Liz Smith: The Girl Who Loved Stieg Larsson

And more from our Liz: Kris Malkoski, the queen of a man’s world … Michael Jackson’s tigers … recommending a classic –“Dodsworth”

“THIS IS the first time I have written to you knowing exactly what to say. I love you, I love you, I love you. I want you to know that. I want you to know I love you more than I have ever loved anyone else. I want you to remember me but not grieve for me. Don’t forget me, but go on living. Live you life. Pain will fade, even if that’s hard to imagine right now. Live in peace my dearest love; live, love hate. And keep fighting … thank you for the beautiful times we had together. You made me very happy. Adieu.

“I kiss you goodbye, Eva. From Stieg with love.”

This is a portion of a letter written by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson to his life partner, Eva Gabrielsson. She read it at his funeral. Stieg died in 2004 at the age of 50. But this was not written shortly before his sudden death. Or ten years ago. Or twenty. It was written to Eva in February of 1977, when Stieg was 22.

Eva discovered it in a box his belongings. It was in an envelope marked, “To be opened only after my death.” Apparently, Stieg was sure Eva was — using that now clichéd phrase — his “soul mate” very early on!

I was so profoundly moved by this, I had to put aside my copy of Vanity Fair. (VF is running an excerpt from Eva’s coming book “There are Things I want You to Know about Stieg Larsson and Me.”) The entire article is beautifully written, but Stieg’s love letter is heart-stopping.

The cover of Vanity Fair is a radiant photo of William and Kate, photographed inside by Mario Testino, who took many dramatic and famous shots of Diana. The cover line reads: “Will and Kate’s New Life! “Their U.S. Road Trip. Plus: Honeymooning, House-Hunting, and Who Takes Out the Garbage?” It’s written by Katie Nicholl, and I am sure it’s fine. But I didn’t read it. I wanted to stay with Stieg and Eva for a while.

* * *

KNOW THIS name: Kris Malkoski. Kris, the mother of three, is the very first woman veep and general manager in the 80-year history of Craftsman, America’s # tool brand.

Under her guidance, Craftsman has introduced 70 new tool innovations (Craftsman membership is up 5%) She has forged a partnership with ACE Hardware and W.W. Grainger to carry Craftsmen tools for the very first time, and she has launched something called Craftsman Experience in Chicago, a “brand emersion center” and social media hub.

Here are Ms. Malkoski’s five principals for success:

  • Work hard to be the very best you can be, regardless of the task
  • Don’t be afraid to fail
  • Know what you love to do
  • Create and use resources
  • Have integrity

As Father’s Day approaches, just remember, when you’re picking up that spiffy drill or wrench for dad — it’s a little lady from Nebraska who is deciding what to put on the shelves.

* * *

TIGER, TIGER! Some of you may have read that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket is up for auction at Julien’s in Hollywood this weekend. The ornate jacket is expected to fetch a fortune.

What you don’t know is that a portion of the proceeds will go to The Shambala Preserve, an animal sanctuary where Jackson’s two Bengal tigers, “Sabu” and “Thriller” are now living. The tigers have been living at Shambala — which is run by actress Tippi Hedren — since 2006, when a heartbroken Michael left Neverland Ranch.

Tippi says, “We are so grateful. It takes about $75,000 a month to keep us operational. This includes the compound upkeep, the best food and medical care for all our wild ones, including Thriller and Sabu. The former star of “The Birds” and “Marnie” adds, “Michael’s children are welcome to come and visit the tigers, and all the animals anytime.”

* * *

SPOTTED: The adorable Zac Efron, at the E3 Convention in Los Angeles. He spent a long time at the THQ booth, checking out the upcoming video game “Saints Row: The Third.”(It’s about the fictional city of Steelport and an ongoing gangwar between The Saints and The Syndicate.)

Zac is either a big gamer or he is looking to be the next action star of a movie based on a video game. Or both.

He was extremely polite to fans, which is always nice to hear.

* * *

DOESN’T IT seem like Dakota Fanning has been around forever? Isn’t she like, 25? Well, she has been around forever, but incredibly she is only seventeen and just graduated from North Hollywood’s Campbell Hall Episcopal High School. She was a cheerleader and prom queen. College? Hmmmm … maybe not.

She is set to play the late Princess Margaret (who was quite the hot number in her day) in “Girls Night Out.” And she has two more movies scheduled after that.

Dakota is a wonderful actress, but I can never get her annoying performance in “War of the Worlds” out of my head. She was so bratty and screamed so incessantly throughout I kept hoping Tom Cruise, playing her father, would just toss her to the aliens and get it over with.

* * *

ENDQUOTE: “But what’s going to happen to me?”

“I don’t know, I guess you’ll have to stop getting younger.”

“Do you think you can ever get me out of your blood?”

“Maybe not, but love has to stop somewhere short of suicide!”

Those are the final bitter words between Ruth Chatterton and Walter Huston in the great 1936 movie adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ “Dodsworth.” I watched it again on Turner Classic Movies, and this tale of a marriage unraveling has not lost its power. It is amazingly modern for its time, and also features Mary Astor at her ravishing peak of beauty.

Chatterton’s final scream — “He’s gone ashore! He’s gone ashore!” — after Huston leaves her alone on the Queen Mary, still freezes the blood. Please catch this the next time it’s on.

4 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I was so profoundly moved by this, I had to put aside my copy of Vanity Fair. (VF is running an excerpt from Eva’s coming book “There are Things I want You to Know about Stieg Larsson and Me.”) The entire article is beautifully written, but Stieg’s love letter is heart-stopping.


    It has to be something really special for me to want to read something in Vanity Fair and so I will pick up a copy and will read the book as well.  Heart stopping indeed.

  2. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    Every ten years or so, I read a sci-fi novel or something close. Stieg has never been on that list. It belongs to Pamela Sargent of the Venus series. A beautiful writer, but I’ve yet to complete the trilogy (of Venus). As you can imagine, I may have to reread them all. I just threw that it. Stieg was a Swedish communist, wasn’t he? It’s all I know about him and virtually nothing about Eva. While married, I x-rayed Tippi’s husband when he was attacked by the lions. This was in LA, and I remember if was before their divorce and just opened their animal compound. “The Birds” and “Marnie” are good films that I watch each time they are available (wouldn’t buy them thought). Hitch (whose last words in life were to me) discovered Tippi, but was much more complex and conniving than Grace Kelly. Maybe the sign of the times, or the films. I remember her in “The Harrod Experiment” thought she is forgettable. With so many film roles, it is only the third film I remember her in. Good PR, I guess. It was released in 1973, when I was just a wee lad in terms of a sexual revolution. Going to a sexual college was interesting to me then. It was all going so well…until 1981: AIDS. Mary Aston had quite the life on and off screen, but beautiful…she was!

  3. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Yes, he was a Comminist.  And a very nice one, from all accounts.  He fought the extreme right wing and racial predjudice. 
    Tippi was a terrible actress, but she might have gone a bit further had Hitch not destroyed her career because she did not return his affections.  (She was eventually compelled to utter the unspeakable—ugh, you’re fat!”)  Still, her awkwarness works in both”The Birds” and “Marnie.”  The only memorable moment in “The Harrod Experient” was a full frontal nude shot of a very young Don Johnson. 

  4. avatar phillipg says:

    Hi Liz, love your column.  Just a tid bit, not related to today’s column, know you are a big Doris Day supporter for many years, did you know she is releasing a ‘new’ album Sept 5.  Check out her website for details,