We dimmed the lights for a moment at Buzz Central Friday afternoon when we learned of the passing of Rachel Rosen Lehmann.
We had a hunch the always-theatrical Atlanta Opera supporter, singer, hoofer and Queen of Atlanta’s Zaban Tower retirement community would have enjoyed that.
Lehmann passed away Thursday, three days short of her 106th birthday, surrounded by her family, following a stroke.
As Buzz readers may fondly recall, Lehmann first contacted us in 2005 after she read about 104-year-old bowler Bill Hargrove in our Sports section. The reason for her call? Rachel wanted Hargrove’s digits.
For a date.
After his family consented, we passed along the information to Lehmann, who in turn invited Hargrove — and us — to her 102nd birthday bash at the Atlanta Opera.
The result ended up on the AJC’s front page.
Upon meeting the dapper Hargrove, who arrived wearing a suit and bearing three long-stemmed roses, Lehmann told the former World War II Glenn Miller Orchestra trumpeter: “I was just a plain old WAC [Women's Army Corps], but I was a sergeant in the WAC. So I can give orders. You might be older than me, but you’d better behave, dahlink!”
After the story ran, Lehmann continued to ring us with lively updates on her life (after finishing a singing stint, she was once approached by an admiring fan who asked, “Are you available?” Without blinking, Lehmann replied: “Do you drive?”) .
She delighted countless AJC staffers with her frequently hilarious voice-mail messages that always ran along the lines of “Richard, dahlink, it’s your friend Rachel Lehmann, sweetie!”
Before hanging up, she would blow kisses into the phone.
Alas, our last conversation with Lehmann took place a year ago this month when we sadly phoned her for a quote following Hargrove’s passing.
Said Lehmann at the time: “He would tell me, ‘When I go to bed at night, I see you in my dreams.’ How can you top that? They aren’t making gentlemen like that anymore.”
A service for Lehmann will be held Sunday at noon at Ahavath Achim Synagogue, 600 Peachtree Battle Ave., Atlanta N.W. Call for info: 770-451-4999.
When we asked Lehmann what she brought to Hargrove’s 106th birthday party on their final date, she dished with a wicked laugh: “A big bottle of wine! I mean, at our age, why not? We always had so much fun together. I just wish we could have started a little earlier. But I’m so happy I got to meet him.”
Those sentiments mirror our own about our favorite 105-year-old reader. We get the feeling that somewhere Hargrove is bowling a perfect game as Lehmann entertains him with her signature song, “Second Hand Rose.”
We know this much for certain: On Sunday, we’ll raise a toast to you, Rachel, dahlink!
Call for extras
Atlanta’s cottage industry — providing settings for football movies — is back in business. “The Blind Side,” based on a book involving recent NFL draft pick Michael Oher, is looking for folks to sit in the stands at the Westminster Schools in Buckhead Tuesday and Wednesday night. “We Are Marshall” and “Remember the Titans” have also shot action footage in metro Atlanta. The movie stars Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. Filming began in Atlanta in April. For more information, visit www.theblindsideextras.com.
Actor Tom Selleck, in town shooting the feature film “Five Killers” with Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher, dining at Pricci in Buckhead. We hear Selleck likes the Italian eatery so much he’s popped in three times this week alone. One prominent Buckhead pediatrician was heard swooning in Selleck’s direction Thursday night. Her husband, meanwhile, was noticeably less impressed.
Guitarist Lenny Davidson of The Dave Clark Five is 65. Actor Colm Meaney (”Star Trek: The Next Generation”) is 56. Actor Ted McGinley (”Hope and Faith,” “Married…With Children”) is 51. Actor Ralph Carter (”Good Times”) is 48. Country singer Wynonna Judd is 45. Guitarist Tom Morello of Audioslave and Rage Against The Machine is 45. Singer-actress Idina Menzel is 38. Singer Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley is 35.
Contributing: Ken Sugiura and news services.
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