Monday, April 07, 2014

THE MOST HAPPY... WELL, NOT QUITE

I found a note among my scruffily unassorted papers that reads:
"A life well-lived, with all its pain, loneliness, silences when you would have noise, and noise when you would have silence."  I don't know if I wrote-- and thought-- that, or had heard it and it and wrote it down because it touched me.  This has been the most introspective winter of my life-- not that I meant it to be so, but the weather has kept me inside both my apartment and myself, and though the act of just being alive seems a positive one, I don't like having nothing to show for it.
   This is intensified by the fact that City Center is having one of its mini-revivals, "THE MOST HAPPY FELLA."  When I was 20, and in Hollywood trying to be discovered as a songwriter, which I very much was, there was an agent at MCA named Bobby Helfer, a genuinely kind man, a cousin of Elmer Bernstein, the top of the music-for-film chain, who really liked my songs but said he couldn't try to sell me because he couldn't ask enough money for me, whereas he could get many times the amount for Les Baxter, a hottie in the then marketplace.  But in the end he said "The hell with it, I'm going to do it anyway."  So he set me up with an audition with Frank Loesser.  
    Frank listened and said "Kid, you're the biggest talent since me." Pretty thrilling words, even without music.  He then courted me, minimally as I recall, but it was enough, and he took me to bed, in my furnished apartment on N. Havenhurst. Understand, those of you with a today mentality, that women, or more accurately, girls of that era did not do that, especially the good ones, which I more than
more than was.  But I was in love with Tony Perkins, who was the bright, clever, handsome young star of his day, and we had fun, and he loved my songs, and I didn't know who he really wanted was Tab Hunter.  So here I was with this great songwriter, and when we were finished making love, such as it was, he got up and went to my electric piano and played me the new song from his new show "MOST HAPPY FELLA."  It was called "Warm all Over" and I can still see him sitting there, naked, the crack of his bare butt on that grayish white bench, singing it badly but with great heart which I don't think he really had one of but could put into a song.
    But I believe I told him it was wonderful, because I don't know what else I could possibly have said, except "I hope you love me a little," as all of us girls wanted to feel in those days, which I can't believe were as long ago as they are.  And when it was over, he said "Write me a musical, kid."
   So of course I did.  It took me about three weeks-- I was very fast then, and, of course, thought I was in love.  Tony, who had never discussed or even hinted at his homosexuality, and surely didn't want me, was still pissed that I had been with Frank, and said, in one of his few bitchy moments--he was strangely kind to me-- "Did you think you would get more gifted through injection?"  But he admired the songs, so I sent them off to Frank, and waited to hear.
    And waited and waited.  Finally I called him.  "Great kid, Great," he said.  And I said "Well?"  And he said "Let me think about it."
    A while later, having taken another gulp of heart, I called Frank again, and asked what was happening with my musical.  And he said "Moss and I are doing a show we're working on in Boston, and I've used a couple of your songs."
     I said "What about money?"
    And he said "Write your family."
    The show Moss(I assume Hart) and he were working on never came to New York.  But I did see Frank one more time.  He was standing on a street corner, and a few feet away from him was Jo Sullivan, whom he had married, after his divorce from Lynn, who was known in show business as "The Evil of Two Loessers."   He saw me and whispered "Don't say anything," which I assume was because he didn't want her to know we had been together or just maybe was because he didn't want me to say anything about anything, which I haven't till now, all renewed and reminded because I am going to see his show this afternoon.
     There were many other young writers that I know he used, though perhaps not so thoroughly or in the same way.  But the music remains, and the lyrics, which were pretty clever, as clever as I wasn't personally. 
    Bobby Helfer, the dear agent who unexpectedly supported me, committed suicide shortly after that, on his 42nd birthday, by taking 42 pills.  There are worse things, obviously, than not having someone honor your music.
     Then yesterday I went to see THE MOST HAPPY FELLA, and there is no doubt it is a work of genius.  Frank, which I believe I can call him, having been intimate except on any meaningful level, wanted so much to be a true musician, that even though he could hardly play the piano, made it into a just-about-opera, and it IS wonderful.  Though what it really is is a number of sensational songs, about 22, connected by a few recitatives that I suppose sound operatic.  But it is a Great Great show, and I forgive him for being less than a Great Guy.
    You can't have everything.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

