This glamorous neighbor knew everyone. And she needed help

Sheila Sullivan had brushed off Frank Sinatra, shut a door in Joe DiMaggio’s face and married one of the top stars of 1960s TV

The mysterious neighbor claimed to have witnessed a nuclear detonation, marched on Selma and acted on Broadway. Would an overlooked form letter be her downfall?

The city was so quiet. And, Ms. Dupuy realized, so was her neighbor — she’d stopped singing. The younger woman visited with flowers, or breakfast or fun junk food or a beer, and Ms.

Sullivan would perk up again. They met in the little yard outside and talked and talked.

Ms. Sullivan flew to Alabama for the march on Selma, where she joined Harry Belafonte (center) and Sammy Davis Jr. Ms. Dupuy stared at the picture. What other mementos did Ms. Sullivan have? The older woman hauled over a big box and put it on her desk. Inside:

There was a letter she wrote to the head of a company designing rockets in the space race, volunteering to be an astronaut. The return address: The Tropicana. In fact, they grew closer. Ms. Dupuy’s marriage was falling apart, and she focused her energy on helping Ms. Sullivan with whatever she needed. “The thing about taking care of an 85-year-old,” she liked to say, “is they’re like a toddler you motivate with gin.”


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