Monday, August 23, 2021

“Would you welcome, Miss Diane Keaton.”


What a lovely blouse, Mrs Corleone! Diane Keaton as Kay Adams Corleone in The Godfather (1972)

On December 28, 1972, Diane Keaton appeared on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.

“Would you welcome, Miss Diane Keaton.”

After a discussion of her bangs (prompted by a comment made by Keaton herself) Johnny Carson asked his first question. He was curious about what she was wearing.

Carson: “What are you wearing tonight? It looks like kind of a suit.”

Keaton: “It is a suit. I’m just like you guys. I have a suit on, yeah.”

Carson: “Was it a man’s suit that you had fixed?”

Keaton: “Oh, no. It’s a female suit.”

Carson: “Uh-huh.”

Keaton: “And I am female.”

Carson: “Oh I know that. No, I was…”

Keaton: “Sometimes, you know. . .”

Carson: “There’s no question about that.”

Keaton: “You promise?

Carson: “Yeah.”

Keaton: “You do?”

Carson: “And you’re wearing those clogs again tonight.”

Keaton: “That’s right, yeah, yeah. Well, now that we know what I look like.”

Ed McMahon interjected: “And a lovely blouse.”

It had been several months since the blockbuster film, The Godfather, in which Keaton had a starring role, had been released.

One of Carson’s next questions concerned what presents Keaton had received for Christmas.

Finally, Carson ventured into his guest’s biography. He was surprised to learn that no, she had not grown up in New York City, where she now lived. She had grown up in Southern California and moved to NYC at the age of 19.

“Did you go alone to New York?” Carson asked. Indeed, she had, Keaton responded.

“That’s kind of a big move for a young girl to go to the big city,” Carson said.


In 1965, Keaton headed to New York City. Known then as Diane Hall (her real name), Keaton had been accepted into the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater (est. 1928), located at 340 E 54th Street. There she studied with famed acting teacher, Sanford Meisner.

Sanford Meisner, 1938. Meisner was a member of the Group Theatre in New York. He developed a method of teaching acting based on Stanislavsky’s “method,” but involving a more emotional and reflective way of accessing emotional states and truthfulness in characterizations.

When Keaton first arrived in NYC, she stayed at the YWCA. But only for a 3 days. Soon, she moved into the Rehearsal Club at 47 West 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Housed in a brownstone, the boarding house (women only) operated from 1923 to 1979 and served as inspiration for Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman’s play Stage Door. (Later made into a film by the same name.)

Keaton’s second NYC home: The Rehearsal Club. Other former residents were Sandy Duncan and Carol Burnett.

Life at the Rehearsal Club must have been lively. At least it was in its 1937 film depiction of hopeful actresses boarding at the fictional “Footlights Club” at 158 West 58th Street in Manhattan.

Stage Door, a 1937 RKO film starring Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers (along with Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, Ann Miller and many others) centered around a group of women living at a theatrical boarding house in New York City and hoping to break into show business.

After a while Keaton decided to find her own place. At one point she wrote home:

“I’m frantically looking for an apartment. But it’s so hard. The cheap ones go fast, even though they’re located in the worst, most rotten areas. Today I went to the upper west side. No luck. I’m thinking of going to a real estate broker . . . This is more of a hassle than I expected.” (Then Again, 55).

Keaton ended up staying for a year at the Rehearsal Club. In the meantime, her career started to take off.

Publicity photo of Diane Keaton, Barry McGuire, and Steve Curry in the stage production Hair, 1968, New York Public Library, Kenn Duncan Photograph Archive, ca. 1960-1986

In 1968, Keaton secured an open-call audition for the musical Hair which had recently opened at the Biltmore Theatre at 261 W. 47th Street (now known as the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre). In the audition, she sang a song and was quickly eliminated. Walking out of the theater, the executive producer “came over to me,” Keaton later recalled, “looked me up and down and said, ‘You stay.’ ” (“Is She Kookie, This Diane Keaton?” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 14, 1972. ) 

The women of Hair, 1968. Back row: Suzannah Norstrand, Melba Moore, Marjorie LiPari, Lynn Kellogg, Emmeretta Marks. Middle row: Natalie Mosco, Lorrie Davis, Diane Keaton. Front row sitting: Shelley Plimpton and Leata Galloway

In July 1968, just three months after Hair opened on Broadway, Keaton joined the chorus. She was later promoted to understudy for Lynn Kellogg who played the lead role, Sheila. After Kellogg left the show, Keaton took over the part. (First she was instructed by the producers that she would have to lose weight).

