Joan Rivers’ funeral today was filled with surprises and disappointments. The surprises were the great wonderful celebs that showed up on a moment’s notice, many by foot sauntering up 5th Avenue! I was 1st row behind the reporters but they …were all on ladders and mostly barricaded a good camera shot, but between the elbows and butts I saw:
To think I saw in one hour: Kathy Griffin (very shaken) and Rosie O’Donnell arrive together, Howard Stern, Judge Judy!!, Rachel Ray, Andy Cohen (by foot, one of the few to wave to the crowd), Geraldo, Barbara Walters, Michael Kors, Ivanka Trump walking up 5th, Carolina Herrera, Donald Trump (by limo), Sarah Jessica Parker who you could see kept saying “amazing, amazing” with a big broad smile, Whoopi Goldberg (in tears) coming on foot from around the corner, columnist Cindy Adams, reporter Deborah Norville, Letterman’s Paul Shaffer, Joy Behar very upset, Marlo Thomas and husband Phil Donahue walking hand in hand up 5th, Glenn Close (she’s tiny!), Hugh Jackman and Audra McDonald who both sang in the service, Wanda Sykes, Hoda and Kathie Lee arriving in same car, Dr. Oz, singer Judy Collins, Clive Davis, the complete cast of Fashion Police including Giuliana Rancic, and Kelly Osbourne looking fabulous in her purple meticulously curled mohawk hairdo. The only photo I got was Whoopi and Ivanka 😦
The Gay Men’s Chorus sang “There’s Nothing Like a Dame.”
The disappointments: NO red carpet or craft services! WTF?! That was exactly what Joan had requested! Biggest disappointment of all – NO Meryl Streep. The least she could have done was to send in a tape of her “crying in five different accents.”At least my friend Susan Godwin was there to show support from animal and dog lovers and me making it clear I was saying ‘thank you’ for her support of the gay community her entire career long. Thank you Joan.
Best quote from the service: Howard Stern paid tribute to his friend, joking, “I hope Joan is somewhere chasing Johnny Carson with a baseball bat,” and added, “Joan was a best friend for the world.”
Photo of the day: CHRISTMAS DINNER AT BENDEL’S WITH LIZA, SARAH-JESSICA, WOODY, MARILYN, CAROL AND AL HIRSCHFELD
Photo of the day: CHRISTMAS DINNER AT BENDEL’S WITH LIZA, SARAH-JESSICA, WOODY, MARILYN, CAROL AND AL HIRSCHFELD – Since I was a little boy the magical drawings of Al Hirschfeld have absolutely fascinated me! The fact that a few twists of the pen could totally capture a person and their character was astounding to me. Every Sunday I would get up early to run to the corner store to get a Sunday New York Times and pull out the Arts & Leisure section to see who had been ‘Hirschfelded’. That was a steadfast tradition from about 1964 till Al Hirschfeld’s death in 2003. I have boxes and boxes (and boxes) of clippings of all the Hirschfelds I could find from then till now.
My dream of meeting him came true one day in the year 2000, in the theater that was later to be named for him, The Martin Beck now The Hirschfeld. The story of meeting him is a story unto it’s own. I had met the greatest of the greats until then: Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Elvis, Elton, Cher, Liz Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, but meeting Hirschfeld had topped them all. I had met the man that had documented close to 100 years of America’s entertainment history. It was the most humbling and breath taking moment of my life.
When Hirschfeld died, I bought many of his possessions at the 2011 Doyle Galleries estate sale, his pens and pencils, his large wooden pencil box, his shoulder bag and many, many other items, all lovingly displayed in my home.
Fast forward to November 14, 2013 and I am standing in front of Henri Bendel’s windows waiting for the grand unveiling of their Christmas window featuring a three dimensional tribute to the great beloved Hirschfeld.
I waited front row, clutching my Hirschfeld owned shoulder bag which still has his handwritten name tag attached written in his trademark squared signature. Due to arrive were Jerry Stiller who is featured in the window and Margo Feiden, the sole curator of the Hirschfeld collection. They were followed by the president of Bendel’s, the artistic director, and by Tom Carroll who created the pieces and Bendel’s Assistant VP of Visual, Gilberto Santana. Once inside, I showed the president of Bendel’s my Hirschfeld bag, “You must meet Margo!” (Shades of ‘All About Eve’!!) She welcomed me with open arms and warmth. There I was, after 49 years of collecting, sitting with Margo Feiden, holding hands and telling her my Hirschfeld stories. She so very much reminded my of my dear aunt “G” (see older posts here.) I told her: “Back in the 1960’s and 70’s I was the quintessential stage door Johnny. I had met Bergman, Davis and Crawford…” Margo squeezed my hand and cut me off, “but when you met Hirschfeld…” she interrupted. “Yes!” I proclaimed, “how did you know?” “I can see it in your eyes, it’s still there.” She held my hand tighter. I will not forget that moment. Bendel’s has a limited edition ($100.) poster available for sale commemorating the evening which I asked Margo to sign. “I hope you can read this,” she said as she rolled it up before I could read what she had written to me. I was on cloud 9 as I thanked her and left.
