February 13, 2011

Los Angeles. January, 1992

The first time I went to stay with Vincent Price, after his wife Coral had died, we joked that I would only visit LA if a movie star picked me up at the airport. He did. We cooked together: risotto that he’d learned how to make from Marcella Hazan in Venice. (He also told me that the last time he’d made it for Maggie Smith, it was just at the precise point of being done when she announced, “Oh, let’s have another bottle of wine before we eat.”) We drove to the mission in Santa Barbara (where his emphysema prevented him from climbing the few steps to the entrance) and all along the way he told me stories: how a famous Ventura brothel in the 1930s was run by a glamorous madam who, upon her death, was discovered to be a man; how he didn’t care for Sam Waterston, Jodie Foster or Milton Berle because they’d been haughty or rude to him; how “that house over there” with the glittery pink stucco walls had belonged to Jayne Mansfield; how Joan Crawford demanded he bring a case of Smirnoff vodka when he visited her in London, etc. He knew his audience. The guest room in his house had signed glossies from his colleagues on the shelves, and before I went to sleep, how could I help myself from taking photos of the photos, like this one from Ava Gardner.

1 comment:

  1. Haughty? Rude?

    Memo to Dolla Bill y'all:
    Please add Sam Waterston, Jodie Foster and Milton Berle to the voodoo doll interchangeable window.