Sunday, October 26, 2008
show biz books


Recently, I have read two autobiography's and one biography....All of them are Show Business related.....There's the NEW Fred Astaire book---that's the 'biography'....and then, Diahann Carroll's autobiography, "The Legs Are The Last To Go", and I am just about finished reading Robert Wagner's new autobiography, "Pieces Of My Heart"......The thing is, when you have been in and around show business for as many years as I have (Coming on to over 60 years, my dears---but if we count when I first began going to the Theatre to Broadway Shows, it is over 70 years.....), you cross paths with lots of people, one way or another....And in the case of these three people, our paths crossed a few times over the years for various reasons. I cannot say I knew or know any of the the three really well, by any means.....But, there was, in each case, at least 'One Degree Of Separation'....And in reading these books, particularly Robert Wagner's, there are any number of 'one degree of separation' people included in his narrative....So, I find these books very interesting because, in the case of both Diahann Carroll and Robert Wagner, they are writing about my era.....Not only the films, or plays and talent, but the places and people mentioned, too....And though I have not had the kind of career that either Ms. Carroll and Mr. Wagner have had, it is very enjoyable to me to read about their lives and careers, in their own words.In the case of Fred Astaire, this new book, called just "Fred Astaire" is mostly about his career, though the writer, Joseph Epstein, certainly talks somewhat about Astaire's childhood and his early career with his sister Adele. Astaire was unique, in every way. A perfectionist where his work was concerned, he was a rather shy un-showbiznessy type of guy, and yet, one of the biggest "Movie Stars" that ever was......There was only one "Fred Astaire". And his talent and dedication to his work was above and beyond. I would urge many of you younger folk who may not be as familiar with Astaire as your parents and grandparents are, to see as many of his early films as you can---the Ginger Rogers period, and then the Rita Hayworth, Leslie Caron, and Cyd Charisse periods, too. He was a Master!
The oddest thing about this book to me, is that his daughter Ava is only mentioned twice!! And in such an unimportant manner as to be less than a footnote. Now that, I do not understand, at all. And, by the way, that is my personal connection to Fred Astaire. I first met Ava back in the early 1960's when she was going with and then became engaged to my good and dear friend Carl Bostelmann.....In fact, I have two little snapshots that Ava gave me a few years ago when I saw her at a small dinner party at a mutual good friends home here in Los Angeles....Ava lives in Ireland and England mostly, and so I rarely see her anymore. And though this new book is very interesting in many ways, there must be some reason that Joseph Epstein does not say more about Ava....She was the light of her fathers life, and she is a lovely dear bright and accomplished person in her own right. Personally, I think it would have enriched this book tremendously had Epstein spoken to Ava and included her recollections....Of course, she may not have wanted to speak with him. I am going to try to find out about that.
These two little snapshots are from Easter of 1963-64, (I am not sure which, at this point...) Carl and Ava had an Easter party at Daddy Astaire's home, where Ava was still living, on and off, until Carl and Ava were married....Carl, as was so typical of him, had planted an abundance of blooming flowers everywhere around the pool in the back garden where the party took place, just for that particular Easter Day.....That is me on the left, and Ava on the right. Ava had on an "Easter Hat" and I didn't even own a hat at the time, so I arrived bear-headed.....But, Carl and Ava had a lot of hats available for those of us who had arrived "hat less"......Here below: The Results! I love my hat.....lol! That is Carl over on the left holding his hat, and my dear dear soul mate, Sammy Reese, next to me, wearing the cowboy hat that Carl had supplied....I cannot get over how "dressed up" we were...and this was our 'dress: casual' look, for that afternoon. Well, that's how it was back then. Today, I guess we would all be in the grunge-goth look....lol! And below, here is a very special invitation...... Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this very special evening because I had to be out of town, but my dear Sammy went and he reported to me that it was lovely.....I'm sure it was, because anything that Carl was involved in bore his rare touch, and their Wedding Reception would certainly have been one of those very special evenings that he would have wanted to make as truly memorable as possible. He was so deeply 'in love' with Ava.

