"I KNOW there's a huge Cher black market out there. But that's just the way it is. There's a black market for just about everyone in show business -- the difference with Cher is that there is so much more to sell illegally! It's a testament to the interest that Cher's fans in every aspect of her career."
That's the closing sentence of Josiah Howard's Epilogue in his just-published book, Cher: Strong Enough. (The author was referring to fans who are eager for every scrap of TV footage on the star.)
I read this book in galley some time back. It's the fascinating, meticulously detailed story of Cher's TV show -- no, not the Sonny & Cher Show, the one woman (and many guests) series she mounted after she and Sonny broke up personally and professionally.
Mr. Howard leaves not a bugle bead unturned as he records every costume, musical number, comedy skit and the backstage dramas that enveloped the show. Cher ran only two seasons, but it has become legendary. Everything Cher was with Sonny, she was more of on her own. The costumes -- what there were many of them! -- were incredible, the photography of the star luminous. Her guests -- from Elton to Bette Midler to Raquel Welch to Tina Turner to Linda Ronstadt, Labelle and more -- were dazzling.
The failure of the series -- which wasn't doing badly in the ratings, Cher's brief TV reunion with Sonny for a second go at a Sonny & Cher variety hour is detailed with loving precision. (Those of a certain age will recall by the time she was back with Sonny, on-air, she was visibly pregnant with her child from on-again-off-again second hubby Gregg Allman. Sizzling hot stuff in 1975!)
This chronicle reminds me a great deal of the superb Coyne Steven Sanders book on The Judy Garland Show, which was similarly affectionate, detailed but objective.
"Strong Enough" is a groaning buffet of info for any and all Cher fans.
•Jealousy rampant in Palm Beach? I no sooner praised a new restaurant called Kitchen when I was attacked by the denizens of Bricktop's, described to me as one of "most exciting thing to happen in Palm Beach in years." (You mean more exciting than when the Kennedys lived here? more so than when I wore Levis into The Colony Hotel owned by Joe Tankoos?) "We all go there most nights!" said this dissenter.
Here's his take and he's not even a press agent, just a customer: "The waiters all look like models uniformed in black and white. Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Mercedes and Italian sports cars are parked there.
"Mrs. Henry Ford II with lawyer Frank Chopin...Nicole and Derek Limbocker (she is a DuPont)...Jack Taylor the billionaire founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company, worth 15 billion on the Forbes list...Hilary and Wilbur Ross...Mary Lou Whitney, one of my favorite beauties with her delightful husband John Hendrickson (and they said it wouldn't last!)...Marianne and John K. Castle, who might as well live in a castle, but make do with the former Kennedy house in Palm Beach, giving a big dinner on March 15th for Rosita, the Duchess of Marlborough ...England's Sarah Goodbody who arrived from Round Hill and is also going to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic with the sugary sweethearts Emilia and Pepe Fanjul...Countess Christina de Caraman (See? titles still count down there!)...real estate's Michael Harris...
Let's add the Mellon heiress Frances Scaife with Thomas McCarter...the Marquesa Barbara San Damian who just came in from Marbella...the Italian Countess Antoinette Guerrini-Maraldi with Hans Kertess...the man who made El Morocco famous in the 60's Jim Mitchell... Maureen Donnell...Ginny Burke what? no titles yet...financier Steven Kumble and wife Angela..Joy and Regis Philbin; he "performed" at the Colony or is about to...
Everybody went to a glamourous event at the semi annual Society of the Four Årts Ball.
Funny -- I don't see any of the "names" here of the rich, celebrated and famous who live in West Palm Beach. Guess their black ties were in the laundry. Oh drat! I forgot to add the 11th Duke of Marlborough. He's here for the duration.
Is this what is known as the 1 percent?
•THIS FOLLOWING ain't social by a long shot. It's political in spades. Fort Worth's rising Wendy Davis, the hope of the Democrats in the state that wants to secede from the union, is in NYÇ pushing her run for Governor of Texas. Call Kelly Glynn at 917-7500867 and hurry. The party happens this afternoon with hosts Sally Spooner and Patty Wellde. You can make all those conservatives furious by supporting Wendy, who has had a lot of b.s. distributed about her lately.
If Texas seceded, what would it do for an army, a postal service, federal help and all the rest of it? And as the late Ann Richards said, Texas women should be allowed to carry guns. We would be totally safe because as she put it, "No woman can ever find anything in the bottom of her purse!"
•THE ONE, the only Elaine Kaufman, who invented the real writer's cafe on 2nd Ave way up in the 90's, is being celebrated by the TABLE 4 WRITERS FOUNDATION, continuing the tradition on March 27 with Tony Danza and Kathryn Altman running the reception, silent action and dinner at the New York Athletic Club, 180 Central Park South. The emcee will be Rosanna Scotto, the popular anchor of Good Day New York... Steven Scott will make a special appearance.
There is no more Elaine's. It has been bought and turned into a really nice "other" kind of place. But let's still honor Elaine. It costs only $300. Go to www.table4.org or call 646-513-3286.
Elaine! -- when she was made a Living Landmark shortly before her untimely death, none other than George Steinbrenner handed me a check for $100,000 in her honor. Elaine sold the most tables for this charity, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, in spite of following in the footsteps of Rockefellers and Mrs. Brooke Astor.
•OUR FRIEND Elaine Stritch, that Broadway baby, has gone from her documentary triumph in NYC back home to Michigan. She has had a serious stomach operation and will be in the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan for seven to ten days. But a full recovery is expected. You know Elaine; she doesn't like to lie down too long. I'd say, wait a beat to send cards, letters and flowers.