--Bravig Imbs, Confessions of Another Young Man
“One thing to be said for the French [is] they have a great appreciation of cats. They beat their dogs too much and are sometimes cruel to their horses, but they do treat cats with kindness and respect.”
--Bravig Imbs, Confessions of Another Young Man
“There is a myth that Palm Beach people don’t know the Kennedys are alive, and never talk about them. The truth is that Palm Beach people say they don’t know the Kennedys are alive, and then devote entire evenings to talking about them.”
--John Ney, Palm Beach, The Place, The People, Its Pleasures and Palaces
John Ney never achieved the prominence of Cleveland Amory or Stephen Birmingham as a chronicler of social history, but what he lacked in output, he made up for in quality. His book Palm Beach, The Place, The People, Its Pleasures and Palaces is ostensibly limited in scope to this specific and one-of-a-kind Florida community. There is a broader meaning, however. The author considers Palm Beach an American social experiment: what does it mean to be idle and rich in a republic founded upon the Protestant work ethic? Palm Beach is the only city in America in which the residents might genuinely inquire, “What is a weekend?” As such, what is unique about this book is that it takes the froth of café society seriously, and in so doing, discovers that beyond the caffeine, there is substance.
Formerly employed in the motion picture industry by David Selznick, Ney relocated to Palm Beach in the early 1960s. In that era, the community was frequently in the news as result of President Kennedy’s visits to his parents' home there. The first chapter, “The Royal Family” considers the Kennedy’s outsized influence on the community’s international reputation versus its minor social presence there. The author then quickly segues, concluding that despite the hoopla, the Kennedys are not the typical denizens of the city.
In addition to interviewing various residents and summarizing their mentions in leading gossip columns, Ney considers the appearance of Palm Beach in various works of literature and nonfiction. Cleveland Amory covered some of the same territory in The Last Resorts, A Portrait of American Society at Play, and several pages of Ney’s book are spent reviewing and quoting The Last Resorts. Curiously, the Chicago Tribune asked Amory to review Ney's book. In spite of the potential conflict of interest, Amory did so in an article entitled, “Trodding the Middle Ground.” He mostly applauds Ney's effort, amusingly citing the Chinese proverb, “With the rich and mighty, always a little patience.”
Image Credit: Palm Beach, The Place, The People, Its Pleasures and Palaces. Except where otherwise noted, they were taken by the Bert & Richard Morgan Studio
“Men often tell you the best thing for skin is making love. I cannot say that I have always found the quality of their skin to be convincing evidence.”
--Princess Luciana Pignatelli, The Beautiful People's Beauty Book
Anne: “I know you’ll think it it’s very primitive and American of me, but why do people spend the evening with people they’ve spent the day insulting?”
Victor: “So as to have something insulting to say about them tomorrow.”
--Edward St. Aubyn, Mother's Milk, The Patrick Melrose Novels
“My dear old friend King George V always told me he would never have died but for that vile doctor, Lord Dawson of Penn.”
--Margot Asquith, The Autobiography of Margot Asquith
Photo Credit: Beaton in Vogue
“Heaven preserve me from littleness and pleasantness and smoothness. Give me great glaring vices, and great glaring virtues, but preserve me from the neat little neutral ambiguities. Be wicked, be brave, be drunk, be reckless, be dissolute, be despotic, be an anarchist, be a suffragette, be anything you like, but for pity’s sake be it to the top of your bent. Live fully, live passionately, live disastrously.”
--Violet Trefusis, Portrait of a Marriage: V. Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson
Image Credit: Violet Trefusis, Life & Letters
Proving herself to be as indefatigable as the iconic role she played, Auntie Mame, Rosalind Russell did not permit ill health to prevent her from courteously replying to a Midwesterner's request for restaurant recommendations in Los Angeles. She was mere months away from succumbing to a terminal illness, but even so, Rosalind Russell took the time to handwrite a list of her favorite eateries.
Gertrude Stein: Discoverer of Picasso and Predictor of Social Media?
"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."
Photo Credit: The Best of Beaton
“Women who love horses usually love sex.”
--Tina Brown, The Diana Chronicles
Photo Credit: Dean Rhys Morgan, 1stdibs.com
Joseph P. Kennedy once gave his daughter-in-law Jacqueline Kennedy a German shepherd puppy, whom she named Clipper. The press inquired what the First Lady would feed the dog. Her terse reply, "Reporters!"