And more from our Liz: A fabulous wedding at Neverland!
“CONSTANT USE will not wear out the fabric of friendship,” said Dorothy Parker.
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SOMETIMES the synchronicity of life is amazing and sometimes it gives a fateful result. About two weeks ago I was in the theater restaurant Orso, having a late supper with Whoopi Goldberg, Cynthia McFadden and Bette Midler. (We were giddy having just seen the musical of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” which Bette has co-produced.)
As we exited, I glimpsed a good-looking grey-haired man at the table nearby. It turned out to be the big star Farley Granger who was there with friends. “Liz! Liz!” he signaled and we had a brief kissy reunion because he has always been a pet pal of mine. And vice versa.
Farley was always the most beautiful man in movies and I won’t cite his credits but if you saw the classic black and white Hitchcock film “Strangers On Train” – well, you know what I mean. I forever admired Farley, who deserted movies before they deserted him and came back to work in theater, where he spent his mature years. Even in old age he remained handsomely attractive and special – sweet and friendly.
We made a pact as we kissed goodbye to “get together” soon — and now that date can’t be kept as Farley died only days after, at age 85. Maybe he and his slightly younger contemporary, Elizabeth Taylor, are having a reunion elsewhere. I hope so for they were two of the most gorgeous souls ever born – and very nice, generous humans in the bargain.
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AND P.S.: Thank you to the many, many people who have e-mailed me directly and personally about Elizabeth’s death. I appreciate this sentiment and I marvel at those who recall that Elizabeth and I were good friends from 1964 on.
I had this missive from the former People magazine editor, Hal Wingo, who is now living happily in retirement in Sante Fe, New Mexico.
Hal says: “I was tempted to write a letter to the editor to the Times this week when Barry Levine of the National Enquirer wrote an Op Ed piece telling how he tried all the tricks in his bag to get coverage of the Taylor-Fortensky wedding, including putting a photographer and reporter in a hot air balloon (which promptly crashed) and nothing worked.
“I wanted to say People did it the old-fashioned way, by hiring the best reporter who was inside the ranch as an invited guest. This coverage of that wedding was a real triumph for People.”
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WELL, it’s nice that Hal remembers I was People’s person on the inside. I got the gig by bargaining with Elizabeth Taylor personally that whatever was earned from the magazine and other sources would go directly to AmFAR in the AIDS fight. And it did.
While many of us were waiting at the Neverland Ranch for the wedding to actually happen, I was also running back and forth down the road outside Neverland, in high heels, to a Fox TV trailer where I breathlessly reported that nothing much was going on inside. On one of these treks, I spied Dr. Mathilde Krim, who could not get the guards to admit her.
I, on the other hand, had impeccable “credentials” and after arguing for a while with the guards, I was able to escort Dr. Krim, the founder of AmFAR, inside to wait with the rest of us. I will never forget sitting on a stool at Michael Jackson’s ice cream parlor room with the tycoon Barry Diller. “Liz, I wonder if we’ll ever get a real drink here?” said Barry. But the servants were denying us, offering ice cream sodas, because no liquor was to be served until after the wedding.
It was unforgettable, as a guest with a pad and pencil at hand, to hear the wedding march begin and look back toward the house where Elizabeth, all in yellow and with a startling suntan, appeared in the doorway. She was the bride on the arm of Michael Jackson who “gave her away.”
(At least we can say that the loyal Miss Taylor never did vice versa. She kept all of Michael’s secrets to the end.)
It was no surprise during the actual wedding ceremony, which no one could hear for the din of helicopters overhead, when a man came crashing down on top of the audience in a parachute. Security whisked him away so quickly that I don’t think even Nancy Reagan, in the front row, was aware of this unusual happening. I was standing about four feet from this intruder, taking notes, when it happened.
It was fabulous at the wedding supper to be re-united with a man who had been my classmate at the University of Texas. Fess Parker, the former Daniel Boone/Davy Crockett of TV, had become a well-known wine producer in the Neverland neighborhood. We embraced and said, “Hook ‘em, Horns!” and congratulated ourselves on not having gone to Texas A & M.
It was also fabulous to be invited to talk to the newlywed Mrs. Fortensky at her own insistence that I sit awhile with her and — no, not her bridegroom, but with Michael Jackson. (Mr. Fortensky was at a table with his own family and various relatives.) Elizabeth and Michael talked to me about how close they were and why – both having had been lonely child stars. I jotted down every word and relayed it to People. AIDS benefited. And for the time being, everybody but the National Enquirer was happy.
Of all the people I have ever known who have passed to the great beyond while I kept on keeping on here, Elizabeth Taylor is the most memorable – and, in my mind, she will never die.