My husband and I probably weren’t the most obvious candidates to move to Los Angeles. I am what people often describe as a quintessential New York character, for better or worse. Consider the evidence: I am invariably clad in black; I am addicted to my work; I am more inclined toward cheese plates than canyon hikes; I practically lived at Bemelmans and the 21 Club. But Los Angeles began to beckon us several years ago, and this year we made the leap. Read on to see my survival lessons for other New Yorkers looking to adopt L.A. as their home.
That Anderson Cooper hails from Vanderbilt lineage belongs to that strange category of well-known but still-surprising trivia. His own career trajectory—a newsman who has for decades covered wars, famine and natural disasters, along with the occasional New Year’s Eve—seems so profoundly un-Vanderbilt-y. His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt — a Studio 54 fixture and 1960s fashion icon — is in many ways a product of the Gilded Age, more Whartonian than Warholian. She hails from the now-extinct realm of dollar princesses and Newport “cottages.” For anyone who has ever wondered how Mr. Cooper relates to this heritage, a new book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes – a conversation between this famous mother and son – should provide some insight.
If Robert Evans minds the fact that I’ve been climbing into bed with him recently, he has been very polite about it. Then again, I’m certainly not the only one to regale him there: That famous bed has long been known as Evan’s de facto office. Over the past few weeks, the legendary Hollywood producer and I have been talking about, well, everything under the sun, and I have recorded those chats in a three-part series for Violet Grey. In the first story (see below), I relayed his reflections on actresses, Oscars, and his favorite red carpet moment. In the second, we discussed beauty, allure, and what makes someone truly glamorous. For this final installment, we had a more serious talk, during which Mr. Evans schooled me in his own brand of terribly important life lessons. As someone who has lived life more fully, recklessly, and hungrily than most, he has proved a most instructive mentor. The final story in a three-part series.
It would seem the textile designer Madeline Weinrib was predestined for her line of work. After all, her grandfather founded the Manhattan design mecca ABC Carpet & Home, which he passed down to her father, and her grandmother was a skilled tailor. But Weinrib never saw it that way — not at first, anyway. “I didn’t even like carpets,” she recalls — perhaps a youthful inclination to go against the genetic grain. Instead, Weinrib became a painter. In her 30s, the family trade began to draw her in. Twenty years later, the New York native is considered one of the earliest pioneers of the now-ubiquitous bohemian, East-meets-West design boom.
In 1959, as Ernest Hemingway’s personal assistant, Valerie Danby-Smith traveled to Paris with the writer to revisit scenes from his youth—the Paris of Joyce and Fitzgerald; the Paris of Jake Barnes, Lady Brett Ashley, and the Lost Generation; the Paris where “you could live very well on almost nothing,” as he later wrote. Valerie is a rare firsthand witness to the city through his eyes, for she shadowed him as he fact-checked the manuscript of what would later become ‘A Moveable Feast’ – his beloved Paris memoir which recently surged again to the top of best-seller lists. “I’ve gone back [to the city] many times, but I’ve not revisited it in that way,” Valerie told Ms. Blume. “It’s too personal and precious.” Yet she recently retraced that journey with Ms. Blume and gave us a rare glimpse not only into Hemingway’s early years as a writer, but also into the artist’s life and mindset just two years before his tragic death.
Pablo Picasso had a reputation for captivating and then subsuming his paramours—with one glaring exception: French artist Françoise Gilot. Just 21 years old when she met him, Gilot was a strong, definite presence. Her independence rankled Picasso, but it appears to have also worked on him like catnip. Throughout their nearly 10-year relationship, he liberally documented her image in paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Gilot did gradually become part of the Picasso machine, acting as assistant and archivist and bearing two of his children, but she never wholly succumbed to him. In her new book About Women and in this interview with Lesley Blume, Gilot reminds us that she was never in Picasso’s shadow.
It’s hard to improve upon perfection, but in the early 1960s George Whitman felt that something was missing. Yes, his Left Bank bookstore, Shakespeare and Company—an homage to the original bookshop owned by Lost Generation doyenne Sylvia Beach—had become a celebrated haunt for his generation’s literati, but that wasn’t quite enough. Soon Whitman identified the missing ingredients: coffee and lemon pie. Shakespeare and Company needed a literary café in the little medieval building next door. The only hitch: the building’s owner wouldn’t let him have it. Whitman passed away in 2011, but now, thanks to his daughter Sylvia, his dream is about to come true fifty years later.
