally with racism during Parker’s time, the 40s and 50s, and we see no incidents of it, although it must have been more than interesting for Parker to keep a relationship going with Chan Parker, half-Jewish and all white.

But the whole point of this little blog is to point out that Diane Venora plays Chan. More than an enchanting choice for such a talented actor. If you remember, Diane mesmerized Broadway with her portrayal of Hamlet in the early 1980s. It was the most riveting performance of that play I’ve ever seen, and she got a lot of attention for it. I watched it on a little black and white TV set in my old Towson apartment, really unable to leave the screen for a moment.

Venora has since all but faded away. She disappeared for a time to raise her daughter ¬†and guest appeared in several TV series (Medium, Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, and others), and did star in a few regular series (Thunder Alley and Chicago Hope).

She’s smart, clever, and beautiful.

I’m just saying’.

Check out her IMDB profile:


One of Diane Venora’s quotes: “I love to struggle. I think life without pain is no life. I’d rather be dead than comfortable.”


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl Johnson
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 10:21:20

    I am so glad to see you writing for your blog again. Your pieces are always so smooth and interesting. I would never known to take the opportunity to watch “Bird” unless you pointed it out. Thanks for your blog and the recommendation.


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