WELL GOOD, IT'S RAINING

I mean, that way at least we know there's activity in the Bleak, so it isn't just a stagnant overlay of gray.  This has been without doubt the most down period of my late middle years, as I, who have always believed in new beginnings, cannot even rev up memories of old endings, there is such a lack of light, of bright possibilities in my soul, which I am confident is still there but it's hard to see through the clog.  SAD(Seasonal Affect Disorder) it's called, but UTD is what it should be named-- Unfair To Dreamers.  See?  There remains in me a vestige of the Innocent, the optimist who returned to New York imagining you really could start over, no matter how late you returned to the game.  But for that to happen, the game has to be in progress.  And for that, you need light.
   Still, I did make an attempt.  If you remember-- not that you knew in the first place-- that I was born on Irving Berlin's birthday, in Stephen Foster's home town-- and here comes the surprise: It was not the deep South, but Pittsburgh-- there should have been no doubt even through the soot that I was meant to write songs.  Having spent a lot of Berlin's later years(he lived to 101) hoping (an unfulfilled hope) to meet up with him, but having had the privilege of close friendships with some of the songwriting greats, Yip Harburg, Julie Styne, chased around a piano by Vernon Duke, coming to brief rest with and inevitable betrayal by a conscienceless master, Frank Loesser, being given a kind hand up by Cy Coleman, but still, at a pretty far juncture down the road, having made no solid connection, I determined to check the ethers and tune in to Stephen Foster.
    So it was that I made my way last night to Lincoln Center, where Foster was one of those honored in dance by Paul Taylor, and his amazing troupe. "Molly, do you love me?" was the first of his songs, little known, (no Oh, Susanna! or Old Folks at Home,) but clearly the origin of the popular song.  The construct is a slider into what was the template, until the advent of rap, which for me, outdated as I am, is antithetical to music.  The fact that his output was as great as it was, as brief as was his stay-- 38 years, the same as Gershwin's--might indicatee one has to choose between time and popularity.
    Anyway, the Taylor dancers, who I would never have known existed, shame on me, had I not returned to these fetid climes, were past remarkable, every fiber of their bodies,-- and a bonnet for one of the ladies -- were engaged, though none of the romances, as far as I could see, were consummated.  Still, what a triumph for Stephen, no matter how long in coming.
     But oh, how dismal the view from what I guess you could call my window, the glass doors out to a metal balcony across from a quite ugly rooftop, truly un-enhanced by this drear.  Next to me at Lincoln Center, in a building that is one of the few positive arguments for the existence of the Koch Brothers, were two pleasant, soft-spoken gentlemen, one of whom, an engineer, called me 'Ma'am,' (his father had been in the military) the other, an architect, had put a railing around the spectacular interior of the library at NYU, as students kept throwing themselves off the high floors.  I would like to say it is lucky there is a railing around my balcony, except I do not even go out there to look down, the vista is so antithetical to beauty.  I shall try to look at it all with the wizened eyes of Irving Berlin, who must have been juiced by this city, or he couldn't have written Annie Get Your Gun.
    But it was engaging, in many senses of the word, to connect with people who so loved art, as manifested in dance.  I could probably delight in it here, if the sun ever came out, and we found the right director for my musical, and they welcomed to New York all those who had had a long struggle but never gave up.  Or, as my darling husband used to say, "If a bullfrog had wings, it wouldn't bump its ass when it landed."  

