Saturday, March 30, 2013


    So it is Sabado de Gloria, as they celebrate it in Mexico where I was one Easter season, when Liza Minnelli was only a little messed up, and I was in Guaymas while she was making Lucky Lady.  My children were little and still beautiful and touching, and Don was very much alive, standing up for me, which few have done since.  But then, I have learned to stand up for myself, supported by a few wonderful and smart friends and the occasional clearheaded lawyer.
     I have returned to Los Angeles to check in with those, as well as the doctors I trust who keep me alive, so far, and to maybe find someplace to live where I will not lose my bearings because I am so cold.  This has been the hardest winter of my life, isolated in the midst of a crowded, busy New York City, and a building full of people who mostly avert their eyes, even in the elevator, as though they are fearful you will ask them for something.  Like compassion, or, even worse, money.
    It is a puzzle, New York, still the capital of the Driven, people busily on their way to Somewhere or Something, not many of them noting where they are.  I am no less guilty, having lost my Jack-center, having forgotten how to be peaceful, except by the Boathouse in Central Park, where I can look at the lake and almost remember what it was to rejoice in being still.  That has been the setting for my making a few friends, most of them from other countries, where people still dream that New York is the place, and maybe envy me the fact that I live there.  Or did.
   I am looking for a place to live here so I can do what work I am meant to do, all the while hoping that my fantasy, the reason I stayed in New York, will materialize.  And that is, of course, my musical, which I have been working on since before you were born.  But I have an advocate, and that encourages me not to think it is a complete dream, so we will see.
     There is no point, I don’t think, in giving up a dream, even if, or especially when it seems elusive.  When we lose the ability to chase after things, if only in our minds, then the gears of imagination stiffen along with everything else.  So I remember how it was that Sabado di Gloria, when the whole world, or at least the exotic part of it, lay before us, and nobody could imagine or conjure or be warned about growing old.  There we stood, under the tree, my handsome, strong, tall husband, my darling children, and the member of a local tribe we connected with, who was having his own, mysterious Easter celebration.  Those were the days, remember, when I believed in Everything.  So I considered it a personal gift from the Powers that Be, (unless they Aren’t) to have connected with this obviously illuminated local, a Yaqui Indian, which was the tribe that Castaneda, the celebrated mystical writer of the 60s, had connected with, and learned from (unless he was exaggerating, or, Heavens Forefend, making it all up.)
    Nothing would ever go wrong again, I was sure, having recently been rescued by my hero, and not having yet encountered a great personal loss, if you didn’t count Roosevelt in the 4th grade.  So there we stood, connecting on a super-sensitive and mysterious level.  And when it was ending, and the Yaqui was returning to his Yaqui life, he said he would meet us again.
      “Where?” I asked.
      “Under the tree,” said the Yaqui.
      “Under the tree,” echoed Don, smiling, indulgent as always of my lunatic, mystical bent.
      So when the time came, not all that long afterward, when my young and tall and strong husband died, that’s where we put him.
     Ah, but this is the day before the Rising Up.  And we have nothing to fear but fear itself and the little dumb lunatic in Korea.   The sun struggles to come out, as Gays don’t have to anymore.
     So let us rejoice in the fact that we are alive, at least some of us.  A friend told me +Candace Bergen, a very smart woman, said “Growing old is a privilege.”  I would have to applaud her.
    At least my hands are still in fine shape.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


     Spent the day in bed with Richard Burton, reading his diaries.  I had seen him in the flesh only once, snuggling Susie Strasberg in the corner of the Baq Room, Janice Mars' club given to her, rented, really, by all her friends and supporters, from Marlon to Maureen.  Susan and Richard were lovers, arranged by mom Paula Strasberg who wanted her daughter not to be flailing about the sexual byways, so started her off with what was, supposedly, the best.  Helen Hayes who was with them in the play they all did together, the title of which I can't remember(was it Time Remembered?) Someone caught Helen Hayes with her ear to the vent listening to them making love before the curtain rose on the less interesting action.
