H’w’d elite turn out to bid Swifty Lazar farewell

GOOD MORNING: Swifty would have loved it. The memorial service for Irving Paul Lazar (March 28, 1907-Dec. 30, 1993) Thursday at the Westwood Village Chapel and the reception afterward at Spago were classy, chic, with the creme de la creme. It was a list he would have OK’d, and the friends were valet parked at the services and the Pucks’ place, where they were served the best caviar, poured the best champagne. One hundred thiry-five were on hand. Today, only family attend the interment. He rests alongside wife, Mary, who died a year ago … The Shane String quartet played Gershwin tunes while guests over-filled the chapel. Rabbi David Baron of Temple Shalom for the Arts had first met Lazar at a Passover over which he presided at Annabelle and David Begelman’s home. Lazar told him, “I’m not a very religious man, but I’m proud to be a Jew,” and showed his knowledge of Jewish history. “His wisdom will endure,” Baron said.

A TRUE INSIGHT INTO LAZAR’S PHILOSOPHY was read by his close friend, record mogul Ahmet Ertegun. He had excerpts from Lazar’s upcoming book, “Swifty” (Simon & Schuster). He wrote: “I have done everything my way, perhaps selfishly, but here I am almost 81 years old, (at the writing) looking back at a life with few regrets. Eighty-one! Oh, how I wish I were younger. I wish I were about 40 now. I used to terrorize the other agents when I was 40, but I’m not doing bad right now … My own philosophy has been to never miss a trick, to be in as many places simultaneously as I can … Every decade has brought new and exciting writers and friends and projects that I have enjoyed. In the ’40s there were Johnny Mercer, Dorothy Fields, Quentin Reynolds and others, in the ’50s came Richard Brooks, Lindsay Crouse, Dorothy Parker and George S. Kaufman. Soon after that, Truman Capote, Elia Kazan, Georges Clouzot and Gloria Vanderbilt became clients, followed by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Theodore White, Lauren Bacall, John Huston, Arthur Rubenstein and David Brinkley. At the present time, I have fun representing Larry McMurtry, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Bette Bao Lord and authors such as Ali MacGraw, Angie Dickinson and Joan Collins … If one’s time is up, somewhere somehow, there is a beckoning and you just go, ready and well dressed for the occasion.” Ertegun noted that Lazar was a “fearless gambler — generous, elegant, and above all, a great friend.” He was also sometimes Machiavellian. Lazar would have loved noting Ray Stark, before services began, leaning over to Dominick Dunne and telling him the Menendez jury was coming in! Dunne dug into his pocket and pulled out his portable phone.

CHRISTOPHER HART SAID his father Moss was Lazar’s first client and he noted, “Of all his big deals, packages, etc., the invention of himself was his greatest creation.”…Gene Kelly emotionally read words sent by friend Peter Viertel in Switzerland … Larry McMurtry recalled, as a boy, reading S.J. Perelman’s comment about Lazar: “He was the only man who would arrive out of a plane, train , or a boat — with his hands in his pockets.” McMurtry said Lazar never edited any of his material — he never read –“not even the book jacket quotes. But he was the best literary man!” Bette Bao Lord (“Spring Moon,””Legacies: A Chinese Mosaic”) called him “a pal for all seasons,” and said, “No matter how imaginative anyone was, no one could ever have invented him”… Although the Lazars had no children, George Stevens Jr. told touching stories of Lazar’s affection for children — including his own son, Michael.

WOLFGANG PUCK and wife Barbara Lazaroff hosted the gathering afterward. “That’s what friends are for,” said Puck who, with his wife, had bedsided the too-sick Lazar in his ailing months. Everyone wondered about the Lazars’ Oscar party. The Pucks ducked making an answer yet — too untimely. But Wolfie admitted it would be impossible for anyone to follow Lazars’ guest list. The list at yesterday’s service and farewell party included: the Frank Sinatras, Bob Newharts, Don Rickles, Dinah Shore, the Freddie Fields, Angie Dickinson, Marvin Davises, Veronique and Anthony Peck, the Louis Jourdans, Elliott Kastner, Anjelica Huston, Dr. Charles Kivowitz, George Axelrods, Leonard Gersh, Barbara Howar, Richard Roth, David Begelman, Bea Korshak, Betsy Bloomingdale, George Schlatters, Walter Matthaus, Jackie Collins, Fred De Cordova, Suzanne Pleshette and Tommy Gallagher, Leonard Goldbergs, Dani Janssen, brother Henry Lazar, the Jack Lemmons, Maria Shriver, Jerry Weintraub. All had Lazar stories. Larry Gelbart said of “Swifty”–“Good things come in small packages.”

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