New York Daily News, July 19, 1968

Moving Up(Town)

After her promotion, Keaton finally found an apartment for $75 a month: a studio walk up on West 82rd Street (with a bathtub in the kitchen). The toilet was down the hall.

“I know I should find someplace else now that I can afford it,” she told an audience of drama students during a visit back home to Southern California in January 1969. “But I really haven’t had time to look. The place I have now is all right. The only trouble is, it’s right in the middle of the Puerto Rican area and a little scary to walk home to after the show.”

Keaton returns to her alma mater: Orange Coast College, The Los Angeles Times, January 7, 1969

Despite Keaton’s insensitive language, she underscored a NYC in transition in the late 1960s. Just a decade prior to Keaton’s move to the Upper West Side (UWS), a large number of Puerto Rican immigrants had settled there. By 1960, they amounted to roughly 15% of the population of the UWS.

At the time she moved uptown, Keaton was just one of the many young, white singles who trekked to the UWS and took part in the long and ongoing process of gentrification in the neighborhood that is, one can argue, still being enacted.

West Side Story

“This used to be one of the all time freak areas”

72nd St. bar owner to the New York Times, (“Singles Seeking Rapport of ‘Now’ Flock to the Upper West Side,” New York Times, December 28, 1970.)

As Keaton packed up and moved uptown, seeking affordable housing, so did many others. In just a handful of years, the Upper West Side was said to be “experiencing a singles population boom” – as the New York Times reported in 1970, and it was “changing the face of the neighborhood from 72nd to 96th street.”

Indeed, the unnamed bar owner quoted above described how crowds of “straight” people were now flocking to the UWS. But after all, the neighborhood was extremely “cool.” It was “loose.” It was young. And the women of the UWS, as the reported observed, were “more likely to have long hair, wear less make up, [and] are more intellectual.” (“Singles Seeking Rapport of ‘Now’ Flock to the Upper West Side,” New York Times, December 28, 1970.)

“Despite an often raffish appearance and much-discussed crime rate, the West side if becoming, as one resident put it, ‘where the action is.’” Catering to the hip, the young, the less uptight, the neighborhood was transforming with bars, restaurants and businesses now cropping up to appeal to this new crowd. Brownstones were rapidly being renovated into “$250-a-month studio apartments.”

Singles Seeking Rapport of ‘Now’ Flock to the Upper West Side,” 
New York Times, December 28, 1970

The Upper West Side had long been under siege by developers, urban planners, gentrifiers, capitalists, and others who sought to stake a claim in an area of the city that had once, long ago, seemed so far away from the “real” Manhattan that it was considered the “country.” (It did, after all, have farms.)

UWS: Just a few blocks from Keaton’s future apartment: 84th and Broadway, 1879. The Brennan farmhouse. By 1985, the farms had long gone, and the gentrification continued. The term “Yupper West Side” was coined. Photograph, Collection of The New-York Historical Society.

In 1969, just off her stint in Hair, she had fallen into the clutches of W**dy A**en (“discovered” by him, some reporters wrote) and she was cast in the David Merrick production of Allen’s play, Play it Again Sam. After a tour, the play opened on February 12, 1969, at the Broadhurst Theatre at 235 W 44th Street. The play received rave reviews and Keaton was nominated for her first Tony Award nomination.

