05/29/2014 06:34 pm ET Updated Jul 29, 2014

Remembering 'New York Times' Giant Arthur Gelb

"A FAMILY can only develop with a loving woman at its center," said the German writer Karl Wilhelm Fredrich Schlegel.

Kris Jenner, mater familias to the Kardashians, surely has that bromide embroidered on a pillow.

•I WANTED to wait until we all recovered from the excitement of it. Oh, come on, don't say "What do you mean 'it?'" You know I mean the lifelong nuptials of lovely working girl Kim Kardashian and musician Kanye West in Italy over the weekend. (Kanye rarely cracks a smile. That's because he's always thinking real hard about his brilliant music.)

Many "regular" people were involved, in one way or another, with their Memorial Day celebrations -- barbecues or somber recollections of veterans who have given so much to this country. So Kim and Kanye's wedding didn't get quite the coverage it might have otherwise.

This is a crime! Two of the most exciting and talented and all-around nifty people getting married. The world should have stopped spinning a bit. Or altogether!

Two events of note. Rob Kardashian, the only member of the family who seems to be kind of ashamed of his relatives, fled Italy before Kim and Kanye tied that "forever knot." Too bad. He missed Kanye speechifying at the wedding dinner. (Rob, he referred to your family as "the most remarkable people in the world.")

I have to agree. Why they are remarkable, I can't really say. Honest, I just can't!

It's too late for me now to be really bitchy about people in love and getting married

•THE death of the New York Times' wide-ranging editor Arthur Gelb recently leaves many memories. (He was, with his wife Barbara, the premier historian on the works of playwright Eugene O'Neill with a 3rd volume to be published next year under the title By Women Possessed.)

It was under the autocratic, but privately charming Times head man Abe Rosenthal, that Arthur Gelb flourished and worked like a demon all his life.

I recall being out with the Rosenthals and Arthur one night and Abe suggested we go to Elaine's "to see what's going on there." Arthur began to lecture me in the car, asking why did I always "pick on" the Times' drama critic Frank Rich and give him such a hard time about the hard time he was giving Broadway?!

I was about to answer Arthur that if I picked on Frank, it was because he was so powerful and smart and had so much power that often his reviews just shut down many efforts that I thought deserved more of a chance to be seen.

But Abe, whose word was law, decided to defend me. He remonstrated with Arthur: "Now leave Liz alone!" She has a right to her column opinion just as Frank has a right to his. The Times is only enhanced by its critics. We are everybody's target and Liz speaks for the public, as she should!"

After that, Arthur, to whom Abe was law, became my new best friend and he remained faithful until his recent death. But he had a favorite columnist in the Washington columnist Maureen Dowd. He worshipped her and he decided never to rest till the two of us met.

Poor Maureen had to give in and we have had a cursory, but amusing relationship ever since.

Through the years I always found my professional friendships at the New York Times to be valuable and interesting. Occasionally, I free-lanced entertainment articles for the Times and there was one brief moment when the Times seemed to lower its standards to talk about a gossip column. "I don't believe you could take it even if offered," said Arthur..."you make too much money to live on a Times salary." As there was nothing to all this talk I just laughed. Nobody has admired the Times both from afar and up close as I have. I even went on to realize what a jerk I was to criticize Frank Rich. Today, I know he is one of the most brilliant analyzers around.

And then I always give thanks to the spirit of Arthur Gelb who gave me such an unparalleled vision of Maureen Dowd. He called her "one of the smartest women in the world."

•I recall telling Arthur that the New York Times building in Times Square was not virgin territory to me. "I used to eat in your cafeteria every Sunday night." Arthur, amazed, asked Why? "Well, I was working to stay alive in three different jobs and one was as a proofreader for Newsweek on Sundays. We were near the Times and went in a gang every time to eat in your cafeteria. It was very cheap."

Arthur was aghast. The Times feeding people from its enemy, Newsweek? Well, I reminded him, it was before terrorism and they never asked for i.d.

Later, when the Peter O'Toole movie, My Favorite Year came out, about the early days of TV, I said to my movie companion over the credits, "This is about the 50's!" He said, "How can you tell?"

I said "There are no guards on the elevators in the RCA building. Anyone can get in and go up."

Ah, the good old simple days.

•HERE'S an example of how celebrity and fame have changed somewhat. Famous multi-millionaire movie director with multiple homes and scads of well-known friends and admirers. Not married. Does he surround himself with his now VIP friends and old acquaintances? No, he sees them occasionally.

His real life circulates around a group of people he has hired to work with him. He is with them virtually night and day. He spends every weekend calling them when he gets up and going to the movies with them and eating three meals a day with them. They are aspiring directors, producers and screenwriters themselves. They talk movies and pop culture and politics on which all of them agree. Each is paid a handsome salary just for the privilege of being around him. They love him but there is no question they are a paid entourage and they seldom have much time for their own private lives otherwise. They travel with him and there is more than one of them at a time.

His close friends understand this; he feels happier with these young people he hires than he does with his peers. He can relax around these employees who he sincerely feels are his close pals. Sex is not involved in this equation as he can get that anytime he wants to bother.

•SPRING IS here -- if only for a minute. Be happy. Make the most of it.