Thanks to Jared Kushner's official position in his father-in-law's administration, the subject of nepotism has been in the news. One legendary adherent of this practice was original Hollywood mogul Carl Laemmle. He placed countless relatives on the payroll at Universal Studios.
One cannot condemn nepotism based upon the example of Carl Laemmle. The results were sometimes good. One cousin whom Laemmle imported from Europe was failed haberdasher William Wyler. He became one of Hollywood's great directors, and was Bette Davis's favorite. Fourteen actors won Academy Awards for their performances in his films. Moreover, had not Laemmle employed Wyler and the other Laemmele relations, they likely would have trapped by the dark clouds then forming in Europe and perished in the Holocaust.
Note: William Wyler became a great success not at Universal Studios, but he after departed and began collaborating with Samuel Goldwyn.
World War II knocked Cecil Beaton from his orbit as a Bright Young Thing. He developed a new seriousness as an adjunct of Britain’s Ministry of Information. Traveling the world in that capacity, he wrote about it in Near East, An Indian Album, Chinese Diary and Album, and Far East. In this passage from Near East, he laments the “telegraph by numbers” mode by which service members communicated home:
Cheap-rate telegraph messages can be sent by the forces with stock sentences that are picked from millions of former messages. A man by choosing a number can send a suitably composed message. Number 7 is “love and kisses,” or number 10 is “sorry to tell you … died.” Happier ones are “glad to hear of your promotion,” or “thinking of you especially at this time.” From a realistic point of view this economical service is effective and helpful, but there is something tragic about the formality of messages “ready-made” for all emotions, from celebration to despair, and which can in a few words express all that most people are able to convey to one another.
Nick Harvill Libraries is currently offering for sale the copy of Near East Beaton inscribed to fellow photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Check out the product listing here.
Image Credit: Near East
“It has been said that on screen I have personified the American woman. This is probably because from the time of Mildred Pierce I was cast in picture after picture, as all varieties of her.”
--Joan Crawford, A Portrait of Joan
Image Credit: History of the Oscars
In her memoirs, a former first lady commented upon how well both she and her husband’s personalities fit into the personality traits of those born under their signs of the Zodiac.
As to the former president’s, show wrote:
I’ve always known that I am a classic Cancer, but it wasn’t until … a friend sent me an article describing the Aquarian personality, that I realized how close that description fit [my husband]. ‘He has no affectation or snobbery,’ the article said, ‘and he hates all forms of hypocrisy.’ And ‘Aquarians are capable of love, but their version is somewhat impersonal. Much of their energy is likely to go into public life.’ If Aquarians have a fault, it’s that they are ‘too tranquil, too gentle and kindly in disposition.’ They are ‘incapable of petty tyranny.’ Their attitude toward the world is ‘kindly and humane.’ The article even mentioned that Aquarian men are often slow to get married!
Her own sign matched as well:
I was born on July 6, which makes me a Cancer. It is often said that people born under the sign of Cancer are above all homemakers and nesters, which is exactly how I would define myself. Cancers also tend to be intuitive, vulnerable, sensitive, and fearful of ridicule—all of which, like it or not, I am. The Cancer symbol is the crab shell: Cancers often present a hard exterior to the world, which hides their vulnerability. When they’re hurt, Cancers respond by withdrawing into themselves. That’s me, all right.
Who is this presidential couple?
HINT: Given the flak she had taken for her interest in astrology, it is remarkable that she chose to broach the subject in her memoirs at all.
The answer is after the JUMP.
“El Morocco. Definitely the last word in chic and not the place for anyone who isn’t looking that way.”
--Diana Ashley, Where to Dine in Thirty-Nine
Image Credit: El Morocco's Family Album
In Rare Bird of Fashion, nonagenarian fashion doyenne Iris Apfel recounts an amusing story about the many perils of interior decorating. It involves was her first project, and she thought she had nailed it. In fact, she nearly did:
When I’d finished the job, I spent the day icing champagne and setting out hors d’oeuvres, arranging flowers and lighting candles. When I saw the limo pull up, I stepped out the back door. An hour later I arrived home, happy but wiped out. The phone was ringing off the proverbial hook. “I love it, I love it!” Madame shrieked. “It’s perfection. All is wonderful … but,” she wailed, “you made one major mistake.” Oh God, what could I possibly have overlooked. “Well,” said she, “You know those gorgeous bookshelves in my gorgeous green liberry [sic]? You didn’t even buy me one book! What will I put on the shelves? Fill ‘em up, fill ‘em up. I want ‘em full.” How stupid of me not to realize she didn’t own a single book. I composed myself. “I didn’t know what kind of books you might want.” “Green ones, of course,” she said. “All green.” I was humbled. “Well, how many do you want?” “Just one minute, I’ll measure.” She came back, counting. “At least 90 running feet of them.”
Had we a time machine, Nick Harvill Libraries might be able to travel back to the midcentury and put together a selection of books for Iris Apfel's client. Or perhaps not? We curate books on a variety of fascinating themes, but color of bindings is not one of them. With us, though style is the undisputed queen, content reigns as king.
Rare Bird of Fashion commemorates the extraordinary life and style Iris Apfel. Photographer Eric Boman conceived the book after viewing the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute's 2005 exhibition “Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Apfel Collection.” He managed to photograph the items in the show just prior to its being disassembled. NHL currently has a copy of the book signed by Iris Apfel. It appears to be the only such copy currently available. Check it out here.
Image Credit: Rare Bird of Fashion
“The definition of real elegance is the appropriate made supremely comfortable.”
--Jane Stanton Hitchcock, Social Crimes
Image Credit: The World of Gloria Vanderbilt
"For a dozen years I served as chairman of a committee devoted to helping Afghan freedom fighters sustain their battle against the Russian invaders, and we collected substantial funds to help keep our men in the field. But when victory was achieved, I had a sad feeling that I had supported and helped to put in power the same kind of fanatical Muslim mullahs who were behaving so abominably in Iran, and I could visualize myself in the years ahead collecting new funds to oust the very fanatics I had helped place in command of this savage, wonderful nation, which I remember with such affection."
--James Michener, The World Is My Home, 1991
Image Credit: Private, Photographs by Alison Jackson
“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.”
Image Credit: Double Exposure: Take Three