how does one lose four husbands?

Enid Kenmare lost four husbands, all by death

“She was a member of the Australian Lindeman wine family, and she thought nothing of walking through Mayfair with a cheetah or flying to Kenya on safari by private aeroplane in the 1930s.

Lindeman’s vineyard found here

Enid, a celebrated beauty, married four times, the first time in 1913 to a New York shipbroker when she was 21. Two of her husbands were fabulously wealthy and left her fortunes. Three of them had titles. All died before her and two died less than a year after marrying her.

Her second husband was Brigadier General Frederick Cavendish, better known as Caviar Cavendish. Enid is reputed to have slept with every officer in his regiment for a dare.  

caviar found here

In 1933 she married the very rich Lord Furness, known as Duke, short for Marmaduke. He had a private railroad car, two yachts and an airplane. They were each other’s third spouse. Lord Furness was himself no stranger to homicidal rumour and controversy. His first wife, Daisy, had died aboard his yacht while on a pleasure cruise and he had buried her at sea.

Marmaduke found here

Enid’s last marriage, to Valentine, the sixth Earl of Kenmare, took place in 1943. He was an enormously fat man, 225 pounds, who once accidentally sat on a dog and killed it. Previously he had been married to Doris Castlerosse who died of an overdose of sleeping pills and alcohol. When Kenmare also died less than a year after his marriage to Enid, his inheritance was to pass to his niece. But Enid, in one of her boldest ventures, claimed to be pregnant, although she was approaching fifty. She was thus able to hold on to the income from the ancestral lands for an additional thirteen months. 

Valentine found here

Her great friend, writer Somerset Maugham, dubbed her Lady Killmore. 

The beauty of the much married and much widowed Enid Kenmare was so renowned that it was said people stood on chairs in the lobby of the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo just to catch a glimpse of her as she passed through.

Lobby of the Hotel de Paris found here

She was also a constant and successful gambler who frequented casinos nightly. “She had fantastic posture, wore cabochon emeralds and dressed in diaphanous gowns” remembered one of her friends. She seemed to inhabit another sphere.”

Enid’s “other sphere” was dope. “She was a legally registered heroin addict” recalled a gentleman in New York whilst another gentleman in London said “Opium was her drug of choice.”

Opium smokers found here

“I don’t think Enid killed anybody” said a friend of her son Rory, “but she may have given them drugs and helped them along.”

Miss Bang Bang

Ann Woodward was born in Kansas but was smart and talented enough to get a job in radio in New York

She won the odd title of “Most Beautiful Woman in Radio” and in 1942, her beauty caught the eye of William Woodward Sr. 

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At some point in 1942, William Woodward Sr. passed the 27-year-old Ann on to his son, five years her junior. It was love at first sight and very quickly the two were wed.

While her son’s marriage started off happy, Elsie Woodward, the socialite who ran the most exclusive parlor of the New York 400, saw her new daughter-in-law as a gold digger who latched on to her son merely to get her hands on his $10 million fortune.

Billy’s sisters also froze off Ann. Even though she had been famous in her own right — her work on radio had gained the notice of The New York Times — she was too gaudy and flashy for their tastes. She once made the unforgivable faux pas of wearing red shoes with a blue dress and was seen smoking in public long before such behavior was tolerated in their circles.

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The friction Ann felt in high society contributed to the problems at home. Both had roving eyes that created fireworks. Billy’s rumored bisexuality only made things worse.

Billy and Ann had one of those relationships that was too fractious to keep together and too strong to break apart. They sparred openly in public over many things, not the least of which were her affairs with the likes of the Aga Khan and Franchot Tone and his with any number of debutantes.

Franchot Tone found here

In between fights there was obviously affection, as the couple soon had two children, William III (nicknamed Woody) and Jimmy, born in 1944 and 1947.

At a swank party for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Billy and Ann Woodward were noticeably agitated, guests would recall later, talking incessantly about the recent spate of burglaries in their upscale Oyster Bay, Long Island neighborhood.

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No one at the party remembers Ann or Billy squabbling that night, although many guests do recall the event had been particularly boozy.