New York Magazine, May 13, 1985

Soon, Keaton’s had removed south. Her new pad was another apartment whose bathtub was decidedly not in the kitchen. In 1985, she bought an apartment in the San Remo. Her “starter” apartment that went on the market in 2018 for 17.5 million.

Sex and the Single Girl

Two singles in Manhattan: Diane Keaton with Richard Gere in the 1977 film, Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Three years after the film came out, Gere starred in a film depicting the sexual revolution from and by a male pov: American Gigolo (see below).

Keaton would return (cinematically) to her old stamping ground when she starred in the 1977 film, Looking for Mr Goodbar. The film, based on a 1975 book by the same name by Judith Rossner, imagined the larger context to a real-life incident: the murder of Roseann Quinn, a 28 year old single woman who lived on the UWS and was killed by a man that she reportedly met (“picked up”) at an UWS bar called W.M. Tweeds (opened in 1968 and after Quinn’s death renamed All State’s Cafe).

Quinn, who lived across the street from the bar at 253 West 72nd Street, was portrayed in the media as having led a “double life:” stolid and respectable teacher by day and singles bar frequenter by night. She was out on the prowl, sitting in bars, picking up men and ultimately, according to the press coverage (and the film version) she paid the ultimate price for her behavior.

The film version of the story was loyal to the media-shaped version of the story, reiterating the idea that single women were not only unsafe in a scary city full of predators, but they were also “asking for it” by frequenting bars and having one night stands.

“The Single Girl in New York City” headlined an article by Judy Klemesrud that appeared in the New York Times in February 1973. In the wake of Quinn’s death, Klemesrud wrote, many single women were taking precautions: carrying weapons, avoiding subways, or moving to “safer” areas which she called “girl ghettos” – areas where young single women live with roommates or in buildings guarded by doormen. These ghettoes were on the upper east side, however, and the UWS was, according to one woman interviewed in the article, “the most dangerous area of the city for single women.”

But the truth of the story of what had happened to Roseann Quinn was not to be exposed within the frenzy to level an anti-feminist attack on single women and victim blame. In fact, Quinn had not picked up a "stranger;" she knew the man who killed her.

“She wasn’t like they made her out to be.”

Retired NY police detective, speaking about Roseann Quinn.

“She didn’t pick up the guy [who killed her] here,” the detective told a reporter about Quinn in 2007. The "here" he was referring to was the bar where the media had pinpointed as the scene of the "pick up." “He was her boyfriend’s friend and she was showing him around N.Y.C. They went to a couple of places that night before going back to her apartment.”

But the fictional version was so much more useful, wasn’t it? After all, the fictional story was fodder for some good entertainment. In fact, it had been fodder for “one of the best motion pictures ever made!” [sic].

The praise for Keaton’s performance may have been well-earned, but in all the hyperbole there was a sense of delight in a film that both portrayed the sexual revolution and the punishment of those who took part in it. New York Daily News, October 19, 1977

Keaton did win a best actress Academy Award. But not for Looking for Mr Goodbar. She won it for another film she appeared in that same year: Annie Hall.

“La-dee-da. La-la.” The character Annie Hall famously wore traditionally male clothing. And Keaton was praised for bringing this sartorial aspect to the character. However, the cloaking of Hall in a “suit” had double meaning in the film: she was a character who was portrayed as "quirky" and also comically insecure. She needed the “structure” of a man’s guidance. Keaton herself, however, saw it differently. She had been wearing suits for years!

American Gigolo: Richard Gere with Lauren Hutton.

Three years after Looking for Mr Goodbar was released, critics reacted to American Gigolo's portrayal of the main character's sexuality and sexual identity with far more sympathy (surprise!) than they did to Keaton's character in Looking for Mr Goodbar.

“We leave ‘American Gigolo,’ wrote Roger Ebert in a 1980 review of the film, “with the curious feeling that if women weren’t paying this man to sleep with them, he’d be paying them: He needs the human connection and he has a certain shyness, a loner quality, that makes it easier for him when love seems to be just another deal.”

