Jan. 13, 1969

GOOD MORNING: Rod McKuen’s trying to assemble celebs willing to pose in the nude for a tome in which he’ll pen the poetry. First one to launch his book is Phyllis Diller. “She’s my favorite pinup,” says McKuen for whom Miss D. penned radio commercials for him on Oakland’s KROW in 1952… McKuen thought of the celeb-nudie-metrameter after finding his poems had been used — without his or Random House’s OK — in a nudie magazine. He bared the layout to Bennet Cerf visiting Palm Springs over the New Year’s holiday… The busy McKuen’s screenplaying “Summer Tree” for Kirk Douglas to star sprig Michael, also penning a film version of his “Stanyan Street” — based on only five pages of the McKuen tome… In addition to musicking “Myra Breckinridge” for Bob Fryer (for whom he tuned “Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,”) Rod will also note “Salzberg Connection”… 2009 Update… Phyllis Diller, who is 92, laughed — that inimitable laugh — when I read her my vintage column above. “I didn’t pose nude for Rod,” she admitted,” — but I did for Playboy. But the pictures never ran. The lights went out while they were taking them. But one of them ran in my biography. But you wouldn’t think it was me!” Phyllis, a successful artist, said “I recently painted my first nude — a man. Very daring for me. He was not wearing a stitch.” And yes, the painting sold — but she gave no identification. “But,” Phyllis said to me, “If you want to come over I’ll paint you in the nude”… Rod McKuen laughed when I told him of Phyllis’ offer. He never put together a celeb book of nudes. “I couldn’t find any willing to pose,” he laughs. He didn’t do “Myra Breckinridge” either — because of a difference of opinion. He continues his musical and poetic career through the many decades and is readying a world tour starting in May with an integarted company in South Africa. Was he involved in Barack Obama’s campaign leading to the White House? “Was I ever!” answered McKuen… A lavish collection of his RCA albums, “If You Go Away” has just been released to be followed by another vintage grouping, “Love’s Been Good To Me.” And the ever-busy McKuen also recently completed an album of his songs sung by Petula Clark, “Solitude and Sunshine.” He enjoys both in his longtime Hollywood hills home.

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