By the time the couple returned home, it was 1 a.m. and 11-year-old Woody and 7-year-old Jimmy were fast asleep in their beds. Ann and Billy bade each other good night and retired to their own rooms. Behind locked doors, Billy slept with a revolver nearby while Ann was armed with a double-barreled shotgun.

shotgun found here

Two hours later Ann awoke to find her dog, Sloppy, barking at her open door. Ann told authorities she saw a “shadowy figure” near Billy’s room, backlit against the pale moonlight streaming in from a hallway window. She reached for the 12-gauge shotgun and pulled the trigger.

“Almost immediately,” Ann testified later, “I realized it was my husband. I ran and fell on the floor beside him.” Ann pulled herself away long enough to call for help. She summoned an ambulance, police and, in a move that some would use to damn her, an attorney.

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In the face of widespread press coverage, the district attorney convened a grand jury to investigate the shooting. Shortly after she buried her husband, Ann Woodward appeared before the grand jury and told her account of events.

The jurors took just 30 minutes to deliberate and find that Ann had acted without malice and that the shooting was unintentional. She was completely exonerated in the eyes of the law.

Over petit fours and champagne, the grande dames whispered that Ann had once been a prostitute. She had been previously married and had killed Billy when he discovered that her first marriage had never been legally ended. Unfortunately for Ann, the rumors gained a measure of truth when it came out that her father was not the “late Col. Crowell,” as was listed in the Woodwards’ wedding announcement, but was, in fact, alive and well and estranged from his daughter (he erroneously thought the actress Eve Arden was actually his child).

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The Woodward boys were whisked off to European boarding schools shortly after their father’s death. They had slept through the shooting and could offer no helpful information to investigators. The move would have profound ramifications in later years, as neither boy was ever given a satisfactory explanation by mother or grandmother about the events leading to their father’s death.

Jimmy Woodward managed to make it through Switzerland’s exclusive Le Rosey school (its alumni included Prince Rainier of Monaco, the Shah of Iran and the King of Belgium) and volunteered for service in Vietnam so he could serve with a friend who had been drafted. When his friend was killed, Jimmy turned to drugs and drink. 

Prince Rainier found here

Jimmy became paranoid and convinced that people were spying on him through his television set. He attempted suicide by jumping out the window of a friend’s apartment and succeeded in breaking his arms and legs. It was while Jimmy was convalescing that he started seeing notorious prostitute Xaviera Hollander, author of the book “The Happy Hooker.” Hollander included several stories about Jimmy in her second book, “Xaviera, Her Continuing Adventures,” in a chapter called “Jimmy, Don’t Jump Again.”

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In time, the stories about Ann Woodward reached author Truman Capote, who ingratiated himself with Elsie’s circle and began collecting anecdotes and gossip. The idea for a novel based on real-life characters – began forming in Capote’s mind and Ann Woodward was at the center.

Capote never let the facts get in the way of a good story and wasn’t above using his skill as a storyteller to get back at those who had slighted him. When he and Ann quarreled at a debutante ball and Ann, her tongue loosened by drink, called him a “little faggot,” Truman responded by dubbing her “Miss Bang Bang.”

Capote found here

At the request of a friend who edited Ladies Home Journal, Truman penned a wicked story about a woman of loose morals known as “Madame Marmalade” by the boys of the French Riviera for a “trick she did using her tongue and jam.” The story proved too racy and too controversial for Ladies Home Journal and Capote looked elsewhere for a market.

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In September 1975, Ann received a shocking telephone call from a friend in the publishing business. Capote had sold his story to Esquire magazine. “In a few weeks, everyone would be talking about the thinly disguised Capote story in which someone very like Ann Woodward turns out to be a bigamist and the former girlfriend of a gangster who traps her rich society husband into marrying her by becoming pregnant.”

Ann became increasingly forlorn and depressed. As she prepared for bed, she made up her face with makeup, lipstick, eye shadow and mascara. Then Ann Woodward lay down on her side on her bed, took a single cyanide capsule, and died.

Jimmy never recovered from his mother’s death. The cocaine and heroin, guilt and remorse took its toll on him and less than a year after Ann Woodward died, Jimmy did jump again. This time he was successful in ending his life.

