"DON'T LET me kill the point, or isn't this a story for grown-ups?"
"You've heard it. About the time I looked into the wrong end of a camera finder."
"I'd like to hear it."
"Some snowy night in front of the fire. ... Would you check about the hors d'oeuvres, Eve? ... The caterer forgot them. The varnish wasn't dry, or something."
So it went between Bette Davis, Gary Merrill and Anne Baxter in "All About Eve," moments before everybody had to "fasten their seatbelts!"
OUR readers constantly remind us of info we don't always have. Here's Penelope Bianchi. She writes:
"When my husband and I were first married 37 years ago, my mother-in-law came to visit us in Pasadena. She asked me to take her to Los Angeles to visit 'my dear old friend from Maine for tea.' I drove her to a lovely apartment building and a young woman was waiting for us outside. We went to the penthouse at 3 p.m.
"The elevator doors opened and there, in front of us, was Bette Davis jumping up and down and ecstatic to see my mother-in-law! I was the only one who had tea! They had vodka!
"They shared stories of their wild time in Maine together when Bette was married to Gary Merrill! I tried to tell a story, but Bette Davis hushed me up !! She said, 'Listen!' We were there for four hours!
"As we were leaving, Bette told me that if I lived to be her age, and had close friends that I could count on two hands, I would be very lucky. She said since she was a movie star, she was lucky to have friends she could count on one hand! She said, 'Your mother-in-law is my closest friend! When my husband beat me up; she took me in!'
"She told a story of when they were on the board of the symphony in Portland, Maine, my mother-in-law wrote Fidel Castro and asked him for his hat to be auctioned! And he sent it! 'None of those old biddys understood what a value it was, so I had to buy it!'
"Bette Davis still had it! And she fished it out of the drawer!! This dirty old fatigue hat! When we left and the elevator doors closed, I said, 'Why didn't you tell me your dear old friend from Maine was Bette Davis?' She said, 'Darling, that was a test!!! Anyone would've taken me to have tea with Bette Davis. You passed!'"
IS IT really all over between one of the most legendary stars of all time and her husband of many years? Everybody in Hollywood says so. I've reached out to said star's PR but expect no answer or a denial. Not printing any names. Finally, I have a reasonably good relationship with this great star. Why mess with it now? It might not be true or it might just be one of those things that heal in time.
We'll know soon enough.
P.S. Of course, I did not hear from the star's press rep, but after digging a little more I got this from somebody else in L.A. "Oh, please. That magazine had a really bad photo of her and decided to make up a negative story around it. To paraphrase Mary McCarthy speaking of Lillian Hellman -- every word written in that publication is a lie, including "and" and "the."
JUSTIN BIEBER can't catch a break, although if he keeps up at this rate he is bound to catch something!
After the escape from the brothel and the photo of him sleeping (maybe) taken by some girl he met, the last we heard he couldn't find a hotel in Argentina because his fans are so disruptive and destructive. (Never get in the way of a ragingly hormonal teenage girl and the object of her affection!) South America will be glad to see the back of Mr. Bieber, although with those eternally saggy pants of his, the back of Mr. Bieber is not his most attractive side.
I hope Justin and Miley Cyrus hook up eventually. Think of the twerking possibilities!
That would take people's minds off little things like food stamps, unemployment, drones, typhoons and the Obamacare rollout.
Many people would give anything to be in the theater. They can just see themselves as stars, accepting the Tony, taking bows and having fans waiting for their autograph at the stage door.
But I want to tell you a real success story, that of director Jack O'Brien, who has a book out that is a wonder. Its title is "Jack Be Nimble: The Accidental Education of an Unintentional Director," offered by the select publishing firm Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
This is the story of a guy who fell under the influence of a gifted actor-director named Ellis Rabb and of Mr. Rabb's talented wife, the actor Rosemary Harris. Jack writes as if he hadn't a clue what his life was going to be like and the reader comes along for this merry and versatile ride.
In the end, Jack O'Brien directed the 1976 revival of "Porgy and Bess." He has also directed "Hairspray," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "Catch Me If You Can," "The Nance" and many others. Nov. 21 through Jan. 12 he will helm "Macbeth" starring John Glover and Ethan Hawke.
I think Jack O'Brien always knew he was going to become a celebrated director and there was no "accident" about it. Read his book, nevertheless, just for the thrill of it and if you truly love theater.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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