Tuesday, February 16, 2016

LIZ SMITH: It Was A Very Good Year

Batman's pilot episode, "Hi Diddle Riddle," first broadcast on January 12, 1966.
by Liz Smith

1966 — It Was a Very Good year For Frank Sinatra and His Daughter, Nancy. (Then came Mia — eh, the good times can't last forever) ... Harvey Weinstein Helps Raise $2 million for AmFAR ... David Bowie, The Comic Book ... We Digest The Kardashian Architecture ... Palm Beach — Alligators and Socialites and Royalty, Oh, My!

"TIME PASSES,
irrevocably," said that noble old Roman, Virgil.

Dear Virgil — always stating the obvious.
IT'S BEEN a year of pop culture 50th anniversaries — 50 years since the Batman TV series debuted ... 50 years since The Monkees were sprung on us ... 50 years back go-go boots, made their debut. (My colleague Mary Jo McDonough desperately wanted a pair, but her strict Catholic mother forbade them — "Trampy! Like a hoodlum's girlfriend!" Mary Jo didn't think this was the worst thing that could happen to her.)
Adam West as Bruce Wayne in Batman.
The Monkees are born.
The go-go craze.
And it was 50 years ago that Frank and Nancy Sinatra had one of their biggest 12 months ever.
Frank and Nancy Sinatra, 1966.
Frank released four classic albums, "That's Life," "Strangers In The Night," "Moonlight Sinatra" and "Sinatra at the Sands (With Count Basie.)" "Strangers in the Night" was Frank's first No 1 Billboard-charting single (the second arriving a year later, singing "Something Stupid" with Nancy.) Another of Frank's signature songs, "The Summer Wind" came from the "Strangers" album. The "Sands" disc, recorded live, remains Frank's one of his bestsellers, ever.
As for Nancy, she also put out four popular albums within that time frame — "Boots," "How Does That Grab You?", "Nancy In London" and "Sugar" which spawned another hit, "Sugar Town" and famously put her on the album cover in a pink bikini. The cover was banned in Boston. Or for safety's sake,wrapped in plain, un-sexy brown paper. (I asked Nancy not long ago, how she felt about looking at the many provocative photos she posed for back in the day? She laughed and said: "Well, I'd love to look like that again, but I can't. However, I appreciate the fact that I did look like that. Brings back happy memories."
Also, 1966 was the year Esquire published its epic story by Gay Talese, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold."

The cover to Gay Talese's profile.
This peek behind The Voice (who was more or less voiceless at that moment) is still regarded as one of the greatest articles in Esquire's history.

Frank and his talented daughter — she was one of the real forerunners as a tough, hot chick pop-star, an image followed by many others, including, one way or another, Debbie Harry, Madonna, Joan Jett, etc. — would have more good years, but this one almost stands alone in it productivity.

It also stands, less gloriously, as the year Frank Sinatra married Mia Farrow. Those two, as it turned out, really were, "strangers in the night." (There is a great section in the new book The Swans of Fifth Avenue that imagines what's going on in Frank Sinatra's head, attending Truman Capote's famous Black and White Ball in New York, accompanied by Mia. Hilarious, and probably as true as one could be, without actually being inside Sinatra's complex head!)
OH, More on The Monkees reunion. Not only will Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork tour for five months across the U.S., but the boys will release their first album in more than ten years, "Good Times!" At last word, Mike Nesmith, still a bit of a curmudgeon, won't join in. However, there will plenty of video clips honoring the late Davy Jones, however.
THE STARS came out last week to honor Harvey Weinstein at the annual Manhattan AmFAR gala. The Harry Winston hosted event raised over $2 million for education, awareness and medical treatments for a disease that — despite great inroads — is far from over.

Uma Thurman in her opening remarks of the night, said: "If the conquest of AIDS requires people who can move mountains, we should all be grateful that Harvey Weinstein is on our side."
Uma, Harvey, and Jay Z.
STORM ENTERTAINMENT is publishing a new, deluxe comic book, devoted to the late David Bowie. It is titled, "Tribute: David Bowie" and will be available in print and digital versions. Written by Mike Lynch and Michael L. Frizell, there is art by George Amaru and Vincenzo Sansone.

Storm's president, Darren G. Davis says: I hope readers come away with not simply a sense of the richness of his life, or his 'multiple personas' but how he influenced practically every artist that came after; regardless of genre."

And gender, too, I would say!
I HAVE not yet read the Architectural Digest issue featuring Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian on the cover. But if these two monumentally structured young women belong anywhere, it's on the cover of Architectural Digest!
The "big" party happens when John Hendrickson throws a 90th birthday fete for his wife, Marylou Whitney later this month.
PALM BEACH is awash with celebrities and parties and sun-baked what-not.

Jean-Charles de Ravenel (artist, and a "real" Count) his wife Jackie and their jewelry designer daughter Rebecca are in PB for an exhibition of Jean Charles' collage work ... Marquessa Barbara San Damian has arrived from Marbella (must be off-season in Spain) ... Hutton Wilkinson is around, talking up his new book, "The Walk to Elsie's." This is about decorators Tony Duquette and Elsie de Wolfe, also known as Lady Mendl. It's being made into a PBS series. Think of the interiors! ... The "big" party — the one everybody who is anybody or wants to be anybody or knows anybody who might be somebody — covets, is John Hendrickson's lavish 90th birthday fete for his wife, Marylou Whitney. It happens at the Everglades Club on February 27. Alligators will be kept discreetly at bay ... There is also the black-tie Preservation Ball at The Breakers on March 4th — one of THE most important events of the PB winter season. I've never quite been sure exactly what is being "preserved." I have an idea, but why be bitchy? ... Texas oil man John Terwilliger slid in, as did Countess Christina de Caraman. She was once married to international writer/gadfly Taki Theodoracopulos. That's gotta count for something! Right?
Taki in 1982. Va-va-voom!
WE TOOK the day off yesterday, Presidents' Day. I was tempted to write something inspiring about presidents, you know, some of our great ones. Then I got to thinking about the nature of the presidency and politics and how presidents become presidents, and how do we gauge a truly great one? (They certainly all had their flaws.) How to cut through the myth and propaganda? Then I thought about what's likely ahead for us, president-wise. Darkness fell.

I decided to stay at home and read a fabulous new book on Gore Vidal. A man whose voice and fury — sometimes intemperate, always brilliant — we sure could use now.

Liz Smith is still recuperating. Denis Ferrara is still pinch-hitting.

Contact Liz here.