Remembering George Bush
It was June of 1981. I was playing PT Barnum in the musical, Barnum, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
George Bush was serving as Vice President to Ronald Regan at the time, and one summer evening, he and his wife, Barbara, attended my performance, came backstage afterwards to pay their respects, and completely swept me off my feet.
It was such an honor to meet him. He was so gracious and compassionate, so friendly and personable, as was his dear wife.
I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.
He and Mrs. Bush took the time to say hello to each member of our large cast, and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What a class act!”
Once again at the Kennedy Center, some years later, I was playing Harry Van in Idiot’s Delight at the Eisenhower Theatre, and once again, the Vice President and Mrs. Bush came backstage to say hello.
It became joyfully obvious that The Bushes were avid theatre goers, and were great supporters of the arts.
His popularity with performers was universal. His compassion and his charm transcended politics. He was even loved by those who didn’t necessarily agree with his political position on issues. He was a consummate gentleman, and when you were in his presence, you felt like you were with a friend.
My final meeting with the Bushes was in the summer of 2009.
I was playing Richard Nixon in the US National Tour of the Peter Morgan play, Frost/Nixon. We were in Houston, Texas, home of the Bushes, and once again they came backstage after a performance to say hello. I was thrilled to see them. It felt like a family reunion.
There are few moments in my life that I can point to as being so humbling, and so inspiring. I am so deeply honored to have had the great privilege of knowing this extraordinary man and his extraordinary wife. He was the embodiment of dignity and respect.
His warmth, his integrity, his courage, his self-deprecating humor, his dedication to serving others, his compassion, and his generosity of spirit, serve to remind us in these troubled times that the human decency currently lacking in the oval office may, hopefully, return once again to re-kindle and re-ignite our faith, and our respect for our leaders.
God Bless the Bush Family and God Bless America. -Stacy Keach