Fade Out: Eventually, a number of years later---maybe six or seven---Carl and Ava separated and then divorced and then, Ava remarried.....After the initial 'bad times' that often come with a lot of divorces, Carl and Ava were able to be good close friends once again, as they had been at the beginning, and they remained good close friends for the rest of Carl's life.....Fade Out, Once Again: Many years later, sometime in the mid to late 70's, Carl and his partner had a lovely Easter Brunch in the garden of their house on Almont Drive and Ava and her talented Artist husband Richard Mackenzie were there, along with some other people, including me.....It was a lovely gathering and this time many of the ladies wore very very pretty hats..... That is Ava at that particular table, wearing a very fetching hat......Carl knew how to entertain and it was always gracious and abundant and yet comfortable, in every way......The gentleman in the center of the picture below with the prematurely white hair is Ava's husband Richard.And that is Carl over on the left and that very pretty lady facing us in the very pretty hat right there in the center of the picture, was the lovely Mary Frann. Sad to say, both Mary and Carl are gone now.....And below, here is a closer look at dear Mary.... And Carl right behind her....I believe Mary was still on the Soap Opera "Days Of Our Lives" at that point...And this was quite a few years before she played Bob Newhart's wife "Joanna", for eight years on his second series.....And here below, a closer look at Ava..... Ava looks very beautiful in these little snapshot-pictures that I took that afternoon, and she still was absolutely lovely the last time I saw here in Los Angeles the evening she gave me those two little snapshots up above of that long ago 1963-64 Easter Party......She is a very happy women and has a lovely life with her Artist husband Richard..... Behind Ava in the picture above was Carl's partner Robert....He too, is gone now......! And the gentleman in the foreground who's name I just cannot think of...(Oh, dear)...he too, has passed on. This is what happens, I'm sorry to say.....The losses are painful and they certainly do pile up as each year passes. And as I get older, I am more and more aware of that, I'm afraid....But, that is the cycle of life.....Below, a recent picture of Ava and Richard taken this past summer at The Fred Astaire Conference in Oxford, England. Ava, here in 2008, is still a very beautiful presence...... And I actually only met Fred Astaire twice during those years. Both times at his home on San Ysidro Drive. The first time was the Easter Party and the second time was at another gathering of Carl and Ava's at Daddy Astaire's home. And I must tell you, to meet Fred Astaire was a great great thrill, both times!


More To Come.......







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35 Comments:
had this to say:

Naomi....what great photos and wonderful memories. LOVE the Easter hat.

Interesting comment on dressing up too.....it was so much more expected to be dressed up when one went to parties etc. Remember how people would dress up to fly? I have a picture of my parents in the early 60's just before they were getting on a plane to go to Bermuda....they were dressed like they were going to a wedding!
The last time I was on a plane (last month) the person across the aisle from me was dressed in pyjama pants for God's sake!

I love your stories..........Ava is stunning.

I didn't realize Mary Frann had died.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 3:58:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Oh, I SO enjoyed this post! I just loved your sunglasses....Hollywood chic! But your hat...it was priceless! Loved it.
What wonderful photos of the gatherings. I loved the style of clothes and of course, the hats. The women look so classy and the men so dashing.
I loved Mary Frann on both Days, years ago and Newhart. I didn't realize she had passed away.
Thanks so much for sharing all of this with us. Once again, I almost felt like I was there.
Terri
http://www.islandwriter.net

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 6:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Fascinating! I've been reading your blog for a little while now. I live in the Springfield, MA, area, where, sadly, I recall, you spent some rather unpleasant time early in your career. Does this mean I am now only a few degrees separated from Fred Astaire and Robert Wagner?????

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 8:15:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

That was very interesting. I also enjoy reading the autobiographies or biographies of creative people and these three certainly all qualify. I had heard about Wagner having one out and of course the big question was about him with Natalie always.

I loved all of Fred Astaire's movies, have probably seen them all and some of the less popular ones many times (like The Sky's the Limit my own personal favorite of his many great ones). He was always exceptional, so sexy, a real man with a sense of self in the most positive way. And his dancing... oh my :)

Did his daughter accept his second marriage to Robyn? Sometimes that leads to conflicts sadly.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 9:26:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Great photographs and stories of days gone by. I wonder what Ava thought of Epstein's book on her father. When you talk to her again, please ask her. Children of stars often have a much much different take than authors do. I'm sure she does too. Hmm, two mentions in the book - sad.

