“You are an enormously mercurial person,” she says, “who swings between very high highs and very low lows.”His eyebrows rise, the corners of his lips turn down: this is the mock-affronted expression he presents to the camera when a baby armadillo from some local zoo declines to respond to his caresses. “She makes me sound like a cross between Spring Byington and Adolf Hitler.”Before long, he parts as unobtrusively as he came. Characteristically, although he is surrounded by the likes of Jack Lemmon, Roger Vadim, Michael Caine, James Stewart, and Gene Kelly, he spends most of the evening locked in NBC shoptalk with Fred de Cordova.
Meeting him a few days afterward, I inquire what he thought of the party. De Cordova has just returned from his European safari, which has taken him through four countries in half as many weeks.
(A strange and revealing encounter, to which we’ll return.) Actually, “hot” is a misnomer. They are highly professional, highly successful, highly dedicated people. And when they go to a break, they get on the phone. Or hardly ever: he may decide, if a major celebrity is on hand, to bend the rule and grant him or her the supreme privilege of prior contact. As Orson Welles said to me, “he’s the only invisible talk host.” A Carson guest of long standing, Welles continued, “Once, before the show, he put his head into my dressing room and said hello. The production staff behaved the way the stagehands did at the St.
To judge from my own experience, “glacial” would be nearer the mark. They talk upstairs, they talk to—Christ, who knows? And you’re sittin’ there watchin’, thinkin’, What, are they gonna hang somebody? James’s Theatre in London twenty-five years ago when Princess Margaret came backstage to visit me. One of Carson’s people stared at me and said, ‘He actually came to you!
I recall something that George Axelrod, the dramatist and screenwriter, once said to me about him: “Socially, he doesn’t exist.
The reason is that there are no television cameras in living rooms.
14, 1977: There is a dinner party tonight at the Beverly Hills home of Irving Lazar, doyen of agents and agent of doyens.
One of the rare exceptions to this rule is the male latecomer who now enters, lean and dapper in an indigo blazer, white slacks, and a pale-blue open-necked shirt.
If human beings had little-red lights in the middle of their foreheads, Carson would be the greatest conversationalist on earth.”One of the guests is a girl whose hobby is numerology.
Taking Carson as her subject, she works out a series of arcane sums and then offers her interpretation of his character. Within a month, however, I note that he is back in the same torture chamber.
On this occasion, at his behest and that of his wife, Mary (a sleek and catlike sorceress, deceptively demure, who could pass for her husband’s ward), some fifty friends have gathered to mourn the departure of Fred de Cordova, who has been the producer of NBC’s “Tonight Show” since 1970; he is about to leave for Europe on two weeks’ vacation.
A flimsy pretext, you may think, for a wingding; but, according to Beverly Hills protocol, anyone who quits the state of California for more than a long weekend qualifies for a farewell party, unless he is going to Las Vegas or New York, each of which counts as a colonial suburb of Los Angeles.