Monday, November 14, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Sticky brushes

Robert Wagner and I will get along swimmingly as I quiz him on Wednesday (Nov. 16th) at Lincoln Center where he will also be reading from his latest memoir, I Loved Her in the Movies: Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Monday! (We're Still Alive, Folks) — Robert Wagner ... Warren Beatty ... John Mellencamp ... More "Hedy!" ... "The Trans List" and RIP Leonard Cohen.

“THE BODY of a beautiful woman is not made for love; it is too exquisite,” said the French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Well, at least Henri had his sticky brushes!
Click to order "I Loved Her in the Movies: Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses."
NOW, speaking of beautiful women, and a man who knew many, do try to get yourself over to see a real live movie star in New York City on Wednesday (Nov. 16th) at Lincoln Center.

I do mean none other than actor,  writer, film historian, TV and movie star Robert (R.J.) Wagner who will sit down with our Liz to promote his new book, “I Loved Her in the Movies”.

This "beauty" of a read is subtitled "Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses."  The cover of the book offers us the luscious lips of Lana Turner. (A still from “The Bad and the Beautiful” I believe, although Lanita’s lips were always oh-so-kissable in all her great MGM movies. And in her tumultuous real life, too.)

I’ll be quizzing R.J. in the David Rubenstein Atrium at 61 W 62nd St. No doubt, his wife, Jill St. John, will be there too, at 7.30pm. Try to get yourself invited. You can contact

Good luck!
Robert Wagner and his wife, Jill St. John.
The book stars Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson, Norma Shearer, Loretta Young, Raquel Welch, Natalie Wood, and many more. It was co-written by Scott Eyman and published by Viking. There’ll be a question and answer, and book signing. R.J. Wagner, in person,  giving us a taste of past Hollywood glamour.

Actually, R.J.’s  still pretty glamorous, himself.  So aside from his affectionate reminisces about leading ladies, lovers, wives and those whom he has admired from afar — more or less — we get to see a man who still embodies the kind of male charm and grace few “stars” of today can muster.
R.J. with Barbara Stanwyck.
R.J. with Sophia Loren.
R.J. with Natalie.
R.J. and Jayne.
R.J. and MM.
AND WHILE we have handsome men and beautiful women on the brain, please do read Chris Nashawaty’s Entertainment Weekly interview with Warren Beatty, and a slew of his former co-stars — Lee Grant, Diane Keaton, Charles, Grodin, Gene Hackman, Carol Kane, etc.  This is assuredly the most entertaining piece Beatty has consented to, promoting his “Rules Don’t Apply” movie. It’s full of juicy, amusing observations, from Beatty and pals.
Warren and Natalie.
I liked this, from Warren on reputation: “I don’t understand this playboy bachelor image of me.  I had something like seven years with Julie Christie. I had five with Diane Keaton, two with Natalie Wood.  I had three years with Leslie Caron.  What do you mean exactly? What happens is, fame gives you access. So you’re lucky enough to be exposed to these very admirable women.  I consider it part of my feminism that I felt from having a feminist sister [Shirley MacLaine] and a feminist mother and being attracted to women who were feminists. What a great gift to have access to these friendships.”
Warren and Julie.
Warren and Diane.
Warren and Leslie.
But my favorite Beatty quote is about Hollywood, it’s perfect and real and accurate:  When pitching “Reds” Beatty went to an executive and said “I’m going to make a three-and-half hour movie about a Communist who dies.” And the head of the studio said, ‘Take $30 million, go to Mexico, make a movie for $1 million, keep $29 million for yourself.  Just don’t make this movie!’”

Of course he did make that movie. It was nominated for many Oscars and he won the Academy Award as Best Director.  But, yeah, that’s Hollywood, then and now!
THE FIRST time I became aware of the singer John Mellencamp, it was on MTV.  He was still being forced to perform under the much-hated moniker “John Cougar.”  In the video, he — and a gaggle of motley male and female pals — were performing a song titled “Hurts So Good.”  I wasn’t sure what it was really about, despite the chains and motorcycles and general air of bad behavior.

It was only 1982, and I remember being a little shocked. (Okay, I admit it, I had a clue to what “hurts so good” meant!)
But in time, I stopped clutching my pearls and indeed finally took them off. (Probably two years later, when I attended the first MTV Music Video Awards and watched Madonna emerge from a wedding cake, dressed in ironic white, writhing around onstage, becoming an instant superstar.)

But John finally rid himself of “Cougar” recorded and performed under his own name, Mellencamp, and became a big star, an icon, and a champion of the disenfranchised of middle-America, farmers in particular.

So, on November 10th, at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a special exhibit devoted to Mellencamp will open. 
This will include over one hundred items, many from the singer/artists personal collected.  Among them: Original handwritten lyrics ... his 1966 Silver Honda Scrambler motorcycle ... performance outfits ... six of his original paintings ... the Dove acoustic guitar he used for 20 years ... items relating to one of his most famous and personal songs, “Jack & Diane.”

Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and he is also the co-founder of Farm Aid. He  is always on hand to give voice and aid to troubled, dispossessed farm families.
Mellencamp received this iconic guitar from then-manager Tony DeFries, who had previously managed David Bowie.   Mellencamp wore this leather jacket throughout the 1980s.
He says: "I would like this exhibit to show people that I have honestly spent my entire life living the way that I want to live and doing what I want to do.  And I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world for being able to do that.”  For more info about this show, visit  or call 216-515-1503.
BY THE way, one of John’s fellow inductees to the Hall of Fame in ’08 was Leonard Cohen, who died last week, not unexpectedly at the age of 82.  I want to thank David Remnick who wrote such a fascinating article on Cohen about a month ago in The New Yorker.  The piece was so compelling that I was drawn to investigating his music, of which I was only tangentially aware.  I purchased Cohen’s last album, “Do You Want It Darker” and several older works.  So, thank you Mr. Remnick and RIP Leonard Cohen.  I’m glad I finally found you.
ON NOVEMBER 17th, at New York’s Paley Center for Media (25 West 52nd Street)  there will be a screening of director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders new HBO documentary, “The Trans List.” 

In the vein of his previous films — “The Black List,” “Out List” and “Latino List” — this work features interviews with trans people, telling their stories — struggles, accomplishments, fears, family issues, their thoughts on what the future holds. Among those featured include Janet Mock (who is also a producer on the movie) ... Laverne Cox ... Shane Ortega ... Alok Vaid-Menon ... Amos Mac ... Buck Angel ... Nicole Maines ... Bamby Salcedo ... Kylar Broadus ... Nicole Maines and Caitlyn Jenner. Call 212-621-6600.
MAYBE OUR recent big take on Hedy Lamarr and the off-Broadway show about her had an effect?  “Hedy! The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr”  written and performed by Heather Massie, has been held over again.  The show, at Theater Row (410 West 42nd Street) will be seen “one last time” tomorrow night at 9:p.m. Call 212-239-6200.

Go with her, to ze Casbah!
Contact Liz here.