Woody married in 1985 and lived overseas in a life of comfort. But in 1996, his wife filed for divorce. The divorce and separation from his child took its toll on Woody who suffered from bipolar disorder and in 1999, after revising his will to leave his $35 million estate entirely to his daughter, the 54-year-old Woodward followed in the steps of his mother and brother, and leapt out the window of his Manhattan co-op.

worthy of an Oscar

Oscar Levant (1906-1972) was a concert pianist, composer, actor, comedian, radio personality, television host, and bestselling author.

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In 1932 Oscar married Barbara Wooddell, a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl. Walter Winchell wrote in his newspaper column, “Barbara, who is lovely and nice, is marrying Oscar Levant, who isn’t.” Oscar and Barbara were divorced less than nine months after getting married. Oscar said later that, “Besides incompatibility, we hated each other.”

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In 1939 when Oscar married the movie actress June Gale, Walter Winchell wrote, “Oscar Levant, who knows most of the answers, explained that June Gale married him for his beauty, when everybody knows she married him for his theatre passes.”

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In 1938, after an article in the New York Post declared Oscar to be “the wag of Broadway”, and gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen devoted a New York Journal piece to “Town Wit – Oscar Levant”, the producers of a new radio show called “Information, Please!” hired Oscar to appear as a guest. The response to Oscar’s spontaneous wit during this program that challenged “experts” to answer questions sent in by listeners was so phenomenal that he was immediately hired to be one of the show’s four regulars.

In 1940 Oscar began to perform in what were called “concerts with comments”, where he preceeded and followed his piano pieces with humorous comments often made at his own expense.  In 1947 Oscar was invited to perform for President Harry Truman in the White House. His recital was attended by eight justices of the Supreme Court, various cabinet officers, congressmen, and senators, and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. As the Levants were leaving the White House after the recital Oscar turned to his wife and said, “Now I guess we owe them a dinner.”

Harry Truman aged 13 found here

In 1944 Oscar received a draft notice from the army. One of the army’s examiners asked him, “Do you think you can kill?” Oscar replied, “I don’t know about strangers, but friends, yes.” He was sent back to civilian life. 

His caustic repartee occasionally got him into hot water: one television offering, Oscar Levant’s Words About Music, was yanked off the air in 1956 when he commented on a certain starlet’s conversion to Judaism and marriage to a well-known playwright: “Now that Marilyn Monroe is kosher, Arthur Miller can eat her.”

image found here

Among the things that Oscar had a phobia about were any mention of the word “death”, or any word associated with death such as “funeral”, “coffin”, etc.; the numbers 13 and 411 (the hospital room number his mother was in when she died); lemons (which reminded him of the lemon he was awarded in his youth for being the worst dancer at a party); cats (a bad omen); dread of the word “luck” in any connotation, especially when being wished “good luck”; a hatred of the name Sarah (his sister–in–law’s name); and blackbirds (which filled him with terror because they were funereal–looking).

image found here

In July, 1965, Oscar Levant published a volume of random memories titled “The Memoirs of an Amnesiac”. Four weeks after its release it appeared on The New York Times bestseller list. While promoting his book on The Merv Griffin television show, he was asked what he would do if he had his life to live over again. Oscar responded, “I’d talk my parents out of it.”

Some of his more well known quips…..

Of Elizabeth Taylor: “Always a bride, never a bridesmaid.”

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Of Perry Como: “Perry Como’s voice actually comes out of his eyelids.”

Of Debbie Reynolds: “She’s as wistful as an iron foundry.”

Of Grace Kelly: “She just married the first prince who asked her.”

image found here

Of Doris Day: “I knew Doris Day before she became a virgin.”

Of Richard Nixon: “He swings a big mouth and carries a little stick.”

Of Zsa Zsa Gabor: “Zsa Zsa Gabor has learned the secret of perpetual middle age.”

image found here

“Someone once asked me where I lived and I said, ‘On the periphery ‘.”

“I paid thousands of dollars to psychiatrists to forget my childhood.”

“My psychiatrist once said to me, ‘Maybe life isn’t for everyone’.”

“I was thrown out of one mental hospital because I depressed the patients.”

