Tag Archives: Town & Country

Words: Dodi Fayed’s Adventures in Hollywood

The first day of location filming for F/X in 1985 found an eerie foreshadowing unfolding for producer Dodi Fayed. Michael Peyser, who worked on the film with Fayed, recalls one of Fayed’s bodyguards getting into an altercation with a bus driver after the bus got too close to Fayed’s car. “It led to a shouting match between the bodyguard, who was talking to the bus driver, who didn’t like his guff,” Peyser says. “And it came to, I believe, some fisticuffs.”

In the melee, the bus driver was either knocked down or fell, and Fayed’s bodyguard fled the scene while the police were called. “We found him and resolved the situation,” Peyser says. “But it was weird that a bodyguard created trouble for his client by having a temper.” Eleven years later, another man in Fayed’s employ would create trouble again, with tragic results.

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Words: Olivia Wilde’s Salad Dressing

It was the question on the minds of every overly online person this week: What is Olivia Wilde’s salad dressing recipe?

This query is just the latest wrinkle in a titanically rough year for the Don’t Worry Darling director. Fresh off the heels of the disastrous press tour for the film, Wilde’s former nanny gave the kind of typically explosive interview that former nannies tend to give, alleging, among many other things, that Wilde made a salad and accompanying dressing for Harry Styles while still living with ex-fiancé Jason Sudeikis. Sudeikis was so outraged by this that, according to the nanny, he lay under Wilde’s car to prevent her from leaving. “She made this salad and she made her special dressing and she’s leaving with her salad to have dinner with” Styles, Sudeikis allegedly told the unnamed nanny.

As has been her wont over the last several months, Wilde remained silent about the latest revelations. The former couple released a joint statement decrying the interview and calling it the latest attack in an 18-month-long harassment from their former employee. But then Wilde (like so many before her) took to her Instagram stories and revealed the source of that “special dressing.”

Reader, that salad dressing is from Heartburn, Nora Ephron’s roman a clef about her messy divorce from Carl Bernstein.

To read the full story, visit Town & Country.

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Words: Martha Mitchell, the “Mouth of the South,” Gets Her Due

During her time, Martha Mitchell was ­inescapable. The Arkansas-born wife of John Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s attorney general, was an invaluable source for gossip columnists, a guest star on Laugh-In, and the cover star of a 1970 issue of Time devoted to the women of Washington, DC. But her true place in history is weightier than pop culture ubiquity. “If it hadn’t been for Martha,” Richard Nixon told David Frost in 1977, “there’d have been no Watergate.”

Mitchell’s predilection for critiquing the administration—which earned her the nickname “The Mouth of the South”—caused headaches, but it was her threat to tell reporters the truth about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters that resulted in a beating, kidnapping, and smear campaign. Fifty years later, she’s finally getting her due with Starz’s Gaslit, starring Julia Roberts.

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Words: Rediscovering the Gallant, Fearless Betty Ford

Betty Ford may be the most famous and least known First Lady in history.

Everyone recognizes the name—thanks in large part to the Betty Ford Clinic she co-founded in 1982 after coming out with her own battles with addiction—but few know anything beyond her health struggles, including a breast cancer diagnosis just two months after she became First Lady.

That’s all changing thanks to Showtime’s The First Ladya limited series telling the real-life stories of three FLOTUSes: Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), and Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer). Now, a new generation of Americans are poised to fall in love with the woman whose national popularity so eclipsed her spouse’s that his supporters wore “Betty’s Husband for President” buttons during his unsuccessful run for president in 1976.

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Words: Nancy Cunard Really Didn’t Give a Fuck About Society

Almost 100 years before Kim Kardashian was advocating for prison reform, Nancy Cunard was wielding both her fortune and her notoriety for social justice.

A combustible combination of Art Deco chic and aristocratic activist, Cunard made shock waves throughout London society, publicly feuding with her mother—renowned London society hostess Emerald Cunard—and thumbing her nose at almost every conceivable convention of an era not necessarily known for its staidness, even while shielded somewhat by her mother’s reputation and the Cunard shipping line fortune.

“She was dedicated to obliterating the social class to which they all belonged. And I think she meant that,” historian and biographer Laura Thompson says. Cunard is one of a slew of wealthy women prominently featured in Thompson’s delicious new book Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies, alongside Vanderbilts and Huttons and others, stretching back to the 17th century. Cunard’s was a generation dedicated to decadence and refuting their parents’ values—but Cunard often took it to extremes.

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Words: The Ambitious, Social-Climbing Bisexual Gossip Chips Channon

“Sometimes I think I have the character of a very clever woman—able, but trivial with flair, intuition, great good taste and second-rate ambition,” Henry “Chips” Channon wrote in a diary entry dated July 19, 1935. “I am susceptible to flattery, and male good looks; I hate and am uninterested in all the things men like such as sport, business, statistics, debates, speeches, war and the weather; but I am riveted by lust, bibelots, furniture and glamour, society and jewels.”

