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LIZ SMITH: Etiquette detail ...

Letitia Baldrige, when she was first lady Jacqueline Kennedy's social secretary.
Still in the dark ... New York Landmarks Conservancy will convene
by Liz Smith
Monday, November 5, 2012

"Don't put your candles near the drapes!" advised Mayor Mike Bloomberg to his many citizens still in the dark in New York.

This Mayor will be forgiven any trespasses by me. But, obviously he didn't get the correct advisory from the late expert Nancy Mitford, long ago, that to use the word "drapes" is non-U. One is supposed to say, disingenuously — "CURTAINS" — even if they are "drapes."

How do I know this etiquette detail? Me, of all people?

Because Letitia Baldrige, who died recently, became such a manners expert back in the day, after she grew well-known as a social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy as well as the White House Chief of Protocol. And if memory serves, she incurred Jackie's wrath and disapproval in the days of Camelot before the JFK assassination.

It was amazing to read all about Miss B. in the story from Billy Norwich offered in Friday's Times.

I was also flattered in reading about her background to find many clips describing this paragon as "a modern feminist in the style of Katherine Graham and Liz Smith." That's high cotton! And undeserved, because I've always known I was a confessed latecomer to the women's movement.

All this silliness
because I am trying to forget for one moment the disastrous aftermath of Sandy, with all its attendant heartache, cost and trouble.

On Thursday of this week, the New York Landmarks Conservancy will convene in the Plaza Hotel Ballroom and we will name prominent New Yorkers and super stars as Living Landmarks. This charity has become a hot ticket this year and is already over the million mark for our good works saving NYC monuments, homes, buildings and other landmarks.

Our new Living Landmarks will be philanthropist John Rosenwald ... super chef Daniel Boulud ... the Empire State building's Peter Malkin ... the Jimmy Nederlander family, which not only has "Annie" opening that same night, but is being celebrated for 100 years in the theater ... the great writer Robert Caro, who is being honored with the Lewis Rudin award ... and the one and only Liza Minnelli!

When the Conservancy honored the songwriters John Kander and the late Fred Ebb as Living Landmarks, Liza was there to sing to them. But she never stood still long enough for us to honor her. Now she will.

Liza with Kander and Ebb at The Landmarks Conservancy's 10th annual Living Landmarks gala.
The nine-time Tony winner Tommy Tune will also be there to help me honor the Nederlanders.

Hollywood's Second Annual LACMA Art & Film Gala is a west coast version of New York's Metropolitan Costume Institute, and it was held as the nor'east coast was suffering through Sandy. Let's just run down who was who and why they were there.

Take for instance the king of La La Land Jack Nicholson! Let's add Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Bryan Lourd, Jane Fonda, Matthew Modine, Willow Bay, Bob Iger, Salma Hayek, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Brian Grazer, Diane Keaton, Cameron Diaz ... and I am exhausted.

And the words that draw them all are just three: Vogue's Anna Wintour. She is Conde Nast's star of stars.

I hope you are as lucky like I am. Many of us have a roof over our heads, electricity, food, water. We escaped the worst on the East Coast. Let's not criticize FEMA, the Red Cross, the governors and mayors and those trying to help. Of course they have not yet really begun to have any good effect. That's why it's called a disaster. Let's contribute, not criticize.

P.S.
My friends and helpers in New Jersey Mary Jo McDonough and Denis Ferrara are both safe, thankfully. But, they have had a tough time.

Contact Liz Smith here.

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© 2013 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com