She is 86 years old. She’s 28. They love spending time as LA wallpaper queens
“It’s so romantic and it makes me happy,” she said. “It also adds insulation to the room as the paper layer keeps the heat out and the coolness out.”
This interplay of romance and practicality is a theme in Green’s life.
She left her childhood home in Nebraska in 1950, when she was 14½, to dance with the Horace Heidt Original Youth Opportunity Program, a traveling talent show that performed in cities across the country and across the country. world.
The show ended in 1955, and in 1957 Green moved to Los Angeles to work as a secretary for Doodles Weaver – a crazy, Stanford-educated comedian she had met on the road, who hosted a television show for children on CBS at the time.
Soon she was enrolled in acting classes and landed an agent, landing small roles in TV shows and movies such as “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” and “A Stranger in My Arms.” She married Weaver and gave birth to a daughter in 1958. When their son was born two years later, an advertisement of Green, Weaver and the new baby appeared in The Times.
The picture was idyllic, but the reality of Green’s life was more complicated. She adored her husband, but he was an alcoholic and didn’t make enough money to pay the bills. Her acting jobs helped her, but she needed to find steady work.
It was Green’s beloved neighbor and mentor, Freida Beach, who persuaded her to start wallpapering professionally. Beach – who was 50 years Green’s senior – had taught Green how to do wallpaper and saw she had a knack for it.
Green worried that no one would want to hire a woman in 1960, but she took Beach’s advice and ran an ad in the Van Nuys News and Valley Green Sheet: “Lady wallpaper hanger. Fair price. Clean and Responsible.”
Customers started calling immediately.
Wallpaper fell out of fashion over the following decades, but Green always had enough work to survive.
“I have always asked God for help,” she said. “I said, ‘I don’t want to be rich doing this, I just want to make ends meet, pay the bills and be happy.'”
Yet those years were often difficult. She quit acting when her son was 2 and started serving at night. She and Weaver divorced after racking up three DUIs in a year, but even though they broke up, they never stopped loving each other.
“He was my shiny shiny Doodles,” she said. “He loved me and he put me on a pedestal.”
Weaver’s health declined over the years, and he became increasingly depressed, turning away all visitors and locking himself up. One night in 1983, Green’s children called her at her restaurant job and asked her to come home. When she arrived, they told her that Weaver had killed himself with a bullet to the heart.
When she went to his house that night, Green found him wearing a dress she had sewn for him. It was blue and gray. She had made it out of the softest material she could find.
She was devastated by his death and the death of her daughter 25 years later from a drug overdose. But she never completely gave up.
“I am Aries and Aries are leaders,” she said. “I can’t just feel sorry for myself and feel sorry for myself. You have to learn to accept the good and the bad in life.”
Pate didn’t expect her to become a wallpaperer when she moved from Philadelphia to California in 2018.
At first she landed in San Diego, babysitting for an aunt who worked as a traveling nurse, but when a friend from college asked her to share a small studio in Los Angeles, she jumped on the job. ‘opportunity. It was like an adventure – the start of a new chapter in his life.
“You’re kind of stuck in a box in Philadelphia,” she said. “I’m expanding my horizons here and learning so much.”
Pate loves LA, but it’s hard being so far away from most of the people she knows. She tried to persuade them to come to Los Angeles too, but nobody wants to change.
When her friends and family come to visit, she always takes them to Green’s house.
She doesn’t know yet what direction her life will take, but she would like to learn more about design or maybe teach others how to wallpaper like Green taught her.
“Seeing Reita at 84 with that scale inspired me,” Pate said. “I thought if she could do it, I could do it.”
She started calling Green “Auntie” just weeks after they met. (Together they like to be called Frick and Frack.)
Green believes Pate can take the company to the next level.
“I want to make her a star,” she said. “She’s already a star to me.”
On a recent Monday morning, Pate and Green stood on a narrow staircase in a townhouse in Santa Clarita, staring at the wall.
As usual, they had driven to work together in Green’s silver 2006 Cadillac, splitting the cost of gas. They were both wearing matching aprons that Green had made for them in the patriotic theme of red, white and blue.
Upon arrival, Green chatted with the owner, a 70-year-old woman named Diane Hitchcock, while Pate dragged their gear inside.
“Diane is a dancer, just like me,” she told Pate. “We are practically sisters.
Now Green and Pate were trying to match a sheet of wallpaper with a birch pattern to the one already attached to the wall. It was not easy.
“I wonder something, Beverly,” Green said, standing on a precariously perched ladder that didn’t seem entirely secure.
“I listen,” Pate said.
Green wanted to overlap the two sheets of wallpaper, but Pate thought it would look weird.
Working in tandem, they smashed the wallpaper against the wall for a few minutes – barely speaking as they moved it up and to the right, then down, then up until the seam is almost invisible.
Green climbed down the ladder and Pate began smoothing the paper against the wall.
“There’s a lot of problem-solving in wallpaper,” Pate said.
As for the Wallpaper Queen, her wallpaper philosophy is quite similar to her life philosophy. Challenges abound and you can’t dwell too much on imperfections.
“Nothing is really perfect in the whole world,” she said. “Sometimes you make a little mistake and you have to forgive yourself and move on. But you always try really hard.”