In Memory of Judi Banevicius
February 26, 1938 - December 14,
Last month, Judi Banevicius, the President of my fan club since its
inception in 1982 or 3, passed away after having been a friend, supporter, and wonderful
President. Judi may have been the only person (other than Coymoon and Roberta Teska) who
has seen everything that I ever made. She contacted me and explained how a fan club
worked; how she would underwrite all the costs and that it would be self-supporting from
member dues. I went to see her in New York City and found her a round, motherly person of
great sincerity. I had no idea if there would be any interested fans at all, but I thought
that at least my relatives would enjoy it, and Judi explained to me that fan clubs often
organize letter-writing campaigns to the studios to support their actors. I thought that
this could be useful too and agreed to let her try.
I never ceased to be amazed by Judi. If people could not afford to pay the
$5.00 a year tab, they invariably got the newsletters and fan club materials for free.
Judi could be unrelenting in pursuit of good pictures and news for her fans and got cross
with me several times when I fell down on my responsibility to keep her provided in a
timely way with information of what I was doing and where. God help me if a publicity
release hit the newstands before Judi had been fully informed, I knew I would hear from
her personally, the next day. Here is an excerpt from a note to me about Judi by Roberta
Teska, a dedicated fan and friend:
"Judi and I made our first contact in July 1991. I had found
out from your agent that you had a fan club, but only had an address, not a phone number.
I sent Judi a letter introducing myself, and giving her my son's phone number, just before
I left Florida for a visit to him in Atlantic City. She called me the very day that I
arrived there, and our connection was immediate... very rare for me... I felt as tho I'd
known her forever.. She sent me THREE packets filled with photos of you, and varied info,
during the first week that I was there. I was up on Cloud 9!!!
This is the way that she treated members of your fan club, during
the long years that she served as President of your Fan Club. I know from personal
experience that she did so with true dedication. I know that when a movie of yours opened,
she was there at the theater on opening night, and she watched the box office (in
multi-screen theaters) to see how many went to see yours, and that your movie was properly
credited with the number of viewers, which she explained to me was very important for it
to be accurate... She was truly dedicated..."
Over the years, I received so many letters of thanks from friends,
relatives, and fans due to Judi's diligence. The club grew until it numbered in the
thousands. As far as I know, Judi never felt comfortable with computers and continued to
type and lay the newsletters out by hand. It is humbling to be the recipient of so much
concentrated attention, and I wish I could say that I was always as appreciative and
diligent as I should have been.
We continued on in this way for many years, but this winter, when the flu epidemic hit New
York, it also hit Judi and hit her too hard for her frail health to stand. Her death was a
great loss and shock. In honor to Judi I decided that I would not continue the fan club
under anyone else's supervision. She was one of a kind, and so was the club.
Coymoon does such an admirable job running this web-site that perhaps the fan club as it
used to exist is no longer necessary. Still, there's a subtle difference between a
web-site and a fan-club. A web-site is a compendium of information, gracefully produced
and laid-out, and there is of course much love and dedication that goes into it. But a fan
club, an old fashioned, 50's style fan club is almost a cultural artifact. A throwback to
a more innocent time when performers had fans, and perhaps behaved in a way that won and
deserved their respect more than they do today. I like to think of Judi as a force for
that old-time kind of faith in her 'performers.' I'll miss her and miss the club. I'm only
sorry that I have no photos or no more detailed information about her to share with you.
Roberta Teska was kind enough to send me a copy of the first letter I ever sent to the fan
club, and when I get home, I'll forward it as a souvenir of a happy and productive time in
my life, in memory of Judi Banevicius.
Coymoon Note: As creator of this web site, I am indeed aware
of the dedication and enthusiasm that a fan must have in pursuing and publishing news on a
celebrity. When the word "official" is also added to a web site or fan club, it
establishes a serious commitment. My job has been made so much easier with access to the
Internet, but Judi's demanded so much more, and I applaud her for all the detailed work
and love that she put into the fan club for over twenty years.
The Offical Peter Coyote Web Site