“There is a fine line between genius and insanity, and I have erased that line.”

Cecil’s girls

Cecil Beaton knew all the leading ladies of theatre though sometimes it was hard to tell if his descriptions of them were intended to be complimentary.

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Isobel Elsom was a pale flaxen blonde with the mythical features of a unicorn. She was a dreamy young lady with junket-white complexion, strongly forward thrust chin, but inexpressive limbs.

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Gertie Millar, who started her working life as a Lancashire mill girl, was a great favourite. Critics and audiences alike were bewitched by her Pekinese piquancy. But when she became too plump for the stage, she settled for the family emeralds and a cosy marriage to the Earl of Dudley.

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The American Jewess, Ethel Levey, had a ram-like profile, her nose was a perfect crescent, hair like a raven’s wing, violent black eyes and a lascivious mouth. She was a bird thin creature with a coal-heaver’s voice and animalistic high kicks which made her audience feel they were in the slipstream of an aeroplane belonging to her second husband, the pioneer aviator, Claude Grahame White.

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Then there was the French beauty Gaby Deslys. Plump, pullet-like Gaby had a pear-shaped nose, cherry lips and bosoms like early melons. The King of Portugal gave her yards of pearls, Jean Cocteau wrote a poem about her and James M Barrie, that pipe-smoking elf from Thrums was also an unexpected victim of her beauty.

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Gabrielle Ray was a high kicking dancer with a squeaky voice. She invented her own stage makeup where she made of her face a pointilliste painting with little dots of all colours to give highlights and shadows to her different features. Her greatest innovation was to arrange that her photographer should stretch an invisible thread of cotton in front of his sitter so that she could rest the tip of her small parrot’s beak nose on it, thus pioneering, in her own manner, the days of plastic surgery.

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*Miss Ray married in 1912. Every Johnny of international fame, from Alfred Vanderbilt to King Manuel of Portugal, worshipped at this beauty’s feet. It was whispered that dukes and earls wanted to marry her, but she picked young Eric Loder, who had a fortune of $10,000.000.

The wedding day arrived, and every ornament of stage and peerage was waiting at the church. There, too, was the bridegroom. But the bride did not come, and the ceremony was deferred. People thought it was an exhibition of the beauty’s capricious ways. Closer investigation showed it was rather an exhibition of business sense. Loder had failed to sign the stipulated marriage settlement, securing her the income she needed. He pleaded that excessive prenuptial hospitality had caused him to overlook the formality. He signed up and the wedding took place three days later.

After barely a year of married life they quarrelled, and Gabrielle sought a divorce. It was said that the inconstant millionaire found perfect beauty a perfect bore, and sought consolation with one who was less beautiful but more amusing.

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*Reproduced courtesy of Don Gillan (Copyright), http://www.stagebeauty.net

the gay lord and the doctor of lust

Helmut Hauser had a normal happy childhood until he contracted tuberculosis of the hip when he was sixteen. His parents sent him to a sanatorium in Switzerland run by a doctor named Benedict Lust.

Benedict Lust

Dr Lust was the founder of American naturopathy and the author of a book on zone therapy. Dr Harold Dick was also a naturopath who became interested in this field when he was miraculously cured of boils and his sister in law expelled a cancerous tumour through her vagina – all thanks to one of Dr Lust’s follower’s, Dr Carroll.

Helmut was so impressed with Dr Lust‘s cure that he decided to devote his life to the promotion of nutrition, health and beauty. For this venture he adopted the new name of Gayelord Hauser and launched Swiss Kriss Laxatives.

Gayelord and Garbo

Inspired by this early success Gayelord moved himself and his well-cleansed bowels to pre-War Hollywood where he found a welcoming milieu: the narcissistic youth-obsessed movie community. Soon Marlene and Gloria and all the girls were in the thrall of the good-looking “doctor” who promised to add years to their pampered lives while making them even more beautiful.

Marlene

Nobody was immune to the audacious and over-reaching pronouncements of Herr Hauser:

– “Lack of calcium produces fear of the dark, nail biting and gossiping.”

– “Worry turns the hair grey by destroying the adrenal glands.”

