Time to party like it’s 1961

HepburnParty1
Some day, I'll throw a party like Audrey Hepburn.

You know the kind. Other than that iconic image in Breakfast at Tiffany's,  of her walking down an empty Fifth Avenue too early on a Sunday morning, just staring into the glitziest bling shop in the world, to my mind the very best dialogue in that movie took place in that scene in which the whole world shows up to party in her tiny apartment: stews and runway models, aging lotharios, Hollywood agents, Brazilian playboys, and on-the-make Mad men wearing skinny ties. One guy even has an eye patch, and it isn't a Halloween party. Go figure.

The booze is flowing, the bon mots are flying. And Audrey is magnetic.

We should all be Audrey, at least once in our lives, even if our cigarette holder only blows bubbles.

Of course hers is really lit, which is why, in such a confined space, some woman's hat catches on fire.

My last "big" party was formal– that is to say, filled with too many people not willing to let their hair down, let alone go up in flames. 

That's alright. I've made a few faus pax myself: like the time half the guests ended up in the hospital with food poisoning.

This is why I'm not the chef in our family.

But I'm still a party animal.

Here's wishing you a happy and healthy 2012,

— Josie

TrueHollywood Lies

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Marilyn Monroe’s little white dress…

Marilyn
They auctioned off Marilyn Monroe's iconic white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch. You remember the one: as she stood over a subway grate in front of the Trans-Lux Theater, it billowed up around her thighs. The way it was written into the movie, the object was to keep her cool–

Or was it to make every guy watching her get hot under the collar?

That was the case with her husband at the time: Joe DiMaggio. Afterward they had a shouting match in the theater lobby. She filed for divorce soon afterward.

The dress went for $4.5 million. It was sold by actress Debbie Reynolds, who, besides starring in several Hollywood classics herself (Tammy and the Bachelor, The Unsinkable Molly Brown) has a true appreciation for Hollywood lore. For years, much of her collection was kept at her hotel in Las Vegas, where she performed. A bad real estate investment forced her to sell off various pieces. This time around she also sold Monroe's red sequined dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (it went for $1.2 million, albeit it was projected to bring $200,000 – $300,000), and another of my favorites, Audrey Hepburn's Ascot dress from My Fair Lady, which sold for $3.7 million.

Other pieces sold by the auction house, Profiles in History included:

Judy Garland's blue cotton dress used in test shots for The Wizard of Oz, $910,000 (estimate: $60,000-$80,000)

Grace Kelly's rose crepe outfit from To Catch a Thief: $450,000 (estimate: $30,000-$50,000);

Marlon Brando's elaborate coronation costume from Napoleon Bonaparte: $60,000 (estimate: $60,000-$80,000);

Claude Rains' ivory military suit from Casablanca: $55,000 (estimate: $12,000-$15,000);

ElizabethTaylor's brown period dress from Raintree County: $10,000 (estimate: $10,000-$15,000);

Madonna's black evening gown and shoes from Evita: $22,500 (estimate: $4,000-$6,000);

Mike Myers' swinging '60s  suit from "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me: $11,000 (estimate: $6,000-$8,000); and

– A high-school graduation dress of Natalie Wood's: $4,250 (estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Reynolds a few years back. In fact, it was my very first celebrity interview. I remember her as gracious, witty, and vulnerable: she is every inch a star, but a sweet human being as well. I could have hung with her all weekend, if she'd have let me. Seriously, she is that much fun. 

And so candid. She answered all my questions, even the sticky ones. If I find that interview, I'll be sure to post it here.

As I was leaving I mentioned that my favorite of all movies was one of hers: Singin' in the Rain. "I'll sign the DVD, if you have it," she offered.

Stupid, stupid me! Why didn't I think to bring it? I never made that mistake again!

Oh, well. In hindsight, I should have asked her if I could try on Marilyn's dress, just once!

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Just watch the video clip below…

 

Enjoy,

–Josie

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Audrey Hepburn as Housewife

Audrey_hepburn-en-pointe Even the celebrated have a corner or two of life that was — and still is ordinary.

I found this great photo of Audrey Hepburn. Any others you'll see on the web show her "in character," that is, her face fixed with a coy gamine gaze, or hair upswept, with long gloves and a cigarette holder in hand.

Not this one. It must have been taken in the 1950s. It was possible that she was married to actor Mel Ferrer at the time. As you can see, it shows her crouched in front of an oven, potholder in hand, gauging the readiness of whatever is in the pan. Her look is causal: barefoot and dressed in a short summer romper. You'll note that, even in that stance, she is on tiptoe.

A formally trained ballerina, she was always en pointe.

Born in England to a Danish mother and a father who was a Nazi sympathizer, when her father deserted the family, her mother took her and her brother out of Great Britain to the Netherlands. While her country was under German occupation, she had to change her name so as not to be incarcerated, as her brother was. She supported the Danish Resistance by putting on covert fundraising benefits. When the Germans tried the starve the Danish for information on local Jews, she, like others, scrounged for food, even going so far as to crush tulip buds into flour for bread and cakes. Her starvation led to a lifetime battle with anemia.

Because of these experiences, since the 1950s she willing gave her time to UNICEF, becoming one of its Goodwill Ambassadors in 1999.

She knew the value of a life well lived. It drove her success in her career, which she took quite seriously. And despite two miscarriages, she eventually had the children she'd always hoped for. Two sons: one with Ferrer, and another with her second husband, Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti.

Sadly, both men were philanderers. She was smart enough to get out of both marriages.

I know this is a publicity shot. That's okay. Whatever her domestic skills truly were, one thing is certain: we don't love her for her baking and basting, but for her joi de vivre on film.

Besides, any woman who can bake a cake from tulip buds is a force to be reckoned with, in or outside the kitchen.

—Josie


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 Josie' s Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

Pre-Order at any of the bookstore links in my sidebar…