George Christy Talks About Glenn Close, Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson and more.
Birds of a feather flock together, and they are flocking to Broadway. With the death of enticing and challenging film roles, above-the-title Hollywood talents of a certain age are exiting cinema for the time being and flocking to Broadway stages.
Starring as Dolly Levi, Bette Midler takes over Manhattan this spring, starring in Hello, Dolly in the role that gave Carol Channing a lifelong lease for the timeless Jerry Herman/Mike Stewart musical. Based on Thornton Wilder’s comedy The Matchmaker.
Sally Field arrives on Broadway in March as Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’ haunting The Glass Menagerie.
While Jake Gyllenhaal currently portrays impressionist painter Georges Seurat in Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with Georges. Our theater community’s Crown Prince of Public Relations, Rick Miramontez, enthuses, ”Who knew Jake would sing with such power!”
At the Palace Theater, Glenn Close is reprising her Sunset Boulevard role as silent screen star Norma Desmond, based on the classic 1951 Billy Wilder film, in which Gloria Swanson played on the silver screen to immortal acclaim.
Ah yes, dear Gloria May Josephine Swanson, born to a Polish mother and a soldier father near Chicago.
We met after our three-year army service when we began our journalism career as a roving editor with Town & Country magazine.
Invited as we were to a small dinner at the posh Voisin, the Upper East Side’s hangout for the Who and the Who.
Petite she was, charming, with a heigh-ho sense of humor, an engaging conversationalist who never talked down to a young nobody seated next to her.
Indeed, we sat alongside the mistress of Papa Joe Kennedy, the Big Daddy of JFK.
Who could believe our luck, and we are forever grateful to host Earl “Mr. Celebrity” Blackwell, the social arbiter of New York.
A grand night that gave us dinner-party chatter time and time again.
Decades passed, and in 1980, Gloria published her memoir, Swanson On Swanson.
A Random House book publicist called, mentioning Gloria was inviting us to lunch in her Beverly Hills Hotel suite.
Her memory was infallible, recalling our wonderful evening at Voisin way-back-when.
Preparing a lovely and healthy medley of vegetables and a hot broth, Gloria informed she’d been a vegetarian since 1928.
Washing the limestone lettuce for our salad, she said, “I make love to the vegetables when I wash them … they taste better.”
Once again, the conversation was a total delight. We talked of many things – as the Lewis Carroll poem goes “of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.”
Yes, she was thrilled that Sunset Boulevard became a film noir classic, laughing as she recited those unforgettable Norma Desmond quotes – “I am big …it’s the pictures that got small.” And ”All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
Through the years, we attended three opening nights of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The 1993 London premiere starring Patti LuPone, with designer Manolo Blahnik as our guest who “adored” the theatricality … the 1994 Los Angeles premiere with Glenn Close … the 1995 premiere in Toronto with a sensational Diahann Carroll.
The morning after the London premiere when we caught up with Billy Wilder at our hotel, he praised the production, but remained convinced it should be an opera for a diva like Norma Desmond. When we suggested Maria Callas, he beamed, “Perfect!”
Several times over these months, we have written in our columns that entertainment news is passé (repeat: passé), not what it was in the heyday of glamour. We’ve had it up to here with Angelina Jolie, the Kardashians, the boy/girl singers who fade in the night. We cover these events with our layouts, thanks to our steadfast photographer Scott Downie whose energy knows no bounds. Also, may we correct those readers’ comments that we should write gossip. We have never written gossip, we write about lifestyle and culture. And now the new stars are from politics and sports, such as baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza buying a soccer team belonging to a small town in Italy.
This is where its at today.
May we add that for that occasional phone call or e-mail that we should write only about movies, the Oscarcast this weekend is in deep mud. More than 60% of the likely viewers have no idea what the nominees for Best Picture are. Our fingers are crossed that producers Mike DeLuca and Jennifer Todd helm a bang-up program that will be talked about and remembered. It is, unquestionably, as we observed in years past, the toughest show in town. Or, for that matter, anywhere.
The meat and potatoes nowadays of journalism require new recipes. For the few moans we hear from our “limo liberal” friends, we can cite many distinguished ladies and gentlemen who applaud us. Investment bankers, attorneys, actresses, shop owners, sales clerks, restaurateurs, etc.
Libs should console/content themselves with these facts.
They own the groves of academia, where most faculty members at universities preach their everything-free agenda.
Libs own the coast-to-coast press, from The New York Times to The Los Angeles Times, etc.
And they own the royalty and phoney-baloney hangers-on in Hollywood.
Heavy furniture, yes?