And he was totally in charge of his clothes:

American Gigolo: Clothes make the man

I almost forgot to mention: What a lovely blouse you’re wearing, Miss Keaton!

~Jenny Thompson

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hey, girl, is that guerrilla art? The Fearless Girl, the Charging Bull, and the Public Square

The "Charging Bull" and the "Fearless Girl," 8 Broadway, New York City
In March 2017, the statue "Fearless Girl" by Kristen Visbal, became famous after being left in the middle of the night to stand in an apparent face off with the statue "Charging Bull" in NYC's financial district. (© Charging Bull, Arturo Di Modica, 1989) The piece, and its relation to the bull, was interpreted as a kind of act of defiance, an anti-establishment piece of art of and for the people, etc.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz: Married at Last!

"I love you, Lucille."
"I am busy getting married to Lucille Ball." This is likely the only time this particular excuse has ever been made by an employee to an employer.

It was November 30, 1940, and Desi Arnaz telephoned his boss at Manhattan's Roxy Theater at 153 W. 50th Street to explain just why he would not be appearing in the first of two shows he was scheduled for that evening. He was still in Greenwich, Connecticut. But he'd be back in New York that evening and ready to perform for the second show, he promised. And this time, the 25 year old band leader was bringing his wife!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Behind the Scenes in a Restaurant

Public Space: the Exchange Buffet, NYC, 1920s
In 1916, the Consumers League of New York City issued a study of 1,017 Women Restaurant
Employees. Titled, Behind the Scenes in a Restaurant, the study offered insight into the working conditions and ostensibly sought to bring about changes in laws regarding women working in the industry.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Alone at the Wheel: Driving in Manhattan

"The roadster glided through traffic as easily, gracefully as a fish swimming downstream, the first lights of evening sliding backward over the long, gray hood."
~ Winifred Van Duzer, The Good Bad Girl (1926)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Faith Baldwin of Brooklyn

New York and the (Aspirations, Dreams) Lives of Women: Faith Baldwin
"Romance novel" is a useless phrase. Let's just stick with "novel," shall we? And thus we can take a look at one of the United States' most successful writers: Faith Baldwin (1893–1978). Over the course of her career, she published roughly 100 novels, wrote for various magazines and newspapers, and saw some of her novels turned into films (eg, Wife Versus Secretary 1936). Her first published piece (a poem) appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1907 (see below). Her first novel was published in 1921, and her final novel appeared in 1977. "She writes about people you know," reads the copy from one of her novels. "The girl next door, the young man who rides down on the elevator with you, the people in your office." Baldwin's novels focused on women's lives, their relationships, dreams, families, marriages, careers, and challenges of the modern world. The setting for the vast majority of her novels: Why, New York, of course! Brooklyn, to be exact.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Skyscraper Souls: Warren William and the Working Girl

Warren William: Villain, City Dweller.
Actor Warren William (1894 – 1948) has been called the "king of pre-code" Hollywood.  At the age of 26, he first appeared on Broadway, enjoying a successful run on the New York stage before going West under contract with Warner Bros.

In films, William was best known for playing a ruthless tycoon, a man who seeks money and power; a man who disposes of women easily and heartlessly, the kind of character who "made life his plaything,"  in the words of a trailer for his 1934 film, Bedside.

Many of his films portray New York City in the 1930s; a portrayal that offers a rather biased view of the metropolis: the city was a jungle, a trap, a den of immorality that dazzles and seems to promise everything, but ultimately only destroys.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Anonymous, New York: Ursula Parrott

You are Here, Manhattan, 1929. Back Cover of Ex-Wife, Dell paperback edition.

My husband left me four years ago. Why--I don't precisely understand, and never did. Nor, I suspect, does he. Now, in these waning days of 1929 when the world may be tumbling about our ears, that other catastrophe and its causes are matters equally inconsequential. ~ Ex-Wife, 1929

In 1929, a novel titled Ex-Wife was published by Jonathan Cape publishers. The book, published anonymously, "caught readers' fancy," and made the bestseller list. Many readers were shocked and astonished at the racy story of a woman who, divorced from her "heel" of a husband, takes up relationships with other men, along with a cocktail or two, and even takes up her own career!

