Liz Smith: Celebrating Bert Stern

main“QUALITY IS not an act, it is a habit,” said Aristotle.

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lorettaSO WHAT great star is receiving a 17 DVD box set of her wide and varied work on television? That would be the divine Loretta Young. “The Loretta Young Show: The Best of the Complete Series — 100th Birthday Edition” arrived in February.

Loretta did some of her best acting on this series which ran eight seasons. Yes, she did more than simply sweep through that doorway every week in a new, stunning gown.

Miss Young played everything from a poor Asian woman to a wealthy matron who has lost her faith in God. I always adored Loretta, and she deserves this recognition. And even more for her long big-screen career, too.

THIS N’ THAT: A fan of Lindsay Lohan (yes, she certainly still has admirers) e-mailed me to insist that it was not Lindsay hiding her face from photographers last week in L.A. The fan points to the hair color, which “Lindsay hasn’t had in years.) True. So if I fell for the TMZ story, I apologize. However, she was spotted, undisguised at another club in recent days (Yes, another TMZ item. They say she swilled vodka, others insisted she sipped only mineral water.) Again — why put yourself in harm’s way, dear girl? Read, watch TV. Or if you must misbehave, do it at home.

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EVERY year it seems there’s a rash of Jon Hamm doesn’t wear underwear items and what are the “Mad Men” costume designers going to do about it? As the new season nears, this story reared its head again. “The clothes are tighter, it’s the late ’60s and we had to insist.” Oh, please. We’ve all seen paparazzi shots of the handsome Hamm commando, walking around in private life. But I’ve watched the show from its beginning and have never been distracted from Hamm’s acting by anything south of the border. I think at this point Mr. Hamm is irritated by this, and it’s hard not to blame him.

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THE other day I mentioned the divine Tilda Swinton in a jewelry ad that caught my eye in Harper’s Bazaar. However, over the weekend the story broke that Miss Swinton has decided to become living art, sleeping, or at least resting, in a glass booth. Well, it’s very Tilda, and she is probably quite as fascinating to watch slumbering as she is wide awake, acting.

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ODDLY happy that “Olympus Has Fallen” rose to a nifty $30 million U.S. gross take over the weekend. Although ridiculous, it is a fun ride and star Gerard Butler is a charming, sexy guy. I caught him on one of the late night shows promoting the film; he was a sweetie and even seemed a bit shy. (He kept biting his nails. Rather endearing!)

AND quite pleased that Bon Jovi’s latest album, “What About Now” hit the #1 spot last week. (The group’s fifth # 1 charting album.) Now, Jon and his bandmates perform driving anthem rock. So I’m not going to try and kid you that I know his work that well. But I interviewed him a number of years ago and he was a doll — though how he managed to walk in those pants he was wedged into was something of a miracle. Bon Jovi has never received much respect from critics, but fans still fill stadiums — and, apparently buy their CDs. And Jon does many good deeds in a naughty world. So congrats, to all the boys in the band.

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primolaPRIMOLA restaurant was graced by two of the world’s most glamorous women last week. Katie Holmes, who looks divine these days, healthy and happy, was in last Friday and devoured the Seafood Risotto. She was with Leslie Sloane-Zelnik, the powerful, take-no-prisoners PR woman. (Zelnik repped the above-mentioned Lindsay Lohan until that became an untenable relationship.)

The next night, Saturday, Miss Joan Collins and her hunky hubby Percy Gibson were there, accompanied by Joan’s artist son Sacha Newley and his wife. Joan, who continues to astound, picked daintily at the Asparagus Risotto. (At almost 80, she doesn’t keep that figure by eating like a truck driver.)

Joan has two projects upcoming, something called “Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist,” and the animated feature, “Saving Santa.” Joan is really quite an actress, underrated because of her looks and her often flamboyant casting. I wonder what, at this point, she could do with something like “The Glass Menagerie,” playing Tennessee Williams’ deluded Amanda Wingfield.

She’s got the chops….

marilynFINALLY, from April 5 to May 18 the Staley-Wise Gallery will be presenting the works of photographer Bert Stern. The exhibition is called “Bert Stern: Original Mad Man.”

He became a top flight star with his famous campaign for Smirnoff Vodka. But his lasting claim to fame were photos he took of Elizabeth Taylor in 1962, on the set of “Cleopatra” and especially the 3,000 plus shots of Marilyn Monroe, also in ’62, wearing everything from a full length chinchilla coat, chic black dresses, Garbo-like hats, and filmy scarves that sometimes revealed more than was necessary.

Monroe at 36, was at the peak of her womanly beauty, but her time for posing nude  — especially when liquored up — was nearing an end. Still, many of these shots are gorgeous and iconic. The exhibition coincides with a documentary of the same title, revisiting his long career.

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This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 3/26/13

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