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Stamp Subjects' Heirs Important To Success Of Postage Stamps
By Lloyd A. de Vries

The Postal Service won't pay for the right to honor someone on its stamps, but it does have to get permission. Sometimes it's difficult the heirs won't cooperate, can't be found, or even fight among themselves. And sometimes it's easy, as Terry McCaffrey, head of stamp development for the USPS, found with film composer Henry Mancini's widow, Ginny.

"She is a woman who has a lot of influence in Hollywood and she sees the opportunity to help promote her husband's life and career," which was just fine with the Postal Service, McCaffrey told The Virtual Stamp Club. She has been finding events at which to promote the 2004 stamp.

The first opportunity came Aug. 16, when the design of the stamp was unveiled to the public, at the 2003 Mancini Musicale at UCLA. Actor-director Clint Eastwood received an award for his contributions to film music.

Although the stamp collecting press has been shown most of the 2004 designs, only those of the Mancini stamp and that of a magnolias stamp have been made public.

To tell the truth, it was easy working with the widow of playwright Moss Hart, too. Kitty Carlisle Hart is a celebrity herself; her film career spanned 60 years, and she was also the only panelist to appear in every version of the game show "To Tell The Truth." The former opera singer was also a panelist on the classic "What's My Line?" and served as chairwoman of the New York State Council on the Arts.

"To meet Kitty Carlisle was a very interesting experience because she is so well known in her own right, and to work with her also and to see her apartment filled with memorabilia just brought back a lot of memories of Moss and their careers."

McCaffrey couldn't have found her more charming and helpful. In fact, while visiting her in her New York penthouse apartment, she reached into a picture frame and pulled out a photo for the Postal Service to use.

"It was a Cecil Beaton photo that she had, a personal photo, and we wanted to use it, but unfortunately, the Cecil Beaton estate wanted far too much money." So the Postal Service is working with another photo on which to base its stamp design.

A playwright, screenwriter, director and producer, Hart had a hand in such theater classics as "You Can't Take It With You," "The Man Who Came To Dinner," and "My Fair Lady" before his death in 1961. His autobiography Act One topped the best-seller list for 40 weeks. He was born in 1904.

Both stamps are coming out next year, the Mancini stamp on April 13 and the Hart stamp sometime in the fall.

Hear an audio version of this feature here

More discussion about the U.S. 2004 stamp program here

More discussion about the Henry Mancini stamp here

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