Thursday, July 7, 2016

Birthday stories

All is quiet on Park Avenue. 11:00 AM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, July 7, 2016. Very warm, yesterday in New York with temperatures reaching mid-90s along with humidity. But not as bad as it sounds. We’ve been very lucky with our summer weather so far.

I went to lunch with Brooke Hayward who celebrated her 79th on Tuesday. Brooke lives in Litchfield County, and quite happily after years in the city, but she still comes to town every few weeks for the dentist and the doc and an occasional lunch at Michael’s.
DPC and Brooke Hayward Duchin at Michael's.
Brooke's Birthday sorbet.
The birthday girl blowing out her candle. The lady with the lavendar scarf across the room under the Hockney is the great lady of song Judy Collins.
Brooke was born in 1937, the daughter of Margaret Sullavan, star of the Broadway stage and movies. Sullvan married four times – to director William Wyler, actor Henry Fonda, agent/producer Leland Hayward and lastly to actor Kenneth Wagg. Brooke’s father, Leland Hayward had married four times (including twice to the first wife, Lola Gibb); then to Margaret Sullavan, then Slim Hawks (later Slim Keith), and finally to Pamela Churchill (later Harriman) who would one day go on to be Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Paris.

Brooke's parents, Leland Hayward and Margaret Sullavan.
Brooke was the eldest of three of her parents’ marriage, including her sister Bridget and her brother Bill. She is the only child of the Sullavan-Hayward marriage to survive, as both mother Margaret and daughter Bridget and son Bill took their own lives at different times in that order.

From a marrying family, Brooke had three husbands, Michael Thomas, the novelist; Dennis Hopper, the actor; and Peter Duchin, the musician/orchestra leader. She also has three children, a daughter and two sons. All survive. I recount this information, a part of which Brooke set down long ago in a best-selling memoir about growing up with that mother and father -- “Haywire” which was later made into a television mini-series. It was a Hollywood tell-all that broke new ground for its frankness and candor in unraveling the lives of complicated people in the world’s most glamorous industry

All that I’ve set down is to lead up to a brief anecdote from our conversation at lunch.  Somehow it had led to the subject of Pamela Harriman. Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman. Mrs. Harriman is always an interesting subject if you should ever get into a conversation about her with someone who knew her. There are all kinds of anecdotes that patch together a complicated, driven, powerfully controlling woman who slept her way to the top as well as happily played mistress or mistress-in-the-making to several rich and powerful men.
Randolph Churchill and Pamela Digby Churchill. The marriage did not last long as Pamela had been having an affair with Averell Harriman whom she would eventually marry. Forty years later.
Brooke came to hate Pamela and for good reason, although that is another story. I can’t recall how she came up in yesterday’s conversation but I was telling Brooke about the first and only time I met the then Mrs. Harriman back in 1991. I had heard about her affairs with the rich and famous men of the world when I was introduced to her at Kitty Hart’s apartment on a wintry Saturday late morning in January. Mrs. Harriman had come up from Washington to go to the Ballet and had stayed over night with her friend. Ours was a very brief meeting, inconsequential even; and remembered distinctly because I personally experienced her legendary charm in that brief but profound moment. It left me ... charmed. But that’s another story also.
Kitty Hart and Pamela Harriman.
My memory aroused Brooke’s memory of the first time she met Pamela. It was a summer day, like yesterday, in 1960. Leland Hayward had left his wife Slim and although not divorced, was living with Pamela (then) Churchill in a house in Bedford that he’d rented from Irene Selznick, an old family friend, the younger daughter of Louis B. Mayer, ex-wife of David Selznick, and producer of “Streetcar Named Desire.”

Brooke was at the time dating a man named Jones Harris, son of actress Ruth Gordon and Broadway producer Jed Harris. They went up to Bedford that day to visit Brooke’s father ... and his new amour. Brooke knew very little about her except of course that she had been married to Winston Churchill’s only son Randolph.
Pamela Harriman and Leland Hayward.
When they arrived at the Selznick house, an MGM perfect rambling clapboard and shutters replica of a New England cottage (but sprawling) surrounded by forests and bordered by the Mianus River which flows through the town, Brooke was told by a member of the staff that her father and Mrs. Churchill were out by the pool on the other side of the house. When they got out to the pool, a big pool, there was Leland in his bathing suit sunning himself on a lounge, and across the pool, on the diving board, there was Pamela standing with a touch of Venus, entirely nude, almost modesty abandoned, “the skin whiter than your shirt” (the shirt I was wearing at lunch). White, white ... and she had red hair, reddish auburn, and the brightest red ... between her legs ... and big red nipples and white white breasts.”

