It was five years ago on this date that Caitlin Clarke passed away after a long bout with cancer.
Ms. Clarke chose to live her final years with her folks and to pass on her beloved craft to a new generation of actors and actresses in the metro Pittsburgh area.
Ms. Clarke chose to do this rather than seek treatment in New York. But I suppose there was no point in her staying there. Her type of cancer was incurable, and if she was going to spend her final days anywhere, it might as well be with her folks.
It is hard to figure out some of the things Ms. Clarke did: Dump a playwright to marry some philosopher-in-training (and got a satirical play written about her), then dump the philosopher and New York for a try at a Hollywood career that ultimately failed. But there was no doubt about her love of her craft; and it is this love that let her carry on through the failures as well as the successes of her career.
It was equally as difficult to bear her passing those five years ago. I could not visit her during her final days (even though I knew where she lived), nor could I attend her funeral (I had an iffy car and a new job to break in). But I was buoyed by the outpouring of support for her from her friends and students. If I have not thanked you then, I thank you now.
This is a hard saying, but I do not know whether Ms. Clarke, if she were still with us, would still be employed in the craft she had loved. Thanks to her generation (she was born at the rising curve of the Baby Boom), America had become overly obsessed with youth and health; and actresses in America generally do not age well. (The only one I know about who has is Sigourney Weaver — whose Flea Theater kindly commemorated Ms. Clarke a few weeks after her passing.) I myself cannot see how her career could have survived beyond local theater and independent films.
But Ms. Clarke did have the will to match the love of her craft, so anything could have been possible with her.
I still miss you, Caitlin Clarke.