6:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Arts & entertainers. While
the wags are wondering what’s going on in the marriage
of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, the movie
hunk, whose latest movie role is that of Achilles in Troy which
opens next week, is seriously pursuing his avocation of architecture.
Aniston and Brad Pitt
Newspaper out of London reports that Pitt is determined to
serve an informal apprenticeship with Canadian-born, Los Angeles-resident
Frank Gehry who designed the sensational new Disney
Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
Pitt is already
an avid collector of architecture. He and Aniston live in a
beautiful house in Beverly Hills designed and built by
the now legendary architect Wallace Neff in
1936 for another famous film couple of their day, Frederic
March and Florence Eldridge.
It is the same house where the late Carter Burden grew
up and was later the longtime residence of heiress Wallis
Annenberg. Pitt also
owns a classic Craftsman-style house in Los Angeles as well other
hopes to spend “at least a year learning computer-aided
architectural design,” and that his “ultimate ambition
is to design a ‘modernist’ town ‘filled with light’ which
is to include a chair museum.”
Meanwhile, speaking of architectural history and movie hunks – this
also according to the Art Newspaper – Jude
Law will spend the
summer in Derbyshire, England at the country seat of the Dukes
of Devonshire, Chatsworth, filming an adaptation of Evelyn
Revisited. Law will play Sebastian Flyte, the role made famous
in the 1981 series by Anthony Andrews. Sebastian, “whose beauty
is arresting,” and “whose eccentricities know no bounds” is
gay and dissolute (according to the mores of the times – pre-World
That version of Brideshead was filmed at Castle Howard
in Yorkshire, starring Claire Bloom and Sir
Laurence Olivier. The
role of Charles Ryder, Sebastian’s very romantic
school chum who was infatuated but evidently straight (close
but no cigar)
was played by Jeremy Irons and made him a star.
Laurence Olivier with Anthony Andrews and Jeremy
Irons in Brideshead Revisited
of which reminds us, somewhat circuitously, of
an obit which appeared yesterday in the London
(there was also one in the New York Times)
of a man named Tom
Corbally who died here at the age of
83 after a long life living on the wild side.
Mr. Corbally played a decisive role in famous British scandal
known as the Profumo Affair, which brought down the
Minister Harold MacMillan (whose wife was a sister
of the Duke of Devonshire), and which also elevated a couple
very pretty hookers
to the status of Household Words in the early 1960s.
Corbally, a boy from New Jersey where his father was a cop,
had a very adventurous and colorful life, and, some claimed,
for Ian Fleming’s James Bond character.
Whether or not that was so, he was, in fact, a legendary
lover of women, a
few of whom
are still very much on the scene and very much married
to rich and prominent men here in New York and in Europe,
grace the pages of NYSD (as recently as the past couple of days).
Thomas Joseph Corbally, business consultant: born Newark, New Jersey 25 March
1921; three times married; died New York 15 April 2004.
Beyond a shadow of doubt, Thomas Corbally was the American businessman who in
January 1963 tipped off the then American ambassador in London about the Profumo
affair - that unmatched scandal of spies, call-girls and politicians that hastened
the resignation of Harold Macmillan later that year. Almost everything else about
him, however, ranged from the ambiguous to the downright mysterious.
He was a magnetic figure, fond of Savile Row suits, large cigars and beautiful
women, a fixture of the smart set on both sides of the Atlantic. He was said
to look like Jason Robards, with a voice so deep "it made Johnny
like a soprano".
Corbally seemed to know everyone. No one, however, was quite sure exactly what
he did, where his money came from (though he always seemed to have plenty of
it) - even on occasion who he was married to. Was he a spy, a con man or a merely
a superbly connected business consultant? Every rumour added to the aura of exoticism
and intrigue. And that was how he liked it.
The derring-do began early. Even before the United States entered the Second
World War, Corbally left Seton Hall University in New Jersey to join the Royal
Canadian Air Force, where he flew Spitfires in the European theatre. At some
point, he signed up with the new Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner
of the CIA, and thereafter was regularly suspected of working for unnamed intelligence
services. True or not, the combination of glamour and mystery led Nancy
a socialite in southern California and longtime friend, to call him "the
original James Bond".