     My other experience with Burton was imagining him on the other end of the phone in Elizabeth's house on Cordell Road rented from Tom Tryon, papered in the bedroom with metallic silver that had her reflection in it everywhere she looked, while she also watched herself on television--that she rented in Hollywood when we were friends.  She would be on the phone with him all the time, helping him out of his financial difficulties, it sounded like, overcoming what had to be her swallowed rage at his courting Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, for whom she was also advising him what presents to give. Or buy, I'm not really sure, because it sounded at the time like he might be broke, and Liz, which you weren't allowed to call her, was lifting him out of his difficulties, trying to help him land the princess which I don't think she really wanted him to do.
   So it is really interesting to get to know him through his own words which are charged and highly intelligent: can't believe how much he read, and that my own eyes which are tired and need Dr. Lee, are scarfing up all these actorly pages instead of reading the excellent thinkers he did.  But the words, I must admit, are lively and sharp, which I have to imagine he was, and, over and over again, admittedly, crazy in love with Elizabeth.
    I stopped in Puerto Vallarta on one of my journeys for the Journal, and went back to the house I had rented on an earlier trip there after Don died, that had been a rental for them.  It was totally overgrown, abandoned, choked with weeds and a tree that had invaded its heart, pushing out windows and part of the roof.  I must admit that is probably what has become of the world's interest in the two of them.  
     The publisher of this enormous volume-- Burton was, apparently, never at a loss for words-- is the Yale University Press, so someone intellectual must have had a real interest in their romance.  I don't know what I paid for the book-- it came from Alibris, who did not bother enclosing the price in its statement.  But I would have to guess, pessimistically, that whoever was the agent who sold it must be disappointed, as the world has changed in disgusting ways, and, as I pointed out to my own sorrow, more people know the Kardashians than Robert Di Niro.  Of all those who were their friends and advocates and heavy rollers in Hollywood and the world, like-- can you top this? the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for whom Burton did not much care-- few are left alive.  And fewer still are those who buy books about stars who are not Honey Boo Boo.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


    Understanding that life is short, and becomes shorter the longer you live, I elected this morning to  do a Proust on my croissant, and remember all the croissants I have enjoyed in my life.  The best of them was, of course, in the south of France, where I had the luck and joy to spend a number of my Springs, when I was still springing.  Gazing across the Bay of whatever Bay it was, or maybe it was a Gulf, alongside or in front of La Gorille in Saint Tropez, I could see the serenity of sails enjoying the breeze, if a breeze there was, all of them on a slant.  Or maybe it was me.
   But the hard thing, the thing that brings me up short, or maybe long, is that I can't remember, having lived for the number of years I have, what it was that Proust tasted that gave him his moment, which has certainly lasted longer than Proust did.  I know there are a lot of Proustian scholars, among them a friend from Haverford I thought I would keep forever, who could tell me in a Proustian second.  But when I tried to rekindle my once totally committed and borderline intimate friendship with him, I saw that what he had become was an old scholar, lacking passion, which I regard as the first thing you should have when gazing out to sea, or bay, or gulf, or whatever it was.  What you miss by not really paying attention, or caring, is probably infinite.
     Still, I remember the glitter on the water, as brilliant as thought at its best, and brighter than memory.  But the bitch is I can't remember what it was Proust was remembering.  
    So I Googled him, having gone to the installation of the new Google set-up in the great building at the head or maybe it's the foot of Columbus Circle, where they are giving away Google cups as a part of a promotion because apparently Google hasn't made enough money as compared with the creep who started Tweeting, so that we are quickly becoming a planet of Twits.  Or the woman who's taken over Facebook, one of the mindless inanities that's captured the imagination, or what's left of it, actually becoming a subject or maybe it's an object of a Sixty Minutes Feature.  In order to get my Google cup free, I would have had to write fifteen restaurant reviews, something I did for the Wall Street Journal Europe for a bit more of a reward, and several wonderful new relationships, as I rode the world with a badge that cried out "Republican man in a tightly buttoned suit," a label that quickly disappeared when the subjects of my pieces met me.   
