The couple met when they were both hired as staff writers on a sitcom, Lloyd reveals in an essay for Variety. “My name is Arleen, and I’m an empath,” she told him at lunch on the first day. “I hear a clicking in your jaw that may be TMJ. Here is the number of a dentist who can help.”
In his remembrance, Lloyd recounts Sorkin’s many achievements from her life before and during their relationship: She went from high-school dancer to shoe model to cabaret member to Days star. She held the center spot on Hollywood Squares. She produced an off-Broadway play, co-created the sitcom Fired Up, and co-wrote the Jennifer Aniston film Picture Perfect. And, of course, she was the original voice of Harley Quinn.
To read Lloyd’s recollections, Sorkin always kept him on his toes. He says he never knew who he’d find in his seat at the dining table: an orangutan brought in for a fundraiser, a roller derby queen who became the family’s nanny, an interview subject for Sorkin’s documentary about Benazir Bhutto, a newly-out NFL lineman embarking on a singing career, and an Austrian master jeweler.
That jeweler, Lloyd says, was there to repair a spare Emmy. Sorkin’s father, a dentist, pitched the story that became the 2004 HBO movie Something the Lord Made, but as a co-producer, he wasn’t entitled to a trophy when the movie won Outstanding Made for Television Movie at the Emmy Awards. So Sorkin procured one, had it engraved with her father’s name, and had it repaired when it broke in transit.
Sorkin also hoarded items “someone might need,” Lloyd says, including baldness-reversing combs, battery-powered fly swatters, a dozen defibrillators, and 15 earthquake preparedness kits. Lloyd also walked in on her purchasing seven funeral plots.
Lloyd and Sorkin’s relationship was cut short on August 24, when she died of pneumonia coupled with multiple sclerosis.
“Her spirit never flagged,” Lloyd says of Sorkin. “She loved people, believed in them. I’m not sure Harley Quinn, the now world-famous character based upon Arleen and whose original voice she provided, wasn’t defined by that very quality, that achy loyalty, an unwillingness not to lead with her heart, come what may.”
He goes on: “Two Sundays ago we gathered to say goodbye to our dentist, doctor, friend, spouse and mother to so many. Amid the tears, there was a last surprise. She had purchased not seven, but nine burial plots. There could be no doubt as to where she’d go. The middle. Our center square, once and forever.”