Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The blur that is

Looking up 1st Avenue from 73rd Street. 3:10 PM. Photo: JH.
April 22, 2009. A damp but rainless Tuesday in New York, followed by more chilly rain late night.

People. Readers of yesterday’s Diary may remember my reference to an L.A. vet named Dr. Kerry Willetts who used to take care of my dogs when I lived out there. Dr. Willetts made house calls, and because of it her fees were a fraction of most vets. Quite serious but quite gentle, she always showed up with her black bag and was very plain speaking about caring for the little ones. A character by metropolitan standards, more like a farm girl, I knew little about her except that she had come recommended to me by Jean Howard who’d found her through Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Jean Howard and her husband Tony Santoro at her Coldwater Canyon hacienda with their two adopted dogs who were "patients" of Dr. Kerry Willetts. Jean, in her late 70s at the time of this photograph, was one of the Hollywood figures of the mid-20th century who were part of the international social set. Tony was her second husband, about twenty years her junior, whom she met on Capri where she visited Mona von Bismarck and he played guitar in a small cafe.
I learned yesterday from more than one reader that, alas, the very youthful (not young but…) Dr. Willetts died three years ago -- in her eighties -- and was working almost right up to her final days. I was surprised by her age. She wasn’t a kid but she was very youthful in bearing. She was, I also learned, highly regarded in the veterinary world and written about in magazines to the profession.

Canadian by birth, she went to veterinary school at Cornell. Born Janet Willetts, she changed her name at college to Kerry because in those days (the 1940s) women were not regarded by the men as likely candidates for veterinary. For example, papers written by women often went unread, unmarked and even thrown away. The gender obscure name Kerry got around that. Not one to let anyone stop her good and committed intentions.

I recall in retrospect that Dr. Willetts had a lot of celebrity clients. One of the pieces I read said that she set up business in Los Angeles with her sister because she liked the climate and she also liked actors. Although there was nothing actor-y or pretentious about her. Plain-dressing – always in cuffed-up dungarees, sneakers, white shirt and a jean jacket, she was the opposite of anything show-business. Furthermore on weekends she liked racing stock-cars someplace outside L.A. The mere image of that always confounded and astounded me. I tried to picture Mrs. Clampit racing stock cars. So what seemed like a calm, cool, collected farm girl who loved animals also liked the thrill of the speed and the race – right up into her late 70s – as well as a fondness for clients in the movie industry.

More than one thoughtful NSYD reader sent a link to the Journal of the American Medical Veterinary Association about Dr. Willetts. Her biography is as straightforward and affecting as was the doctor herself.
Clockwise from bottom left: Tony Manning, Pia Lindstrom, Lord Charles, Joan Benny, Jim Mitchell, Michel Entratter (out of view), Laura Montalban, and Maria Cooper Janis (hat)
People and more People, and more Hollywood too. Less than six degrees of separation. Jim Mitchell hosted a luncheon the other day at Primola, that fabulous and fabulously popular restaurant on Second Avenue (between 64th and 65th Street) for some daughters of “Hollywood royalty” and sent along some pictures (which look like the camera had a hiccup) with an “I wish you were here.” He knows I love Hollywood history and lore.

Joan Benny, daughter of Jack Benny and Mary Livingston, Laura Montalban, daughter of Ricardo and Georgianna Montalban, (as well as niece of Loretta Young and Sally Blaine), Pia Lindstrom, daughter of Ingrid Bergman, Maria Cooper Janis, daughter of Gary Cooper; Michel Walkoff, daughter of Jack Entratter, a legendary hotel man and casino owner who pioneered Las Vegas and built the Sands. The gents in attendance were Jim, Tony Manning, and Lord Charles Spencer Churchill whose eldest sister Lady Sarah became a great friend of mine when I lived out there.
Jim Mitchell Charles Churchill and Laura Montalban
If anyone could have got them onto the topic of Growing up In Hollywood (and I’m sure I could have), this would have been a fascinating conversation for die-hard movie fans/historians. It’s like homecoming week when these kids get together anyway. They grew up in what was essentially a small town, different (exceedingly) only in that its international image exuded glamour and many of its denizens were world famous.

