René Verdon, The White House Chef Cookbook
“Do not worry … about your guests who drink before you serve them a splendid dinner. It can scarcely be avoided, and what is lost in gastronomy will be gained in conviviality.”
René Verdon, The White House Chef Cookbook
“If I had my life to live over again, I would have been a good deal kinder, I think. But then, in those past days, one operated only in the lights you had at the moment. There’s one thing about getting old—you look back on the callous acts you did. I don’t think I meant to be unkind; it was just that at a certain time of my life my imagination didn’t encompass the sufferings or the problems that other people were having.”
Claire Boothe Luce, Doers & Dowagers
For insight into what Boothe Luce might be referring, read Dawn Powell's A Time to Be Born. Though she denied it for years, Powell finally admitted the central character in that novel, Amanda Keeler, was based upon Clare Boothe Luce. It is a character with similarities to another Claire, Claire Underwood in the Netflix series House of Cards.
Image Credit: Salute to the Thirties
“Whenever a situation develops to its extreme, it is bound to turn around and become its opposite.”
Frank Capra, The Name Above the Title
At his first inauguration, Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously declared, "There's nothing to fear but fear itself." His successor, Harry Truman, admitted to being frightened of something, or rather, someone. He once quipped, “It’s not the Pope I’m afraid of, it’s the pop.” To whom was he referring?
HINT: Did the person Truman fear hire a Catholic nun to decorate the White House?
The answer is after the JUMP.
“I wish I were more thin-skinned. The problem is to remain sensitive to all kinds of things without letting them pull you down.”
Montgomery Clift, The Making of the Misfits
“The intellectuals always have microscopes before their eyes.”
Albert Einstein, The Cosmic Religion
“If we have an intellectual working for Vogue, he’s running the elevator!”
Diana Vreeland, via Cecil Beaton, Beaton in the Sixties, The Cecil Beaton Diaries as He Wrote Them
Image Credit: Diana Vreeland: Immoderate Style
“Being a member of the Royal Family is a purely gestural role whose only power is how well that gesture is made. Much of what Royals do for their considerable perks is either desperately dull or supremely depressing. For most people, it would be like thinking of the worst aspects of your job and only doing the bits that bore you the most—sucking up to clients, say, or attending soul-destroying sales dinners—with no prospect, ever, of retirement.”
Tina Brown, The Diana Chronicles
Part of what makes the Netflix television series The Crown so powerful is the exemplary character of the program's protagonist, Queen Elizabeth II. She accepted what Tina Brown aptly calls a "purely gestural role" as her life's work, and in over sixty years on the job, rarely put a wrong foot forward. Her consolation is that in devoting herself to duty, she seems to have found happiness, or, at the very least, contentment. It is difficult to know for certain, because the Queen considers it part of her job to keep a lid on her emotions.
A fascinating contrast to The Crown is the recently published Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown. It is a groundbreaking book. The author invents a brilliant and original format to take on his subject matter. It calls out the notion that biographies (or autobiographies for that matter) can ever be truly comprehensive. He uses various constructions and literary devices (including fiction and hypotheticals) to zip in, out, and around Princess Margaret's life. It is a Cubist painting in book form. [And how appropriate: as the book surprisingly reveals, the great Cubist painter Pablo Picasso once hoped to marry Margaret.] One of the great advantages of the format is that it nearly entirely eliminates her children from the story, leaving their privacy intact.
Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret is the story of a tragic woman. In contrast to her older sister, who devoted herself to duty, Margaret sought pleasure, yet found grief and despair. Scattered among the book's glimpses of Margaret are glances at her sister, Elizabeth, and they stand in stark contrast. Margaret was witty and mercurial. She could be counted upon to makes things interesting, if not always pleasant. Whereas, the very nature of the job required the Queen to keep things dull. The passages in the book transcribing Elizabeth's formulaic conversations at official functions have a Warholian brilliance in their banality.
The graphic design on the American Edition hardcover is superb. One might be tempted to purchase the book in hardcover and keep on the shelf. However, the audio edition is brilliantly narrated by Eleanor Bron. It adds much to the story (particularly as to the more comedic glimpses) to hear it acted out by Bron in the plummy, aristocratic dialect in which Princess Margaret spoke.
See Also: "A Royal Pain"
Image Credit: Beaton in Vogue
“Giving a party or hosting a dinner is in many ways like a performance. You are the producer, director, stage manager, and finally the actor.”
Betsy Bloomingdale, Entertaining with Betsy Bloomingdale
Image Credit: The Way We Lived Then
“[Bette Davis] had once been to Finocchio’s in San Francisco, the most notorious homosexual nightclub in the United States, and saw twelve men in drag all do impersonations of her at once. It was an incredibly eerie performance, like having twelve out-of-body experiences. She recalled Mae West once telling her that she loved to watch her many impersonators because she learned so much about herself from them.”
Charlotte Chandler, The Girl Who Walked Home Alone, A Personal Biography
See Also: When Bette Met Mae
Image Credit: Bolerium Books
“Style is taste, where one lives, who one lives with, what makes one cry, what makes one laugh.”
Loulou de La Falaise, Loulou & Yves, The Untold Story of Loulou de La Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent
Image Credit: The Frenchwoman's Bedroom