    Still, I think of them all as I eat my croissant, or try to think of them all, and not finding what it was that reminded Proust of whatever he was reminded of on my computer, do find the following quote from Marcel soi-meme, which I believe is how you say Himself. 

     This saddens me more than the fact that I am not now and may not ever again be looking out at what sides or bottoms Saint Tropez:  I have received an e-mail from Carolyn McIntyre, who passionately(an important quality, as already noted)decries the New York Times having finally published a piece on the front page of its highly regarded newspaper, that the libraries are in BIG trouble, the land beneath them being sold off for the benefit of developers, which the article apparently didn't mention.  That there are no more bookstores to wander through, the vast majority of them having been replaced by Century 21s or the like, is one of the great tragedies of our lifetime.  Playgrounds of the Mind they were, someplace we could spend hazy afternoons smelling the aroma of freshly turned pages, feeling the cut of them under our fingers.  That the institutions that carried them and made them available free to children may also disappear is unthinkable.  
     But we better start thinking about it.  Will all that remains of the brilliance of Benjamin Franklin be electricity?  Even his post office sinks.  How long is Forever when the Forever Stamp crumbles under the weight of a need for more revenue, and we are forced to send things Fedex?
     But I digress, as did Kurt Vonnegut, another of our great dreamers.  Back to what Marcel said of childhood. "No days ...lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book."  Do we look to a future... maybe not even the future, but what's right in front of us... spent with our children and their children, eyes fixed on that pathetic little screen in their hands, missing life, missing thought, missing the ships in the bay, or maybe it was a Gulf.
   Ah, yes, I remembered what it was that he tasted that brought back everything.  It was a madeleine.  The name of my daughter.  It's her birthday on Friday.  Do you know where your children are, even if they are no longer children?  Well, there's one thing I can be sure of: she isn't in a library.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Little Engine That Couldn't

    So the mail and my good-looking doorman brought me a package from my maybe 118th cousin Chris Eber in Oregon, containing THE MOTHERLAND, my novel about my family.  Chris sounds like a really bright man who on his own researched familial connections and came up with me, got in touch, and at my suggestion, bought the book, which I haven't looked at since it was ordained by my then publisher, Michael Korda, at Simon and Shuster, "the only book we are publishing this Spring as far as I am concerned."  He forgot about a little number called ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN which came out at exactly the same time, so no one cared about Fiction.
    I had at that time experienced a lot of long stays in D.C. with old friends and new friends I made who were close to or worked in the Nixon White House, so had been an eyewitness, early in the mornings when the phone would ring in my Republican friends' homes at 4 AM with new revelations from the Washington Post, so tried to regard what happened as God's having to choose between saving my book, and saving the country.  A few days before my novel's actual publication, the doorbell rang, and it was my new neighbor in L.A.--the house next door atop a little hill having recently been built and just completed-- asking to use my telephone.  When I opened the door, there stood John Dean.  So I was convinced, metaphysician that I thought I was at the time, that the Heavens were on the side of my inevitable bestsellerdom, a clear indication you should never attempt to second-guess the Almighty if there is One.
    "This is the book that will finally show people the fine writer you are," said Michael, who of course has been unreachable ever since.  Still, today, having received it since I am being kindly asked to make an inscription, I made a stab at starting to read it and was at once heartened and despondent, as I have no idea how I was ever that good.  I had a similar experience a few days ago when for some reason I actually opened JADE, my novel set in Hong Kong, and wondered how I knew so much, and could put so many words on a page.
    I tried to phone Barbara Conaty, the woman who reviewed it for The Library Journal, who gave me the best review I ever received-- we have since become friends, --to press her for a few words of succor and support.  But she is apparently traveling, something people who are still seeking do.  I, on the other hand, or both of them, have sort of tired of that, having spent the years writing travel for The Wall Street Journal Europe making friends all over the world who I now miss almost all the time, this winter in New York having sapped me of most of my energy, the skies being gray and clouded, and people averting their eyes even in your own elevator, as if they are afraid you will ask them for money.