She rooms with an artist friend in the Village, attends parties and "first nights" in the city, she shops, she pays attention to her clothes, perfume, and other details, and she loves to find love in the arms of a handsome male friend--RACY!

Who had written such a truly modern story of a young woman in 1920s Manhattan, navigating men, work, and the impact of the "Aspirin Age?"

Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Calling" in New York: A New Year's Day Tradition

Mrs. Pegu, and drawing-room, are all laid out in state to receive New Year's calls.  Thirty-two young gentlemen make a brief appearance at the door, and recite the following shibboleth:  "How d'ye do, Mrs. Pegu.  Happy New Year.  Can't stay a minute.  Made seventy-six calls this morning; got thirty more to make. Adoo! Adoo!" The young gentlemen vanish, to be succeeded by others. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Selling (Off) New York

Cardboard Cut-Outs?: The cast of Million Dollar Listing, New York
"I think the doorman is just as important as the guy who owns the building," real estate broker Luis D. Ruiz says in an episode of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing, New York (MDLNY). "Because you never know where a deal is going to come from." (Watch a trailer for the show here.) Ruiz is one of three New York real estate brokers - and reality TV personalities - who make up the cast of the popular and fascinating show that will next air its 6th season.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hellward, New York? The Shimmy Dance and Other Indecencies

Dance, Daughters, Dance! 1928
By the time a young actress danced in front of a three-way mirror and on table tops, shaking her body as her bobbed hair bobbed and her scandalously short skirt swayed up and down, the dance known as the "Shimmy" was almost a decade old.

This was Joan Crawford in the Academy Award nominated film, Our Dancing Daughters (1928). Crawford epitomized the flapper-dancer-modern-woman of the Jazz era. She may have brought the popular Shimmy dance to the (somewhat respectable) silver screen, but she also tamed it in many ways. The Shimmy had actually emerged a decade earlier, in the months after the end of World War I.  And it caused an uproar.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Color of Postwar New York

Walking, 1956, Saul Leiter, Howard Greenberg Gallery (most of the Leiter images used here are from the same source)
Photographer Saul Leiter (1923-2013) spent a large portion of his life living in New York City. Working in the tradition of the street photographer, he captured images from Manhattan, applying an artistic eye to a city that was in constant motion. The city, represented through light, composition, movement, shadow, and most of all color, was transformed through his lens. His work is, in many ways, a visual companion to E.B. White's Here is New York. Leiter started shooting color in 1948, a moment when the American cultural landscape was shifting, its contours shaped by the world war and shaded by the new Atomic Age.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Windows, Shopping, and Christmas Past, NYC

Christmas Card Display: the observed and the observer

From any recent study of New York the visitor from another planet would conclude that our observance of Christmas consisted chiefly in unusual practice and encouragement of the art of shop-keeping. Broadway and the other shopping streets have been for many days a vast fair, crowded with customers till long past the dinner-hour, and late at night, no doubt, the shopmen went out and bought from each other, for there is no resisting the contagion. When one has bought what he desires, there is a fine pleasure in leisurely strolls through the shopping quarter.
J. E. Learned, "Christmas Streets," New Outlook,  December 1892

Ah, Christmas!

Late 19th century and early 20th century images depicting Christmas in New York from the Library of Congress collection can be divided (roughly) into two types: those showing activities related tocharities (Salvation Army, soup kitchens, orphanages, et al) and those showing shoppers on the street.

Monday, November 9, 2015

General Pershing's Welcome in New York City, 1919

General Pershing salutes New York
"The Heart of New York goes out to you," wrote mayor John F. Hylan in an "air letter" to General John J. Pershing (1860-1948) on September 7, 1919. The letter was dispatched from Manhattan by hydroplane and dropped aboard the SS Leviathan during its final days at sea. The ship was bringing the general home.

