"Letters! We get letters, mostly emails and we love hearing from our readers," says yours truly.
Eydie Gorme's recent death touched so many of us.
Barry Parnell notes: "I once produced a TV show starring Steve (Lawrence) and Don Rickles. One lunchtime, Ms. Gorme called me in a state. She had left the house to go shopping and had forgotten her house keys. I suggested she come to the studio and wait for Steve to finish for the day. When she arrived I was waiting outside for her. After parking the car, she emerged from the driver's side, took one look at me and said in her great voice, 'I NEED A HUG!' and I was immediately enveloped in her warm embrace. She was a warm, kind, very talented, loving lady."
And another country heard from in Russ Elliott: "You're right. Greta Garbo lived at East 52nd Street. Around the corner from the fish store, The Pisacane, where I was doing a mural. Garbo used to come by to check on my progress and now and again I'd have a message from my patron, Joan Crawford, for Garbo. Van Johnson was also a close friend of Garbo's. The East 50s were at that time filled with lots of Hollywood names ... Hermione Gingold, Lotte Lenya, Van Johnson, Rae Dawn Chong. Also, Garbo was not chummy with her neighbors."
Nancy Davis emails: "I am working on a book about Travis Banton. My mother worked for Mr. Banton, the costume designer at Universal in the '40s. When she passed on, she left me his address book. I read in your column today about Valentina and Greta Garbo and their relationship. I remembered that Valentina's address was in the book. So I looked it up and next to her name, Mr. Banton had written 'Garbo's enemy.' How's that for confirmation by another source!"
A reference to 450 East 52nd Street as being called "Garbo's building" by some and "Mrs. John Barry Ryan's building" by others, caused Robert A.W. Jones to reminisce about Mrs. Ryan's celebrated onetime daughter-in-law, DD Ryan, who left this earth in 2007.
He writes: "I remember so vividly meeting DD Ryan in the early '80s at parties. What a memorable event that was. Like most people, I was struck by her 'look,' but it was her conversation that captured your attention.
"Readers might enjoy learning about DD or Dee Dee (Dorinda Dixon) Ryan. Certainly one of the most creative and resilient ladies of our past.
"DD was a pet find and photo editor for super editor Diana Vreeland. When she married in 1954, Mrs. Vreeland put her on the cover of Harper's Bazaar (to the astonishment of one and all) -- for she was wearing a headscarf or "babushka" with her wedding gown."
Mr. Jones continues: "Rather than have a scandal in the family, the senior Mrs. Ryan would not allow her son and DD to divorce but agreed to give DD a monthly income, free rooms on the floor above Mrs. Ryan's apartment (servant's rooms) and promised to support her son, all provided they did not divorce.
"I worked with furniture designer Angelo Donghia at that time and knew some of the inner-workings of DD Ryan's life with her husband and her mother-in-law. DD was at this time, working for Halston and was reported to have been madly infatuated with him. Halston and Angelo shared a house on Fire Island for several summers and once traveled together with their respective mothers, on board the S.S. United States to Europe. Halston had designed very special headwear for the last night party aboard ship.
"This last story, I only know about from the maid who shared work duties between Halston and Angelo. Her stories about Halston's boyfriend, Victor Hugo, were a hoot. But perhaps not for print. Well ... one, Victor had no problems with nudity. One morning Sadie was cleaning the living room in Halston's house. Victor woke up and walked into the balcony overlooking the living room, not wearing a stitch. Sadie was not amused and told him to "put away your lipstick."
Liz P.S. DD Ryan continued her eccentric ways in theater. She did the costumes for Steve Sondheim's hit "Company." She once complained to the amused star, Elaine Stritch, to change her earrings. "I want you to wear the grey earring on your 'downstage' ear," Ryan said, "and the black earring on your 'upstage' ear."
Elaine protested that the audience wouldn't be able to tell the difference. "But I will," said DD Ryan.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)