Memories I Should Have Had

Part 9

New York: The Little Bar at Sardi’s/The Blue Ribbon/Greenwich Village

17 September

“Life” goes to Sardi’s…

I’m meeting Billy Rose at Sardi’s to talk about his plans for the Ziegfeld Theater and some kind of book for a new Aquacade. He thinks I can convince Esther Williams to leave MGM and rejoin his show.


Memories I Should Have Had

Part 8

New York: Sardi’s/St. James Theatre

21 May

Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner in the original production of “The King and I.” Lawrence was fatally ill throughout the run, though even Rodgers & Hammerstein and her doctors didn’t realize it.

Lunch with Katharine Cornell and Guthrie McClintic. Vincent Sardi buzzes around the table supervising the waiter making the eponymous salad for Kit. Sardi is distracted and the waiter serves it. Kit takes one bite and stage-whispers, “Needs more garlic.” The waiter is nonplussed, “Miss Cornell, I must have put in four cloves of garlic…” McClintic snaps, “Then four more are in order.” At that moment, Sardi returns asking if everything is all right. McClintic queries him, “Is garlic being rationed?” Sardi glares at the waiter and…


Memories I Should Have Had

Part Seven

New York, Midtown

10 November

Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green remaking Broadway.

Oscar Levant is in town for the Jack Paar Show. He’s in a bad way. Even for him. Fortunately, I round up Betty Comden and Adolph Green for moral support. Betty complains, and I tell them why I can’t take him to NBC.


Part 6

“Luscious” Lucius Beebe, columnist, bon vivant, historian, dandy deluxe. “Renaissance man” is an inadequate description.

New York/Leningrad

4-6 September

I’m having too many drinks with Lucius Beebe at El Morocco. He introduces me to a classmate of his who once helped him try to take the shoes off John Harvard. I ask Lucius, if he means the statue in Harvard Yard. Beebe’s pal interjects, “Three lies—the statue of three lies. What do you know anyway, Lucius? You decamped to New Haven.” Beebe rises to his full height, which is considerable. “I am the only man in the annals of American academia ever to have been expelled from both Yale and Harvard.”

Lucius stalks…


Memories I Should Have Had

Part Five

Oona O’Neill, Carol Marcus, and Gloria Vanderbilt, Manhattan’s “trio” of glamour girls. Among the men in their love lives: Charlie Chaplin, J.D.Salinger, William Saroyan, Leopold Stokowski, and Walter Matthau. Carol Marcus inspired Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly.

29 May

New York, Lower East Side

Out on the town with George Jean Nathan, Julie Haydon, William Saroyan, Carol Marcus and the Broadway columnist, Louis Sobol. We end up at The Old Roumanian. Nathan tells me that if I don’t fall in love with Roxanne the singing star of the creaking floor show I should take Holy Orders. Saroyan and Carol, his fiancée, are feeling no pain. Sobol makes mental notes for his column.


Part Four

One of the original Washington pundits, Joseph Alsop coined the phrase, “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” Unfortunately, he said it about Viet Nam.

7 March

Washington, D.C.

Joe Alsop calls me at the Hay-Adams, where I’m staying, and asks me if I’ll drive a cherry tree over to Arlington National Cemetery where Stewart, his brother, will plant it by William Howard Taft’s grave. It’s supposed to bloom next year at the anniversary of the Japanese government’s presentation of the cherry trees.

Alsop tells me, “Stewart forgot the tree in the bar. He knows better than to have four martinis at lunch. But, he might have seen Art Buchwald waddling around. There’s a rumor he’s here on a flying visit. …


Memories I Should Have Had

Part Three

Toots Shor’s the original New York sports bar. Jackie Gleason’s HQ. Joe DiMaggio’s tab is still open. Marianne Moore and Muhammad Ali collaborate on a poem. Mostly a male preserve though — note the woman in the upper right corner being ignored: Marilyn Monroe

10 October

New York, Toots Shor’s, Hotel Elysée

Walking down 51st St. past midnight, after a long dinner at Toots Shor’s with Joe DiMaggio, Marianne Moore, and Jackie Gleason, who passes out midway through, with his head on my shoulder.

A cab pulls over with Cobina Wright, Sr. and Elsa Maxwell. Elsa rolls down the window and says, “Hop in, party at Tallulah’s.” It’s a tight fit. Elsa enjoys being squeezed next to Cobina.


Part Two

1 June

Blue Harbour, Jamaica

Noël Coward invites me to his place in Jamaica. In his invitation he reminds me of a “morbidly delightful conversation” we’d had the night we snuck out of Somerset Maugham’s villa with Jean Marais to hit the St. Tropez waterfront.

I barely remember any of it as Gerald Haxton spiked my drinks with absinthe. Except vague memory of arm-wrestling with Picasso to decide who’d wear Brigitte Bardot’s bandeau.

Jamaica is a repeat of the Riviera, but strictly a theatre crowd. Clifton Webb, Katharine Cornell, Guthrie McClintic, Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne, Laurence Olivier…


Part One

Tom Connolly

Somerset Maugham entertaining Winston Churchill.

My life has always been particularly interesting to me. Through the years almost every time a friend has mentioned someone famous, I recall a time that I wished I had met that celebrity. I know that there are so many occasions when if I had been there it would have both appropriate and exciting for me to have mingled with the famous and the infamous. Now I realize that it is my responsibility to create the diaries for the memoir I ought to have been able to write. …


Breaking Bad, Dostoevsky, and Marketplace Morality

Tom Connolly

From the perspective of the television series, Breaking Bad’s anti-hero Walter White is not just an “angry middle-aged white guy.” He represents the repressed rage of America’s ill-used PhDs. This is why “he is the danger.” White has lived his life according to what he thought was standard and decent conduct. In a significant character development, late in the series, we learn how he shortsightedly deprived himself of a legitimate fortune when he opted out of the Gray Matter Corporation.

This matters because earlier there had been vague hints that Walter had…

Tom Connolly

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