March, 2012

Posted by Carole Stuart on March 19, 2012 | Permalink

NEW BOOKS

When you hear the name Raoul Felder the immediate connection is…Divorce.  It could be a dictionary definition of the man. That, as it turns out, is only one aspect of Raoul Felder.  He is a gifted writer and we will soon be publishing his autobiography. We met when Raoul participated on a panel on divorce at Fordham Law School. He mentioned he’d written his autobiography. Only knowing of his deft work on behalf of celebrities seeking divorce, I was surprised by this deeply felt, well-written book about his beginnings which were, no surprise, humble.

A Brooklyn boy, brought up in Williamburg, he was the younger brother of Doc Pomus, one of the best known songwriters of the 50’s with songs like “Hushabye,” “Can’t Get Used to Loving You” and “Save The Last Dance For Me.” (That one I can remember slow dancing to.)

Doc was crippled by polio as a young boy and spent his life on crutches and in a wheelchair. The impact on Raoul’s life was profound and telling the story of his brother contracting polio and the pain he went through all his life are only part of the book. Raoul started out studying Medicine in Bern, Switzerland before making a complete turnaround going on to become an internationally known attorney. His story surprised and moved me. “REFLECTIONS IN A MIRROR Of Love, Loss, Death and Divorce” will reveal a Raoul Felder not seen before.  It will have a Fall 2012 publication.

I LOVE PARIS IN THE WINTER – WHEN IT (DIDN’T) DRIZZLE
How lucky to celebrate my birthday in Paris.  That’s where I was on February 22nd.  Our group of nine friends covered a lot of ground.  The dress code was casual. No jackets or ties. We dined very well in Paris without getting dressed up. Home was a charming hotel in the 6th Arrondissement.   We covered a lot of Paris on foot and by Metro. Our travels took us to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a spectacular view of the city to Montmartre to mingle with the tourists (well, other tourists) and have another great view.  We climbed many steps to the famed Eglise Saint-Sulpice.  And went back down on foot too.  My calves were aching for days afterward

I was particularly interested to visit, Espace Dali, a small museum a few blocks from St. Sulpice designed by Enrique Sabater who was one of Salvador Dali’s managers.  The museum was as much a tribute to Sabater as it was to Dali.  Much of the art on display were works Dali had dedicated to Enrique. It was well laid out and designed so that you had to pass a shop on the way out where they were flogging a variety of lithographs, all signed and framed.  We knew Enrique in the ‘70s when Dali designed 78 lithographs based on the Tarot Card deck published by Citadel Press.  That was an adventure that resulted in Lyle renting a pied a terre for four years in the super chic 16th Arrondissement from Captain Peter Moore, at the time another of Dali’s managers. One outcome was a watercolor portrait of Lyle by Dali that hangs in my living room.

 ART, ART, ART

In Paris if you’re not eating great food you can dine on fine art.  We feasted on works by masters.  We spent a good deal of time at the Musee D’Orsay where the newly renovated Fifth floor houses some of the most remarkable Impressionist art in the world.  We also went to the Luxembourg Gardens Museum for a special show of Cezanne’s work.  February was a good time to avoid crowds – even the Louvre was not crazy crowded.  We got a close up look at the Mona Lisa. A special treat was an exhibit of photographs by Bereniece Abbott at the Jeu de Paume. Many of them were from the Changing New York Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project. Abbott lived in Paris in the 1920s and also made portraits of many of the most notable and influential writers, artists, politicians and personalities of the day.

The weather in Paris was remarkably mild unlike the usual cold and rainy forecasts.  We ended our trip with a Croque Monsieur at Café de Flor onRue St. Germain.  Just great!

PASSINGS

 BARNEY ROSSET died this past February 21st. His accomplishments were well covered in the press. Perhaps less known was the connection between Barney and Lyle. After selling Lyle Stuart, Inc. in 1989 and having time on his hands and license to publish other books, he started Barricade Books in the rear of Barney’s office on 4th Avenue in Manhattan. They had different publishing styles but both were known as personalities. Both men went through fortunes. When Barney produced the wildly successful film, “I Am Curious Yellow” he bought a building on Mercer Street in West Greenwich Village.  He furnished it lavishly with top of the line designer furnishings.  He didn’t hold the building very long but it was impressive. Barney was generous too. He gifted land in the Hamptons to close friends and employees.