Friday, March 28, 2014

From the Horses' Mouth

Having interviewed a number of unlikely subjects while working for the Wall Street Journal Europe, a few years back when there was still a lot to believe could be fixed and/or healed, I decided to interview the subjects of a humanistic debate now taking place in New York City, the place I am trying to make my home, but it's  HARD.
    As locals know, there is a movement to get rid of the horse-drawn carriages that work Central Park South just across the street from where I live.  I have spoken to a few of the horses, and asked the more attractive of them if they have been abused, and they all said "Nay."  The truth is I don't think the very tall Bill de Blasio, who has had a tough beginning, what with the worst winter in recent and maybe even distant history, understands what sentimentality prevails along those fairly well-manicured borders, in his haste to seem genial. Also I am not so sure that tall means Big, either in heart or spirit.  My little potted fleurs that I put outside because I, and they, hoped for Spring, collapsed at the throat and now droop dejectedly on my Keyboard, with little chance for re-awakening, I don't imagine, as the Keyboard doesn't either.
   But I am sad for the city, and probably the country, as Obama sets a very dejected standard for leaders since he really didn't seem to know what he was doing with a number of things, especially insurance, and anybody who isn't Anyone is in trouble with medical, unless they have money.  My friend, the angel Carleen is temporarily less imperiled than most, because she lives in the city, which doth take under its wing, but only to a certain extent; everybody else, even if they are working, has to stretch a paycheck which doesn't cover it, not with the price of the subway and food, especially if they have children. So what does this mean?  Could we possibly have been better off with the cipher Mitt Romney? Truly inconceivable.
   So back to the horses and carriages.  From all indications New York as New York will only survive with the help of tourists, who don't know enough to be outraged.  Therefore we must save the horses, and I don't know where to begin, because you seem only to be effective in New York City if you are well-connected.  And to be well-connected, you would have to have lived here which of course I haven't done.  This whole arena is a puzzle.
    Still there are greater areas of confusion, many of them manifested in the Arts.  I finally got to see the whole of the not-so-Great Gatsby, having walked out of the theater twice before our Hero's actual entrance,  Baz Luhrmann having so sickeningly overdone everything from the get-go.  As a convicted English Major I could not endure the company of what was on the screen. I wonder sometimes if these people have actually been able to read.
   But laid out defensively against this insufferable winter, I did at long last endure all of it.  I remember Stanford and Huhbie Merritt- with whom I studied Anglo-Saxon which everybody needs, right?- or at least you had to to get your Masters there, whose real name was actually Herbie, but his Southern accent was so thick as to transform, who had been at Princeton with F. Scott Himself. And he asked me what I was doing wasting my time in graduate school, as he had seen the demonstration of writing success not being about education.  In the same way, Gatsby, the movie, proves that success as a film director has naught (I shall speak High English) to do with discrimination, as over-the-topness is the order of the day, and it is, in plain language, disgusting.
    Worst of all, having recently seen The Wolf of Wall Street, impressed with Leonardo di Caprio's comic gifts, I was forced to conclude that he is miscast as a romantic lead.  Understand that I have all my life been riveted by screen heroes, even the weak ones.  So it is surprising to discover that he doesn't work as such. At least not for me.  And the constant repetition, his calling everyone Old Sport, -- his curious pronunciation making it sound more like 'Old Spore' --causes them to seem like a growth.
   Carey Mulligan, whom I spied in minor parts in a lot of her earlier films, and thought adorable, is beyond disappointing. Acting: over the top, which it's really easy to do with your hair bobbed.
    Oh, well.  There must be something to look forward to.  Spring? Wilt thou ever come, to unwilt us?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS FORGOTTEN