– “Blackstrap molasses will add five years to your life and re-grow hair on bald spots.”

“that wonderful body of yours”

Was he a quack? Maybe just a little bit, but so what! At least he had charisma and fabulosity. When he wasn’t lounging around his groovy pad in Sicily with his boyfriend Frey Brown and his longtime beard Greta Garbo, or playing canasta with Paulette Goddard and the Duchess of Windsor, he was snapping up 90210 real estate. Gayelord was cool because he took his gay tubercular hip and made an unstoppable brand out of it. Having bought whole chunks of Rodeo Drive when it was cheap, he died a wealthy poofter at the ripe old age of 89.


Paulette Goddard and the hard-milled facial that lasts

playing with burnt cork

In 1920s New York, actress Dorothy MacKellar was offered the lead part in a play depicting a marriage between a white woman and a black man – a partnership that was illegal at the time.

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“She is said to have accepted the role on the condition that a white actor and burnt cork play opposite her. When she was told that it was intended to have a real Negro fill the bill, she retired without more ado.”

Thanks Jahsonic

Around the same time the “Green Twigs“, a group of socially prominent middle class ladies, set out to choose a queen for a community fiesta via a popularity ballot. Early on, the tally showed 17 year old honour student Miss Dorothy Derrick was pulling ahead. This was a cause of great consternation as Miss Derrick was black.

Dorothy Dandridge NOT Dorothy Derrick

After another day of voting she had fallen to third place, having been overtaken by a Miss Violet Meyer. The Green Twigs were still not pleased as Miss Meyer was a Jew. The contest was abruptly cancelled.

Ultra Violet NOT Violet Meyer

Fast forward to the beauty contests of the 1950s. The catholic church was in an uproar about them and threatened to expel college students who participated.

Mrs Edward Belitz, whose daughter Mary Jean withdrew from the Miss Nebraska competition because her education was jeopardised said “I’m just sick. I’ve trained her so long.”

But in New Mexico, 20 year old Sue Ingersoll elected to remain in the Miss Universe contest despite being told she would be denied the sacraments for a period of time unless she withdrew.”

Sacramental Bingo

Now in Thailand pretty boys in Pattaya compete for the title of Miss Tiffany with the aim of creating human rights awareness and promoting a positive transvestite image to the world. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come but Marine Marine Monroe, Barbara Style Sand and Donna Summer are there to remind us.

2009 winners found here

A few years ago in Sydney, Boaz Stark published a book of inspired drag queen names.

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“Having a Drag Queen baby but no idea what to call her? Uma Gawd! This Trudy Light of a book has literally hundreds of names to suit Drag Queens of every shape (Justine Ormous), age (Terri Daktil), race (Fu Ling Yu) and religion (Cath Lick). Your Drag Queen is destined to be the Bella DeBall with this Paige Turner!”

But my favourite will always be my son, Cherry Ripe.


Published in: on June 1, 2010 at 8:14 am  Comments (45)  
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pink bits

Sir Mark Palmer, baronet and former pageboy to the Queen, declared himself a fashion oracle in 1967.

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“Sir Mark Palmer predicts that pink will be the popular shade in menswear next season. He has set up a shop in Chelsea and revolutionised the image of the male fashion model.

A staff of 35 English boy models are kept busy at £15 an hour. They must be 6′ tall, weigh 140 lbs and not be more than 36″ around the chest.

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When we met Mark Palmer he was wearing a sky blue flat felt hat, blue striped red blazer, flowered Moroccan vest with striped tie around the waist, pink pants and pink shoes. “Painted the shoes myself” he said with pride.

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“We’re riding the crest of the wave he said. “The shape of men’s bodies had already changed before we pointed it out but nobody had noticed. Male models should look like poets. Who wants to look like a 35 year old muscular Australian male model? Young girls don’t want to be seen with that type any more.”

David Genat

In 1968 he had an epiphany and set off in search of a Shangri-la in Cornwall

“The fifth baronet has grown his hair to shoulder length and sleeps in a brightly painted wagon pulled by a carthorse. Several women, nine puppies, four horses and a lamb have joined his hippie band. He has cashed in his inheritance to buy an estate but at the moment lives in a derelict lodge.

