Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Mel Brooks and Annie Bancroft drove me back to the hospital after they had ferried me to the opening of my play, The Best Laid Plans, the same week my daughter was born.  It was still the era of they didn't let you out of the hospital that fast, but my Ob-gyn wanted to go to the opening, so he let me out.  I had arrived in time for the last laugh, which wasn't there.  So I knew it had been a disaster.
    "Well, look at it this way," Mel said, from beside me in the taxi.  "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 and two noses,-- that would have been okay. What mattered was the show."
     So he made me laugh and saved my life.  Betsy Osha says that is what I should be writing about, so I am.
     Gregory Peck recorded the poem I wrote when my dog, Happy, died.  You can go online to theonlygwen.com and hear it.
    Cary Grant was my fan.  He stood beside his mailbox when he lived in the Malibu Colony waiting for the school bus that picked up his daughter Jennifer, reading one of my novels, for all the world, or at least the part of it that was the Malibu Colony which at the time I probably considered all the world, to see.  When I wrote a funny movie-- at least it was funny on the page, but that was before the director Brian Forbes had a heavy hand in it-- Larry Gelbhart, arguably the most brilliant comedy writer in TV history, told me Forbes had rewritten a script of his, telling him he didn't understand comedy.
    Elizabeth Taylor, on the phone with Richard Burton-- that's a memory I still hold sacred, before she had fallen all apart, let herself go, and collapsed into a slew of hangers-on and losers.
Ruth Berle, the Dowager Doyenne of Hollywood when it was still really Hollywood, the tough-talking, no-nonsense wife of Milton, lying on a chaise outside my house at the beach, reading my novel TOUCHING and visibly being touched.  Shirley MacLaine, arguing with Sandra Burton, my brand new journalist friend who was covering my Academy Award party for Time Magazine, before they became events for Graydon Carter to corral for Vanity Fair.  Zsa Zsa Gabor in my living room, on Rembert Lane, and all the rest of the guests in exquisite black tie.  My daughter, five, in a gown.  Robert, two, in a tuxedo.
    These are the memories I have to try and get down while I can still remember.  Harry Nillsson and Tommy Smothers singing and playing guitar at Bill Danoff's house outside Washington, when Bill and Taffy were starting off as The Starland Vocal Band.  Tommy Smothers' opening night as a single in Hollywood, with John Lennon drunk in the balcony, his spirit devastated by spirits, and the temporary split with Yoko, being passed hand over hand down through the angry crowd because he was razzing Tommy, and everybody there was there for Tommy, much as they loved John Lennon.  John Lennon at Jack Haley Junior's house, playing pool and leaning against a wall as I told him how much he meant to music, meant to people, meant to me, till he said "Gwen, if you really love me, you'll stop talking."
           Still my son's favorite story.  Have to get them all down while I can.