Goin' to the movies ...

Milly de Cabrol

Carla Gugino, Jason Blum, and Samantha Mathis
Camille and Kelsey Grammer

Tatiana and Campion Platt

There are Hamptons parties every weekend throughout the busy summer, but the most star-studded and happening may have been the one hosted by Andrew Saffir’s Cinema Society, for The Night Listener, which started with a screening, and ended up with s’mores on the beach and a celebrity midnight swim.

The Night Listener is based on the novel by Armistead Maupin, a fascinating and true mystery/thriller (recently profiled on 20/20) about a radio show host who develops a relationship over the telephone with a sick 14-year old boy and his mother (played brilliantly by Toni Collette).

Toni Collette & the film’s director Patrick Stettner joined a crowd of Hamptons movers and shakers for the screening , done in partnership with The Hamptons Film Festival and the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition.

Patrick Stettner

Following the screening which had everyone on the edge of their seat, le tout Hamptons headed to the oceanfront estate of Judy Licht and Jerry Della Femina for a glamorous and decadent dinner around the pool and on the beach.

Among those entranced with the film, and the chic supper which followed, were Heather Graham, Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky, Donna Karan, Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman, Kelsey and Camille Grammer, Ali Wentworth, Liya Kibede, Carol Alt, Ione Skye, John Heard, Tory Burch, Rachel Zoe, Elizabeth Saltzman, Dana Delany, Christopher McDonald, Xander Berkeley, Carla Gugino, Mercedes Ruehl, Kelly Bensimon, Milly de Cabrol, Anh Duong, Bob Balaban, Samantha Mathis, Inside the Actors Studio’s James Lipton, Fred Schneider (B-52’s), Marjorie Gubelmann Raein, Daniel Benedict, Olivia Chantecaille, Reed and Delphine Krakoff, Campion and Tatiana Platt, Marty Richards, Alfred and Judy Taubman, Bettina Zilkha, Ann Jones, Fern Mallis, Jessie Della Femina, Peter Davis, Christian Leone, Ivan Bart, Caroline Hirsch, Jeffrey and Fiona Slonim, Patty Raynes, Euan Rellie, Fabiola Beracasa, R. Couri Hay, Morris and Jaci Reid, Gabby Karan, producer Jeffrey Sharp, the Wall Street Journal’s Rich Zinnino, Judy Barry, and Andrea Norlander and Miramax President Daniel Battsek.

The dinner (fried chicken, corn, and meatloaf, served with blueberry mojitos) was done by Serena Bass Catering, and Antony Todd did the décor. Following dinner, everyone headed down to the beach for s’mores and a roaring bonfire, before a few guests (Toni Collette included) went for a raucous swim in the pool as the evening wound down. It was truly a Hamptons night to remember.

Daniel Battsek, Georgina Chapman, and Harvey Weinstein

Jerry Della Femina, Judy Licht, and Bob Balaban

Donna Karan, Christopher McDonald, and Dana Delany

Richard Zannino, Toni Collette, and Judy Barry

Reed Krakoff and Delphine Krakoff

Kelly Killoren Bensimon and Nicholas Stefanov
Fred Schneider

Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky

J.T. Della Femina and Jessie Della Femina

Gabby Karan De Felice and Fabiola Beracasa

Tory Burch, Christian Leone, and Marjorie Gubelmann Raein

Christian Leone, Ione Skye, Peter Davis, and Andrew Saffir

Dr. Douglas Steinbrech and Daniel Benedict

Alexandra Wentworth

Anh Duong
Liya Kebede

Ann Dexter-Jones

Rachel Zoe

Patty Raynes

L. to r.: Olivia Chantecaille and Chris Ford; Marty Richards and Andrew Saffir; Elizabeth Saltzman Walker.

Heather Graham

Toni Collette
Douglas Steinbrech and Jeffrey Sharp

Judy Taubman

The new film “Hollywoodland” was screened pre-release the other night in Southampton with a dinner afterwards at Savanna’s.

The official press release describes the film thusly:

An exploration of fame and identity, inspired by one of Hollywood's most infamous real-life mysteries. The drama follows a 1950s private detective, who, while investigating the mysterious death of "Superman" star George Reeves, uncovers unexpected connections to his own life, as the case turns more personal. The torrid affair Reeves had with the wife of a studio executive might hold the key to the truth.

George Reeves was never a big star in the Hollywood scheme of things. Even “The Adventures of Superman” the television show was a low-budget venture that ran during off-network hours (and had show business legs like no one would have imagined). Reeves was already past his prime as a potential “movie star” (which usually begins somewhere in one’s twenties, if not before). He was in his mid-thirties when he took on cartoon character role. His most famous role before the Superman series was a small part in “Gone With the Wind.” Superman started out just another job for an actor keeping the wolves from the door. But it turned into a bonanza.

