A few years back we ran a story on Stella Lopez Armijo and her partner Ina Murri. From what I can gather it was about being gay and growing old together. The couple died this month in a car crash on their way to a family get-together for Murri. They were both about 75.
Our archives are mercurial. I wasn’t able to find that front-page story, but I did find their recipe for for a piquant pumpkin pie with a tasty gingerbread crust, which also ran in the Argus several years ago and a Mercury News story from the 1994 about their love for Rosanne. To read about it, click where it says to click:Piquant Pumpkin Pie
Ginger Snap Crust
11/2 cups gingersnap cookies, crushed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided
11/4 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon each salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg
1 tablespoon (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3 stiffly beaten egg whites (see note, below)
Sweetened whipped cream, optional
1. Mix the gingersnap crust ingredients and press firmly into a buttered 9-inch pie pan.
2. Beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until thick. Add pumpkin, milk, salt and spices; cook over low heat until thick.
3. Soften gelatin in cold water, then stir into hot mixture.
4. Beat egg whites with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar; add to pumpkin mixture. Pour into gingersnap crust and chill. If desired, spread sweetened whipped cream — a little minced orange zest is a nice addition — over top of pie.
That family was a wildly varied one: lesbians and gays; co-dependents and survivors; large women in polyester and small men in tuxedos; families from the suburbs and young couples who looked like they’d gotten lost on the way to the symphony. Some were drawn by her support of various causes, some simply because they like her comedy, but all mentioned a love of her outspokenness.
She says things like they need to be said, ” declared Ina Murriof Fremont. Stella Lopez-Armijo was more emphatic. “She says things I wish I had the guts to say.”
Murriand Lopez-Armijo, both 59-year-old Fremont retirees, arrived early and sat quietly in the lobby waiting for the doors to open. A couple for nearly 14 years, they said they appreciate Arnold’s support of lesbians and gays, and the presence of lesbian characters on “Roseanne”: “She’s not afraid. It’s just there, ” said Lopez-Armijo.
Lopez-Armijo wasn’t as happy with Arnold’s allegations of child abuse against her parents. “I’m having a hard time with it, frankly. . . . I’m not sure if I believe her.”
But believers far outnumbered doubters in the partisan crowd. “I believe everything she says, ” said Barbara Campbell, 46, of Castro Valley. “I’m a survivor, too. I don’t think she’d make it up.”
“I believe her, ” said Shelley Ganshow, 26, of Mountain View. “I think people are real cruel to her. She does crazy things, but because they’re done by a woman, they treat her real bad. Women aren’t supposed to do the things Roseanne does.”
The first half of the program, during which Arnold read from her two books, had the air of a feminist revival meeting — excited, united and somewhat uncritical. When Patty Chang, director of the Women’s Foundation, said in her opening remarks that the share of U.S. philanthropy going to women’s groups had doubled in recent years — from 3 percent to 6 percent — there was an approving roar. Chang, looking alarmed, began to say “That’s not what I . . .” and then gave up.
Arnold — her loose-fitting black dress paired with fancy red hightops with white heels — walked out and began to page through “Roseanne: My Life as a Woman” and “My Lives, ” alternating poems and passages about her childhood with hilarious accounts of her battles to control “Roseanne” the TV show and Roseanne Conner the character.
The reading proceeded like a melodrama, the audience hissing the villains — mostly men — and cheering the virtuous, profane heroine. When Arnold read the already famous exchange from “My Lives” in which “Roseanne” writer Matt Williams says, “I just didn’t think people would like you as the main character, ” there were loud gasps, hisses and boos. Her reply — “I’m she, you dumb bastard!” — drew wild applause.
Even when reading from her own books, Arnold had trouble sticking to the script. Reading a passage that mentioned Woody Allen, she looked up and said, “Woody Allen was a hero of mine, until I found out he was a child molester.” A pause. “It’s just, like, so weird when they all are.”
