A King Among Kings, Photo from Foy Family Archives 80th Birthday Celebration

Opportunities are made and given. The ones we make choreograph our character. Ones given to us puncture some special place inside, as they’re composing another level of character. These blessings bestowed unto us can actualize a calling, construct a career, and kindle a lifetime of pursuit. Play your cards well enough and I’ll note that all of this generates heaps of happiness too.

If you’re lucky there are people you don’t know who will come into your life and make a massive difference without knowing it at first, if ever. At age eighteen, a man living thousands of miles away from me was about to change my life. I doubt he knew it. I know I didn’t. We’d never met or known about one another prior. But it happened somewhat miraculously. For him, it was out of necessity. For me, it was a fluke of serendipity that foreshadowed my entire future to this day.

He was working another year, like many before in his friendship with Jerry Lewis, as the National Talent Coordinator for the famed “Love Network” MDA Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon. They were down to the wire and in need of a few last minute ‘volunteer’ production assistant staff for their department. I was a kid about to start college who’d helped my local MDA chapters in South Carolina. Some unknown soul to both of us landed my number in his lap. These were days long before the internet and cell phones supported our connections. My freshman dorm room phone rang and the rest is decades of my history books.

He was responsible for my paid flight to Vegas to work for a record thirty-six or so hours straight. My name tag on arrival read ‘Cody Coleman’, as that’s what he took from our quick initial call when I gave my name as ‘Brady Kuhlman’ (using the nickname I was called in those days). It became fun banter that first working year together, as I kept the name tag for our run of show. In a state of bliss the entire time, I was surrounded by A, B, and C list talent I knew from films, tv, Broadway and radio.

I returned working with him for MDA for many years. I later moved in with him when I made my leap to try the Hollywood life. He gave me my start, kept me supremely erudite, and even let me move out for a couple weeks only to welcome me back with a boyfriend in tow when I failed my attempt to join said love interest on a first move to Chicago. He put up with a lot from me. Through it all, he guided me, employed me, taught me more than any school or textbooks I’d known, shaped, and expertly molded me into a woman deserving of my own Hollywood story.

A typically fun-filled MDA Telethon work day in Foyland, Photo from Foy Family Archives

Who is my fantabulous game changer? He’s the one and only King Three Sticks, Foy, Foyster, Eddie, or Eddie Foy III formally. I wrote a tad more detail prior relating to the infamous Foyster about what I didn’t plan that worked out so well for me. Why I love this man spans eons worth of data. Eddie became a surrogate father to me living in California since my own family remained in the southeast. He was better than most boyfriends I had for many years. He teased lovingly about my big boobs, allowed my hippieness to flow, encouraged my polished business attire or healthy weight loss moments, and cooked me grand Italian feasts of his royal sausages and spaghetti.

Foy raised me by Hollywood standards. He had a keen eye for talent that focused me on values and hard work. I learned about toughness via his youthful boxing management career. I found sophistication that later followed me well to my Dennis Hopper career days from Eddie’s cigar smoking infatuation. He was an immense comedic giant in his own right, passed on from his father and grandfather. I’ve never been around Foy where I didn’t end up with belly laughs so loud and hard my tummy was aching with goodness. His life entwined with mine gifted me another best friend in his daughter Dina and her entire family. I gathered a huge roster of friends through knowing my Foy. His personal pilgrimage eventually brought us all his beautiful and youthful wife Jan, many years after he was a widow. They shared more than a couple decades, adding even more family to the broadening tree full of life. I was always thrilled to spend time around him and anyone he knew. He was a survivor who ramped up my own spirituality. He was a best friend to me, a doting dad of sorts, a patient teacher, a genuinely wise soul, the silliest wisecrack, and my first and best mentor.

Eddie Foy Jr., Bob Hope, and Eddie Foy III likely reminiscing about Bob’s role in The Seven Little Foys playing Eddie Foy Sr., Photo from Foy Family Archives 80th Birthday Celebration

Eddie transitioned a few days ago amidst brilliant sunshine and the warmth of family at his side to the ultimate name-in-lights phase to now dance, prance, flirt, and joke with the angels and God. His faith was a superior spotlight that gave him extra lives and us extra years with him in the least. I know his new shining is gonna be brighter than anything we’ve ever known. Every time I see the sun bursting love letters of colors across the sky, or the night’s stars begin twinkling, I’m gonna think of Foy’s mischief, magic, and boundless amusement. I’ll eternally hear my name in his sing-songy voice when someone calls me by my nickname, as he joyously would greet and refer to me as “Braaaaaaadyyyyyyy la-la-la-la-laaaaaaa”!

Heaven’s got a wickedly witty leg up now on us down here. I can just picture Foy crouching mockingly in a puppy-about-to-pee position as I say this, whimpering playfully and knowingly that he’ll keep us in stitches infinitely with zany, soft, and sage reminders all around us.

How I’ll remember the notorious Foyster, Photo by BradensEye

You’ll Never Walk Alone dearest Foy, and neither will we knowing you.

LOVER of life. Especially people, places, philanthropy and photography.

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