Brooke was shocked but moreso because Mrs. Churchill wasn’t at all abashed by her own presence in meeting her new boyfriend’s daughter. Later when Brooke asked her father about it, he told her that Pamela often did it. He told Brooke about being on a yacht in the Mediterranean with her, and while everyone was dressed for the Sun and the cruise, Pamela midday would be wearing only her birthday suit. It had a lot of appeal and evidently did not disappoint.
Meanwhile, back in little ole Manhattan. It's a quiet time in New York, although there are many pockets of activity. Last Wednesday a week, for example, Jim Mitchell hosted a party at Primola in honor of Ginny Burke, a lifelong New Yorker who now spends most of her time in Palm Beach. Most of the sixteen at two tables were Palm Beach friends, although many keep residences up north.
Ginny herself is one of the nicest, kindest women in New York. Her kindness is so apparent that you might think she is an innocent. In some ways she probably is untouched by the forces of society's ways. Her grandfather was Willie K Vanderbilt Jr. Her father was Earl Smith, Eisenhower's Ambassador to Cuba (before the Revolution). She grew up in that nether-world of society descended from the Gilded Age, and lived all her life in its inherited environs. Yet she is with it and at the same time as gracious as we imagined that Age might have been (but probably wasn't). So the guests were those who appreciate Ginny's friendship. And no doubt, she theirs.
Ginny Burke and Jim Mitchell. Hans Kertess and Antoinette Guerini-Maraldi.
The Primola menu began with Penne with tomato and basil, Veal Ricotta followed by Lemon Sorbet with Macaroons, and of course red and white Italian Wines. The table was full of conversation and from my listening post, a lot of it was about the Presidential campaign. Trump has a lot of supporters who confide it without being asked.
Felix Perera, Regina Greeven, and Michael Harris.
Felix Perera, Margo Langenberg, and Michael Harris.
John Castle and Chris Meigher. Jim Morgan and Marianne Castle.
Frayda Lindemann making her point clear to a couple of men at the table.
Michael Harris and Ada Zambetti.
Renato Trichauer, Hans Kertess, and Frayda Lindemann.
On Saturday, June 18th, over 400 people came together at the White Party to celebrate the designers at the third Holiday House Hamptons presented by HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens). This year 20 designers were tapped to create environments loosely inspired by holiday and summer themes such as summer solstice, Father's Day, graduation and the Rio Olympics. As always, proceeds benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Holiday House Founder Iris Dankner, C&G Media Group's CEO Marianne Howatson, HC&G Editor in Chief Kendell Cronstrom and Publisher Pamela Eldridge were joined by RHONY's Ramona Singer, The Today Show's Jill Martin, designers Vicente Wolf, Robert Stilin, Matthew Yee, Barclay Butera, and Anthony Baratta, real estate brokers Linda Haugevik and Tim Davis, BCRF Board member Maria Baum, and many others.
Pamela Eldridge, Marianne Howatson, Iris Dankner, and Kendell Cronstrom.
Michelle Berkowitz, Iris Dankner, and Stephanie Cain.
Matthew Yee, Marianne Howatson, Vicente Wolf, and Iris Dankner.
Iris Dankner and Holiday House Hamptons 2016 Designers
The stately 13,000 square foot Water Mill home is on the market for $18 million and features a rooftop tennis court, a private dock, a home theatre, over 9,000 square feet of deck space, a 600+ bottle wine room and sweeping water views.
The White Party at Holiday House Hamptons 2016.
Garage by Barbara Ostrom & Associates.
Office by 2 Michaels.
Bedroom by Sasha Bikoff Interior Design.
Game Room by Mabley Handler Interior Design.
Dining Room by Kara Mann.
Kitchen by West Chin Architects.
Outdoor deck by Christian Liaigre.
On Tuesday evening an intimate crowd gathered on the rooftop of the Holiday House Hamptons showhouse to celebrate the summer solstice. Designer and tennis star extraordinaire, Venus Williams, mingled with designers and friends before flying to the UK for Wimbledon. Holiday House Founder Iris Dankner and HC&G's Publisher Pamela Eldridge toasted the designers for their inspired spaces and raised a glass to Venus to wish her well in Wimbledon and in Rio, where she will represent the US at the Summer Olympics.
Sunset Cocktail reception at Holiday House Hamptons.
Iris Dankner and Venus Williams.
HC&G publisher Pamela Eldridge, Benjamin Zazula, Venus Williams, and Marianne Howatson.
Venus WIlliams with Barbara and Jose Ruiz.
Colette Sabins, Venus Williams, Rosie Byford, and Marianne Howatson.
The Women’s Forum of New York hosted The 6th Annual Elly Awards Luncheon on June 20 benefiting The Education Fund of the Women’s Forum at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The awards, named for Women’s Forum founder Elinor “Elly” Guggenheimer, were presented to outstanding women leaders, Kay Koplovitz, Founder and former Chairman and CEO of USA Networks, author, and Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Springboard Fund; Rosie Rios, 43rd Treasurer of the United States and past Managing Director of Investments at MacFarlane Partners; and Phillipa Soo, star of Broadway’s Hamilton as Eliza Hamilton and co-founder of The Eliza Project. The event raised $250,000 for the Education Fund of the Women’s Forum of New York. 
The 2016 Elly Awards.
On hand to bestow the key awards were Christie Hefner, Chairman of Hatch Beauty; Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairman and CEO of Business Wire; and 2016 Tony Award winner forBroadway's Hamilton Renée Elise Goldsberry and co-star Jasmine Cephas Jones.  