Those qualities may have made Channon an unremarkable Member of Parliament, but they earmarked him as a particularly insouciant cicerone through the interwar years of London high society. American-born, the bisexual and snobbish Channon married into the Guinness brewing family in 1933 and then pursued politics and social climbing, with a firm emphasis on the latter. His political career stalled after his vociferous and prolonged endorsement of appeasement in the late 1930s, but his social life was a resounding success. With a knack for being on the scene of historical moments and a particularly waspish wit, his diaries have been required reading for aesthetes and Anglophiles since they were posthumously published in heavily expurgated form in 1967. Only now are they being published in their full form; edited by Simon Heffer, the two volumes covering 1918–1943 are out now, with a final volume hitting American bookstores September 8.

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Words: Princess Grace’s Forgotten Life as an Artist (and Linens Inspiration)

There is a tendency to pin a celebrity down in the apex of their fame. For the general public, Grace Kelly remains eternally veiled in her Helen Rose wedding gown on April 19, 1956, poised to become a princess the moment she exchanges vows with Prince Rainier III of Monaco. As with all fairy tales, most are content to leave the story there, with the beautiful 26-year-old Oscar winner walking away from Hollywood to live happily ever after as a real-life princess. Only the tragic circumstances around her death—she suffered a stroke while driving at age 52, and died from her injuries—prevent the rosier version of Princess Grace’s life from remaining extant.

But 26 years is a fairly large gap, and though Princess Grace’s day-to-day is not as well-known as her film career, her style, her wedding, or her untimely death, she did more than simply preside over royal functions and smile at visiting dignitaries. Among other pursuits, Kelly narrated several documentaries, toured America with an evening of poetry reading to benefit the World Wildlife Fund, and served on the board of directors of the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. She never again starred in another feature film—though she was offered roles in everything from Marnie to The Turning Point—but she also never abandoned the pursuit of new creative outlets. And as her comfort in Monaco grew, so too did her long dormant passion for flowers.

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Words: Lee Radziwill, Truman Capote, and Their Doomed ‘Laura’

Lee Radziwill’s acting career started off with the best of intentions.

In 1967, Truman Capote became fixated on making his friend into a star. That his friend was Princess Lee Radziwill, a fixture of the high society to which Capote remained slavish, was naturally a major component. Capote’s own waspish take on Radziwill’s rivalry with her sister, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis—“My God, how jealous she is of Jackie: I never knew,” he wrote to Cecil Beaton immediately after meeting Radziwill—was another. Capote saw this as a chance to help Radziwill upstage her sister by embarking on something glamorous and exciting. And it was a chance for him to ignore the looming deadline for his follow-up to In Cold Blood.

When Capote first summoned producer David Susskind to his home to pitch the idea of Radziwill in a high-end, glossy, TV movie, Susskind, not unfairly, asked if anyone cared enough about Radziwill to watch. “Truman just shrieked,” Susskind later told the New York Times, “And said, ‘Are you kidding?’”

Capote was right: Radziwill’s television debut was seen by 38 million people when it finally aired January 24, 1968. But while the audience tuned in, the critics were savage. Radziwill never acted again.

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Words: Lucille Ball’s Secret Comedy Weapon

Lucille Ball wasn’t a natural comic genius. Her true brilliance lay in recognizing that fact, and surrounding herself with people who made her look like one.

“I’m not funny. What I am is brave,” she once said. In truth, Ball was funny—watch one of the comedies from her hit-or-miss film career and you’ll get a sense of her own dry sense of humor. But as Aaron Sorkin’s new film Being the Ricardos (streaming now on Amazon Prime) makes clear, Lucille Ball was not the Lucy Ricardo of I Love Lucy, a zany housewife getting into scrapes with best pal Ethel Mertz. At the initial table read for each episode of the CBS series, Ball couldn’t get a laugh. And over and over in the film, Nicole Kidman’s Ball says, “I’ll get it by Friday.”

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Words: Cary Grant’s Many, Many LSD Trips

An essential component of Cary Grant’s eternal star persona is his impoverished beginnings. In Grant’s rags-to-tuxedo origin story, the Cockney acrobat Archie Leach willed himself into an underwhelming Broadway performer and then into the epitome of silver screen elegance. That’s the man we think of starring in films ranging from screwball classics like The Awful Truth and Bringing Up Baby to Alfred Hitchcock thrillers Notorious and North by Northwest.

“Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant,” he famously said. But the less-quoted second half of that statement is worth considering: “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me. Or we met at some point.” By the time he was at the height of his fame in the 1950s, those long years of pretending to be someone else had taken from him possibly more than they had given.

So Grant, the man who always looked as if he’d been born with a silver cocktail spoon in his mouth, turned to a new therapy: lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD. Now, that period of his life is brought to life in the new Broadway musical Flying Over Sunset.

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