Elizabeth II with John Profumo
His vague line of business and a wealth of A-list contacts in both Britain and
the US only cemented Corbally's image. In London, he developed a circle of acquaintances
that included the likes of James Goldsmith and the future Lords
Hanson and White.
It was the same story later in the US: Lee Iacocca, Henry Kissinger,
Walters, Rita Hayworth, Heidi Fleiss, Larry Tisch . . . he knew them all, or
people said he did. In that opaque, overlapping world of the international business
consultant, the private investigator and multi-purpose fixer, Corbally was king.
He was also, incontestably, a Lothario. He was married three times (his first
wife, for a few months in 1956, was the US tennis player Gertrude "Gorgeous
Gussie" Moran, whose short dress and lace-trimmed panties created a sensation
at post-war Wimbledon). The extra-curricular conquests seem to have been even
According to Ralph Blumenthal, in his history of the Stork Club
New York, Corbally divided the opposite sex into "girls you slept with and
took to the Copa [the Copacabana night-club], and girls you bought a black dress
for and took to the Stork". The former seem to have been more numerous.
Once a woman approached him at dinner to greet him, but Corbally had no idea
who she was. "I suppose you don't recognise me with my clothes on," she
said sweetly, before moving on.
Almost certainly the pleasures of the flesh led to Corbally's gaining a ringside
seat at the Profumo affair. In an internal FBI report on the scandal, he was
described as a businessman "who reportedly ran sex orgies in his London
apartment" which he rented in Duke Street, Mayfair, with an American friend.
At a party one night a fellow guest noticed that Corbally's knee was hurting
badly, took him aside and, seemingly miraculously, made the pain disappear. The
Good Samaritan proved to be Stephen Ward, the charming society osteopath, supplier
of female company to the well connected, and suspected British (some even murmur
Soviet) agent, who would be the central and ultimately tragic figure in the scandal.
The two evidently hit it off. "He knew a lot of pretty girls and I like
pretty girls ... I entertained a lot and Stephen was around my flat a lot ...
certainly liked him and considered him a friend," Corbally acknowledged
in Honeytrap, the riveting 1987 account of the Profumo affair by Anthony
and Stephen Dorril. Through Ward, Corbally came to know some of his girls, notably
Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, of whom he became a longtime friend.
From Ward, he learned about Keeler's simultaneous liaisons with John
Macmillan's Secretary of State for War, and Yevgeny Ivanov,
the Soviet naval
More tantalisingly still, he might have heard about the exploits of Mariella
Novotny, another of Ward's "pretty girls" who claimed to have
encounters with President John Kennedy immediately before and after his inauguration.
Eventually, Corbally took the bombshell information about the Profumo-Keeler-Ivanov
triangle to David Bruce, the American ambassador. Bruce was a close friend of
Macmillan; possibly, he was the person who first told the Prime Minister of the
Minister Harold MacMillan with JFK
Be that as it may, the interest from across the Atlantic by the FBI was instant
and intense. The bureau opened a file codenamed "Bowtie" into the affair,
and continued to keep the closest eye on events even after the suicide of Ward,
the British establishment's designated scapegoat for the scandal.
In the years that followed, Corbally moved back to New York, working in particular
for the investigative and consulting agency Kroll Associates. His final foray
into the headlines was less fortunate. Corbally fell in with a swindler named
Martin Frankel, who in 2002 pleaded guilty to defrauding insurance companies
of over $200m. As always, he provided introductions and is said to have been
handsomely recompensed for his trouble - an American Express card on which he
spent $112,000 in a single month, a Mercedes 600SL, and $1.5m in a Swiss bank
Somewhat unconvincingly, the supreme man of the world maintained he had no idea
of the scam, and had taken Frankel at his word that he was collecting money for
Catholic charities. But that mystery pales beside the one of three decades earlier,
which Corbally took to the grave.
Was there a Kennedy link to the Profumo affair? The answer may lie in two documents
in the Bowtie file. One contains information provided by Roy Cohn, Corbally's
lawyer at the time and a friend of the FBI's director J. Edgar Hoover. The other
is a 17-page interview with Corbally himself. Both documents have been released
under the Freedom of Information Act - with every single word in them blacked
— Rupert Cornwell in the London Independent
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Ford, Clay Barr and Diana Feldman Spring Shopping
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sampling of Omnipresents
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who has everything.
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