Liz Smith: On To The Debates

“THE REPUBLICANS left Tampa, Florida wondering who had invited Clint Eastwood. The Democrats are now wondering who disinvited God,” wrote my pal Gail Collins in the New York Times.

This is the best thing written about the political conventions. Now, on to the debates:

Jim Lehrer conducting on domestic policy with Obama and Romney, on October 3, a Wednesday.

Martha Raddatz with the vice-presidential nominees on October 11, a Thursday.

Candy Crowley with a town meeting format, including foreign and domestic policy with Romney and Obama, on October 16, a Tuesday. Bob Schieffer with the presidential candidates on foreign policy, on October 22, a Monday.

SPEAKING of the Times – maybe I’m behind in my newspapering but there was an advertisement for Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch Whiskey right on the front page last week.

Well, I salute the Times for surviving in these hard days for print. But have to admit that shocked me a little. And, I didn’t really know that scotch, the alcoholic drink of World War II, was still popular. I thought vodka, tequila, and white wine had taken over!

Chloe Kimball with George Stephanopoulos at the Democratic ConventionMY favorite photo of the recent Democratic Convention is this one of young Chloe Kimball (as an aide to Diane Sawyer) sitting with family friend George Stephanopoulos of ABC.

Chloe is the young, beautiful, self-possessed and smart child of novelist Holly Peterson and Wall Street’s Rick Kimball. Her proud grandparents, Pete Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney, are long time philanthropists and friends.

I am amazed at how knowledgeable, ethical and independent some young high schoolers are these days. They are good citizens. They want to work and help others. They are deep into healthy eating and the ecology.

They aren’t all out drugging, drinking, and rocking and rolling, making a show of themselves. This fall school season, their homework alone would stagger the average adult.

Instead of lying around this summer, some of them — like Chloe — made themselves useful.

ALTHOUGH THE Hollywood Reporter muses that Clint Eastwood’s odd speech at the RNC might affect the box-office and/or any possible Oscar nominations for his latest movie, “Trouble With The Curve,” I have to disagree.

People who love Eastwood and his filmmaking will go see anything he does, including “Trouble With The Curve.” If anything, there might be increased curiosity among non-fans to get a more significant gander at the icon who chats in lively, quirky fashion to unseen presidents.

APPARENTLY MADONNA’S recent experiences overseas (especially in the increasingly stringent Russia) has ignited The Big M’s patriotism. At last Thursday night’s show in Yankee Stadium, she spoke up rousingly (again) for the freedom of speech and expression in the U.S.A. (Is she just coming to realize her career would never have happened anyplace else in the world?)

She also had “Obama” emblazoned on her back, and at one point declared, “Well, thank God for Michelle Obama!” I have a feeling Madonna watched at least part of the Democratic Convention.

IF YOU thought you’d seen the last of Marilyn Monroe, in the wake of the orgy of attention that the 50th anniversary of her death generated, think again. She is eternal. Indeed, the Humane Society of New York is using an exquisite 1954 Milton Greene photo of MM on the invite to its November 14th gala. This will be the organization’s 4th Benefit Photography Auction. (One assumes Milton’s photo of Marilyn will be up for sale, among others.) Alexandra Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos are the honorary chairs. Cornelia Guest is the evening’s Chairman and the still exquisite Ali MacGraw will be the special guest.

Call 212-752-4842.

I AM forever writing here about Marilyn. Ånd people often ask me when and if I met her and was I a good friend? I have already written that we were not friends and never actually met.

My vast information about Marilyn springs from my long friendship with her great (and last) press agent Pat Newcomb, from the late PR insiders Lois Smith  and John Springer, and from speaking privately with Frank Sinatra, Dean and Jeannie Martin, Pat Lawford, Tita Cahn, Tony Curtis, etc. Marilyn knew a lot of people and I knew those people. And they were all obsessed by her. Lois Smith once told me: “I never felt that way about another star ever I worked with. She made you want to protect her from anything hurtful.” Sinatra would have married her, if Joe DiMaggio hadn’t been around.

MM with Montgomery Clift at the New York premiere of The Misfits in 1961But I have often recounted barely recovering, as a fan, back in early 1961, from seeing her smothered in a black sable wrap, very glamourous, very beautiful, very blonde, attending the New York premiere of “The Misfits” in NYC. She was with Montgomery Clift. (The Arthur Miller marriage had already collapsed.)

They sat down in front of my aisle and I observed them throughout the film, cuddling, giggling and being very happy in the manner of real pals. So here’s a photo that very night.

And I had never seen it before.

Perhaps it is one of the few nights in the lives of these two talented stars when they were truly happy. (At least in each other’s company.) Marilyn famously disliked the film and her character, which was based so much on her. Both of them were to die only too young, but they were even then, already legends.

I CELEBRATE the appointment of Anne-Imelda Radice to head up the directorship of the American Folk Art Museum. I have always loved this museum near Lincoln Center and at Christmas, going there solves all my “gift problems.” But it is much more than that.

Anne was formerly the Director of the Institute of the Museum and Library Service for both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. She is deeply experienced and loves art, as a curator/director. Like many another talented native of Buffalo, New York, Anne is making her mark in Manhattan.

This column originally appeared on on 9/10/12

One Response so far.

  1. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Such an endearing photo of Ms. Monroe. I understand how she would instill in those close to her who were truly capable of empathy a need to protect and nurture. At her most candid, she has always seemed to me the essence of vulnerability.

    Of course, I only know her through photographs…and I rely mostly on your words for the actuality of the woman she was. Mr. Wow has given a lot of insight into Marilyn the human being as well. I think she was lovely, sexy, powerful and walking wounded, a bruised flower that wilted when the full light of the sun no longer was hers alone. What a vast well of anger and helplessness she must have felt, and not just because of what others did to her, but because she could not accept that she could not exist perpetually as the Golden Goddess of Beauty and Sexuality. And above all, Youth.

    Every year, at the anniversary of her death, I feel a very real sadness. As you well know, I am no star worshiper. I feel that her lonely death is iconic, and a symbol of our culture’s endless, agonizing belief that only young women can be relevant, sexual, beautiful, desirable and worthy. The desperation she revealed to acquaintances not long before her death, even in passing comments, speaks of terror at an abyss of loss and worthlessness.

    Everyday women desperately spend thousands, no millions of dollars in futile attempts to deny that time passes. They go so far as to endanger their lives in order that they not show the slightest sign of age for fear of losing their employment, their social positions, the love of their partners, their friends, even their children…and their confidence, self-esteem and happiness.

    Beauty does not come from with out. It comes from within.

    Poor Marilyn Monroe. I hope she is at peace. America’s women are not.