George Reeves’ death occurred at the end of the era when the Studios controlled the town. Suspicious deaths, such as Jean Harlow’s husband Paul Bern, were automatically covered up, with the police department and the D.A. participating with alacrity was the way it was done. The head of publicity at MGM was a man named Howard Strickling who started with the studio in its early days. Mr. Strickling who had the reputation for being a level-headed, classy guy and the perfect lieutenant, handled all crises that might hurt the assets and the product. He was often the first one on the scene and the last to leave. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. And everyone knew that what he knew he’d take to his grave. Which he did.

It was in that atmosphere that George Reeves came to his untimely end. Eddie Mannix, who played a key role in Reeves career and life (and death) was the man Howard Strickling reported to when necessary. There was more than suspicion especially amongst Reeves’ co-workers and fellow actors about the “suicide” but that didn’t matter.

“Everybody at the studio knew you could get someone knocked off for a hundred and a half,” one of the original cast members told me about twenty years ago at luncheon party in Los Angeles. “So nobody talked about it. They knew it could happen to them.” She faked a perfect frisson when she made that last remark. Story continues below ...

 

Arthur Ward and Christina Stewart Ward

Anne Eisenhower and Adriana Echavarria
Bettina Zilkha, Debbie Bancroft, and Tiffany Dubin

Barbara Goldsmith

Caroline Berthet

Dina Biblarz

Christina and Arianna Huffington

Dominick Dunne and Barbara Walters

Frank DiGiacomo, Sofia DiGiacomo, and Steven Gaines

John Barrett and Laurie Ogle

Jackie Astier and Caroline Berthet

Joanie McDonell

Emma Pilkington and Cristina Greeven Cuomo

Marie-Josée Kravis and Henry Kravis

James and Kedakai Lipton

Peggy Siegal and Annette Siegal

Liz and Gerry Byrne

Delfina Blaquier, Nacho Figueras, and Cornelia Guest

Susan Lane, Bob Lane, Amanda Joseph, and Robin Joseph

Peter Davis and Christian Leone

Neil Hirsch and Angela York

Adrien Brody and Paul Bernbaum

Calvin Klein, Cornelia Guest, Claudia Cohen, and Bob Colacello

Steven and Heather Mnuchin with Mark Gilbertson

Jackie Rogers

John Glass, Nina Griscom, and Leonel Piraino

Steven Stolman and Gillian Miniter

Daniel Urzedo and Dan Ragone

Cornelia Guest and Calvin Klein

Dominick Dunne and Diane Lane

Burt and Roberta Amon

Jeffrey Sachs and Ken Sunshine

Ken Sunshine, Jessica Hollander Sunshine, and Nancy Hollander

Meagan Terry, Deborah Halpert, Donnie Markowitz, and Karen Corbett

Kevin Fisher, Marty Richards, David Deus, and Graham Veysey

Judy Taubman and Mark Gilbertson

Marlene Hess and Jim Zirin

Sunny Knickel and George Isham

Sylvia Plachy and Michael Musto

Todd Goergen, Cristina Greeven Cuomo, and Roger Waters

Glenn Williamson, Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Paul Bernbaum, and Allen Coulter

Chad Colton and Robert Wilson

Toni Mannix and the Death of Superman

When I lived in Los Angeles I had the good luck to meet a lot of individuals who had substantial careers in the film business, particularly in that time that is now known as the Golden Age of Movies, when the studios were dream factories and fiefdoms. These were all very talented people, bright, even brilliant, and — as it often is with people in show business — full of fascinating tales about the characters who light up the Passing Parade.

"The Adventures of Superman" the comic strip came to television in the 1950s with an actor named George Reeves in the title role. Reeves was a good-looking, clean-cut, dark-haired man, handsome yet ordinary looking: the perfect everyman. His singular successor, Chris Reeve, in the movies, was very much an updated version of those looks.

The television series was very popular and more than forty years later is still remembered with fondness. It might have had a longer run than it did had Reeves not died suddenly, from "suicide by gunshot" according to the papers, right at what was the peak of his career.

George Reeves as Superman

The tragedy was never explained in the press: why would an actor with a good gig going, an actor who'd literally struggled for years, with so-so parts in dozens of pictures (including a small part in Gone With the Wind), kill himself?

George Reeves had struggled along in Hollywood, as just another pretty face not-quite leading man for more than a decade when he met a woman who had the power to change his life. Her name was Toni Mannix. Toni Mannix was the wife of Eddie Mannix, the number two man at Metro, the man who was the eyes and ears for Nick Schenck, the head of Loew's (which owned Metro) back in New York. Eddie Mannix, in a way, had more power than the number one man at the studio, Louis B. Mayer, because he was watching everybody, including Mr. Mayer. Mr. Mayer, incidentally, knew this better than anyone else, and behaved accordingly. Although, in fact, at the time of this story, which I am about to tell, after more than twenty-five years, Mr. Mayer's days as head of the studio were very numbered. But not Eddie Mannix'.

Eddie Mannix had come up through the school of hard knocks. He started out his professional life as a bouncer at Palisades Park over in Jersey, working for the Schenck brothers, Nick and Joe who later make their fortunes in the picture business.

Eddie was your basic tough guy, with a thick set of knuckles to deliver the harsher messages to anyone who stepped out of line. A dees dems and dose mug who also had an eye for the ladies, even though he was married, to a real pretty Irish girl from New York.