   Having picked up a beautiful Brazilian family in the Boathouse Restaurant a while ago, whose curly-haired son touched my heart as he looked like Robert when he was little, I lunched with them Sunday instead of going to the meditation retreat I had signed up for, as connection to other people after a full winter of Isolation on a Grand Scale seemed more important than a connection with the Almighty who I imagined had to be busy with the Pope.  Now it is Monday, so not knowing what else to do with myself, I actually opened The Motherland after inscribing it to my maybe cousin.
      I will not review it, as I only read a few pages, and real and delightful as it seemed, I wondered how I ever survived my mother, who succeeded in driving one actual child and a stepchild into madness, delightful as I thought she was.  Elizabeth Taylor and I became friendish because of it-- she wanted to play Evelyn, my heroine, but Sue Mengers said "Tell her to get the napkin off her lap," Sue's poetic way of saying La Elizabeth was masturbating, as she was past her prime.  But my mother never was, older though she grew while never admitting it, or acting what age she was, clearly anathema to her.  She was irresistible to men, including my stepfather who I adored, but managed to drive him away, accusing him of having an affair with his son's ex-fiancee, which not surprisingly became a self-fulfilling prophesy. So she ended up selling her huge, terraced apartment, gorgeous jewels, china, silver and many many furs, for almost nothing, out of the panic and fear that apparently stayed with a child of the Depression who had bettered herself with wit and great legs, and moved into this studio in one of New York's most beautiful buildings, the Hampshire House, designed by Dorothy Draper.  Whenever my mother was sick, which she was as rarely as she could manage, but still would usually go into a coma, she would murmur to me, half conscious, when I came to offer caring, "You're not going to get my apartment."  But she left it to me anyway, and I am grateful, though this has been arguably the darkest winter of my life, as I stubbornly plant myself here in the hope that not only is virtue its own reward, but if you have a musical that's good you have to be relentless in trying to get it on, and for that you need to be in New York.
    I said to a wonderful man who is supporting me spiritually in my quest, if this ever happens it will be an argument for Survivors, which I hope a lot of us are and will be in spite of the news, which is daily more dispiriting. Then there is my life, which has been very full of adventure and incident, a loving husband who didn't live very long but otherwise I have nothing to complain about, including my mother, ferocious and funny as she was, which comes through clearly in THE MOTHERLAND, about which she wrote to Liz Smith, "Reading it, I regretted not having committed infanticide."
     But Dorothy Draper who designed this place, said "Never look back, except for an occasional glance, look ahead and plan for the future."  So I congratulate myself on imagining I really have one.  Still, you should read the novel and marvel at how unlikely it is that I am as resilient as I am.

Monday, March 11, 2013


     Arthur Storch is dead at 87, a good run, which is more than my play had under his direction.  I had a play open on Broadway the same week my daughter was born, a great dream fulfilled it seemed to be, in the beginning, anyway.  Paul Bogart, a gentle, very bright(he seemed) director, was fired while I was in the hospital giving birth to Madeleine, and Storch was brought in to replace him, by Hilly Elkins, as producer. 
     My husband, Don Mitchell had the title of Associate Producer, which gave him absolutely no leverage over Hilly, who was colorful and crazy.  Sue Mengers was my agent, the while-ago cast-off of Hilly's, and everybody was calling her to congratulate her on the birth, so she told me she felt like "the mother of the bride."
      They were happy days, or seemed so, Madeleine's birth announced in the theatre pages of the Times ('Mother's Play's Birth Upstaged by Baby's") ran the headline, with people we loved(or thought we did, and visa-versa) coming to my hospital room-- they kept you for a few extra days then-- to give me a cocktail party before the opening, who disappeared from our lives forever when the reviews came out.
     My obstetrician, a darling man, let me out of the hospital for opening night, as he wanted to go to the opening.  A limo took me to the theatre in time for the last laugh, which wasn't there, so I knew it had been a disaster.   Storch had, according to Don, so confused everybody with his arbitrary changes-- Don told me he had almost ripped the seats out of the theatre floor the last few rehearsals, he was so enraged-- that everybody went up on their lines, including Polly Rowles, the very very funny old pro who played the mother, whose part had remained unchanged from the beginning, so the review read that she "stumbled under the weight of last-minute changes," moving from sophisticated model that she had been(my mother, really) to Edward Everett Horton, who if you are old enough to remember, you understand, and if not.. bumbling.  A real sorrow, if what you love is theater.
