George Christy Talks About Tom Ford, Betsy Bloomingdale, The Big Easy and more
Dear Tom, you have a good thing going.
Tom Ford, the designer, director and architect, dropped $38.75 million for the Betsy and Alfred Bloomingdale 3.5 acre estate on Delfern Drive in Holmby Hills. Joshua Flagg of Rodeo Realty completed the sale.
A Spanish Colonial villa, circa 1929, was transformed during the early ’50s by designer Billy Haines and the Bloomingdales into a Regency beauty.
Joan Crawford introduced her friend Billy to his new clients.
Billy, the former silent screen star, became the sought after “decorator,” as he called himself, by the Big Rich of Los Angeles, who praised the comfort of his subdued elegant style.
He knew how to please Ann and Jack Warner, of Warner Bros., Lee and Walter Annenberg, Fran and Ray Stark, Frances and Sidney Brody with their megamillion dollar estates in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air.
We’ve been to them all, but the Bloomingdale property stood on a special tier in the design firmament. No doubt Betsy’s inimitable touch and endearing personality made the difference. High style with ease.
Her tall and regal presence inspired us to crown her Good Queen Bets in our Hollywood Reporter columns of 25 years. Others have picked up our royal anointment without credit. (You know who you are!)
A beloved daughter to dentist to Dr. Russell Newling and wife Vera. A great mom to Gregory and Robert and Lisa.
She and Alfred, the department store heir and Diners Club founder, hosted extraordinary dinners/evenings for the international Who and the Who. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, Nancy and President Ronald Reagan. With menus of laudatory quality and premier cru wines. Long before we relocated to Los Angeles as the roving West Coast editor of Town & Country, we were invited to drinks soirees and black-tie parties with the swells at Delfern Drive.
Betsy and Alfred were most generous. Formal dinners with caviar often served on their rare collection of Flora Danica, the porcelain dinner service (for 30) with very delicate hand-painted florals by Copenhagen artists.
We were flattered when Alfred offered underwriting a restaurant newsletter for us. We regretted, sadly, explaining that our columns and articles already were insanely time-consuming.
Christie’s in New York is auctioning the contents of the residence, many items specifically designed by Billy Haines, and, of course, the priceless Flora Danica collection, on April 5.
Tom Ford, meanwhile, is selling his Santa Fe ranch for $75 million.
Tanino’s on Westwood Boulevard. Introduced to it, as we were, by Joan Rivers when she starred in her hilarious biographical comedy at the nearby Geffen Playhouse. Joan’s preference was a heart-healthy diet of grilled salmon and vegetables.
Dining there lately with high-end realtors Elgart Aster and Paolo Swerdlove, the dinners were excellent and not unfairly priced. Lentil soup, branzino, fresh salads, a supple Amarone from Verona, Italy, where we’ve visited and savored fine wines.
One wishes, however, that a downstairs restroom was available, rather than facing a steep climb of stairs to find relief.
Tanino’s is teamed with the Celestino Drago quality-driven, culinary family of Los Angeles.
World travelers and philanthropic patrons of the arts, Elgart and Paolo were departing for New Orleans and its annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, launched in 1986. With the Williams plays performed around the clock, along with parties during the five-day get-together.
The weekend features a “Stella shouting” contest in Jackson Square, where guests in tee shirts emulate Marlon Brando’s scream for his wife Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Visiting the Big Easy as often as they have, Elgart and Paolo discovered Soniat House on Chartres Street in the French Quarter, a gem of a hotel. A favorite of Philip Roth and Lillian Hellman, with 30 rooms on two stories decorated with the most attractive and comfortable furnishings chosen by owner Rodney Smith – a hotelier like no other whose taste is flawless. Rodney’s wife Frances Smith, the co-owner, will charm guests to try the exciting new dining rooms.
We remember the Soniat’s lovely breakfasts thereabouts. Freshly squeezed juices, strong chicory coffee, just-baked steaming biscuits served with homemade jam from the strawberries grown in Ponchatoula.
Renowned as the strawberry capital, Ponchatoula hosts a free three-day festival on April 7 through 9. A friendly family affair dating back to 1971. With tastings from countless growers, entertainment, games. Only 65 miles from New Orleans.
The question these days is what in the hell is going on with Pamela Anderson and Jullian Paul Assange, the Australian-born WikiLeaks founder, at his digs in the Ecuadorian embassy in London town.
Are they riding high on the bumpy road to love? Or heating up intriguing political shenanigans?