Truman Capote and Gore Vidal Star in Oscar Memories

Truman Capote and Gore Vidal Star in Oscar Memories
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My friend, Lester Persky, who had produced Oscar-nominated Shampoo as well as Hair, Equus, Yanks,
had invited me to the 48th Annual Academy Awards. With a Terry Thomas gap between his front teeth, Lester was great fun and made me feel appreciated. He had asked me to meet him in his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel where he introduced me to his buddy, Truman Capote. Small, slight and cautious with every syllable, Truman was fun as were all of Lester's pals. Everyone was drinking and Lester had started earlier in this day.

After Lester spilled some of his drink on the carpet, Truman said, "Lester, you're too drunk to go to the Oscars. Why don't you come to my dinner party?"

"What? My film is up for an Oscar. I have to go. I wouldn't miss that." Lester turned to me, "Truman says I'm too drunk to go to the Oscars," he said, pouting.

"Nonsense," I said trying to comfort him.

I found this completely bizarre as Truman was drunk, too.

Truman had a grey color to his skin and moved like a contented tortoise. After Lester introduced me as an actress, Truman said, "What films have you been in."

"Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Stepford Wives."

"Goodbar was a good film. Based on a true story. A school teacher was actually murdered by a trick she picked up cruising bars. I have to be careful," Truman said with a slight smile.

"You don't go to bars," Lester said.

"How do you know what I do in my time off from pushing the pen? Well, my dinner party calls."

"Lester, think twice about going to that paparazzi frenzy?"

After Truman excused himself to go to a dinner party, Lester led us to the Polo Lounge to have more drinks with Gore Vidal whom I had never met.

Gore Vidal was so handsome I was stunned. His lips were thick and his eyes lingered as he spoke. There was a lazy sensuality to him that was pure sex appeal. His speech was distinct. Like Truman each word was calculated and intended. Neither of these wordsmiths shot words from their lips in rapid fire. This made me nervous because I spoke quickly when I felt awkward. And, indeed, I was uncomfortable. Listening was never my bag. Referring to my ability to conduct interviews, Norman Mailer, whom I had the opportunity of interviewing nine times, would say, "You only listen when you're paid to listen."

"Lester says you're an actress," Gore said while I thought, "Oh, no.''

"Yes, but I used to be a school teacher," I said sipping my white wine.

"What films have you been in?'

"Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Stepford Wives."

"Wasn't Goodbar about a murdered school teacher?"

"Yes. Diane Keaton played that part. Are you working on a film?"

"Nothing presently. Recuperating after the filming of my novel Myra Breckenridge. Working on my next novel."

"Where do you live?"

"Italy. Positano. Far from the glitterati."

"I've been there. Charming. Peaceful."

"That's why Howard Austin and I live there."

"I know Howard. Met him when I dated Peter Sellers. They were great friends."

"Yes, Peter used to visit to our villa, La Rondinaia."

Though I was thrilled to meet Gore and to hear his voice and his wit, I was nervous and quite happy to skedaddle, to hop into the black stretch limousine and to be off to the Oscars.

This was the year Lee Grant won her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Shampoo. I had a rousing good time -- except when I had to go to the Ladies' in the midst of the three hour broadcast and had to surreptitiously step over celebrities in the process.

The highlight of the evening for me was not meeting the movie stars, but meeting the literary stars... Truman Capote and Gore Vidal, whom I eventually had the privilege of interviewing -- twice. And on both of these cherished occasions -- with the aide of two tape recorders -- I assure you, I listened.

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