    But it did make a prominent player out of Kenny Mars, who played the psychiatrist who wanted to be in show business "If Dexadrine had been invented when I opened my act, I would have been a Star today," the character said. Storch had so little control of Kenny he played one of the scenes on his knees, another with a German accent.  Mel Brooks, who was our good friend, and stayed loyal throughout and to this day, found him and used him for The Producers, so it did do some good.  Though not for Don and me who hid out, from the kind of public shame you feel on such an occasion, and for many moons after, when you can't do things like get a job, so are embarrassed to go to the grocery store because you might run into someone you know, who read the reviews.  Ah, Youth, when everything depends on what you imagine is the One Dream, which, when realized, becomes a Nightmare.
     But I did have a couple of perks that no one could imagine, or better: a telegram (there still were those then) from the president of Bryn Mawr College, saying "Congratulations and love to the only friend I have who had a play and a baby the same week," Love, Kathy McBride -- (It was the Kathy that did me in, as we knew her only as Katherine, which the girl who passed her her lantern on Lantern Night, Hepburn had been.)  And then of course there was the kindness of being driven back to the hospital by Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, for whom I had originally written the play, when Mel said "Well, you had two things happen this week: if one of them had to be less than perfect, if your daughter had been born with six toes or two noses... that would have been ok, what mattered was the show."
     So he saved me with laughter, as Mel has probably saved many. They came over to visit us a day or so later, and Annie read the reviews aloud and spit at them, and Mel said "Where is the mention of the wit?"  We were lucky to have them as friends.
     We moved out to LA not long after that, when Don got a job with the Carol Burnett show, and I gave up my Showbiz Showbiz dream and settled into being a novelist.  For as long as books lasted, anyway.
     So I understand I am borderline crazy to have come back to this cold, dark city with the hope of shining, and with a musical, yet.  But as Cicero said, lest you think it was just some tired person passing through, "While there's life, there's hope."  Or as the leading man will sing of my heroine in case Sylvia, Who? ever really materializes,
     "Someone who understands Life to the letter...
      As long as you're breathing, it might just get better."
Let us hope.     

Saturday, March 09, 2013

You Can Always Make a Friend in NYC

as long as they are from someplace else.  These have been days so bleak even Charles Dickens would not have named a house after them.  Cold and gray, with little pieces of snow like frozen spit, coming down from contemptuous angels.
    On my way home from the dentist, a visit that was almost uplifting in comparison to the lack of human interaction in my building, where the only people who look at you are those who work here, all of whom are sweetly present, the rest of whom avert their eyes, as if afraid you might want something from them, except for my best friend, Ava, 3, who lives at the end of the hall, and a few sad-eyed dogs who make me long for Mimi, I finally made actual contact with another soul.  It has been a truly frigid winter, in every sense of the word, and I have made my way through it supported by the conviction that I am really supposed to be here to try and make my musical happen, which it finally looks like it might, though I am not holding my breath, except maybe a little.  But as I stopped into a coffee bar, Fate, or, in this case, Destino, connected me with Brigitta, from Rome.
    Absolutely darling young woman, 21, here for a brief holiday-- she must love gray skies-- before she returns to school, the door to which is the one next to the Vatican.  Probably an interesting place to be right now.  Anyway Brigitta, as it turns out, is one of four daughters of a man who owns a few radio stations in Italy, on which I am now invited to be interviewed, which would be a great joy and very challenging, as being limited in Italian I would have to choose my words very carefully, something I certainly don't do here.