The eye for the ladies is important to this story because, once he was living out in Hollywood and pulling down a big salary at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Eddie Mannix’ "eye" got him in some real trouble. There was the incident when he had a showgirl up to his apartment one night for a nightcap. The next day they found Eddie passed out on his bed, and the showgirl on the floor. Dead. And she just happened to also have his semen in her mouth. The press said it was suicide. Which, no doubt, it was; one way or the other.

This was a real squeezer for Eddie Mannix, especially with his real blonde Irish wife. She didn't like it, one damned bit. She hoped it would teach him a lesson. But it didn't.

On another trip back East to visit the home office, Eddie took up with another showgirl. Her name was Legs Lannear. One thing led to another and the two started seeing more and more of each other. One day Legs, who was looking to go legit, changed her named to Toni. And after going around with Mr. Mannix for awhile, she got into the habit of telling people that she had become Mrs. Mannix.

When the real Mrs. Mannix got wind of this, she was so angry, she went straight to the lawyers, got herself a nice settlement, a divorce, and moved to Palm Springs.

Toni and Eddie still didn't marry. Although they now lived together as man and wife. Married or not, he couldn't get rid of her because she had "too much on him," particularly the business about the girl on the floor in the apartment.

Eventually, however, Toni tired of Eddie, or vice versa. And without changing any of her living arrangements, she took up with George Reeves, whose career just happened to be at a nadir.

George Reeves as Superman

Toni took a real liking to George. Unlike Eddie, George was a real good-looking guy. Her type of man. She liked him so much, she bought him a house up in Benedict Canyon, and began to help him out with his career. And then came the "Superman" series.

Eddie Mannix knew all about George Reeves and Toni. He approved of it; it got her off his back. A friend of theirs remembers being over at the Mannix house in Beverly Hills one morning when Eddie was sitting in the kitchen in his robe and pajamas eating his breakfast, and all of a sudden, without knocking or ringing the doorbell, George came bounding in the backdoor, said hello to Eddie, Eddie hello to him, and went straight for the refrigerator where he helped himself to a glass of milk.

"That was how familiar everyone was with each other," the friend recalled.

"The Adventures of Superman" finally put George Reeves' career on the map. The work schedule was heavy. They'd shoot twenty-six episodes in thirteen weeks. Toni would go down to the studio to have lunch with George. One day they asked "Lois Lane" and "Jimmy Olsen" to join them. The conversation got onto "age" and "shape." Toni told Jimmy that she was in such great shape that she didn't need to wear a bra. To demonstrate her point, she took Jimmy's hand and put it inside her blouse, on her chest, so that he could tell "firsthand."

"That," said a friend who related the story, "was Toni. Obsessed with the physical and herself."

After a year, the "Superman" series was getting so popular, the producers started sending George out on publicity tours all over the country. Everyone knew that George was "Toni's guy," but not everyone, especially Toni, knew that George also had an eye for the broads. Just like Eddie Mannix. On one tour, in Florida, he met a woman named Lenore Lemmon — also well known in New York for being a showgirl. George fell in love with Lenore Lemmon, and in short time, asked her to marry him. She said yes.

When he got back to California, he broke the news to Toni. She was shattered, but not the type to show it. So George thought everything was fine. He was free at last. George was as naive as Clark Kent looks. Toni was outraged. Had he really forgotten whence all blessings came? Maybe, but she hadn’t.

So outraged was she that she had other plans for George's career. A major career move. In those days, there was a heavy Mafia influence at certain studios, and it was well known around the M-G-M lot that you could get someone to murder for "a hundred and a half."

Toni Mannix knew.

"The guy just went over to George's house, and into his room, and shot him in the head and put the gun in his hand." Word got out that it was "suicide," and because M-G-M and Eddie Mannix were still powerful, and so that was how it was told to the papers. Hell hath no fury.

Eddie Mannix died about ten years later. Some said that Toni Mannix killed him too. The rumor that went around was that she poisoned him. True or not, on his deathbed, she married him and inherited everything. She lived for a number of years after that in the house they shared where George used to come in through the kitchen door while Eddie was having his breakfast.

When she was in her seventies, Toni Mannix deeded her entire estate over to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, and moved into one of the special suites the hospital used to keep for VIPs. There she lived out the rest of her days reminiscing about George and watching his old films and TV shows. "George Reeves," Toni Mannix always used to tell her visitors, "was one hell of a good-looking guy."


Copyright David Patrick Columbia 1994

Alicia Sixtos, Ellie Del Pino, and Emily Rios

Danna Garcia and Zoe Saldana
Brian Magallones and Danna Garcia

Maybelline NY and Garnier hosted an after-party at Crobar to celebrate the seventh annual 2006 New York International Latino Film Festival, a celebration of Latino film and community.

Jaid Barrymore, James Garbus, and Inernational P.

Paula DeAnda
Johnny Chavez, Emily Rios, and Jesse Garcia

Photographs by ©Patrick McMullan (Hollywoodland); Chance Yeh/©Patrick McMullan (Latino).



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