Monday, August 13, 2012

What's in a picture?

Swifty’s, 8:30 PM, Friday night. Sitting, l. to r.: Jane Powell, Marc Rosen, Arlene Dahl, Anita Jaffe. Standing, l. to r.: Suzanne Mados, David Staller, Simone Levitt, Liliane Montevecchi, Stephen Schaum, Dick Moore, and Donald Stannard. Photo: DPC.
Monday, August 13, 2012. Warm and mostly sunny, sometimes cloudy weekend in New York. Big rains promised and although the areas to the west, south, north and east were drenched and lambasted with high winds, Manhattan had no winds to speak of, and very little rain. But humid.

A lot the social action, which you can get a glimpse of in Debbie Bancroft’s column today, was in the Hamptons. The city was quiet and restful.

Arlene Dahl on the cover of Life, September, 1949.
Friday night I stopped by Swifty’s briefly to get a picture of Arlene Dahl and Marc Rosen and their guests celebrating Arlene’s birthday which was yesterday.

Arlene and Marc live nearby and are frequent diners at Swifty’s. Because this writer is a frequenter of the restaurant, we’ve accidentally got to know each other over the years there.

Like millions of movie fans I’ve been watching Arlene’s career and life since I was a kid. As it is with some of those great stars, she still looks likethe lady on the big screen who made her debut 65 years ago in “Life With Father” in 1947 at age 22.

A little girl from Minneapolis (born Arlene Carol Dahl), her father was a Ford dealer and executive. Although her career in films was mainly during the decade of the 1950s, she made more than 30 films, the last being in 1991.

She also had six husbands along the way including Lex Barker, the “Tarzan” of the movies in the 1950s, and Fernando Lamas, with whom she had a son, Lorenzo Lamas. She is also a practicing astrologer (having married, she likes to say, six of the twelve signs of the zodiac). She and Marc have been married for 28 years (Marc is a Libra) and they have a very successful partnership, often surrounded by many good friends.
Arlene as MGM star.
The guest list: Some of those good friends were at table on Friday night, including another great MGM star Jane Powell who first signed with the studio around the same time that Arlene did. Jane too has had a long successful marriage to (her fifth) Dick Moore who was a famous child actor, known as Dickie Moore, in the movies in the 1930s.  Dick is the man in the grey shirt and tie standing next to Arlene.

In the seven years between 1927, at age two, and 1934, age 9, Dickie Moore appeared in 50 films. In his career that ran through the early 50s, when he was in his mid-20s, he appeared in more than 100 films including several classics, and as a running character in the famous “Our Gang” comedies.

Dick and Jane met for the first time in 1984 when he was writing a book about the experience of being child actors  (the book: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (But Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car”). They married four years later.
Jane Powell.
Dickie Moore as Oliver Twist (1933).
The lady in red, Suzanne Mados is a well-known and popular New Yorker who for many years owned the Hotel Wyndham with her late husband John. Suzanne and John Mados have been very generous philanthropists especially in the field of medicine, medical research and care.

Next to Suzanne is actor/director David Stallings. The lady to the right of him is Simone Levitt. Suzanne’s late husband William Levitt, was virtually the father of American suburbia. His creation, Levittown --  built between 1947 and 1951 in the town of Hempstead in Nassau County (and later in Pennsylvania, New York and Puerto Rico), was the first mass produced suburb in the world, built to accommodate the young men coming home from the Second World War and their families.
The father of modern American suburbia, William J. Levitt in 1954. Photo: Associated Press.
Levittown, NY.
Next to Simone is actress/singer Liliane Montevecchi whose rendition of “Ah Paree” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” is beyond charm and completely addictive. To the right of her is Stephen Schaum, Arlene’s son by Rounsevelle Schaum who preceded Marc on the marriage-go-round. (Arlene’s newlywed daughter Carol Holmes DeLouvrier was not present Friday night).

Standing just behind Dick Moore is David Stannard the jewelry designer whose work accessorized Joan Collins and Linda Evans in Dynasty and, among other places, in the design collections of Kenneth Jay Lane. Collectors know it well and it remains much sought after both commercially and on auction sites.
Liliane Montevecchi. Liliane (bottom right) with Dolores Hart, Carolyn Jones, Jan Shepard, and Elvis in King Creole (1958).
And seated next to David, is Anita Jaffe, a longtime major patron of theatre arts. Anita, who divides her time between New York and Rancho Mirage, is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Actors Fund of America, the Players Club and Broadway Walk of the Stars.  She is also a Patron of The Sundance Institute, MoMa and The Metropolitan Museum. An investor in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, she is also a prominent "angel" to several small regional theatre groups in New York City such as The Irish Repertory Theatre Company, TACT Repertory Company, Gingold Theatre Company, Abingdon Theatre Company, and The York Theatre Company.

Happy Birthday Arlene! This is New York.

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