    But I am most grateful for having had an open heart, as every once in a while there seems to be a point in that.  I made friends in Paris with people who lived in my building, something that doesn't happen in Paris, having apprehended Gaspard, 2, on his way upstairs, with the promise I would teach him English, along with his sister Pauline.  It took almost a year as he wasn't speaking at all, though I gave him a piece of candy every time he stopped in, he was so silently adorable.  When at last a word came out of him-- I showed him a little carved lapin  and said "Rabbit,"and  Gaspard said "Bon Bon."  Another time I went to a DeNiro movie and when I came out asked a man in the lobby with his son how he enjoyed it.  He expressed some reservations, paused, looked baffled and said "But we are talking...'another pause "We don't do that." Another pause, a thoughtful look.  "I like it."  We have been friends since.
     Still, I do believe that you have to wait for the Universe to throw you into some kind of camaraderie here. Or maybe other places, too.  I was in the Earthquake in San Francisco, when Lia Belli, wife of the esteemed overheated and overpublicized attorney Melvin, picked up six of us sitting in the square atop the crumbled city, and took us all back to her house, and among them was Ann Richards, then the Governor of Texas, about to run against W, which if she had won might have saved this country.  A truly darling woman, funny and beyond frank, as well as beautiful in the true sense.  She had become Governor when someone asked her husband to run, and he said "Why don't you run my wife?" I asked her why she was no longer married to him, and she said "Well, honey, I'm an alcoholic, and he was still drinking." I think I fell in love with her, but then it was very intense, the room lit by explosions from down below by the bay.  I went home when it was safe to return, and wrote a play about all of us being trapped, which was really funny, as I remember, I think objectively, but made the mistake of giving to the wrong producer, so nothing ever came of it, which you have to be careful about in New York, even if you're not insecure as I was.
   At any rate, Ann is now on Broadway, portrayed by Holland Taylor, who is probably very good, but not possibly as smart, compelling and funny as Ann Richards.  I have the feeling that had she won she wouldn't have died as early as she did.  But I always have that feeling about people who should have been victorious and left the scene too soon.
   Ah, well,  The sun is out at long long long long last.  So I shall walk in the park and be glad the trees, now barren, a vista so stark you can't believe it, will soon start to bud, and then in no time at all, we will be so hot we wonder why we don't live someplace else.  Oh, Life.  What would you be called if you weren't so full of challenges?

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Innocents Not Quite Abroad

     Understanding that my salvation is in writing, and I woke up not knowing what I was going to write about, the Universe, or Providence, or WhoeverItIsWho is concerned about the new Pope, if One there Is, sent me an e-mail from a Jeffrey Schwartz, a documentary filmmaker who is about to make a film about Tab Hunter.  Tab was one of the heart-throbs of the 50s, along with Rock Hudson and some other great male beauties who nobody knew were gay.  He was a sweet guy, and very tall, Goyishly handsome, blonde and blue-eyed, and was, in background, a stable boy, and in painful fact which it took me eons to process and actually believe, involved with Tony Perkins, my first great movie star love.
     I met Tony(Anthony he was on the marquees) at my first big movie star party in Hollywood, given by Elaine Aiken, who was with the Actor's Studio.  At the time, that had enormous eclat on the West Coast, since few of the stars of the day had actual acting credentials, and Brando, whose home was the Studio, his father figure Lee Strasberg, was on his way to being a God, still thin and full of intellect and principles. 
     Tony was incredibly beautiful, and very mysterious, though not about what was to turn out to be his real mystery, and engaged me immediately because he was so bright, and played games.  Rapt by his then very boyish male beauty, I stood transfixed in the garden, as he told me he would take me to dinner if I could tell him what movie these lines were from-- as I remember still, I think-- "If Miss Perry know more, we find out fast.  Take Miss Perry deeper into ship."  I believe that was Akim Tamiroff in something, I never found out.  But as Tony was so reluctantly adorable, and I was still wearing my teenagerish heart, I fell into his very clever pit. We not only went to dinner but he became the center of my first novel, NAKED IN BABYLON, and from there, my life.
     He would call me at four in the morning and say "What's for breakfast?" and I would get up and make it for him, including home made jams and popovers he said were better than his mother's-- as it turned out she had never cooked, so that, besides being endearing, was a lie.  Then he would go off to the studio, the most sought-after star of his day, having played Gary Cooper's son in FRIENDLY PERSUASION, James Dean having just died, so they were looking not only for the new James Dean, but whoever was lanky and appealing enough to eventually replace Gary Cooper.
