Fall, 1969. The Vietnam War was continuing and didn’t seem to be anywhere near ending as the country was disrupted by widespread demonstrations!
Concerning the war, everyone seemed angry at anyone who disagreed with them and Vice President Spiro Agnew would further stir the pot calling the anti-war protesters “an effete core of impudent snobs.” (In 1973 Agnew would be investigated for bribery and would eventually plead no contest to tax evasion and resign — replaced by Gerald Ford)
When Agnew made outrageous pro-War comments I was shocked to hear my agent Pema Browne’s husband gloating and saying, “that’s my boy!”
It was that kind of atmosphere!
It was as if an older generation thought we were fighting a variation of World War II with 1940’s values and black and white judgements!
The Kennedys had made us aware of varying shades of grey but they were now both dead and we were right back to the old good guy/bad guy, black hat/white hat mentality!
Shortly after this, President Nixon would further exacerbate the situation by calling his supporters The Silent Majority, a phrase denoting those outside of urban centers who didn’t closely follow politics but who supported his policies.
Nixon may not have been aware that during the 19th century the phrase referred to the dead!
So life went on in the divided, angry city!
I took a break for coffee with a friend.
Annie Rieger and I also took time out to stop by the Bavarian Inn on Yorkville’s East 86th Street, where thanks to my family name I was able to cash checks.
Annie’s good friend Carole Castagnoli had just given birth to a little girl three weeks earlier.
A few nights later Ann invited me to go with her to a dinner party. She worked as an assistant to Edward J. Meyers, who had a small specialized advertising agency. She’d also become friendly with Meyers and his beautiful wife, Betty. The Meyers had some interesting friends and the conversation bounced from one current happening to another!
So much was going on!
One guest at the party was (Curtis) Bill Pepper, who was a well known writer and had just published a book on the heart surgeon, Dr. Christiaan Barnard. He wrote about art, film and politics so he had a lot to say about Nixon, the war and the general unrest in the country!
His wife Beverly is a celebrated sculptor who began as a painter and whose first career was as a commercial art director. The Peppers spent part of the time in Italy where Beverly had a studio.
In subsequent years her work became more importantly recognized; she was possibly the first sculptor to incorporate Cor-Ten steel in her work!
Cor-Ten steel doesn’t require painting but acquires an esthetic rust-like surface after long exposure to weather which gives it the alternate name, weathering steel.
Another fascinating guest was the lawyer L. Arnold Weissberger, who represented an A list of artists and actors as diverse as Orson Welles, Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Carol Channing, as well as David O. Selznick, Igor Stravinsky, Truman Capote, and many other now legendary names! He was also a self taught photographer and published a book of photographs of famous friends and clients, Famous Faces!
Years later, when Weissberger died, Orson Welles delivered his eulogy!
Aileen Haskell was there …
As was Freddie Gingold …
Ed and Betty Meyers …
Betty, solo …
More Betty, later that evening …
Billy Meyers, too …
And one more of Beverly Pepper …
It was a very stimulating evening and Annie and I were almost the only ones I’d never heard of!