Ralph Fiennes must infuriate fellow actors who lack his range, which almost defies believability. Over the past 25 years, the English actor has readily conquered Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Shaw, and collaborated with Spielberg, Minghella, and Anderson. He has played sinister villains, idiosyncratic Lotharios, and earnest romantic leads. Considering his sprawling résumé, it’s hard to believe that he once doubted that he had the stuff to act in the first place. In this profile, Fiennes, eternally boyish at 52, talks about his affection for anachronistic turns of phrase, why he roots for the bad guy, and his teenage infatuation with Ian Fleming novels.
David Muir, anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight, knew he wanted to be a journalist by the time he hit double digits. Around fifth grade, he began broadcasting from inside a cardboard box in his family’s living room in Syracuse, New York. Soon he used his allowance to buy a cassette recorder at RadioShack and began to interview his sister’s teenage friends. Fast-forward three decades and his interview subjects have a tad more gravitas—Barack Obama, Tim Cook, and Bill Gates, to name a few. Now that he’s been at the helm for one year, Muir talks about life as a new breed of evening anchor, his embarrassing dearth of real vices, and tweeting during commercial breaks.
Betty Halbreich has been privately famous for a long time. As Bergdorf Goodman’s grande dame personal shopper, she has dressed the rich and powerful for 40 years. Recently, however, this crowd has had to share Halbreich, 86, with the masses. In the 2013 documentary “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s,” Halbreich delighted audiences as a surprisingly salty mensch amidst a fantasy world of feathers, sequins and American Express Black Cards. Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s “Girls,” is now developing a television series inspired by Halbreich’s life, also detailed in Halbreich’s new memoir, “I’ll Drink to That.” Read Blume’s Wall Street Journal review of the just-released book.
It would be hard to overstate the influence of Mary Tyler Moore when she emerged as a superstar in the mid-1960s. Back in the days of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, who could resist her? As an on-screen career woman, Moore mastered pitch-perfection. On the eve of the Emmys, and in the second installment of her ‘Moment in Time’ series, Blume talks with the TV icon about her career, style, and what makes a woman feel beautiful.
Do not use the word “empire” to Danny Meyer: it makes the hair on his arms stand up, he says. He’s happy to be called a humble restaurateur, thank you very much—despite being the C.E.O. of Union Square Hospitality Group and founder of an almost indecent number of James Beard Award–winning and Michelin Star–earning New York City restaurants. Below: the famed maestro of high-low dining gives Lesley Blume a glimpse into his frantically busy and delectable life.
From a potential leading actor who died of a drug overdose to a marshmallow man suit that went up in flames, the original Ghostbusters looked like anything but a slam-dunk when Columbia Pictures made it in 1984. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the movie’s premiere, its cast, director, producers, and other industry greats share their recollections with Blume about the genesis of the Ghostbusters phenomenon, talk about how it helped rewrite the film industry, and discuss the franchise’s future.
This iconic author’s distinctive persona appears to have been more or less bestowed at birth; even his bespoke hats have their own “byline”: MADE ESPECIALLY FOR GAY TALESE. Fellini attended his wedding after-party; he grew up alongside Grace Kelly at the Jersey Shore; Lorena Bobbit sends him Christmas cards. Read Blume’s June issue profile on Talese for more tidbits about his fascinating life.
If you love ideas and beauty and elegance, then you would likely love the famous Rizzoli Bookstore, housed in a glorious six-story townhouse on Manhattan’s 57th Street. But it’s closing its doors tomorrow and the building is slated for demolition. Read Blume’s story on her own longstanding love affair with this legendary literary haunt, and why its loss is a loss for all New Yorkers.
If anyone understands the importance of detail, it’s Wes Anderson. From The Royal Tenenbaums to Moonrise Kingdom to his new release, The Grand Budapest Hotel, each of his films showcases instantly recognizable, intricate diorama worlds, often stocked with preciously arranged camping tents, Crayola-colored portable record players, and pleasingly worn copies of National Geographic. Everything about his work signifies a man who likes things just so. All of which practically obliges one to wonder whether Anderson’s own life resembles a painstakingly curated vintage store. In this profile, one of America’s great modern film auteurs gives us a glimpse into his world.
Few women inspire near-universal adoration, but one person certainly falls into this rarefied category: Anjelica Huston, muse to some of the greatest auteurs of the modern film and fashion industries. Read this spirited interview with Ms. Huston here in Blume’s inaugural ‘Moment in Time’ column for newcomer Hollywood insider publication Violet Grey.
The elegant Montgomery Clift once reigned as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men – but now it appears that he could have added “photographer” to his list of career credits as well. A long-forgotten collection of the actor’s personal photos has recently surfaced in the archives of the NYPL; Clift’s scrapbooks and portraits of fellow stars reveal his gift with a lens. Read Ms. Blume’s exclusive feature on the rediscovered Old Hollywood treasure trove.