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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Heartwarming: Woman Recalls the Time Robert Downey Jr. Came to Her Grandmother's Rescue

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In a story about compassion and second chances, author Dana Reinhardt wrote about the day she says Robert Downey Jr. helped her grandmother during an emergency, an act of human kindness that Reinhardt has never forgotten.

In an article for Reader’s Digest, Reinhardt explained that she went years wishing she had thanked Downey Jr. for his actions on the day her grandmother was seriously injured.

At the time, Reinhardt had been too embarrassed and shy over the incident to offer up her gratitude. But she said she never forgot the story, especially during the darker times of the actor’s life.

Reinhardt said that it was in the early 1990s when she escorted her grandmother, in her 80’s at the time, to a garden party in Southern California.

According to Reinhardt, while her grandmother had many distinguishing qualities, recognizing young celebrities was not her forte.

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“I pointed out Robert Downey Jr. to her when he arrived, in a gorgeous cream-colored linen suit, with Sarah Jessica Parker on his arm,” Reinhardt wrote. “My grandmother shrugged, far more interested in piling her paper plate with cheese. He wasn’t Cary Grant or Gregory Peck. What did she care?”

But after a round of speeches honoring the guest of the day, Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, the garden party festivities took a frightening turn for Reinhardt and her grandmother.

The author explained that her grandmother tripped and fell straight into a wheelchair ramp that had been placed for Kovic to access the stage. Reinhardt watched in horror as blood spilled furiously from her grandmother’s shin.

Much to her embarrassment, Reinhardt admitted she did not respond well to the emergency. Rather than find help, she stood with her head between her knees to keep herself from fainting.

But thankfully, according to Reinhardt, Downey Jr. was there, and he immediately took charge in a way that Reinhardt had always admired.

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“He ordered someone to call an ambulance, another to bring a glass of water, and another to fetch a blanket. He took off his gorgeous linen jacket, he rolled up his sleeves, and he grabbed hold of my grandmother’s leg,” Reinhardt wrote.

“Then he took the jacket, which I’d assumed he’d taken off only to get it out of the way, and he tied it around her wound. I watched the cream-colored linen turn scarlet with her blood.”

Reinhardt wrote that Downey Jr. stayed with her injured grandmother until the ambulance whisked her away, and even called out to her, “Don’t forget to call me, Silvia — we’ll do lunch.”

The author said that she could not muster up a word of thanks to the actor, and instead, she quietly piled into the ambulance and left the party.

Years later, when Downey Jr. was in prison for possession of drugs, Reinhardt almost wrote to him to be an encouragement to the man battling drug addiction.

“I wanted to remind him of that day when he was humanity personified when he was the best of what we each can be,” she wrote. “On that day, he was the kindest of strangers.”

But she let the chance pass her by for a second time.

“We all have things we wish we’d said, moments we’d like to revisit and reenact,” Reinhardt wrote. “Rarely do we get that chance to make up for those times when words utterly failed us. But I did — many years later.”

Reinhardt said she happened to spot the celebrity at a restaurant in Los Angeles, around 15 years after the garden party incident. Hesitant to interrupt the actor during his meal, Reinhardt decided that this was an opportunity she could not waste.

She wrote that she approached the actor’s table and asked if he remembered the time that he helped 80-year-old Siliva into the ambulance. To her joy and relief, Downey Jr. remembered.

“I just wanted to thank you,” Reinhardt said. “And I wanted to tell you that it was simply the kindest act I’ve ever witnessed.”

Judging by the way Reinhardt said the actor responded, it was a good thing she had found her courage.

“He stood up and he took both of my hands in his and he looked into my eyes and he said, ‘You have absolutely no idea how much I needed to hear that today.'”

Whether we are a celebrity or an average American, we all have shining moments and dark, painful times. We are all in need of redemption, second chances, and the reminder that in spite of issues that divide, humans have more in common than not.

Liftable, a section of The Western Journal, reached out to Dana Reinhardt for comment. We will update this article if and when we hear back.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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