"Legends die hard. They survive as truth rarely does," said the legendary actress Helen Hayes.
•BACK IN the spring of 1976, Elizabeth Taylor, recently and finally separated from Richard Burton (after a disastrous attempt at a second marriage), arrived in Washington D.C. to attend the ballet. She was with her great friend Liza Minnelli and her soon-to-be great friend Halston. Taylor wore a red Halston creation, her famous emeralds and a deep tan. The elite of the nation's capital went mad.
La Liz danced the night away after the ballet was over. At one point, doing The Hustle with a dazzled politico, one of the star's earrings flew off. Bedlam reigned until Ardeshir Zahedi, the Ambassador to Iran, found the bauble and re-attached it to ET's ear.
And, so began Elizabeth's hot little affair with Ambassador Zahedi, which would lead her eventually to travel, controversially to Iran. (That country was still ruled by the Shah. He and his regime would be overturned in 1979.)
•Taylor and Ardeshir were too hot to handle -- the Shah did not approve, nor did American policy makers -- and the romance cooled just in time for Elizabeth to run into her next husband, John Warner. He was a wealthy former Sec'y of the Navy, who would soon be bucking for a Senate seat. (He popped this on ET after they wed. She was surprised, but gamely campaigned for Warner, effectively winning the race for him.)
But the one invaluable aspect Taylor took from her Iranian dalliance was meeting the ambassador's cousin, a young Firooz Zahedi. He became a dear friend, to the end of Elizabeth's life, and one of her official photographers; he is now wed to NYC real estate maven Beth deWoody.
Firooz is responsible for many of Elizabeth's most iconic images in the latter part of her career. (It was Firooz who shot AIDS-activist ET for the famous 1992 Vanity Fair cover. She is holding a condom!) In fact, Firooz was photographing Elizabeth's home in Bel Air for Architectural Digest on the very day she died. (Despite the gravity of her illnesses, everybody expected Elizabeth to recover and make yet another triumphant hospital exit.)
•NOW, Firooz Zahedi is preparing a luscious book of photos and essays on his friend, via Glitterati Inc.. It will be published in February of next year, to coincide with what would have been her 84th birthday. Firooz says, "This may not be the 'ultimate' book that Elizabeth deserves, but it'll shed some light on another side of her, the side you want to get people to know about." (To a person, everybody who knew Taylor really well cite her generosity, compassion and her bawdy good humor.) The book will include about two-hundred photos, many previously unpublished.
Firooz will donate his share of the book's proceeds to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
•MONEY IS coming in for director Linda Yellen's "Kickstarter" effort to complete her movie, The Last Film Festival. This contains the final screen performance of the late great Dennis Hopper. Come on, film fans! This is movie history and you can be a part of it! Be a backer, not just a bystander. Join Jackie Bisset...Robert Redford's Sundance...Holland Taylor, etc, in this effort.
• WHERE is he now that Democrats and liberals need him so much? I'm talking of the astute retired Barney Frank of Massachusetts!
He is still seen occasionally on MSNBC but that's really not nearly enough for a man I love who always described himself like this..."How did a disheveled, intellectually combative gay Jew with a thick accent become one of the most effective and funniest politicians of our time?"
We're talking Barney Frank, who got himself famous as a Democratic political leader against all odds. He struggled for years, rose in Congress, battled for AIDS funding, created the most far-reaching Wall Street reform bill since the Great Depression, helped repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell," and retired a short while ago from the Washington fray, much to the dismay of Democrats!
The liberal leader lives in Maine and Massachusetts and is happy at last, retired, with his husband Jim Ready. He had words, when in office, with everyone from Tip O'Neill to Sonny Bono. He knows and knew just about everybody and thing, big or little, going on.
• NOW he has written a book, titled Frank: A Life In Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage. It covers his Democratic triumphs over all the realities and relates in delightful candor why a man who was told he "couldn't win," ended up a national hero who always won! And he is still making points even when out of office.
Farrar Strauss & Giroux is to be congratulated for bringing back Barney Frank! I wish they could talk him into coming back to Washington.
This hero of mine will sell a lot of candid copies of Frank, even if there is no other living politician today able to compare with Barney's tireless dedication and sprightly unusual life story!
•AS I write this I am intending to go to the private 60th birthday party for my pal Bruce Willis, hosted by his darling wife, Emma. (This happened Saturday night at Harlow restaurant.)
I will wear my headband saying "Big 60!" in Bruce's honor. I'm sure a few silly people will think I am lying about my age!
But, 60 is very young to me. I will tell the birthday boy that he celebrates on the day Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase...Dom Perignon was first bottled...the Boy Scouts of America were formed...Ruth Bader Ginsburg became a Supreme Court Justice...Alfred Hitchcock directed Psycho...the Pap Smear was invented...General Sherman said "War is Hell!"...Groucho Marx and W.C. Fields were at the top of their game.
Bruce has joined the immortals! I just adore this movie star. Happy Birthday, Bruce!
•SOMEBODY wrote in to insist we'd given the wrong date for Polly Bergen's memorial in NYC. We did not. We were correct. However, here's the info again: Thursday, March 26 at the American Airlines Theater, 3:00 pm. Cookies will follow. It is open to the public.