As I no longer remember who I am-- a New York winter will do that to you, at least this one did, my having picked the worst one in recent history-- I went back to one of my own works to remind me who I was.  MARRIAGE was unquestionably my best novel, edited by Don Fine, a brilliant and troubled man who was locked out of his own publishing house while trying to buy it back, and whom I visited in the hospital before he died, which enraged him, after Kurt Vonnegut told me to go see him, because "it would do him good to see a pretty woman."  That gives you some idea how long ago it was, Kurt being alive, and my being young enough to still be considered pretty.  None of this is self-pitying, though it may sound so: I want only to be accurate while I can still remember details, which become increasingly shadowed with the passage of time, though not in the sinister sense.
       We had dinner at Stefanino's, still another marker of how Ago it was, that being the place in Hollywood to dine at the time, when Nicky Blair was its owner, a former pimp and really sweet guy who apparently got enough guys fixed up to open a restaurant.   I had been to dinner there before with Bob Gutwillig, my sharply gifted editor, when he had invited Gloria Steinem to join us at the time of THE PRETENDERS. I sat quaking with fearful anticipation at what I anticipated would be her contempt, but when she arrived, gorgeous woman that she was, she said "A novel.  That's Big Time."  Loved as she is, she is not loved enough.  To be that brilliant, beautiful, and also kind: THAT's Big Time.
    So there I was with Don Fine, who picked me up from the sewer Doubleday had thrown me into with my libel suit from Paul Bindrim, the spurious psychologist who did Nude PsychoTherapy, whom I had disguised in my novel TOUCHING, only to have him don the disguise(it took seven years to come to court, by which time he had grown a beard, let the fringe of his hair grow long and wound it around his bald hair so he would look like the character I had disguised him as in the book.)  It was a nightmare time, where my darling husband, who had grown up in a neighborhood rife with criminal counts but had stayed clean and more than upright, found himself with marshals at the door.  I became an outcast in publishing, as nobody cared who was lying; only who had had to pay out money.  Don Fine, who had himself been a maverick in publishing, crazy and brilliant, sat at a table in Stefananino's a little drunk, and said "I know what not many people in this restaurant know: that I am sitting with one of the great writers of our time."  And this was a man who had edited Norman Mailer and James Jones. 
   So I felt good about myself, something I did again yesterday, when I read MARRIAGE, though not as quickly as I might have once.  The novel, which will doubtless pass unregistered in the public consciousness, soon to remember very little I am afraid, is clearly written by a writer, one with whom I feel a distant connection, though there are sentences in there that seem hewn.  My brilliant friend Joanna is reading an earlier novel of mine that she finds too long, but it was the one about which Michael Korda, the hot editor of Then, said "As far as I am concerned this is the ONLY book that Simon & Schuster is publishing this Spring," but he forgot about All The President's Men.  So my Great Moment was obliterated by history, and, as I said at the time, God had to choose between saving my book, and the country.  I thought then that He/She had made the right decision, but some days I am not sure.
      At any rate, I visited Don Fine at the end of his life in the hospital, and he all but threw me out, he was so enraged at being seen as less than in command.  But I am glad now I showed my affection for him.  He was a madman, and a great editor. We will never see his like again, or maybe anyone who loves writing the way he did, which, in the case of MARRIAGE I have to objectively consider, not remembering who or what I was at the time, was justified.  I can say that in all lack of humility, and probably grace, because it has nothing to do with what or who I am now.
    That is the strangest thing of all: Nothing remains of her, the woman who so effortlessly set down her thoughts, and even more impressively, her feelings, which I have to hope and consider were not just personal to me, but said much about all women, we being still, at that time, not clearly presented, for all the Austens and Brontes.  It was the heaths and the moors that were mysterious, but not how complicated we were.
   This would be an essay, were I still to be at Bryn Mawr, on HOW COMPLICATED IT IS TO BE A WOMAN.  Note that Philip Roth is being everywhere commemorated, genius that he undoubtedly was and is, unfeeling as he has shown himself to be, which is apparently laudable among the highly literate. I have to try and get over being mad at him, which I am on a personal level, because he has lifted a lot of people, though few of them with a gentle hand I don't think.  A woman I love as the apotheosis of what a woman should be, soft and beautiful and caring, who also knew how to organize a tool chest, was the cast-off who connected us.  She brought him to a dinner that Don and I had in the early days of our marriage, when I also invited Jules Feiffer and his then wife, Judy. And the hard exchange of repartee and opinion were dazzling.  Don said he felt like he was sitting in the surf being blasted by wave after wave, which was how the wit went.
   But love and loyalty don't seem to be a factor in Roth's make-up, and demanding woman that I am, I like a man better who cares, and not just about words. Feelings, that's what really separates us from the beasts.  Especially when you can not only express them, but have them all the way down.  Or up, if you're lucky.
    