     As Tony went out the door after breakfast he would say "I'll call you from the studio."  I would wait all day-- in those days the phone had a twenty-five foot cord for which you paid extra, but it would not stretch to the bathroom, so I wouldn't pee all day for fear my tinkle would cover that of the phone.  
     He never called.  And I would go to sleep, Miltowned, I think, the popular trank of the day, saying "I'll never speak to him again." And then the phone would ring at 4 A.M. and I would get up and make him breakfast.
     This went on for months, and finally, years.  He took me to Disneyland, kind of our version of an orgy, as our romantic life consisted of shooting off model planes in which we put our enemies. Sidney Skolsky, the gossip columnist, who had called us in print, 'The Odd Couple--"  I was fat, and Henry Willson, the agent who represented what was suspected to be but not spoken of in a loud voice, gay movie stars.  Among those was Tab Hunter, Tony's good friend-- and, eventually, a friend of mine.
     Every day I would wait for the call from Tony that never came. And every night the phone would ring-- Hollywood, even then, was never at a loss for vicious people-- and someone would say "He's at the beach with Tab." And I would say, "Shut up, shut up, shut up" slam down the receiver and try to go back to sleep. And then get up and make him breakfast.
     Finally, I made my Hollywood experience into a novel, and he would say, reading it every day before he went to the studio: "You're going to be the most famous writer in America." On the day I gave him the last chapter of the book, wherein the heroine confronts the young hero with his homosexuality, he said he would call me from the studio.  This time he did.  "All the way to the studio I said 'I have this friend, and she writes poems and songs and funny telegrams in French and now she's written a novel, and she's going to be the most famous writer in the country, and I'm so proud that she's my friend.  And then I read the ending.'
 "Tony," I said.  "Let me off the hook.  I'll burn the book.  Is it true?"
And he said to me "I care for you as much as I have ever cared for any woman. We will drink from the same cup."
     I still didn't hear him.   
     So I changed the ending, and devoted myself to him over the next several years, following him to New York where he did "Look Homeward Angel," onstage, to, as I remember, very favorable reviews.  For that opening I gave him a gift, a keyring with a gold playing card, a ten of diamonds.  On our way to see Mary Martin in Peter Pan in San Francisco, which he had taken me to, there was a playing card lying face down on the runway(they still had runways then)  I said "Now you're taking me to San Francisco. Next you'll take me to Disneyland,(it was just opening)  He said "I'll take you to Disneyland if you can tell me what that card is."  And because I loved him so much, and Disneyland seemed to me to represent consummation, I did not guess: I concentrated so hard, I saw through the card.  He turned it over and paled: "You're a witch," he said.  The note that accompanied the gift of the keyring said "If I knew about this, I must know about you," meaning, as I remember, my conviction that he would be the greatest star of his day.
     And he might have been.  But the weirdness of the parts he took, (PSYCHO) and the unsuitability of the ones where they still paraded him as athletic and over the top male, undid him.  He fell out of sight, as did our friendship.
     Then, years later, I ran into him, literally, as I sort of jogged home one afternoon.  I took him home with me, and we saw Don, and Don said "Oh, my God, he's got you again."  And he did.
     By that time he was married to Berry Berenson, truly a lovely woman, and I was happy for them.  We saw what seemed a lot of each other, and he encouraged me to write my musical, as he knew songwriting was my happiest and most satisfying talent, albeit unrealized.
     Meanwhile I had also become better friends with Tab, who had been part of 'Young Hollywood' as it was known, and would come to see me when I was performing my songs at the Purple Onion, along with Venetia Stevenson and the rest of the then Young Hollywood crowd.  The years having made us all Older Hollywood, I saw him in New York with some of his gay friends-- one of whom was a doctor, who gave me a shot of the diuretic I was using-- I was still heavy, --and, happily was wearing a wig which I ripped off, saying "You're all under arrest," so they all were terrified.   Tab and I talked that evening on a new level, and I told him how I had asked Tony to let me go, that I would burn the book, if he would only tell me the truth.  I repeated what he had said, that was, of course, a complete denial.  And Tab said: "He must not believe in God."
