These stories have been contributed by Jilline's friends,
family and fans. If you would like to add your thoughts, insights,
photos and memories, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't remember how I met Jilline but I do recall it was during the early 90's when she was living in Philadephia's Northern Liberties neighborhood -- long before the gentrification that now plagues the area. At the time I was freelancing as a director and also as a theatre critic -- Jilline became my opening-night companion.
Our post-show conversations -- often in or on the way to a diner or coffee shop -- were discussions of the merits (or lack thereof) of whatever we'd just seen peppered with tales of her childhood. On the evening I hold most dear in my memory of Jilline, we'd been to see something at the Plays & Players Theatre and were walking to the Rittenhouse Diner. Jilline was regaling me with the tale of her grandmother making tagliatelle pasta and draping it all over the house to dry.
We came upon a notice for a new theatre company that proclaimed, "Finally, a voice of our own! Philadelphia's all-Gay theatre company..." Without dropping a stitch, Jilline shifted from Nona's Italian accent to her own sultry tones and said, "Well, THERE'S an underserved minority in this industry." and went right back into Nona collecting the pasta from the back of the couch.
I lost touch with Jilline some ten years back. Discovering this website -- and the news it shares -- has not brightened my day -- but anything that prompts me to remember her is a blessing. I'll close with another anecdote: After seeing Robert Morse give a stellar performance as "Tru", Jilline rose from her seat and announced, "There's nothing more to say." Ken Bolinsky, www.kerbe.com
I just saw her and Jen in a great show at Christmas here in Philly. It was a sell-out. I had no idea that she had not gone into remission or whatever it would be called from the breast cancer. I never knew Jilline the way you did, I just enjoyed the hell out her unique performances!! I know you will miss her so very much -- particularly in the summer -- but I have to think that a part of her is residing in you and that she would want it that way. Pip Campbell
I am also mourning the passing of Jilline as her entertainment will be greatly missed by me. I loved how she could make us laugh at ourselves over and over. Debby Ambroza
One night at the end of our dinner shift at the Chalfonte, early on in the summer, we were all cleaning up. I was carrying a big tray full of dishes to the dishwasher and I looked over towards Dot and Lucile's refrigerator to see a tall woman dressed in a flowery dress in a wig looking in the frige. I didn't know what to do!! I was wondering if it was a customer who just got hungry late at night but when the woman turned around, I saw Jilline's face covered in make up! It was the first show of the season and she was getting food for the show before she went on stage. I just remember her turning around and giving me a big smile. It wasn't until I had a chance to go see her show that I understood the costume. I will never forget her passion for performing...it was a joy watching her on stage. Liz Hegarty
When I first heard about Jilline passing, I kind of felt 'robbed' I had wanted so much to know her better. I kind of felt that I 'knew' her in some small incomplete way. After reading the Cape May Tribute, I feel like I at least got a glimpse into the wonderful life that touched mine too briefly.
I read the tribute script with a glass of wine! What a wonderful honest tribute for such a beautiful life--so funny, sad and touching. Some of the lines had me howling -- some of the lines were just drop dead funny...others showed her off beat sense of humor. I love that...and I love that I got the joke. The tribute showed her human side too--the side she might only share with wonderful friends---"I am here with just the work and I am lonely". What a struggle she must have faced and came through...it seems that she had finally found her way too--and it seems so sad that she isn't here now.
I thought it was so telling when Jilline shared the story of how a woman came up to her and let her know that her 23 year-old daughter was standing straighter after seeing her play! We all had the same reaction--I thought Jilline's line said it best---I am a conduit and caretaker of the most sacred commodity in the world-the Human Spirit!
Its funny, but I had called the Chalfonte at one point after searching for her name on the internet. I called to find out when she would be back in Pittsburgh doing Mondo Mangia. I had left her a message and she called me back--when I talked to her on the phone all I could say was, "I love you and ....when will you be coming back to the burg? I wanted to take my sister from Buffalo to see her." She mentioned that she was performing at the Chalfonte and kind of suggested my sister and I come there to see her. I was actually thinking about it! Our plans fell through--but I can't imagine any other stranger 'suggesting' that I travel from Pittsburgh to Cape May--and my actually considering doing that! That is how much of an impact she had on me. After reading the tribute -- I was not alone!
Jilline touched so many lives! What I didn't mention is that I come from a large family (in more ways than one) and after seeing Jilline dance on the picnic table in front of me--I felt compelled to take many family members to see Jilline perform. It was a poetic statement on my behalf! When we left each performance--I felt a confidence in the group that I am positive wasn't there before! I even carried myself differently on the way home...not slouching. I am different because of her. More confident and open and unafraid.
Had I known at the time there would be other crazy friends of hers celebrating life at the Chalfonte---I would have made a greater effort! I think it was wonderful that there was a tribute for her in the place it seems she was most at home...I hope her spirit is alive and well at the Chalfonte--and it seems it is. Linda Patricia Haberman, Pittsburgh, PA