These girls grew up in a town that was also like many others. Except everyone knew it was a special place in the world (and would be for the greater part of the 20th century). The Dream Factory. Their families all knew or knew of each other, and in many cases knew each other very well. Hollywood was private, but not a community of high tech security and obscured addresses hiding from the madding crowd or the paparazzi. If you rang Jack Benny’s doorbell, and he was home, Jack Benny would answer the door. Maria Cooper and Pia Lindstrom were childhood schoolmates. Laura Montalban’s cousin Judy Lewis (Loretta Young’s daughter) was sired by Clark Gable whom her mother never married (although her paternity was an open secret for decades thereafter).
Michele Walkoff and Maria Cooper Janis Laura Montalban and Joan Benny
Last night in New York. First stop: the W.M. Brady & Company art gallery at 22 East 80th (between Fifth and Madison) for the opening of an exhibition of “Tibet; Pastels and Drawings by Tim Lovejoy.”

The gallery rooms were packed, as they always are for Tim’s openings. A long list of friends and clientele love and collect his art made on his travels around the world. The exhibit continues through May 6. Gallery is open Monday thru Friday from 10 to 6 and Saturday by appointment. A portion of the sales from this exhibition will benefit Tibet House US.
Inset: Tim Lovejoy standing before one of his paintings on exhibition, last night at the W. M. Brady Gallery on 22 East 80th Street.
From Tim Lovejoy it was a long crawl (at 7 pm) down Fifth Avenue to the Forbes Building for the cocktail reception for the benefit opening of Judy Price’s National Jewelry Institute’s exhibition entitled Time and the Jeweler’s Art at the Forbes Galleries.
The room set for dinner.
Valentino Timeless. Vincent Bérard.
Van Cleef & Arpels.
Tiffany & Co.
Van Cleef & Arpels. Patek Philippe.
Harry Winston.
Harry Winston. Timex.
H. Stern.
As I approached, Judy was talking to Kenny Lane and Amy Fine Collins and Kenny pulled a small gold fish on a chain out of his pocket. It was small women’s cigarette lighter that had belonged to Diana Vreeland, designed (and signed) by Schlumberger.

He was donating it to the National Jewelry Institute. There you see Kenny demonstrating its faux-ingestibility before Mrs. Price and Ms. Collins. The exhibition (with some of the highlights pictured above) runs from April 25th through June 27th.
Kenny Lane, Judy Price, and Amy Fine Collins
Juno and Avanti Madon Rosalind Jacobs Christopher Mason, Michele Gerber Klein, and Charlie Scheips
Hilary Geary Ross and Christopher Mason Kenny Lane, Amy Fine Collins, and Charlie Scheips
Sarah Wolfe, Kip Forbes, and Louis Wolfe Michele Gerber Klein and Karen Stone Talwar
Maryam Ansary and Judy Price Reza Raein, Maryam Ansary, and Peter Price
New York is people. I grabbed at cab in front of the Forbes building and returned uptown to the University Club on 54th and Fifth for “Art of Packaging Gala” hosted by Dr. Thomas Schutte, the president of Pratt Institute, and Nathalie Grosdidier, General Director of Luxe Pack. I was invited by Marc Rosen who is a Pratt alumn as well as a teacher and big supporter.

The evening was benefiting its “Marc Rosen Scholarship for Graduate Packaging Design.” Dr. Schuttle also announced that in honor of Marc the school was creating its first “Chair” in his name.

Marc Rosen, if you didn’t already know, is a major name in the multi-billion dollar fragrance and cosmetic industry as a leading designer of packaging. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of his course (limited to ten students per semester) that he teaches on the art of design packaging, and he is hailed for extending the art through teaching.
This year's winners of Marc Rosen's class design project at Pratt: Jin Ryu, Danielle Burr, Libardo Molina, Christine Yoon, and Marc Rosen.
The prize winning design projects which included naming a fragrance, creating a bottle for it, designing and advertising/promotional package and the product packaging. Above: Christine Yoon's "Famous."
Jin Ryu's "Becoming."
Daniella Burr's "Infidele."
Libardo Molina's "Entice."
Coincidentally there was some Hollywood royalty there too as Arlene Dahl is Mrs. Marc Rosen and one of the guests at Arlene’s table was her son Lorenzo Lamas.

The fragrance and cosmetic industry (which includes design and packaging) is another glamour marketed business with huge lnfluence.