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Da Dum Dum Da Dumm Da Dum Dum Da Dum- ROCKY!!!

Probably one of the nicest men in the world and certainly one of the sweetest, calmest and most helpful, including self-effacing, not a prominent characteristic in the business of Show is Tom Meehan, who co-wrote The Producers with Mel Brooks, making it cohesive, and seems to be able to do that with life on the Great White Way, which is no longer that Great or White but is mostly expensive.  Everyone seems to relax when Tom comes on board, because of his pervasive sanity, as I myself would have liked to do with Sylvia WHO? , my musical comedy that I have been hoping to bring to life for most of mine-- my life, that is. The talent I hoped I had most of and longed to bring to light was songwriting: The great lyrist Yip Harburg(The Wizard of Oz, Finian's Rainbow) was my mentor, and Frank Loesser, when I was 20, said "Kid, you're the biggest talent since me; write me a musical!"  I did, and as in traditional showbiz stories he proceeded to undo me. But that is another story, one probably without songs.
     So as the door I could push most easily open was novel-writing, that was the path I pursued.  But the part of my heart that continued to beat most melodically was songwriting, and twelve or fourteen novels later, song came back and I started to write my musical. "You're a BOOKWRITER!" Jimmy Nederlander growled.  "What are you doing writing a MUSICAL!"  It's been that kind of struggle ever since, with little patches of compassion and support from people like Rosemary Clooney, who liked the songs so much she recorded some of them in exchange for sandwiches for the musicians and Tom Meehan, who can't help being kind to everybody.
     So it is with some pain that I report having been to see ROCKY, which Tom co-wrote with Sylvester Stallone, some of the well-known themes from the movie, a couple of songwriters who should have written at least one really good love song, and clearly all the electricians in Germany, where the musical grew like Topsy, whatever her name is in Deutsch. Patrons are warned in the beginning that if they react to light they should be forewarned: I wasn't aware of the warnings.  But I attended the show with my friend the Angel Carleen, one of the gentle creatures on the planet, and she was in an absolute fury, she felt so manipulated. 
    The audience itself, is actually moved-- I had met, by accident, not design, the young, handsome, and gifted director(Peter and the Starcatcher) during intermission, said I was hoping to be moved, and he said "Wait till the Second Act."  But I had NO idea. Before the finale the first ten rows, or maybe it was twelve, are physically escorted onstage so they can be actually ringside for the fight, bloodied and band-aided.  I wondered what would happen if the inept, elderly, and/or infirm had been lucky(?) enough to secure those tickets. 
    At any rate, the angel Carleen, being a dancer by training, is highly sensitive to light, so left the theater in a rage.  The finale comes with strobes and flashes of every design, most of them doubtless German.  I had been in Beverly Hills some months ago and ran into Sylvester Stallone at a local coffee shop.  He'd just come back from seeing ROCKY in Germany, and said he didn't understand a word, but he was crying.
    From joy at the unraveling legend, I would have to opine. I actually saw the movie again some months ago and will have to admit the thing really works.  But not to death.
    It will probably make a fortune.  And I could not wish more or better to Tom.  But where are the songs of yesterday?  Where are the songs at all?  How can we leave a theatre humming the lighting?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