Money was not for amassing, certainly not for Lyle.  He gave generously and made loans to many people often not paid back. (I have an envelope thick with Promissory Notes.)  Tired of being an easy touch, he finally printed a reminder card that he kept in his wallet: No loans to anyone for any reason.

I believe when Barney sold Grove Press to Anne Getty it was a turning point for him.  As entrepreneurs quickly discover, it’s not you they want – it’s your business.  No matter how iconic you are – it’s about the bottom line.  When Price/Stern/Sloan was sold to Putnam Berkley, Larry Sloan went to Frankfurt that year to participate in the new company. Boy, I’ll bet he was surprised to receive no great welcome for one of the creators of a vibrant company.

I’m sure there are happier stories but these are memorable.  I once read a comment made by Leonard Stern, the son and heir of the Hartz Mountain pet food fortune. He was talking about acquiring companies. “When the check is handed over, the previous owner goes out the door.” Harsh?  I agree, but when Lyle sold Lyle Stuart, Inc. to Steven Schragis, who had invested in the successful magazine “Spy” and got the appetite for media, he offered to stay away from the office so that Schragis could assert himself.  “I’ll be available any time you want to talk.” Schragis never called him. 

I’ve grown to think that Stern was right – take the money and move on.

HOWARD KISSEL died on February 27th.  He was the longtime theater critic for The Daily News.  He had a sharp tongue and great wit.  To quote from Anita Gates’ obit in the New York Times, “He wrote that the 1995 Roundabout revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company,” a quintessential Manhattan show, looked as if “it had been done by people who had never been here.” Howard had a house in Columbia County, as did I.  We saw each other frequently.  I thought it interesting that having to make a trip from Manhattan weekend after weekend, Howard did not drive.  He usually had a friend who was available for his comings and goings.  His wife, Christine, stopped coming back to Manhattan and lived full time in Philmont.  She died on the same day that Lyle died in June, 2006.

Also gone is DONALD SMITH whose obit appeared in many publications including the New York Times.  Donald was known best in recent years for The Cabaret Convention that began at Town Hall and was a delightful not-quite-ready-for-primetime event that often lasted until 11PM.  But the talent!  Andrea Marcovicci, KT Sullivan, Steve Ross, Barbara Carroll, Julie Wilson and many, many more, some getting their first break with the help of Donald. He started the non-profit Mabel Mercer Foundation and eventually the event became grander and better organized and was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  K.T. Sullivan will become the artistic director for the New York convention. It was Donald Smith who, in 1981, brought cabaret back to The Oak Room of New York’s legendary Algonquin Hotel that unfortunately, has recently closed down.

In earlier years, Donald had been a top publicity man.  At the time, Citadel Press was publishing a book by John Springer, “They Had Faces Then,” a coffee table book with lots of photos of the great Hollywood Stars.  Donald did the publicity for the book and arranged for a party at the Rainbow Room.  Music, dancing, open bar, fabulous buffet.  Joan Crawford and Henry Fonda were the hosts.  It was truly star studded.  (There was one mishap when Butterfly McQueen was detained at the door…not recognized as a film star.) I don’t know how Donald managed it but the total cost of the party was $1500!

He was a gentleman and a gentle man. I love the comment by K.T. Sullivan about Donald’s apartment: She recalled, “…sandwiched between autographed photos of Joan Crawford and Audrey Hepburn, was one of Walt Disney’s Snow White. Mr. Smith had signed it himself: “To Don: Love, Snow.”

HAPPY ENDING

To end this Hot News on an upbeat note – I’m pleased to announce that I’ve gotten the rights back to a book I wrote some years ago, that was published by Lyle Stuart, Inc. – WHY WAS I ADOPTED?  I was Carole Livingston at the time and was assisted by illustrator Arthur Robins and designer Paul Walter. This was part of a very successful series of books that started with WHERE DID I COME FROM? and WHAT’S HAPPENING TO ME? Both were written by Peter Mayle who worked with the above Paul Walter and Arthur Robins.

WHY WAS I ADOPTED? Has reverted back to me and I expect Barricade Books to publish it sometime in 2013.

Until next time……
Carole

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