“Sorry, I’m in make up, if it’s something important, call my agent, Israel Goldfarb.” This is how I’ve been fending off the myriad of calls from eager females trying to reach me now that I’m about to become a major movie star. The story so far: Michael Mailer, son of Norman and a very close buddy, is producing a movie directed by James Toback and starring Alec Baldwin, about a movie producer trying to finance a film during the Cannes film festival. Actually it’s a great idea because that’s what movie festivals are all about. Greedy Hollywood types dicker and haggle over future films and imaginary profits against the azure background of the French Riviera. So this is a movie within a movie, I suppose, and yours truly plays an Onassis-like figure languishing on his yacht trying to fend off Hollywood sharks looking for a mark. According to the script, which I have yet to see, Alec (us Hollywood types only use first names) comes on board my yacht Bushido, sees my young blonde girlfriend du jour, makes a pass at her and we end up fighting. The only provision the director has made is that the fight should be for real. No faking and no taking dives, except that we both should end up in the sea fully dressed. This is the good news. The bad is that Alec Baldwin is not only a tough guy, he’s also no friend, having told Mailer that I’ve trashed him in print and that he’s looking forward to a revenge. Oh dear!
Mind you, for someone who has detested Hollywood’s philistinism for as long as I have—when was the last time a priest was not portrayed as a child molester, a cop as corrupt, and a soldier as a psychopathic murderer?—I must say I’m looking forward to my 15 seconds of fame. And rubbing shoulders with all the film people who are in Cannes as I write. I shall look at them from afar, from my boat, and keep an Onassis-like distance from them, unless they’re very young and pretty and of the opposite sex.
But as I said, I have hated Hollywood most of my adult life for the way it shows America to be. All southerners are Klansmen, all farmers dumb and backward, all drug dealers misunderstood, and all criminals victims of an unfair system. And yet in my private life I’ve only had good experiences when coming into contact with movie stars. Except for the ghastly Peter Lawford, next to whom I lived at the Sherry Netherland almost 50 years ago. He was a very bad drunk, brother in law of JFK, and a drug addict whose idea of paternal concern was to give one of his sons—according to the son’s biography—five grams of coke which father and son consumed together on Christmas Eve. I finally ended up punching Lawford after he disgracefully insulted my young wife and that was the end of a beautiful friendship.
After that it was all hunky dory. I went out with the sexiest woman of her time, Linda Christian, and with a very young Joan Collins, and the beautiful Janet Leigh, but my real friendships were with men like Louis Jourdan, the handsomest actor of his time in films like “Gigi,” “Letter from an Unknown Woman,” and “The Swan.” Louis and his wife gave a wonderful party for me on my way back from Vietnam, and we used to spend our summers together at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes. Louis is now in his nineties and looks as good as one can at his age.
Just as charming is Frank Langella, whose book, Dropped Names, is beautifully written and who is a sophisticated man and one wonderful actor. But my closest buddy in the acting world is Sir Roger Moore, a man with whom I’ve spent a lot of time due to our William Buckley and Gstaad connections. As his son Jeffrey once said to me, “Roger is not a great actor, he’s a great movie star.”
As luck would have it, who but the first James Bond, Sir Sean Connery himself, moved near me in Gstaad a couple of years ago, and during a dinner party revealed to me that he’s been reading me for 30 or so years in the Spectator. His wife is even more of a fan because she shares my prejudices. Sean and I have shared many dirty jokes and many good bottles of wine, and there you have it. Having known the two best James Bonds, now at age 75 I am about to join the Hollywood pantheon myself by throwing Alec Baldwin off my boat like Achilles slaying Hector long ago. Look for the movie starring Taki and tell your children and your children’s children about it. Hooray for Hollywood.