March 26, 2016

Nancy Reagan

Nancy in her trademark 'Reagan Red'.
Rest In Peace Nancy.

GSL has always loved Nancy Reagan and defended her honor against her many detractors. As Estella will attest, ever since the mid-80s whenever she was scolding me into cleaning my perpetually messy lodgings, her remonstrances always included a reference to the previously stated ambition of one day getting my digs situated in such High Toned Elegance that I could have Nancy Reagan over for tea.  I never did achieve High Toned Elegance or tea with Nancy Reagan.

They were a good looking couple weren't they.

My first defend Nancy tussle was over her not bowing or curtseying to Queen Elizabeth back in 1981. Then came the 'outrage' over her purchasing fancy new china for the White House State Dining Room...what wasn't often mentioned was that she used private donated funds and Jackie Kennedy did likewise to enhance the White House with antique American furnishings when she was First Lady with the expert guidance of Bunny Mellon.  Years later the scurrilous and mostly anonymously sourced hit piece bio by Kitty Kelly was reviewed on the New York Times front page by Maureen Dowd who gleefully mentioned the preposterous gossip as if that piece of hackwork should be taken seriously and belongs on the NYT front page thereby accruing it NYT journalistic standards that many people still think are quite high.

The New York Times had Maureen Dowd review this on THE FRONT PAGE. I noted at the time how they didn't treat Kitty Kelly's hatchet bio on Jackie Kennedy seriously nor more recently those scurrilous, and also anonymously sourced hatchet bios on The Clintons and Obamas by their very own former NYT Editor Edward Klein that were treated like the bio-fictions they are.
Her mother with husband, and step-father, Loyal Davis. What really hurt Nancy about the Kitty Kelly hit piece was how she depicted her adored step-father (who formally adopted her) as a petty little social climber.. He was a world renowned neurosurgeon and here in Chicago there was an avalanche of outrage at KK's depiction as literally dozens of people came forward and testified to his great generosity af performing countless medical procedures free of charge for those who couldn't afford his services. I read where he donated a day of each week seeking out those in need and provided world class medical care free of charge.
Fuck you Kitty Kelly.
I think we all can imagine how hard it would be to raise a strong-willed rebellious daughter in the '60s, in California, and in the public eye. Years later that rebellious daughter turned professional disgruntled daughter wrote a supposed 'tell all' and a 'novel' with only the pretense that these were 'tell alls' based on her upbringing. 'Tell Alls' never are and the primary motivation behind those books, aside from asserting her independence by taking hundreds of thousands of dollars to betray her family, was to wound her mother. She succeeded but Nancy didn't excommunicate her daughter and instead forgave her. What was less reported was how that daughter, Patti Davis, soon after publishing those 'tell-alls' deeply regretted writing them and described herself as a brat and how it took her a long time to grow up.
Family pic, Daughter Patti Davis later wrote "tell alls' she deeply regretted soon after publication. Nancy never held a grudge and accepted her heartfelt apology.

As President Reagan fell ill with that awful disease, she stayed by his side all the way to the end. She could have easily just had the nurse's there and carried on with a social life of her own since her Ronnie was so far gone anyway, but she stayed by his side...all the way to the end

Obama caught a little heat for skipping the Nancy funeral but shouldn't have. Michelle was there. What Obama really flubbed was not inviting Nancy Reagan  to attend a major headline-making stem-cell research bill signing ceremony which Nancy had championed and effectively neutralized Republican opposition to. The big story then became why he snubbed her. Obama did graciously cite her tireless advocacy for stem-cell research after her death.

Jerry Zipkin with Carolyn Roehm. Jerry was the 2nd most famous Walker of the 20th Century. The classic and fascinating Somerset Maugham novel The Razor's Edge has a major character, Elliot Templeton, based on him. Sir James Goldsmith called him a modern day Proust. He was  VERY 'in the know' and Nancy Reagan's best friend. They spoke every day until he died.

Acid tongued 'Zippy' with Nan Kempner on left and Blaine Trump during the Go-Go '80s. Jerry's bitter rival was Truman Capote and when Tru threw his Party of the Century Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel, Tru, of course, stiffed Jerry so Jerry dined in Queens that night just so he could say he was "out of town".

The 3rd most famous Walker of the 20th Century was Dominick Dunne. After Jerry Zipkin died, 'Nick became Nancy's best friend calling her every day and she'd eagerly await his call for daily dispatches from the OJ Simpson trial. He would occasionally drag her away from Ronnie's bedside to take her to lunch but he said he really had to pry her away. I loved the piece he wrote for Vanity Fair on the Ronald Reagan funeral. You could tell he adored Nancy.
**Truman Capote got his idea for the B & W ball from attending a B & W party Nick hosted several years prior in his Hollywood home when Nick was riding high and soon thereafter fell on hard times due to a few film misfires and alcoholism. Tru stiffed Nick out of a coveted invite too....not sure where Nick dined that night.
Nancy welcoming the throngs of children and parents to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll one year.
Happy Easter!

March 23, 2016

Central Casting Part V: Making Gatsby Great

Mia Farrow is perfect as Daisy Buchanan. We'll keep her.

Going back in time today. The year is 1973 and GSL has just heard that a new Hollywood blockbuster is being made of The Great American Novel. The cast as announced is way off the mark. Corrective action must be taken.
Redford is way out of his depth as Jay Gatsby. Sorry 'Old Sport', but you were good in The Sting.
Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan? Nope.

Sam Waterston as narrator Nick Carraway is fine by me.

Lois Chiles as Nick Carraway's love interest Jordan Baker? This is good too.
Karen Black as Myrtle Wilson who we also will retain. Myrtle's plight as a good time girl and unfulfilled wife in search of a more exciting life and on call plaything to the wealthy Tom Buchanan has many interesting angles that GSL would discuss with our new director long into the night over several drams of whisky.
*hat tip to Darling Rachel for reminding me of Karen Black's talents that went largely unused in this debacle

Lois, darling; because you are GSL's fave Bond Girl (along with Honor Blackman); we are going
to write you into a few additional scenes

Robert Duvall (here as Tom Hagen in The Godfather) would be a huge upgrade as Jay Gatsby.
Likewise for Gene Hackman as Tom Buchanan.
Orson Welles as script writer and Director. Welles was a fascinating and eager conversationalist, so GSL would draw the best out of perhaps America's greatest ever Artistic talent who unfortunately never realized  many of his grand ambitions.
We need a money guy. How about the world's richest man, J. Paul Getty? Perfect!
This is how GSL pulls it all together. Orson Welles was in his twilight years as was 82year old  J. Paul Getty. Welles knew he had squandered numerous opportunities in spite of making some of the best movies ever made. Getty was an Arts Patron. Both men were from the Middle West  and understood The Great American Novel as well as anybody as they lived it in a sense. GSL would function as go-between while keeping Mr. Welles' creative fires well stoked, his temperament generous and agreeable, and his propensities for spending lavishly and needless delay at bay. GSL would remind Mr. Getty (at his sumptuous Sutton Place estate) of the tens of millions and many years that went by before he hit those gushers in the Middle East and how he'd go down in history like the Medici's...only with the knowledge that the great movie he underwrote actually turned a tidy profit.

Mia in the very first issue of People Magazine and T-Swizzle in the 40th Anniversary Edition from 2014
This movie had unprecedented hype and failed miserably. Not your fault Mia, GSL was only 8 years old and his Mum wouldn't let him fix this mess.