General Pershing had commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I. He left the United States in June 1917, just months after the U.S. declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917. He would not return for more than two years.

Friday, August 14, 2015

August 14, 1945: Times Square and a Couple of Kisses

You must remember this....
Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt took the iconic image of the nurse and sailor locked in an embrace (she is headlocked, actually) in NYC's Times Square on August 14, 1945, 70 years ago today.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

One Night at Sherry's: James Hazen Hyde Has a Ball (and Some Cake)

Party Over Here! Guests at Hyde's 1905 Ball at Sherry's Restaurant
At the age of 23, Manhattan socialite and supreme party-er of the Gilded Age, James Hazen Hyde (1876-1859) inherited a fortune. He was given majority control of the extremely profitable Equitable Assurance Society, a company founded by his father, Henry Baldwin Hyde, in 1859.

Hyde was the prototypical dandy of turn-of-the-20th-century New York. His clothes were made in Paris (a city that he loved and visited frequently). He was enormously fond of horses and coaches (and once raced, with Alfred Vanderbilt,--by coach!--from Philadelphia to New York City).

Friday, July 10, 2015

Signs of the Time: Federal Art in NYC

Music Contest Poster, Estelle Levine, Artist, Federal Art Project, Library of Congress

During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration* (WPA) sponsored a variety of public programs designed to put people to work and to better society at large. The arts were particularly favored. Painters, dancers, photographers, musicians, writers, sculptors, actors, illustrators, et al, found a haven away from the down-and-out economy through a variety of programs that included the Federal Theatre Project, the Federal Art Project, the Federal Music Project, and the Federal Writers Project.

Over the course of just a few golden years, from about 1935 to 1939, in New York City, the work of those artists was visible everywhere, from the theater marquees advertising a production to posters displayed on the streets. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Street Scenes: Cropping Into History

On Fifth Avenue: A cropped image, c. 1900. (See Full Size Image Here.)

I spend a lot of time looking through visual archives to find images to use in my research and my design work. One of my favorite archives to peruse is the Library of Congress (LOC). The LOC happens to hold one the best collections of American images: roughly 25,000 glass negatives and transparencies made by the Detroit Publishing Company (DPC).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Washingtons in New York: The Nation, the Publick, and the Enslaved

George: "Mary, Please come with me to New York!"
(Illustration by Norman Rockwell, 1932)
On April 23, 1789, just one week before being sworn in as the first president of the United States, George Washington and his staff settled into the country's first executive mansion, located at 10  Cherry Street in New York City. For nearly two years, before being moved to Philadelphia, the seat of the U.S. government would be located in New York City; and Manhattan would be home to the President and First Lady. The new nation was just starting to recover from the long years of war, and nowhere was this better in evidence than in Manhattan.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Owners of America, NYC

"By their banks ye shall know them," Alfred Henry Lewis
In 1908 and 1909, Cosmopolitan Magazine published a series titled, "Owners of America," profiling some of the country's wealthiest men. (The magazine modestly touted the series as "one of the most interesting that has ever appeared in an American magazine.")

Accompanying the article were images of the Manhattan homes of the "owners."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Jackie, A New Yorker

Jack and Jackie Greet New York, 1960
After becoming First Lady, Jackie Kennedy seemed to do anything to avoid Washington, D.C. She did indeed officially live in the White House during John Kennedy's presidency, but she spent far more time away from the capitol than she spent in it. (Spoiler Alert: New York City was one of her favorite places to go.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Take a Walk: Time Traveling Through the City Streets

Time Traveling on the Upper West Side, 1971 (click text here to go to film)

Take a Walk

New York is made for walking. And it's a city that lends itself to image making, from still photography to home movies.  To see the city from a "common" or everyday point of view seems both literally and figuratively quite pedestrian. But with the passage of time, that point of view becomes magical, offering viewers the opportunity to time travel and walk through the streets of Manhattan in another era.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bright Lights, Big City: Early 1980s New York