MY TIME OF YEAR

This used to be it for me, the season of the Academy Awards: I am reluctant to use the word "Oscars," because it has become so... what, exactly? I am not sure.  'Commercialized' is the wrong word to use in a disparaging sense, because that is what it was always meant to be.  
    But once it seemed Glorious, with a deliberate capital.  When I was a little girl, I was already in love with movies.  And as I grew up, there came into my life a plethora of movie stars.   Gregory Peck filming a scene for Gentleman's Agreement in the railroad station at Darien, Conn., where I was in boarding school.' turning up later, at an actual Hollywood party--where everyone was.  Gene Kelly, who had been my dancing teacher in Pittsburgh when I was two optioned my first movie script, What a Way to Go! Cary Grant on my telephone- a whole other saga.  George Segal, with whom I had been crazily infatuated at Bryn Mawr, becoming ALMOST a major movie star, retaining always, if less than his charisma, the ability to hurt my feelings.
    But Great and Glorious in the full sense of both those words did it seem for a moment in time, when the phone rang and a woman named Sandy Burton called me and asked if she could cover my Academy Awards party for Time Magazine.  Oh, how I loved publicity then,--it was in the midst of my success with my novel, THE PRETENDERS, and how we all still loved Time Magazine.  And how I came to love Sandy Burton.
    She had gone for a cut to my hairdresser, Dusty Fleming, who told her he was going to go to this great party.  And a great party it was. Ruth Berle, the wife of Milton, who wasn't as much as she was, toughie though she was, an ex-army sergeant, a woman who tolerated no pretension, really liked me.  So where she went, Hollywood followed, and that year she came to my house.
    The McGiverns(Bill and Maureen)'s son Patrick had on an old ushers' outfit from the Roxy, and he stood in our driveway with a flashlight ushering people in.  A black-tie party to watch on TV, at the time a true, witty innovation.  Everybody came.  Lee Marvin, who had won Best Actor, the year before, his then girl Michelle who was to go on to become the originator of 'palimony,' Shirley Jones, still with Jack Cassidy who was to die in a fire at his apartment, causing Alexis Smith, in my yoga class with Bikram to say, "Well, he always was flamboyant." Glenn Ford who had once been top of the box office food chain, chair tilted back against the wall in my bed room, Shirley MacLaine, stoned out of her head raging against Mike Frankovich and Columbia to Sandy Burton, who I kept telling her was with Time Magazine-- "I thought I was at a private party!" Shirley steamed when the article appeared, though I had told her even as she spewed that Sandy was there for Time, as Sandy, pencil in hand and pad under Shirley's nose told her the same. And being the great gentlewoman she was, all she printed of what Shirley disgorged was "Oh, shut up, Mike Frankovich."
    I had cooked for days.  Don tended bar.  There were hot dog wagons with Sabrett umbrellas in our back yard-- and it really was a back yard-- and Madeleine 5, was in a gown, and Robert, 2, was in a tux.  All of life lay ahead of us, and there we were, celebrated and celebrating.  Zsa Zsa Gabor in our living room, her gown no more spectacular than mine.  How much better could it get?
    Not much of course.  But it was a great night, where everyone had a fabulous time.  The house was divided into three rooms- Orthodox (Just watching, no talk) Conservative(watching and talking) and Reformed(talking the whole time.)  Everybody got presents. (Ruth Berle brought an autographed picture of Ruth Roman.)
     Sandy was to become my favorite friend.  She gave me directions to Carlos Castenada's Power Spot in the Malibu mountains.  After she wrote her piece interviewing him she became the first woman Bureau Chief of Time Magazine.  I visited her in Boston, Paris, and Hong Kong where she was stationed, I want to say, as if she were in the service, which I think she really was.  She became an intimate of the Aquino family in the Phillipines, was on the plane with Aquino when he returned to his home and was assassinated.  She became a backbone of Corey's rise to president.  And was later to be killed, when I was visiting her in Bali, by her boyfriend.
   It is a young word to use: 'boyfriend', and by then we were no longer young.  But I can't call him her 'lover,' because that is too tender and sexy a word to apply to him.  I had lunch with her the day before her 'accidental' death, where she was apparently fatally beaten, though the official report said she fell and hit her head on the toilet.  I was still in shock at her funeral when her body was taken from the police truck, and did not see it before they put it into the oven.  She had said to me at that last luncheon, about her soon-to-be killer, "We have my friends, and his friends; there are no our friends. "  When I got back to LA I saw my doctor and told him what I had been told had happened, he mocked the "accidental" finish, showing how she would have had to bounce back and forth many times on that toilet seat to be fatally injured. 
    I have gone back to Bali several times, where the sly assassin lived comfortably, probably on her money, to try and get justice for her.  But it was Bali, and there is nothing that can't be paid off, including murder.
      I think of all this at Oscar time of year.  It flashes by like coming attractions.