Paula Zahn led a conversation at the luncheon with the honorees that revolved around leadership and covered a wide range of issues facing women in the workforce today. 
Phillipa Soo, Kay Koplovitz, Rosie Rios, and Paula Zahn.
Carolyn Carter, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, and Jasmine Cephas Jones.
Among those attending the Elly Awardswere: Carolyn Carter, President of the Women’s Forum of New York; Linda A. Willett, President of the Education Fund of the Women’s Forum of New York; Lucy Jarvis, Television producer and Legendary Chair of The Elly Awards; Daisey Holmes, Co-Chair, The 2016 Elly Awards; Barbara Marcus, Co-Chair, The 2016 Elly Awards; Rita B. Crotty, Executive Director of the Women's Forum of New York; Charlotte St. Martin, Carole Feuerman, Steven Pascale, Shelly Lazarus, Deidre Quinn, Josie Natori, John Castle, Mike Gregoire, Lulu Wang, Emily Rafferty, Marcia Wilson, Nina McLemore, Janice Reals Ellig, Catherine Keating, Laura Lang, Dr. Joyce Brown, Myra Biblowit, Linda Addison, Catherine Henderson, Sally Minard, Jonelle Procope, Lisa Quiroz, Jennifer Rabb, Minerva Tantoco, Abbe Raven, Barbara Tober, Anita Volz Wien, Lisa Dennison, Gloria Feldt, Elsie McCabe-Thompson, Gail Mellow and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson. The 2016 Elly Awards Committee were also in attendance, including: Beverly Beaudoin, Jane Chesnutt, Emita B. Hill, Suzanne Jaffe, Liz Neumark and Ilene Wachs.
2015 Women's Forum Education Fund Fellows and 2016 Elly Awards Honoree Phillipa Soo.
Lucy Jarvis. Rosie Rios and Catherine Keating.
Christie Hefner, Paula Zahn, Rosie Rios, Phillipa Soo, Kay Koplovitz, Carolyn Carter, and Linda A. Willett.
Phillipa Soo, Carolyn Carter, Jasmine Cephas, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Barbara Marcus, and Daisey Holmes.
Eunice Salton, Joan Price, Patty Francy, and Farri Cress.
Gail Mandel, Myra Biblowit, and Mary Falvey.
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Paula Zahn, and Phillipa Soo.
Ronne Hackett, Kathleen Lewanski, Zenola Harper, Beverly Beaudoin, and Gloria Feldt.
Bottom Row: Cathy Baron Tamraz, Charlotte St. Martin, Paula Zahn, Carolyn Carter, and Rosie Rios. Top Row: Kristin Thompson, Julie Goldstein, Jane Chesnutt, Linda Cohen, and Carole Feuerman.
Top Row: Brown Johnson, Sandra April, Lee Wade, Felicia Frazier. Bottom Row: Maya Mavjee, Barbara Marcus, Phillipa Soo, Steven Pasquale, and Jess Dannhauser.
Bottom Row: Josie Natori, Kay Koplovitz, Christie Hefner, John Castle, and Susan Straus. Top Row: William Koplovitz, Stephanie Daniels, Amy Millman, Penny Zuckerwise, and Mark Smith.
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Carolyn Carter, Cathy Baron Tamraz, Christie Hefner, Phillipa Soo, Kay Koplovitz, Rosie Rios, and Paula Zahn.

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