Thursday, April 23, 2015

LIZ SMITH: Remembering a great photographer — and a divine, sexy friend!

Ernst Haas — I never forgot him. Could you?
Thursday, April 23, 2015
by Liz Smith

Remembering a great photographer — and a divine, sexy friend! — Ernst Haas ... Suzy and Jack Welch — still in business after all these years ... PR Titan Dick Guttman finally tells all.  Or most. 

“GOOGLE can bring you back 100,000 answers. A Librarian can bring you back the right one!” says author Neil Gaiman in The Guardian.
AND they said it wouldn’t last! Back in the dim period of the early 2000s which we’ve almost forgotten about already, General Electric tycoon Jack Welch and excellent writer Suzy Wetlaufer had a runaway romance on the front pages and then got married. They met when she was doing an interview with him. Obviously it was no-clarification, no-retraction piece. The pair was divinely happy but everybody predicted doom.

Well, Suzy and Jack just put out their new book “The Real Life MBA,” subtitled “Your No-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your Career.” (Not a delicate title, but what’s delicate about building a career?)

This is the couple’s fourth book together and on Saturday they celebrate their 11th anniversary. If anybody can tell you how to win in business and in private life they can.
Click to order "The Real-Lfe MBA."
ONE of my favorite press agents, who has teased us about writing his life story, has finally told us about his sixty years serving the super famous. Dick Guttman’s “Starflacker: Inside the Golden Age of Hollywood” is out in paperback and Kindle and we hope to steal more and more of it for your delight. Dick has put his memoir out online, and if you want a sneak peek at the first quarter of the book, go to www.starflacker.com.

Guttman has repped everybody from Barbra Streisand to Jackie Bisset to Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis. What always strikes me about Dick is that he has never told a fib — not to me, anyway — and he is extremely sensitive.

He’s very much moved by the humanity of the people he represents and by humanity in general. And while I can count on him for candor, he has never been indiscreet. Also, he knows the lost art of putting an item together. I never have to ask for more, or less. Like Goldilocks, he’s just right.
Click to order "Starflacker: Inside the Golden Age of Hollywood."
"Barbara is coming!"
MY recent Hollywood Reporter interview caused my mail to burst into life. Some people ask why I haven’t written a book (I have, three so far!) but this column running 5 days a week takes up some time and ranges all over the place. I see that I am rushing about prepping for my one-on-one live interview with all time pet Candice Bergen.

This happens April 29th and benefits the people at the Maria Droste Counseling Services for psychiatric help for people who can’t afford it. So if you’re around, give a call to 212-889-4042 about tickets. There are a few left.

I was told last week that Barbara Walters would be in the crowd sitting front and center and maybe if you think appearing in person before the master interviewer herself is easy, it is daunting. But I’ll be happy to see her and try to do my best.
SO, what follows is a little bit from my past life. Let’s go back to the '60s when I was working the soft side of sports reporting for Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated. This was magical fun for me just before Women’s Liberation, when men still opened doors for women and traveling male correspondents handled all the money and the airline tickets and I just went along for the ride.

Then I saw in New York magazine an announcement of the late great Ernst Haas and his coming book of rare Hollywood and other pictures. They wrote “Ernst Haas has photographed just about everything he could get in front of the lens.” This genius died in 1986, but the book, from Steidl, will come out in the Spring.
Do I remember Ernst Haas? Indeed I do. Somehow Sports Illustrated had talked this genius into going to Spain with me and my producer Fred Smith on assignment to cover the opening of the new Robert Trent Jones golf course near Marbella.

Ernst Haas.
There was a lot of color to be enjoyed in Spain in those days and actors were considered so low class that they were not permitted in local private clubs. They would bow down and scrape to the country’s dictator Franco but not to an actor.

We Americans had a lot of fun with that. Accredited journalists were in those days flying first class all over the world and sightseeing on Time Inc.’s dime. (Sports Illustrated would not turn a profit for about 13 more years.)

Ernst didn’t say much, just whirled around us clicking and clicking. He left a huge body of work depicting deserts in the Southwest, sky scrapers in New York, pedestrians in Paris, monks in Vietnam, but on this trip, he was out of luck for movie stars.

So Ernst turned his kind eye to me. He never took my picture to my knowledge but he became an encourager, a helper, and a real intimate friend for the brief time we were cavorting around in flamingo nightclubs and trying to write a story. Ernst was just about the sexiest, quietest man I had ever met. And the whole trip was marked by an excursion from reality. I never forgot him.
Monroe by Haas on the set of "The Misfits."
Later, I was so pleased when John Huston’s film, “The Bible” starring Ava Gardner and George C. Scott came out. I don’t know if Ernst Haas got any credit for it but he had photographed the entire beautiful beginning of this film of the Creation, a swirling mass of beautiful clouds and weird rising plumes of color. And this was before Adam and Eve ever appeared. (The discreet semi-nudity of The First Couple was a big deal at the time. Today it wouldn’t raise a fig leaf.)

I love it that Ernst Haas created the Creation and gave me a romantic 10 unforgettable days and nights in Spain and that his work will finally receive its due.

Contact Liz Smith here.