Liz Smith: PR Legend Sue Mengers Receives Her Big Ten Percent in The Sky — Liz Remembers a Remarkable Hollywood Character

Sue Mengers

And more from our Liz:  Mixing it up at Michael’s … Theater’s Hall of Fame inductees … controversial “Anonymous” screened in NYC

“Dear Liz: I would rather be a hooker in a leper colony than go back to being an agent!”

This came in a letter from the famed Sue Mengers back in the year 2000 when I had inquired if she intended to return to her chores as Hollywood’s most unusual, funniest and best known 10 percenter.

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SUE MENGERS left us for good this past weekend and maybe, this time, Sue wasn’t afraid to go. She had a lot of fun after she retired, living in a lovely house with memories of her beloved late husband Jean- Claude Tramont. Here, she entertained her many, many pals. The highlight of most recent years going to L.A. was in going to Sue’s house for dinner and wisecracks as she sat puffing marijuana in her chair. And sending up the new Hollywood.

Sue rose to the heights representing Barbra Streisand, Cher, Michael Caine and so many others. Her best friend was always the billionaire titan David Geffen. Their unrecorded conversations together would have made entertainment history.

Sue was always the funniest, quickest wit and also the slickest at getting a laugh on the foibles of others.

“Don’t dress!” was one of her memorable sayings when speaking of something grand about to happen, a show opening, a movie script being accepted, a star about to be cast. She didn’t have to add, “Don’t dress for the opening!”

When she spoke to me in “Hollywood shorthand,” mentioning someone in the executive echelons of show biz and discovered I’d never heard of them, she would always draw me up short. “Are you in the business? You should know these things! Get in the business.” I usually didn’t.

When she called me with news about someone or something, she always added, “You don’t know me. You never heard of me. Remember, you and I are not friends and I certainly never told you this.” She was a fabulous source.

The great characters in show business like Sue are making their departures. It doesn’t seem to me that anyone is coming along to take their places. I will really miss Sue Mengers.

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I was lunching at Michael’s media café (I should say “restaurant”) with my longtime pal, onetime publishing mogul Joe Armstrong. He has now turned philanthropist. (He goes to Jerusalem come Christmas time to work with needy children for Paul Newman’s Hole-in-the-Wall group.) At Michaels everything was happening including Fox News chief Roger Ailes coming in with none other than TV star Gene Simmons. I told Mr. S. I had read his book Sex, Money, Kiss and he looked stunned. “You read my book?” Yes, I am always interested in how the famous see themselves. (Maybe Mr. Simmons, on the air with “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels” for A&E since 2006, is planning a move.)

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BACK TO Fort Worth’s Mr. Armstrong, who was once the successful publisher of New York and New West magazines in their bi-coastal heyday. Joe said that he has to constantly tell people that neither he, nor I, are backing Governor Rick Perry. “I say Liz and I had to leave Texas to avoid him!”

Joe was just back from attending the Martin Luther King memorial in D.C. Forty-six years ago, he had marched for civil rights and said how thrilled he had been to see in D.C. the exalted Congressman John Lewis still going strong.

Mr. Lewis was a young man when he spoke with Dr. King at the Lincoln Memorial. He suffered beatings and indignities in those days but never lost his sense of dedication. Mr. Lewis was the first person to cross the Pettus Bridge in Selma. He is a real American hero and was the greatest presence at the new memorial to the only American citizen being honored along the Mall among Presidents.

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THE THEATER Hall of Fame, run by Terry Hodge Taylor, is always a night I adore. This year they are saluting and inducting Tyne Daly, Ben Vereen, costume’s Ann Roth, producers George White, Elliot Martin, Woodie King, Jr., director Daniel Sullivan and the late director Paul Sills.

The Honorary Chair for this 41st event at the Gershwin Theater is none other than the power house James M. Nederlander. It happens January 30th with a dinner after at the Friars Club.

Because the T.H.F. lost 25% of its annual budget when benefactor Celia Lipton Farris died in Palm Beach and didn’t think to leave them a sou, you are needed more than ever. E-mail or call 212-3071226. If you love theater, get busy!

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TOMORROW night, Columbia Pictures hosts a special screening of the already controversial new film about William Shakespeare, “Anonymous.” (The Roland Emmerich movie purports to present the “truth” about who The Great Bard really was, and what he did — or didn’t — write.)

Some of the films’ cast will attend. That includes Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, Derek Jacobi, and David Thewlis. Director Emmerich will also be there, loins girded.

From what I have seen, this is a great-looking film. Too bad its premise is so false. Shakespeare went on writing for ten years after Anonymous died.

6 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Someone told me once that it was all about the money with Sue Mengers. Well, the money and the friendships. The friendships far more important to her than the money.

  2. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    I went to a party at Sue Mengers’ house in probably 1981.  She was a real piece of work that one.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      That must have been at Moulin Rouge. Zsa Zsa’s old house. You must be somebody because you had to be somebody to get in that gate when there was a party. Everyone else got relegated to lunch. Tough broad. But nice people.

      • avatar Count Snarkula says:

        I was dating “Somebody” at the time.  And it was thought that I might become a “hot property” as an actor.  So much for thoughts.  Sue was lovely to me, but I saw her lay into an actress, famous now, not famous then, that had the poor girl running from the house into the street.

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          Yes, well, I suspect quite a few found themselves on a curb on Bel-Air Road soothing their ego as well as their rear end so to speak. I met her the first time in New York and had absolutely no idea who she was. But thought she was fun. And she reminded me of one of my best friends. Neither seemed able to start or finish a sentence without the “F” word. I met her the second time in Los Angeles. I definitely had an idea of who she was the second time. She was just a little blip on my radar so to speak but one I never forgot.

  3. avatar doe58 says:

    Dear Ms. Liz,
    I used to work at a firm named Wertheim some decades ago and there was this tall, lanky, young and sweet Texan by the name of Joe Armstrong.  Could it be one and the same?