Tom reads the questions
The mood lightened — and the adulation, if anything, grew — when Tom Arnold sauntered out in military beret and plaid shirt hanging out over black jeans. In the evening’s closest approach to stand-up comedy, he read to Roseanne a few of the hundreds of questions audience members had written on cards beforehand:
(box) What’s the biggest change since you’ve become rich and famous?
“I got good therapy.”
(box) Do genius and insanity always go hand in hand?
“Let’s hold hands, honey!”
(box) Is Hillary Rodham Clinton lesbian?
“I don’t think she is. Who knows. You never know until they tell you.”
(box) What was your most difficult moment?
“Well, when I was in bed with Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
Not all the answers were rapid-fire. A question about which of her personalities is the actress led to a discussion. “Is it the worker or the performer?” “I think maybe it’s both.” A question about “Kiss and Don’t Tell, ” the as-yet-unseen but already notorious “Roseanne” episode in which she and Mariel Hemingway kiss, was answered at length.
“It’s not about a kiss. It’s about questioning your sexuality, ” said Roseanne. “In this country, nobody’s ever supposed to question their sexuality after the age of 14. There are no questions. That’s why we live in such a wonderful world.
“More and more gay characters are starting to show up on TV. But all they do is stay in their rooms and get beat up.”
Tom said that as of Saturday, ABC was not going to show the episode — scheduled for Tuesday night — unedited. “But I won’t deliver it edited, ” he proclaimed, leading to the following exchange:
Tom: “They’ll show it. They’ll show it. They’ll show it.”
Roseanne, doubtful: “It’s not up to us. . . . It’s all about guys and their (penises).”
Tom: “Thank God I got a big one!” Then, glancing nervously to his left, “Well, at least she does.”
The evening’s one real swerve toward weirdness came during a discussion of the 21 different personalities Roseanne claims to have inside her. Tom, head bobbing and feet shuffling in his best puppy-dog style, said, “Tell ’em about Magic Johnson, honey!” Roseanne clearly didn’t want to, so Tom did, telling a story about “Roger” — her teen-age, basketball-loving personality — running out of the house in shorts to shoot baskets with a visiting Magic.
After Tom made her tell about her favorite hobby — “I like to pick his zits” — Roseanne closed the program by reading the long poem that closes “My Lives.” Unbroken time — connected to itself over
and over and over until the
Followed by another standing ovation.
Celebrities in the crowd
After the show, as the line for the book signing began to snake out toward the lobby, fellow writer Armistead Maupin hurried backstage to meet his “hero.”
“She has been for years, ” he said. “I wanted a chance to thank her personally for battling ABC over the issue of same-sex kisses” — a battle Maupin fought, and lost, with U.S. commercial networks over the adaptation of his “Tales of the City.”
“They’re this heroic straight couple, ” he said. “It’s nice to know we have friends like Tom and Roseanne.”
“Angels in America” playwright Tony Kushner sat beside the stage clutching a just-signed copy of “My Lives.” The Pulitzer Prize winner is an “abject fan” fan of Roseanne and “Roseanne.”
“It’s the best thing on television since ‘The Honeymooners, ‘ ” he said.
Arnold’s gift — abundantly displayed Saturday night — is for being real. Not always at ease, certainly not always happy, she always appears to be completely herself. Whether it’s an act or not hardly matters; no other performer has achieved such a seemingly seamless blend of art and life.
‘I can identify with her’
Dwayne Stocks, 31, held a bouquet of roses ready to be thrown on stage. Diagnosed a year ago as HIV-positive, he lives in Oakland and was at the show courtesy of Arnold: She had donated tickets to local AIDS organizations. Smiling, he summed up her universal appeal:
“I can identify with her. She’s like a person.”
On stage, Roseanne and Tom both signed each book handed to them, using thick gold markers. They chatted easily with fans, despite the long line and the late hour; occasionally Tom would gently move along a lingering well- wisher. A plate of truffles sat next to him, away from Roseanne. As 11 o’clock drew near and the line still stretched out of sight, she glanced toward the lobby and then turned to her husband.