Friday, October 7, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Fiery Friday

"She doesn't have you now and she'll never have you!"
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Fiery Friday: Opals — Not Just for The Incas ... Christina Ricci ... A New Book On The Vanderbilts ... Celebrating Julie Wilson ... The Lovely Manicure and Dysfunctional Credit Cards of Ivana Trump.  

“I SEE you like the color orange.”

“Yes, everything I have is orange.”

“Even your car?”

“Yes, even my car.  It’s bright orange.  See this ring?  It’s a fire opal.  I had a friend who was as crazy about them as I was.”

“Yeah?  I gave a woman a fire opal once. It had flaws in it.”

That was some deeply significant dialogue between Humphrey Bogart and Agnes Moorehead in the (inevitably) convoluted 1947 noir thriller, “Dark Passage.”  (Lauren Bacall, Bogie’s young wife, also starred.)

Without going into too much detail — because there’s too much detail to go into! — Mr. Bogart and Miss Moorehead then engage in a tremendous argument, that ends fatally.  It is one of the great screen scenes of the noir genre and gives Moorehead — a greatly unappreciated dramatic actress — an opportunity to exhibit every emotion; from flirtatious seduction to fear to towering, vengeful rage.  She is spectacular.
The conversation quickly turned from fire opals ...
I was reminded of “the fire opal scene” because I received an enthusiastic press release about the beauty of fire opals the other day.  It gave a bit of history.  The jewel was called “stone of the bird of paradise” by the Mayan and the Incas; and develops the intense color from iron oxide that has seeped into the acids from which opals are created. (Hey, it’s always good to know things — be ready to fill in the gap at a boring dinner!)

In good conscience I suppose I have to mention the jewelers who were being touted — Pamela Huizenga, Katherine Jetter, Katey Brunini and Arunashi Arun Bohra. 
The release was sent by something called which appears situated in Las Vegas. (Well, where else would one wear a lot of fire opals?) and is organized by one Michael Shulman. He appears to be a man of many interests and talents — artist, writer DJ.

Well, thanks Michael, for reminding me of one of the most mind-bending movie scenes ever.  And if I ever decide to drape myself in fire opals, I know where to go!
SOME TIME back we wrote here about re-reading Nancy Milford’s terrific book about Zelda Fitzgerald and how it just screamed for movie treatment.  Then I learned that Amazon was producing a Zelda series, “Z: The Beginning of Everything.” This is based on a novel by Therese Anne Fowler and stars Christina Ricci as Zelda. I believe one episode, the pilot, has aired.

Now I have received a sweet note from novelist Fowler. She says that the first season of the series has completed filming and will air in February. Of her star, Fowler states: “Christina is not only talented, she’s also warm and smart and the consummate pro.  Everyone in the production loves her, and the atmosphere on the set (at least when I visited) was so genuinely positive that I have to believe the results will be great.”
Christina Ricci as Zelda.
Just yesterday we wrote here about Gloria Vanderbilt in the new issue of Q magazine.  Miss Fowler now informs me that her next novel is centered around the Vanderbilts.  “What a fascinating family and time in our country’s history. I’m a few weeks away from finishing the book, which St. Martin’s Press will publish in late ’17 or early ’18.  Anyway, I really enjoy your column.”

Well, Therese, thanks for the compliment, and the scoop!  Please send your first advance copy to me.
Therese Anne Fowler, center, with "Z: The Beginning of Everything" director Tim Blake Nelson and producer Pam Koffler.

ON Saturday, at Theo’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Manhattan, Duke Ellington’s granddaughter Mercedes Ellington, and Alexis Chevalier, Maurice Chevalier’s grand nephew, will meet to announce and discuss their stage collaboration, a musical, “The Lost Generation.”  This is about the friendship between composer/pianist/bandleader Ellington and actor/singer Chevalier in the 1930’s.
Mercedes Ellington and Alexis Chevalier.
Duke Ellington and Maurice Chevalier during Ellington's 70th birthday party in Paris, 1969.
... AT Joe’s Pub in NYC on October 10th, lots of Broadway luminaries gather for “Broadway Sniffs Out Cancer.”  Dogs, as you might know, often have the ability to detect cancer in humans earlier and with greater accuracy than a lot of current testing. All proceeds from this event will go to InSitu Foundation Certification Program, and Medical Detection Dogs, both created for the handling of the disease-alert canines. Call 212-967-7555.
... JULIE WILSON, the late divine chanteuse, often referred to as “The Queen of Cabaret” is to be remembered by her peers on October 30th (She died last year at age 90.)
Julie’s life will be celebrated at the legendary New York venue, Don’t Tell Mama.  Among those speaking and performing will be Julie’s son, Holt McCallany, along with Jonathan Groff, Debbie Damp, Chris Zelno, Lina Koutrakos, Lorinda Lisitza, Sidney Myer, and Julie’s longtime musical director Christopher Denny.  There will also be a sneak peek at a documentary on Miss Wilson — whose career spanned many decades and every medium — produced by her son.  Visit
ABOUT A week ago, I heard this truly terrific, absolutely true story. I had to share.

A good friend of mine goes for a manicure, in the East 60’s. While her nails are being attended to, she becomes aware of Ivana Trump, the first wife of Donald, whose hands are also being beautified.  Ivana was “quite charming and polite.”

Ivana soon extended her hands and commented admiringly: “I like this color.  What is it called?”

The manicurist answered: “We call that color ‘Borders’.”

“Oh,” said Ivana. “Borders.” (pause) “Like in Mexican borders?”

Nobody laughed.

Then Mrs. Trump went to pay.  She submitted a credit card. It didn’t go through. She offered a second.  That, too, failed to pass muster.  A third was offered.  It was NOT the charm!

My friend, who was observing this with a mixture of amusement and alarm, stepped up to the owner and said quietly, “Just put it on my card. I live in the neighborhood.”

Those were the magic words. The third card suddenly registered.  Ivana paid and swept out, as charmingly as she’d swept in.
I WOULDN’T have believed this story, but for the fact that it was told by one of the most completely honest (and non-malicious) people I know.

I myself have not heard from Ivana Trump since she more or less abandoned her attorney, the distinguished Michael Kennedy, her PR man, the popular John Scanlan, and yours truly, who had defended Ivana, after being more or less pulled unwillingly into the mishigas of her separation from Donald. (Truth to tell, once involved, it didn’t hurt me.)  Ivana’s vanishing happened in the middle of her fight for a fair settlement, after she failed to lure her hubby back.  I guess she had no more use for her supporters.

Anyway, Ivana the mother of three Trump children, should live and be well.  And judging by her comment about nail color, she does keep up with her husband’s stated presidential goals — to keep the Mexican borders, uh, well manicured!

Contact Liz here.