You know, we often hear in passing about the death of an actor/actress and file it away in our memories. Then a blog or newspaper article will mention their name and all of a sudden we will remember that that person died awhile back.

I loved Mary Frann and she was such a giving person, from what I've read about her short life. I remember earlier this year that Bob Newhart mentioned her dying nearly 10 years ago, when he was asked for a sound byte after Suzanne Pleshette died.

A bright light put out much too soon.

My, my, you have certainly been in nice circles of friends!

Anne

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 11:56:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Daddy Longlegs could dance with the best of them !!

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 12:00:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I enjoyed this post very much. It is interesting that you've rubbed shoulders with so many known people in the entertainment business, and if you didn't actually rub shoulders with them, you had that "one of degree of separation" thing with them.
What lovely photos. I love how chic and "Mad Men" like everyone is dressed.
That hat was a FUN addition to your Easter outfit.
I agree with you that leaving out Ava and her recollections in the Astaire biography seems like a mistake. But, as you said, Ava may not have wanted to participate in the book.
It is absolutely wonderful that you got to meet Fred Astaire in person. That was a true honor... for you AND for him!!
Robert Wagner sure was handsome, and he still is!
He's always seemed like a very sauve gentleman.
I hope that's how he is in real life.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 12:42:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I wrote a comment for this post, but I'm not sure if it went through or not.
Usually it gives a message saying something about blog owner approval... but it did not say that this time when I published my comment.

Well, if it didn't go through, I wrote several things, one of which was how wonderful it is that you got to meet Fred Astaire. And what a FUN addition that hat was to your Easter outfit!
:-)
I hope my full comment went through.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 12:57:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Dear Naomi - what an exciting life you have led - it is such a joy and a pleasure to "relive" it with you through your stories and photos. Love the hats!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 2:10:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I love reading through your memories and looking at your photos. Thanks for sharing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 2:22:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Marvelous stuff, as always. Thanks for sharing.

BTW, its uncanny that you always seem to post photos of women I've had a crush on, in this case Mary Frann.

Cheers, dear.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 2:26:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow, you still have the invitation? Cool beans. The flower hat suited you :)

I sure love "snooping through your pictures" via the internet!

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 3:27:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

and your book will be out when?
:o)

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 3:45:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

To meet Fred Astaire...what a thrill!

Naomi, you've had many wonderful adventures in and out of show biz and I wouldn't be surprised to find myself reading your book one of these days.

I love the photos of the hats and how well dressed "casual" was back then. I love my jeans, but I wouldn't mind wearing a dress and a funky hat every now and then. You wore yours well, btw. ;)

I LOVED this post!

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 6:18:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

quite a festive hat you were wearing on that Easter long ago.....
lovely memories--thanks so much for sharing them. I am so glad that there is more to come :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 7:22:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

That was a fun commentary, like reading a magazine article and it made me want to put on a hat! We used to wear the most gawd awful hats for Easter. Bonnets I should say. I'm looking forward to hearing about Diane Carrol and Robert Wagner who looks like the Rob Lowe of his time (as far as looks go).

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 7:35:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi,

I enjoyed your post this evening. I have just started reading Robert Wagner's book and am enjoying it. I am now looking forward to reading the other two, after reading your review of them.

I have watched most of the Fred Astaire movies and a few of them more then once. TCM shows them a few times each year, and I always watch one or two of them when they run them.

I love looking at the pictures of the way we use to dress. I loved that large peach colored hat that was provided for you. It protected you from the sun. Hee,hee!

Thanks for writing your entertaining stories for us to enjoy.

Ann

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 8:16:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I would have been positively jelly-legged at meeting Fred! Ava is/was lovely. I remember Mary Frann very well from the early years of "Days". I love looking at your photos, Naomi!