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Sir Mark, who went to Eton and Oxford (“not really my scene”) is wearing hand sewn moccasins, gold socks and trousers, red trimmed vest, flower patterned shirt and yellow flower embroidered open jacket.

Nice to know he was still interested in fashion. For several years he travelled around Britain in a horse drawn caravan. He was also a friend of the Rolling Stones

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“Palmer’s revised modus vivendi was to live out, eat au naturel and to sleep rough, late and with whomever he could. Villagers became inured to the sight of Palmer’s numerous acolytes appearing in the local shop to buy cigarette papers or a magazine of astrological data.

Eventually he married one of the aficionados of astrological magazines and became a horse dealer and father to artist, model and aspiring trapezist Iris Palmer.

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‘A touch of the Iris Palmers’ is fashion-speak for not smiling. The one-time face of both ‘ready-to-wear’ (Chanel and Lacroix) and ‘already worn’ (Oxfam), Iris is a product of St Mary’s Wantage, the rather more liberal Bedales and Chelsea Art School. She first turned up at her modelling agency, Storm, in a micro-miniskirt, fishnets and spike heels, took acid at Glastonbury, grew her armpit hair for a Helmut Newton shoot and is a demon ping-pong player. She’s now editor-at-large of Cheap Date, a magazine advocating ‘freedom from fashion’. ‘All my clothes are second-hand and cost less than a fiver. I never wash them – I just chuck them in a terrifying pile, and I may not see them again,’ she says. Her paintings of robust nudes are not admired by critics, but Helena Christensen bought one for £2,000. Recently, to the amazement of the fashion world, Iris has joined a travelling circus, and hopes to learn the trapeze. Audiences report that she has even been spotted smiling.

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Published in: on May 5, 2010 at 8:20 am  Comments (42)  
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a toothsome bosom

***Nita Naldi played opposite the great lover, Rudolph Valentino in several movies. She won the part of the vamp in Blood and Sand in a very entertaining way.

Nita Naldi found here

A friend of my mother had an apartment on Riverside Drive, and she invited me to come and visit her for a supper party, so I did. There I met Mr. Blasco Ibañez, the writer, the man who wrote Blood and Sand. He had written several scripts such as The Cathedral, which impressed me as being violently communistic, but we didn’t use the word “Communist” in those days.

His theory in The Cathedral was that all the riches and all the things from the vestments to the all the magnificence inside the cathedral—should be given to the poor. Well, if you give everything away to the poor, nobody would have anything anyhow. As our Lord Jesus Christ said, “The poor are always with us.” Unfortunately, myself included.

Amiens Cathedral with sandbag reinforcements (1917) found here

Mama’s friend, Maria Barrientos, had a huge dish of punch in the middle of her salon, and when I met Mr. Blasco Ibañez, I said, “Well, you monster of iniquity! You sacrilegious lout! Now that you’re a success, I suppose you’ll change your entire theories for expediency.”

punch bowl found here

And, my dear, the man got so excited trying to deny the fact that he was a Communist, or communistically inspired, that he dropped his false teeth in the middle of my bosom. I had a very low-cut evening gown on. And Maria Barrientos, who knew me from the time I was 4 years old, reached down in my bosom, pulled the false teeth out, put them in the punch bowl, practically sterilized them (much to the edification of the rest of the guests), and stuck them back in Mr. Blasco Ibañez’s face.

Scarlett’s cleavage found here

So then he screamed at me, “You are Doña Sol; you are a very evil and very wicked woman.” So he decided that I would play the part of this horror, this sadistic demon. And nothing would ever change him. Many others were up for this role, but I got it. He wouldn’t have anybody else do it. I kept saying to him all the time, “How dare you insult me? This woman is a monster; she’s a sex maniac; she’s a sadist, she’s a horror, the worst type.”

image found at Claroscureaux

And he kept answering me back all the time that that would be his revenge.

***story found here


Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 7:05 am  Comments (44)  
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grin and bear it

Teeth Shoes found here

When was the last time you applied the principles of dynamic resistance to your facial muscles?

Independent studies show that using Facial Flex for two minutes twice daily for 60 days can noticeably improve skin circulation and muscle tone.