The Write Crowd: McInerney, Janowitz, Ellis, 1980s, NYC
"Die Yuppie Scum" was common graffiti that writer Jay McInerney remembers spotting around his East Village neighborhood in the early 1980s. A graduate of Williams college, McInerney studied creative writing (with Raymond Carver) at Syracuse University, and in the early 1980s, he was back in New York City, living in the East Village and working as a reader at Random House. Meanwhile, he wrote the novel that would make him famous.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Coney Island on Their Mind

"Hot town, summer in the city/ back of my neck getting dirty and gritty." 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Beauty of the Miniature: Helena Rubinstein in New York City

Madame Helena Rubinstein
Helena Rubinstein (1870-1965) was a revolutionary force in the world of beauty. She was an entrepreneur, a businesswoman, and a marketing genius. During a long and successful career that spanned six decades and made her one of the richest women in the world, Rubinstein operated salons all over the world and launched scores of products that were sold globally. She was a magnificent purveyor of the idea that all women can find personal satisfaction through the pursuit of beauty. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Decisive Moment: Marilyn Monroe in New York

Marilyn Monroe: The City at Her Feet
New York City, 1955. Gazing down at Park Avenue, Marilyn Monroe stands on the balcony of the Ambassador Hotel, at Park between East 50th and 51st Streets. She was in New York in self-imposed exile from Hollywood. She had come back to the city she knew and loved in order to change her life.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Chrysler Building: A Symbol of the Times

1931: A Dazzling New York Skyline of Architects
Photo:  L-R: A. Stewart Walker (Fuller Building), Leonard Schultze (Waldorf-Astoria), Ely Jacques Kahn (Squibb Building), William Van Alen (Chrysler Building), Ralph Walker (1 Wall Street), D.E.Ward (Metropolitan Tower), Joseph H. Freelander (Museum of New York).

At the Beaux-Arts Ball held in New York City on January 23, 1931, the party was not to be topped...but some of the attendees were!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Menus & Traditions: New York City

Thanksgiving dinner at the Hotel New Yorker, at the height of the Great Depression, cost $2.25.
Guests could not only choose turkey as an entree, but also lamb, lobster, or beef. Sardines, baked grapefruit, and "whipped" potatoes also appeared on the hotel's holiday menu. The Art Deco hotel, located at 481 Eighth Avenue, had opened in 1930.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dustin Hoffman's New York

Dustin Hoffman, New York City, 1969: An Actor's Actor. Photo by John Dominis

Dustin Hoffman's New York - Jenny Thompson

In many ways, Dustin Hoffman can be seen as a quintessentially New York actor (despite having been born and raised in California). Many of the films Hoffman made through the late 1960s and 1970s not only captured the American zeitgeist, but also created a portrait of New York City. Hoffman, himself a resident of the city from roughly 1958 until 2002, lived through many changes New York underwent and his films capture those changes.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mid-Century Modern: Inside the Mad Men's Living Room

Places! Don & Meagan Draper's NYC apartment, c. 1968
According to a brief shot of an envelope in a recent episode of Mad Men, Don and Megan Draper live on Park Avenue. No surprise there for an up and coming power couple; where else would they live if not in one of the most stylish areas of the city?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Retreats: New York Style

"By the way, old chap, what do you people do in New York when summer comes?"
"We get out," Miss De Peyster broke in . . . "New York is simply deserted in summer. There is not a soul in town." 
Rupert Hughes, The Real New York (1905).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mary Lincoln in New York

“It is imperative that I should do something for my relief, and I want you to meet me in New York, between the 30th of August and the 5th of September next, to assist me in disposing of a portion of my wardrobe." Mrs. Lincoln to Mrs. Keckley

On September 16, 1867, a small dark haired woman dressed in mourning clothes checked in as "Mrs. Clarke" at the St. Denis Hotel at Broadway and 11th St. She was waiting for a friend who would arrive any day. Mrs. Clarke had business to transact in the city.