Liz Smith: New York City's Newscast Legend Sue Simmons — Going, But Not For Long!

And more from our Liz: do high heels hobble women’s power? … Gloria Steinem speaks … “Game Change” raises HBO to the heights

“COULD YOU imagine a man giving up his power by having to focus on walking in shoes (with four-five- six-inch heels)? It’s the 21st century version of Chinese foot-binding,”

So said “Debra,” posting to the New York Times website regarding female celebrities and other women keeping up this fashion statement.

Hmmm. Perhaps. On the other hand, many women feel more powerful in their heels — and not just as sexual objects. High heels of varying heights have been around for centuries. For a few years only, in the late 1960s, women’s heels fell. (And skirts got much shorter.) But that didn’t last. Women want their heels. And their short skirts, too.

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ARE YOU a fan of Gloria Steinem? I am. So the Common Good, courtesy of Patricia Duff, is offering the HBO documentary “Gloria: In Her Own Words,” on March 21 with a discussion following that will feature Gloria in person. There will be a Q&A led by the ebullient Gayle King, now of CBS.

Call 212-599-7040 about this event, where you’ll be seeing New York’s “finest” women. The names are too VIP to print them all!

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NO ONE can say New York’s women haven’t risen to the heights, celebrating Women’s History Month. At a time when women the world over are being pressed and oppressed, Tina Brown, Diane von Furstenberg and the complex of international media have more than done their part. Their three-day extravaganza last weekend at the United Nations and at the Koch Theater in Lincoln Center was one of the most dazzling displays of talent, knowledge and progress in the history of the world.

We all owe Tina and Diane a big vote of thanks!

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Everything comes to an end, I suppose. I was thinking of all the great good times I had for many years, starting in 1978, when I began working with people like Chuck Scarborough, Jack Cafferty, Pia Lindstrom and Sue Simmons on WNBC’s evening news, along with the famous trendsetting informal lead-in show, “Live at Five.”

Cindy Adams’ very real scoop that the super-popular Sue is leaving WNBC this summer has shocked and hurt people who don’t realize that change is inevitable. It took me a while before I realized it myself — but I “got mine” when the New York Post didn’t renew my column contract a few years ago. I finally adjusted to the rejection. I already knew I wasn’t young anymore — and I had never really suited the Rupert Murdoch tabloid anyway, although I enjoyed being given an energetic outlet there and went on to work for Fox News.

These thoughts made me remember the days when Sue Simmons first came to us on “Live at Five.” She was a tiny bit jittery at first. She assumed, I thought then, that we were elite racists and wouldn’t really accept her. But we adored her from the start and almost all of New York City fell in love with her irrepressible style, her wit, her jokes, her japes, and how she couldn’t be shut down, shut up, or fazed..

I was always amazed at how cool Sue was. New York culture and art didn’t impress her. She just went her own way, having a ball. There has never been anybody else even remotely like her in TV land. I was always trying to get Sue to appreciate New York’s biggest asset — the theater. She couldn’t have cared less. Finally, I settled on a kind of lower-brow message musical, “La Cage Aux Folles,” and talked her into going.

The next day I asked, “Well, Sue, how did you like it?”

“I liked it,” she shrugged. (Pause) “I left after the intermission.”

“You left?? Why?”

“Well, I knew how it turned out.”

This reminded me of the famous saloon keeper Toots Shor at John Gielgud’s “Hamlet.” He said to pals as he wandered around, bewildered, at intermission. “I guess I’m da only mug here who don’t know how this play turns out!” A reverse on Sue Simmons.

But I’m not worried about Sue. I’m worried about her diehard fans who simply don’t want to do without her. She has been making great money. She has a happy home in Connecticut. She’ll get a lot of offers to go elsewhere. I’m relatively sure she’ll be back somewhere. Wait for it.

Oh yes, I know you know what Sue Simmons looks like. She’s a famous New Yorker. Here she is in a photo I treasure, as little Sue Simmons who hadn’t yet begun to answer back and wise-off. So cute. Good luck, Sue!

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SPEAKING OF women: love her or loathe her, Sarah Palin still fascinates the public. “Game Change,” the HBO movie about Sarah’s rise and fall as a vice presidential candidate, turned into the network’s biggest hit in eight years. Sure, there were Woody Harrelson and Ed Harris fans who tuned in — but the main event was Julianne Moore as Mrs. Palin.

I still say the movie is considerably more sympathetic to Sarah than her conservative defenders insist — many of whom sniff and say, “Of course I haven’t seen it!” I never thought Palin would fade away after the ’08 election. She’d gotten a real taste of power and stardom — adulation. Her story is far from over.

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I LOVE this quote from comic book king, Stan Lee — he is the creator of hundreds of famous characters, including Spider-Man and The Hulk. Stan, interviewed by Time magazine, was asked what he was more afraid of — mutants, zombies or space aliens.

Stan: “I don’t understand zombies. Because it seems to me that somebody who is dead and come back to life should be so grateful that he’s here and living again — why would he want to eat up other people? I think the first thing he’d do is get a nice apartment, figure out how he can make a living and get a girlfriend.”

4 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Lucien says:


    I remember the “Live at Five” days fondly. Still watching “Chuck and Sue” at 11 o’clock. Would like to see Sue return in the interview format from “Live at Five”. You all looked like you were having a great time on air (and behind the scenes as well I’m sure). I’m sure she will bounce back from this as you did when the Post canceled your column. You can’t keep a good woman down. Onward and upward – and keep up the good work!

  2. avatar D C says:

    Regarding heels — Due to too much surgical metal in certain places, I am limited to 2 inch heels.  I’ve tried, trust me, but the right ankle just won’t bend any further.  I’m 5’8″, and I must admit, when I wear  my “high” heels, I do feel kind of powerful, since I’m already taller than most of the women I work around. 

    I saw a woman on my lunch break today, and have seen her a few times in and around my building, and she wears what I call “hooker” heels every time I’ve seen her.  Hooker heels are the ones with a 6 inch stiletto and a big platform on the front.  She is about 5’6″ with those heels on, so I can understand her desire to wear them to get vertically closer to co-workers, but I gotta say, they really look kind of ridiculous to me for office wear. 

    I know, I know… I’m an old lady now and I just don’t understand young people’s fashion these days… but seriously — those things look positively dangerous!  I can see going out on the town in them — not any less dangerous, but at least then you can turn your whole focus to your looks.  If you’re focused that much on staying upright all day long at work, well that just seems like a waste of a lot of energy. 

  3. avatar Rho says:

    Liz, I would like to comment on Sue Simmons.  I do not think it’s her age, I believe it’s because she has been ill.  I am sorry to see her go.

  4. avatar wlaccma says:

    Sue should take her money and run. I don’t understand people who do not want to retire. Every day is a new day. You get to decide if you want to do anything special or not. You can travel all over the world (if you have her money), eat out for lunch and go to bed every night not thinking about what you have to do the next day. You can spend an entire day reading a book, watching movies or spread out on a beach some where in the world. It is glorious. Why do people fight it so hard?