This dinner (which was black tie) brought out the high honchos in the business, and when they get together they often talk about its stars, its legends, its tycoons and celebrities. And, as it is with the financial industry, the fashion industry, the advertising and media industries, New York is the center of this world, drawing the greatest talents to its schools and its businesses.
The dining room last night at the University Club.
Alex Donner entertaining.
It was a great night in the amazing stately dining room of the University Club, the great Charles McKim, William Mead and Stanford White designed building on the corner of 54th Street and Fifth Avenue. It’s a great monument to the Gilded Age in New York (erected in 1899), and one is aware that the history of New York is continuing to move through its portals daily.
Lorenzo Lamas and Arlene Dahl Katherine Oliver, Diana Williams, Marc Rosen, and Kate Levin
Mr. and Mrs. Alex Donner Arlene Dahl and Marc Rosen Carole Holmes McCarthy
Past Drama League honorees Cheyenne Jackson, Rosie Perez and Bobby Cannavale got up early yesterday (10 AM is early by Broadway standards) and headed over to Sardi’s for breakfast to present the nominations for the Drama League. For the second consecutive year, the nominations were viewed live on the internet, via an exclusive webcast hosted by and

Jano Herbosch, the Drama League's President; Gabriel Shanks, Executive Director, along with a major Broadway dais will be hosting The 75th Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on Friday, May 15, 2009 (noon) in the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. The event will be co-hosted by Jeremy Irons and Cynthia Nixon. This year’s special recognitions go to Sir Elton John who will be flying in for the luncheon, Arthur Laurents, Angela Lansbury and Broadway producer Herb Blodgett. For tickets for the 75th Annual drama League Awards, call 212-244-0494 ext. 5 or visit
Jano Herbosch, President of The Drama League (Photos: Ann Watt).
Cheyenne Jackson, Rosie Perez, and Bobby Cannavale
From our Calendar this Friday: Yoga and Organic Wine: A Divine Pair. The guy in the Saks window (one Sunday last February) is Jordan Mallah, a yogi (my choice of words) who teaches hatha yoga at Pure Yoga and in private classes. I half know what I’m talking about when I mention those words but coincidentally I had been thinking about getting someone to write about yoga as a Guest Diary.

I am semi-in awe of one having the ability to bend a body around like that. By which I mean, I know that it’s good for clearing out your brain and cleaning up your act. I’d done some of it years ago. Mind you, I’m not at the practice what I preach stage however. Although there are days when I feel like I can’t even sit up straight, let alone stand.
Many New Yorkers are living under stress these days, however, no matter what they tell you. I asked Jordan Mallah what he thought about this and I also learned something about the man. He’s Long Island born and bred, graduated from college with an MBA, then went to work as a corporate consultant with a global management consulting firm.

From MBA to the Peace Corps in Peru: he went to work with primary focus on helping indigenous Andean villagers curb their rate of malnutrition by creating sustainable community, bio-intensive gardens.

You getting the picture? The picture I get is that he is one of those people whose capacity for living well is operating fully, and that includes traveling the world and learning. Oh, he’s a vegetarian.
Now his focus is on helping people heal their minds and bodies. He is on some level of consciousness in the business of healing minds and bodies. A lot of clients come to him with stress from work and business (and physical ailments) that include serious chronic pain. Jordan says that after a few sessions people find themselves freed.

I was telling him I think it’s about the time we’re in. He said, “we down to the basics: Yoga or Prada, take your pick.” That’s clarity.
Which brings us to the calendar item. This Friday night Jordan and sommelier Owen Kotler are hosting an evening of “Yoga and Organic Wine: A Divine Pair”at Pure Yoga on 203 East 86th Street at Third Avenue. From 8 to 10:30. Newcomers (“People of all levels and ability of yoga and wine are“) welcome. $65.

“Step into the flow and enjoy an unforgettable evening of yoga and wine tasting, featuring organic and bio-dynamic wines,” it says on the calendar listing. “Become more attuned to all of your senses through a powerful flowing yoga practice followed by a fun and exploratory wine tasting.

“Relieve stress, take a much needed break, and learn how to integrate the gift of yoga to experience the fullness of your own consciousness. Explore the palate, where the mind and heart connect, and learn how to age as gracefully as a fine wine!” To register for Yoga and Wine, call 212.360.1888.

This is New York.
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