"True love is like ghosts, which everybody talks about and few have seen." -- La Rochefoucauld.
I HAVE no "inside" sources or access to "close friends" of Jennifer Aniston, but I am hoping that the flurry of gossip that has Aniston and her sexy actor boyfriend Justin Theroux postponing their marriage is a ruse. Famous people can be wed privately, without fuss or paparazzi. (I always recall, with bittersweet pleasure, the big one that JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette pulled on the media, leaving everybody gasping in surprise.)
A CONFIRMED split is that one between eternal bachelor George Clooney -- we don't count his first, early marriage; he certainly doesn't -- from statuesque blond Stacy Keibler. They drifted apart. No great surprise. And I doubt there was any convulsive weeping on either side. George doesn't want marriage. He doesn't want children, with or without marriage. No wise woman would enter into a relationship with this honest, gentlemanly charmer expecting to change his ways. Have fun while it lasts. Keep the jewelry, the clothes and the vital contacts made while you clung to Clooney's impeccably tuxedoed arm at various events.
On July 1 when a lot of you were vacationing, I wrote a column about the beloved actress Sylvia Sidney and how we were both inducted into the Players Club on the same night as Helen Hayes and others. (You could call this piece up by going to the archives of the newyorksocialdiary.com.)
Now comes my friend, Terry Hodge Taylor, who annually puts new and old theater people up on the Gershwin Theatre's Hall of Fame each year.
He reminds us that he produced the 100th anniversary I referred to, which happened in 1989. It was the first time the Players Club had ever admitted women. He corrects me, by saying it wasn't actor Jack Klugman who offered a dismal bouquet onstage to Sylvia Sidney, but Jack Gilford. (So many guys have played the roles in "The Odd Couple" that I sometimes get them mixed up.)
Anyway, herein is Terry's remembrance of why the flowers were so dismal that Sylvia struck Gilford across the face with them right there onstage.
Terry: "Bouquets had been purchased to the exact number of ladies being inducted. But writer Garson Kanin came to me as the evening started and asked why wasn't his wife, Marian Seldes, being invited into the Players?
"He kept insisting; Marian said she didn't care, but Garson continued, so as he was the vice president of the club, I finally said yes, Marian should go up.
"Because everyone came on alphabetically, Marian preceded Sylvia and got the last big bouquet.
Sylvia received the poor leftovers. This occasioned her response, which was vividly dramatic.
"Kitty Hart, who had been invited but declined, came up to me the next week at another event. She said, 'I see Betty Bacall was inducted. Everyone knows she'll never pay the dues!'
"Well, I had my own hard times with Miss Bacall. She always got mad at something. After another event, she came to me and said, derisively, 'Anybody who uses three names is stupid!' I decided this would be the title of my memoirs and noted that Mary Tyler Moore had been standing nearby when Bacall declaimed this and hadn't even reacted. 'Welcome to Broadway and Bacall,' producer Arthur Rubin said to me. 'She does this to everyone!' Arthur was a producer of the musical 'Woman of the Year,' so he had contended with his star Betty Bacall every week, and that was the show in which a dancer was given a cue to enter. He said, nodding to Bacall onstage, 'I'm not going out there until they feed her!'
"I recall that at the time, Jose Ferrer was president of the Players. I just want to say he was the grandest, classiest man I ever worked with in 30 years of producing events."
I, LIZ, will say in Betty Bacall's defense that she came by her fractious personality in a perfectly normal manner. She was discovered as a great beauty in her teens. She wed early to Humphrey Bogart and became world famous, she later fell in love with and almost married Frank Sinatra, but ended up wedded to a celebrated, talented drunk, Jason Robards. None of these big male stars got along well with the press so whatever happened to Betty en route to stardom was only natural. She still doesn't trust any of us.
Nevertheless, she is one of my favorite people. When I used to encounter her, she would pause and ask, "Liz, am I speaking to you?" "I hope so, Miss Bacall," I'd answer. I still respond to the same question.
She once called and asked me to get Mayor Bloomberg to have her streetlight fixed so the green would give her more chance to cross Central Park West. When I said I didn't think I could bother the mayor with such a request, she was furious. But she always quickly recovers when we fail her.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)