I called mom and told her of the wonderful evening and how my Hirschfeld story had come full cycle. “Well what did Margo write to you?!” mom asked. I didn’t know, because shortly thereafter it was tied up in the traditional brown/white polka dotted Bendel bow and into to fancy large shopping bag it went. “I’ll stop by your apartment on the way home and we can unveil it together.” I rushed home holding onto to it for dear life.
Once in mom’s living room, we carefully untied the bow and unrolled the large parchment poster, our eyes transfixed on the small handwriting on the poster, trying to make out the inscription. Then we both looked at up each other and were speechless when we saw what Margo had written: “To Hans, with your enthusiasm Bendel’s won’t need lights, Margo Feiden.”
My heart is full.
The celebrated party guests translated into three dimensions in the window include from left to right: Whoopi Goldberg, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Woody Allen, Matthew Broderick, Liza, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jerry Stiller, Bernadette Peters, Carol Channing and Hirschfeld himself. (Omitted in error is Margo Feiden.)
The Margo Feiden Gallery
15 East 9 St Between 5th Ave & University Place
New York, NY 10003 (212) 677-5330 : http://www.alhirschfeld.com/index2.html
Mondays on Memory Lane: CARRIE BRADSHAW DIDN’T LIKE MY BIRTHDAY GIFT – I haven’t written down one of my dreams in years, but this crazy one happened to me yesterday afternoon.
It begins ~ I am giving a tour on a double decker bus on a lovely day in New York. During lunchtime I remember that I have to go to an actors audition and hurry there. In hurrying there my touring guide clothes morph in to casual clothes and I arrive at the audition which seems to look like an office I had once worked in. I say a few lines and get the part but I am told that is not enough, I need to get more people to come to the audition. I hesitate but tell the man I think I can get my group of friends to come. He tells me he is pleased with that and the part is mine if the others will accept the parts too.
I rush home to an/my apartment which astoundingly looks like the apartment from the TV series “The Odd Couple” except it is empty. No furniture, nothing on the walls. I hurriedly walk around the apartment looking for a telephone to call my friends for the audition and stumble into a room filled with vintage 1970’s electronic equipment, all of which is playing. A fancy stereo turntable, an old fashioned TV, an old clunky VCR and a music DJ’s soundboard – all of them interconnected by thick cable wires. (Kind of like in the ‘Saw’ movies.) I am confused why they have all been left on and disconnect them one by one and leave the old telephone connected and call my friends, only to be reminded by them that I have to attend of their birthday party’s in a few hours.
Being in the empty apartment, I have no gift and head out the long corridor and out the door to an outlet store. In the store I am met by an over ambitious sales person trying to make a sale and my sales resistance seems to have weakened, I find my self telling him that it needs to be a “Sex and the City” themed gift. He anxiously shows me an array of show related items but I say they are not good enough or unique enough. I remember saying I needed four of the same gift (which makes no sense since the party seemed to be for one person.) The salesperson shows me this strange tall iron box which looks like a periscope kids used to play with, equipped with mirror and all. I am fascinated by it and told it is a very rare one of a kind piece. Satisfied with the provenance, I buy it and 2 similar gifts and also a fourth separate gift.
I rush to the party and the home of my ‘friends’ has the atmosphere of a nice California villa but inside was a New York City bar. At the bar sat my four friends very happy to see me – ‘the girls’ Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbes, Samantha Jones and Charlotte York – the cast from “Sex and the City” (the later years). Upon seeing me they rush to greet me and I proudly reveal my birthday gift for the birthday girl which turns out to be Carrie/Sarah Jessica Parker. I tell her that I also got her the parts at the audition which she isn’t so pleased about but I have the audacity to say to her “hey, but at least you’ll be working in something you know!” She accepts the idea but is instantly distracted by the gift. At first she is thrilled with excitement which then turns to horror. “Omg, do you realize what this is? Do yo know who made this?!” Dumfounded, I thought ‘great’, I bought a rare art treasure for the elite Carrie.
“No! This has been made by an ancient American Indian tribe, this is from a tribal ritual. I can’t keep this! It is cursed! You have to return it!” Disappointed, I take the art piece back staring at it. In the meantime, Miranda Hobbes loves her gift and Samantha is filled with joy at her gift (which I don’t know what it is) and she gives me a great big kiss. Charlotte just seems to be lost in the background. Carrie’s upset voice reemerges “you have to return this, do you realize what this is?!”
Downtrodden I leave the party with the rejected gift in hand and all of a sudden I am laying on an outdoor staircase in the sun, sunning myself with the ‘art’ salesman, telling the salesman, “Carrie didn’t like her gift, but she will reluctantly appear on the show.”
The next voice I hear is that of Perry Mason and I wake up in a familiar bed. I have fallen asleep watching retro television programs while in a pizza haze after a long days work.
The moral of this story: “Don’t eat four slices of pizza after having had no breakfast – you pass out in a pizza food haze in front of your TV and wind of buying bad gifts for Carrie Bradshaw. “