     After that, of course, quite a while after, fortunately, as I think and hope he had good years with his family, Tony died of AIDS.  And, on September 11th, his wife, Berry, was on the plane from Boston that crashed into the Twin Towers.  So it was, in all, as dark a story as any I have ever told, much less lived.  
     And it's still very sad.  I saw one of his sons at his memorial, looking more like Brad Pitt than Tony, which is not the worst thing that could happen to a man.
     But I look forward to being part of the 'documentary' that is being made about Tab based on what was his best-selling biography.  I never read it in full, but someone did show me a footnote, I think it was, in which Tab wondered how someone as smart as Gwen Davis could have been that naive.
     Interesting query.

A Day of Redemption

     So today was, after all the difficulties that have, I would venture, captured our attention, from not losing our country, which we didn't, (relieved exhale) to finding out a great general was only a man (what a Surprise!) nonetheless a very positive day.  Certainly for me, at least.
     I had the great pleasure of meeting with the smartest woman to go to Bryn Mawr, which is really saying something, and afterwards seeing the scion of a great restaurant family in his new digs.  The woman, Joanna Semel Rose, frightened me when I knew her towards the end of her college career, as she was so patently smart I felt failed in her company.  This was later enhanced and intensified when I had the great pleasure of meeting and interacting on a pretty deep level with Joe Mankiewicz, the great writer/director of some of the best films of our time, or at least that time, and he reinforced my impression of her, as she had worked with him. Joe had been at a dinner at Bennett Cerf's, where he expressed the opinion that of all the writers who were bestsellers at the time, the only one who was really a good writer was Gwen Davis-- I didn't know him, and was yet to meet Bennett, who did say at that dinner: "That's going to cost me some money," as he was bidding for my next book. (He didn't get it, but Doubleday did, and it was TOUCHING, which ended up in an important publishing scandal/setback/disappointment/borderline obscenity, and was the reason for my friendship with Kurt Vonnegut, which made the whole ordeal worthwhile.) 
     Anyway, I loved Joe, who came to visit me in San Francisco with his wife,  and he loved Joanna.  So in the ensuing years I always felt privileged if a little handicapped to be in her company, as she is truly extraordinary, and a great argument for women, many of whom are incredibly special and making the world a better place.  We spent some good time today and she approved of my new book, which means a great deal to me, though I am not saying what it is because I am publishing it anonymously, as I think befitting, since if I didn't have the consciousness of the great women(and some not so great) who have helped fashion me, it wouldn't exist.  So I feel it is from all of us.  To the benefit of all of us, I distinctly hope.
     After that, I stopped in to the new Sirio's on Fifth Avenue.  Sirio Maccioni was the great restaurateur I wrote about for The Wall Street Journal Europe when I had my strange and curious and unexpected career with them, and I loved him and Egi, his wife, and their sons.  Marco was dashing, handsome and charming, and I worried about him, because I wondered how it would affect someone so open-hearted and caring (he really loved dogs, including mine) to have such an overwhelming dad.  But I am delighted to report he not only grew more handsome and genial, he seems completely on top of his act, not to mention Sirio's.  The new restaurant is flagrantly glamorous, and people seem to be flocking to its dashing interior by Adam Tihany, where they actually look as tastefully glittering as the place.  
     I was genuinely relieved, as I have watched with some regret the downsizing of 'Dashing' during my run on the planet, as people seem to have lost interest in what is genuinely attention-worthy.  Instead we have really silly people capturing what is the truly diminished limelight, like the Kardashians, who have nothing really going for them but a bright dead lawyer  father who I think would be embarrassed.  So it is a joy to see an heir of a darling family standing up to fully meet the task, better-looking than ever, increasingly gracious, married to a lovely woman who has produced yet another winner, Massimo.  I so love Happy Endings, or, even more, Happy Continuings.