This photo of a horse-drawn hearse has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $250.
Queen of the Dead – dateline May 14, 2012
• One thing that none of the obits of Vidal Sassoon (who died at 84 on May 9) mentioned is that those severe 1960s geometric haircuts he pioneered? Looked good on almost no one. Unless you had perfect little Mia Farrow/Twiggy bone structure, those cuts made you look like Mr. Ed in unconvincing drag. Like that 1920s Dutch-boy bob popularized by Clara Bow and Colleen Moore—“ooh, doesn’t that look great?” one thinks. Till one sees “woman on the street” snapshots from the 1920s and you realize, “ohhhh . . . not so much, on real people.”
• Most people remember Irish-born actress Joyce Redman (who died on May 9, at 96) as the cleavage-thrusting hussy in Tom Jones (1963). But she had been a leading player onstage from the 1940s (on Broadway, the Old Vic and the Comédie-Française), she played in Shakespeare and the moderns, including a 1948-49 turn opposite Rex Harrison in Anne of the Thousand Days. Onscreen, she was also seen in One of Our Aircraft is Missing, Othello (another Oscar nod, as well as Tom Jones), Prudence and the Pill, and numerous TV movies and miniseries (Vanity Fair, Les Miserables, All for Love, Victoria & Albert). Her niece, Amanda Redman, has been seen in numerous British series and TV-movies.
• Yet another fellow biographer has Joined the Choir Invisible, only to get roasted in his obits: C. David Heymann, who died at 67, on May 9. Heymann first made his name with high-toned books about Ezra Pound and the Lowells, before realizing that making money was nice, too, and began churning out best-selling trash about Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Hutton, among others. Good for him, says I, who writes well-reviewed books that are bought by maybe two cats and a dog in a good year. The New York Times was not kind, noting “his use of single rather than multiple sources in reconstructing historical events, and his reliance on hearsay accounts by people not directly involved in incidents he was describing.” True, one of his books was withdrawn for multiple errors: Heymann himself said that “I may have made an error or two, or three, or four, or five — but at least I tried to write an accurate biography.”
• When Maurice Sendak died on May 8, age 83, I realized somewhat to my chagrin that I have never read a single one of his books, though of course I am familiar with them and can spot his illustrations a mile off. My mother read me her own childhood A.A. Milnes when I was very young (get it?), and after that I got seriously into Tove Jansson’s wonderfully dark Moomin Valley series. And my grandmother gave me Charles Addams collections and those terrifying Der Struwwelpeter books—grandmother was an odd duck, to put it mildly. So any readers who would like to chime in with their Maurice Sendak memories—or indeed any childhood books—please do!