    

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS OVER

The theatrical program from my play that opened on Broadway would be yellowing with age by now, except that the program itself was yellow, chosen to be that color by whatever designer we had-- all of it so exciting and seemingly inspired at the time.  A play on Broadway!!
     I remember all of it -- I am clear on Oliver Smith, who was our scenic designer, coming in to the first production meeting saying "I think it's a bomb."  I was very young, very pregnant and a newbie to the prospect of Broadway, the land of my then dreams, so it would never have occurred to me to ask that he be fired.  With that kind of support, how could it have been a winner even if it was?
   Hilly Elkins, a Napoleonic narcissist, but who's calling anyone names, was the producer, with Don, my husband, being the associate producer, probably the reason I was so grateful to Hilly. A new overlord had come in to the TV station where Don was executive producer, so he'd been fired.  We were expecting a baby and terrified about the future, which, young as we were, we weren't sure we had.  So the play's being produced seemed Life or Death essential, his being an ingredient essential to his self-esteem: a soon-to-be-new dad without a job.
     Madlyn Rhue, a darling but limited actress had the lead--  she was soon to be fired in Philadelphia, where she was  promised she would be the godmother of my baby, which she was to become,  replaced by Marion Hailey, who wasn't funny enough.  The entire thing was a disaster, except for what went on behind the scenes, which was hilarious and high drama.  It was March1966,-- the comedy (it seemed to be) was about a young woman infatuated with a playwright,  like a straight Tennessee Williams, if one can imagine that much of a stretch-- who only writes about disturbed women; so she pretends to be a suicidal drug-addict, and takes the apartment next door, so she can win him.  Hilly wanted her to smoke a joint onstage, but as noted, it was 1966, and I was still a Naif, so thought that would look almost like she was shooting up, and refused the idea, at which point Hilly became verbally assaultive calling me names, threatening.  Don said "Hilly, you're talking to a woman with a baby in her belly. Watch what you're saying or I'll have to deck you."  Hilly said "You and what army?" and POW, he was down, Don on top of him.  Paul Bogart, the director(also soon to be fired) took Don's glasses off so he wouldn't be hurt by Hilly's flailing.  All very dramatic, nobody intervening, as everybody hated Hilly.  
    Mel Brooks, a close friend, was with us out of town, helping out,  purveyor of the occasional good physical joke-- I had originally written the play for Anne Bancroft, a buddy whom I adored.  She said she couldn't do it because she was doing "The Devils." I asked her why.  "I've never played a hunchbacked nun before," she said. 
    So there we all were, Hilly was down, people dragged Don off him, and we continued out of town, without the heroine smoking a joint.  Then Paul Bogart was fired in Boston.  Arthur Storch, a thick and humorless man, was brought in-- by now I was in the hospital giving birth-- and he killed the play.  Polly Rowles, a most professional and pretty funny actress, who had consistently gotten great laughs playing the mother(mine) was so confused by him she turned into a stutterer, and the reviews said she "stumbled under the weight of last minute rewrites," though not a word of hers had been changed.  Don said it was all he could do not to rip the seats out of the theatre, he was so enraged at what was happening.  I was in the hospital having Madeleine, so there was no one to protect the play, and that was that.  
    I got to the theatre opening night in an ambulance someone had arranged to take me,  in time for the last laugh, which wasn't there, so I knew.  Mel and Annie drove me back to the hospital after the opening night party at Sardi's which was a wake. Mel said "You had two things happen the week.  If one of them had to be less than perfect, if your daughter was born with six toes and two noses, that would have been okay: what mattered was the show." So he made me laugh and probably saved my life.
 Teddy, Edward Woodward, a darling true gentleman, who had the lead, is dead now,-- he was a dear, and Hilly, who wasn't, is dead, too.  Dead.  It's such a final word.
   I was so excited to have a play on Broadway. So long ago it cost $150,000.  My musical, if it were mounted, would probably cost 15 million.  Of course it has real songs and lyrics you can make sense of, so its day might have passed.  Mine, too.  Can you tell how bleak and gloomy it is outside?