Halberstam remembered

THE ANNOUNCEMENT of David Halberstam’s fatal car accident cast a pall over the literary establishment revelers at the Paris Review benefit in the Puck Building. But the elite get-together raised $750,000 for the culturati’s magazine, which looked doomed when George Plimpton died. The magazine’s comeback is terrific. Norman Mailer was introduced by E.L. Doctorow and honored along with Benjamin Percy for fiction. I don’t know how I got through that evening, however. Halberstam was one of my true heroes and a fabulous American historian. Some days after 9/11, I was standing on a corner on the West Side when a car came by. Halberstam rolled down the window and shouted, “Liz, you and I used to be the new kids on the block. Now we are the old kids on the block.” (I would be glad to share a block anywhere at any age with David Halberstam. I’m going to miss him.)

WATCHING Frank Langella re-create the late Richard Nixon onstage at the Bernie Jacobs Theater is a thrill not to be missed. Because I actually knew Richard Nixon in his post-presidential days, I was particularly eager to see what Langella did with him. The man who gave us a sexy Dracula and is a genius onstage, has it all down exactly and I was amused to see one of his advisers in the audience — Barbara Walters, who had told Frank that Nixon always walked as if he had no genitals. The Langella version of America’s 37th president is not only comic and true to Nixon, but Langella has managed to imbue RMN with pathos. … When David Frost came down the aisle on the first night, my cup ran over. Frost was the first person to put me on TV back in “That Was the Week That Was” days. Then, he was romancing my former secretary, Caroline Cushing. And there onstage is “my” Caroline, played by actress Sonya Walger. (Now called Caroline Graham, today she is a high-powered PR person in L.A.) As Nixon says in the play to Frost: “You should marry that girl.” I always thought that for once Nixon was right. I was delighted to have a reunion with so many people I knew well, onstage.

ON MONDAY, Rosie O’ Donnell will serve as host to the young casts of Broadway’s sizzling “Spring Awakening,” the N Network’s edgy hit series “Degrassi,” as well as hundreds of regular teens, in a town hall discussion at the Eugene O’Neill Theater. The subjects will include peer pressure, identity issues, love and infatuation. You know, the eternal problems of youth — today and yesterday.

(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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