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 9:08:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I loved the style of clothes and of course, the hats. The women look so classy and the men so dashing. I loved Mary Frann on both Days, years ago and Newhart.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 11:27:00 PM PDT 

Blogger Mar
had this to say:

Your blog is so amazing, there are always surprises!! loved reading this post and looking at the snapshots, lovely brunch parties and gatherings, great stories! Of course I can't wait for more!

Sunday, October 26, 2008 at 11:53:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I remember Mary Frann. She is or was so pretty. Everyone looks lovely in these photos. And so elegant. That hat! I love your HAT!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008 at 7:07:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

from the very tip top - the cartoon - this post is delightful

I love the hue of the photos, all pinkish with memories :)

Mary is gorgeous. Loved her on Newhart's show. She brought a new meaning to statuesque!!

I can't decide if I want to read the Wagner book. I have this odd viseral aversion to him. I wish I could explain it - part of it is (fair or not) I always thought he was abusive to Natalie Wood.

Monday, October 27, 2008 at 12:44:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Boy howdy, Young Lady, you have done some high living. Pretty fascinating stuff, for which I thank you berry mudge.

Monday, October 27, 2008 at 4:15:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Love the hats, and now I have this running through my head.
LOL, loved this post. I just adore all your old pictures and memories.
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter Parade.
On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the girl I'm taking to the Easter Parade

Monday, October 27, 2008 at 6:40:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

My goodness Naomi, you always come up with such surprises!! I loved this post - what great memories you have...

That hat was fabulous - I imagine how you must have laughed when that hat was produced for you to wear.

How gorgeous were you all? And how handsome was Robert Wagner ?

Thank you again for sharing your memories...

Monday, October 27, 2008 at 10:37:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

God Robert Wagner was gorgeous! I loved your photos Naomi - amazing people, clothes and places.

Monday, October 27, 2008 at 11:42:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

This was fun to read.
Fred Astaire --I watched so many of his movies when I was a kid. They were on TV back then. Not too long ago, I picked up Top Hat on DVD. The dialog was so good, and timing ...perfect.

I knew Robt. Wagner had a book out and was doing the rounds. I hope he makes a bundle! The cover shot is really quite gorgeous.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 12:08:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I so enjoyed the movie musical heyday and Fred Astaire's dancing. My mother allowed me to see matinees when I was still in grade school. The first musical I recall didn't include Astaire but was unique in its own way -- Cabin In The Sky.

I remember well the days of wearing hats and gloves, dresses or skirts for women -- certainly no jeans.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 2:04:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Hello Naomi! It was mesmerizing reading this post. Ava is stunning and so is you Naomi. I definitely agree that Robert Wagner is the bomb! He looks so handsome in that photo

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 2:18:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What great pictures and amazing memories, Naomi! Love your hat and your glasses too! Looks you had a great time in this party!

How beautiful was Robert Wagner! I would love to read his biography!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 7:09:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What great photos and memories Naomi! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! You write so well that I feel like I'm almost there with the group! Mary Frann was such a pretty lady. I always liked her. Sad to know she has passed on. I'm glad you are reading some good books! They do sound interesting and I'm sure they take you back in so many ways and reading them would be pure joy for you. I'm so glad!

Love the hat and the sunglasses!! Such delightful memories!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 9:46:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What wonderful memories to have. I love all your show biz memories. You should collect all these and put them in a book, they are all so interesting.

I love autobiographies. There is nothing more interesting than a life well lived. It must be strange reading them when you have inside knowledge though :)

Sorry I haven't been visiting much. I have popped by and read but have been unable to comment as I have been at work. I hope things will calm down soon!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 9:52:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Thanks dear Naomi for your nice words on my blog.
My new PC is schedule to arrive next week... I am looking forward to got it!

I am glad you like the Ken Mac's blog Greenwich Village. I agree with you it's a great blog with gorgeous photos indeed!
There is also another blog about NY I like, it is
Ming's New York City Daily Photo. With both blogs I have been dreaming with NY City! LOL!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 11:53:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

LOVE the Easter hat. Love it!
Great stories, as usual.
~S

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 10:57:00 AM PDT 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

In the last photo I think Ava looks so like her father. To me Fred always epitomised 'class'.

Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 8:49:00 AM PDT 

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