Photo: A coffin snuff box listed on EBay at $2,200.
Queen of the Dead – dateline February 13, 2012
• It is dangerous to call someone “the last living” whatever, as you will invariably be proved wrong. So I will only say that Florence Green, who died on February 4, aged 110, is reported to have been the last living World War I veteran. Green joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in September 1918, at the age of 17, and, according to her local Norfolk paper, she had as good a time as my own mother did in Miami during the Second World War: “I met dozens of pilots and would go on dates,” said Green. “I had the opportunity to go up in one of the planes but I was scared of flying. It was a lovely experience and I’m very proud.” When asked how it felt being 110, she deadpanned, “Not much different to being 109.”
• Bright Young Thing Angela Culme-Seymour, 99, died on January 22, after a life that most of us have to lie down with a cool cloth on our eyes after just reading about. The stunning society beauty lost her father at Ypres in 1915; she married Churchill’s nephew Johnny in 1934, then ran off with a French count, René de Chatellus—only to leave him for author Patrick Balfour (the Balfours’ literary London parties were legendary). Angela rivaled Pamela Harriman as what my friend Nancy calls “the world’s leading expert on rich men’s bedroom ceilings,” admitting herself that “I’ve never been married long enough to know for how long monogamy is realistic. I imagine about seven years” (Angela, that is, not my friend Nancy). At one point she absconded with her half sister’s husband, atomic physicist Derek Jackson. “I was vache, ungrateful, promiscuous,” Angela admitted, and I for one forgive her everything, for describing herself as “vache.” She finally settled down—after her fashion—at age 65, marrying a Turkish aristocrat, Ali Bulent Rauf. I don’t know about you, but I have her memoirs, Bolter’s Grand-Daughter, on order.
• It’s always funny when a zombie dies (except to his family and friends, of course). So the headline writers had a picnic with the sad passing of actor Bill Hinzman (on February 5, at 75). Hinzman played the “opening zombie” in the very scary, no-budget 1968 Night of the Living Dead—the tall, skinny guy who shambles up to the couple in the graveyard as the brother taunts his sister, “he’s coming for you, Barbara!” Hinzman pretty much made a career out of this role, appearing in The Crazies, FleshEater (which he also directed), Legion of the Night, Santa Claws (ha!), It Came from Trafalgar, and others.
• And it has been five years (on February 8) since Anna Nicole Smith left this earthly realm and went to show her boobies to the angels. I adore Anna Nicole: she made Jayne Mansfield look like Dame Edith Evans. If the Anna Nicole Opera comes to New York, I will be up there in the Diamond Horseshoe, opera glasses in hand. From everything I have read (and I have read everything—all the books on her are just what you would expect and hope for), she seems like a genuinely sweet gal, not a mean bone in her body, and dumber than three boxes of cat fur. I learned so much from Anna Nicole—for instance, her Death Fridge (not only would “Anna Nicole’s Death Fridge” make a great band name, but shouldn’t we all have a Death Fridge?). I learned that one should keep one’s methadone chilled, like white wine—though, being Anna Nicole, I suspect it was really even methadone, it was probably “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Heroin!”