This is how I opened the Lighthouse International luncheon that just happened to coincide with the closing down of the government last Tuesday.
The Lighthouse exists to help hundreds of people with failing eyesight and it is a marvelous institution. The Henry Grunwald Foundation makes it possible for this to happen at the Metropolitan Club and VIPs love to buy those limited tickets each year. The lunch is named for the late Time magazine chieftain, Henry Grunwald, who wrote a well-known book about losing eyesight, titled "Twilight."
This year, this little event raised about $500,000 and boasted as many distinguished men in the audience as the ladies who lunch.
I think the trick to its success is the hostess. The elegant Louise Grunwald insists we start on time, serve and eat while VIP's are being honored on the podium and wind the whole thing up quickly so everybody can go back to work. I've been emceeing this event for a number of years and this time around I offered the introducer of the actual honoree, Dr. Henry Kissinger.
My job was easy; I can't say enough about Jon Meacham, who so brilliantly compared the influence of both Henrys (Grunwald and Kiissinger.) Author Meacham's "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power" is eternally on the best-seller lists. I also made a few personal remarks about my old acquaintance Dr. Kissinger which seemed to put him in a good humor.
And because no one in America was in a good humor last Tuesday, that was a feat.
THE Mia Farrow/ Woody Allen past history concerning whether or not Mia's handsome son -- Ronan Farrow -- is actually the son of Mia's onetime hubby Frank Sinatra (instead of being the child of Woody) has played out in rumors under this byline for months and months. Mia always refers to Nancy and Tina Sinatra as Ronan's "sisters" and the latter seem proud of their intellectually precocious little "brother."
Ronan Farrow, a prodigy by anyone's light, was on Vanity Fair's men's best-dressed list only last month. He is a true intellectual and I hope he won't fall prey to being a "celebrity." But it may have already happened.
Not long ago I wrote of the River House/River Club on 52nd Street and the East River. At the time I said how exclusive this address is in New York history and that once upon a time, a story made the rounds that Gloria Vanderbilt had not been allowed to buy there because certain owners feared she'd be visited by her friend Bobby Short, a black and gifted entertainer.
Now comes a letter that refutes this stupid rumor and adds immeasurably to the history of 435 East 52nd Street. The letter is from Charles M. Mueller and we are indebted to him.
"I read today your story on the River House and the River Club. I lived there for many years as it was my parents' home! I played tennis often in the River Club and went to dinner there with my parents frequently until they moved from the River House in 2003. My father, Carl Mueller, was the President of the Board when the infamous Gloria Vanderbilt "rejection" happened. Of course, it did not happen as reported in the press at the time. My father had to be told by my mother who Bobby Short was ("That nice piano player we've seen at the Carlyle"). Gloria Vanderbilt did not get her River House co-op because her company at the time was purchasing the apartment in a deal orchestrated by none other than Roy Cohn. In those days, co-op deals were all cash and had to be backed up by a minimum amount of liquid wealth demonstrated by the buyer. Gloria had neither. In fact, the apartment she was to buy was already sold to John Gutfreund.
"My Dad later advised Gloria V to drop Roy Cohn. And due to the unwanted press Dad received in the NY Post and even People Magazine at the time, he was stalked a few years later by a nut who claimed to be his son. Dad had to go to work with guards for a couple of years.
"I learned from the whole debacle that what you read in the press is not necessarily true. In this case, it was astounding how little truth was in the story that was on the front page of the Post and comprised an entire article in People Magazine at the time. (I have always assumed it was Roy Cohn feeding someone information.)
"Just thought you might get a kick out of knowing this. Or maybe you already do? I remain your devoted reader. More power to you!"