Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sharing the concern

6:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012. A beautiful, sunny day, yesterday in New York. Not cool but not hot. Perfect. The Upper East Side was summer quiet even early in the evening. Although I went to dinner at Sette Mezzo, and it was packed with many Hamptonites (in for a few days, and then out til Labor Day). In the crowd, I saw Barbara Goldsmith with her grandsons, Marlene and Jim Zirin; George and Mariana Hoffman; Kathy Steinberg with Bette-Ann Gwathmey; Bruce Addison and Michael Foster; and scores more from the nabe.

My friend Beverley Jackson sent me this link to the web site of the Happy Endings Animal Sanctuary out in Santa Ynez. Beverley sent it because we and many others share the concern and love for animals in need as we do for people in need. There are also many animals lovers with whom the animals take preference over other people. That’s a frequently self-taught lesson based on personal experience. I get the point. Although the differences are not altered by the state of need.
Some of the Sanctuary Animals that have a Happy Ending ...
This piece also reminded me of the horses that are used to pull the tourists carriages in Central Park 24/7, weather and business permitting.

Seeing it frequently as I do, it’s easy to see that the horses -- who are often given short shrift by their users – are in hell. Last week, a horse called Oreo, got spooked by traffic and broke loose from its reins on Columbus Circle, turning over the carriage, injuring the passengers, while trying to escape.

I know there are horse-whisperers out there but maybe we could use some people-whisperers to let us in on the situation for these helpless creatures. Manhattan New York City in the year 2012 in the techno-atomic age, is a town under relentless stampede by the horseless carriages and other human vehicles.  The animals know they’re in mortal danger all the time and have every reason to be afraid for their lives. They have brains unlike some people we all know. A lotta some people too. You can help. Visit: http://www.nyclass.org/node/1628

Cobina Wright on the cover of Life magazine in February 1941 
Beverley Jackson also sent me the link because the founder of Happy Endings was an interesting woman who was once, as a young woman, very famous in America, known to all as Cobina Wright Jr. She was the daughter of a New York stockbroker and a highly ambitious mother, who stylized herself as Cobina Wright Sr. Senior had a little girl from a little town in Oregon who started out in life as Esther Ellen Cobb (in 1887 when it was still the Wild West). As a very young woman, she came to New York to pursue an operatic career, married Mr. Wright and morphed into Cobina Wright Sr. 

The Wrights had a daughter, Cobina Junior, born in 1921, who grew up to be a pretty young woman. In 1939, at age 18, Cobina Jr. made her debut in New York. With mother’s chutzpah and daughter’s willingness to please, Cobina Wright Jr. and Brenda Frazier became the most famous debutantes of the decade.

Famous meant popular notoriety, not unlike the Kardashians or the Hiltons get today. Different, but only in terms of style, not in terms of context. Today it is an out-and-out business. Back then it was still masquerading as a Social Position. Besides the whole point of the debutante tradition was to make a match worthy of the Social Register or Burke’s Peerage and the Morgan Bank.

Mother had her eye on that kind of marriage for her daughter. In the summer of 1938, she took Cobina Jr. to Venice where she met the handsome young Prince Philip of Greece at Harry’s Bar. The way Cobina Jr. recounted the story later in life, her mother “practically pushed her into the arms of” Philip.

The two spent a lot of time together for the next three weeks and then both traveled to London where they saw each other “dining and dancing and walking the streets hand in hand.” 

The romance ended when Cobina returned to the States, although the two remained friends for the rest of their lives, he as Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and she as Cobina Wright Jr.

In her debutante year, she was so famous that Bob Hope, who had the top comedy show on radio, hired two women to do parodies of her and Brenda Frazier. The characters on the Hope Show were supposed to be “the ugliest dogs who ever lived,” with the actresses speaking in mocking voices. The Hope girls were popular but Cobina Jr., no doubt pushed by her mother, sued over the insult. Many people agreed with her, as incredible as it would be in our culture seventy years later.

Hope withdrew the characters and even hired Cobina Jr. to be on the show. Frazier was hired too. This led to a Hollywood contract at 20th Century-Fox where she played a string of roles as a debutante.

By that time, Mother Cobina, the senior, had long divorced Mr. Wright, and moved West where she was working as a “Hollywood” columnist for William Randolph Hearst. Senior was very successful as a society hostess in filmdom.

In November 1941, Cobina Jr. married Palmer Beaudette, from a wealthy automotive family in Michigan. Two years later Cobina “retired” from the screen. Mr. Beaudette died after twenty-seven years of marriage, at age 55. The couple had become serious alcoholics, although Cobina had already been in recovery when her husband died. On his death, she learned that her wealthy husband had no wealth to leave her and her children: her husband’s estate reverted to his siblings, leaving her with only the house in Carmel Valley where they lived.

For the rest of her life, Cobina devoted a lot of her time volunteering in programs for recovering alcoholics and served for years on the National Council on Alcoholism. And she founded Happy Endings. Cobina Wright Jr. died last September 1st, two weeks after her 90th birthday. Happy Endings is the legacy of her kindness towards others. For more on Cobina Wright Jr. ...
Cobina Wright (right) with actor George Montgomery and Gloria Vanderbilt. Photo: AP
More Happy Endings. In the spirit of Cobina Wright Jr. and her shelter for the animals, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons held a benefit dinner dance this past weekend in Bridgehampton. Lots more photos on today’s Party Pictures.
Candy Udell with Martin, who is up for adoption. Chuck Scarborough and Steve Schutzer with Donald the dog.
Gale Drucker and a rescue kitten. Another beauty looking for a good home.

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