The lightweight, crescent-shaped facial exercise device is placed in the corners of the mouth, where it maintains a constant outward resistance. To use Facial-Flex, compress and release repetitively against the resistance of the dental elastic. This easy-to learn procedure will yield results in no time!

Hitler’s teeth found here

If you’re more concerned with lazy teeth not getting enough exercise you could try Charles Purdy’s device.

As a new article of manufacture, a device for exercising the teeth, comprising a plate shaped to conform to the contour of the mouth and having on each side comparatively deep depressions to receive the teeth, said depressions corresponding in number to the teeth of the user so that each tooth will be seated in a depression, the plate being provided with a member projecting from its front portion whereby when traction is exerted upon said member, each individual tooth will be exercised.

Perhaps it’s too late and your teeth have already fallen out. Don’t throw them away, make them into jewellery instead

Because if all else fails, Dr. McCollum can always measure you up for a new set of choppers in no time at all

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 7:50 am  Comments (48)  
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don’t acosta my sista

The de Acosta sisters had more than their fair share of beauty and brains. Aida was the first woman to fly a powered aircraft solo, doing this after taking only three flying lessons.

Aida flying in 1903

“On June 29, 1903 in Paris, at the age of nineteen, Aida de Acosta charmed Brazilian pioneer aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont into showing her how to operate his personal dirigible. Santos-Dumont was the toast of Paris at the time, frequently flying his dirigible downtown to his favorite restaurant and parking it on the street while he had dinner. Acosta flew Santos-Dumont’s aircraft solo while Santos-Dumont rode his bicycle along below, waving his arms and shouting advice”

Her sister Rita was regarded as the ‘most picturesque woman in America’ and was photographed, sculpted and painted by many famous artists.

“She also wrote one novel, Tragic Mansions (1927), under the name Mrs Philip Lydig, a society melodrama described as “emotionally moving and appealing” by The New York Times.

In 1921 Rita announced her engagement to Reverend Percy Stickney Grant, rector of the Church of the Ascension. Their wedding plans were broken off in 1924 when Bishop William Manning refused to authorise the marriage.  Rev. Grant died shortly afterwards, leaving his personal fortune to the woman he had hoped to marry, and she spent large sums of money on fashion, art, furniture, and other objects to overcome her grief. She died of pernicious anaemia at the Gotham Hotel shortly after, at the age of 54. Her personal wardrobe became the basis for the start of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

image by Gertrude Kasebier found here

Perhaps the most well known of the de Costa sisters was author, poet, screenwriter, playwright and costume designer Mercedes.

Her mother, a descendant of the Duke of Alba, raised her as a boy, calling her “Rafael” and dressing her in boy’s attire. After the death of her father in 1907, however, Mercedes’ mother became concerned about her lack of femininity and dispatched her to a convent school in France, from which she was removed after an incident involving two nuns who were apparently lovers.

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In 1929, she moved to California, where she met Greta Garbo and almost immediately became her lover. The affair with Garbo was an intense and stormy one, and Acosta frequently found herself in rivalry for the aloof Garbo’s affections, with men as well as women. Indeed, one of the more curious of these triangulations, one that lasted for over two decades, involved Acosta, Garbo, and photographer Cecil Beaton, who, though for the most part homosexual, was nonetheless obsessed with the enigmatic screen idol.

image of Cecil Beaton by George Hoyningen-Huene found here

After a highly emotional split with Garbo in 1932, Acosta began an affair with Marlene Dietrich, which lasted, on and off, for the rest of the decade, although she continued to be Garbo’s lover intermittently through those same years.

image found here of Marlene photographed by Mercedes

Other lovers of Mercedes included the great actresses Alla Nazimova and Eva Le Gallienne and the legendary inovator of dance , Isadora Duncan. In the glory days of Hollwood , folks used to play a “six degrees” connection game (think of the popular “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game of the 1980s) . The less number of degrees it took to make a connection between two people, the more points one got. Truman Capote used to say that Mercedes was his trump card becuse you could connect her so quickly to so many via bed or intellect.”

image of Truman Capote found here

Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 7:27 am  Comments (43)  
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