Tag Archives: The New Yorker

Bambi Linn’s Broadway

Bambi Linn left Westport years ago. But when she lived here, she was one of our legendary arts icons: a former Broadway dancer who as a 16-year-old joined the chorus of “Oklahoma!”, and 3 years later played Louise — Billy Bigelow’s daughter — in the original 1945 production of “Carousel.”

She starred on Broadway for 17 more years. Her last show was “I Can Get it For You Wholesale.”

Bambi Linn is now 92. The New Yorker magazine caught up with her recently, at the “Carousel” revival. It opens next Thursday (April 12).

She attended a preview matinee with her husband, former ballroom dancer Joe De Jesus. (He taught countless Westport teenagers how to dance.)

Bambi Linn (right) as Louise, and Jan Clayton (Julie Jordan) in the 1945 production of “Carousel.” John Raitt played Billy Bigelow.

The New Yorker “Talk of the Town” story called Bambi Linn “petite and zesty.” It described her encounters with Renée Fleming, who now sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and Brittany Pollack, the current Louise.

It zips through Bambi Linn’s past (at age 6 she studied with Agnes de Mille; during “Carousel” she had enough downtime to go across the street to watch Ethel Merman in the 1st act of “Annie Get Your Gun”), and touches on the different ways in which the 2 productions — nearly 75 years apart — treat Billy’s beating of his wife Julie, and slapping of his daughter.

“I never thought of it as domestic violence,” Bambi Linn says. “I never thought of Julie as a put-upon woman. She loved him, so she was willing to accept it. But I come from an era way back.”

It’s a typical New Yorker “Talk of the Town” piece. You’re never sure what the point is, or why it’s there in the first place.

But it gets you thinking about something — or someone — you haven’t thought about in a long time.

Like one of Westport’s most famous Broadway stars, of all time.

(For the full New Yorker story, click here. Registration may be required.)

The New Yorker Visits The ‘Burbs

The Westport Historical Society’s current exhibit showcases the 761 New Yorker covers drawn by 16 local artists.

The magazine has noticed.

A story in the “Culture Desk” section answers the intriguing question: Why, from its inception through the 1990s, did New Yorker covers feature New England scenes as often as city ones?

Unfortunately, the answer could not come from a Westport artist. Our pipeline to the magazine seems to have ended in 1990.

Whitney Darrow Jr.'s 1959 cover was probably inspired by the small colonial cemetery at Longshore.

Whitney Darrow Jr.’s 1959 cover was probably inspired by the small colonial cemetery at Longshore.

Fortunately, the insights come from Roz Chast. The staff cartoonist grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Ridgefield (in, coincidentally, 1990). But she’s a frequent visitor here, seen often at Westport Arts Center events.

She called Ridgefield “not super-country, and it’s not super-urban. We’re not on the train line—that’s why it’s affordable. Westport, which is about a half hour away, is fancier—a lot of New Yorker artists moved there at one time. We lived in the city until the second kid. We needed more space, and the public schools are good up here, and that was pretty much why we moved.”

Chast adds:

If somebody asks where I’m from, the first answer that pops into my head is New York, because I don’t feel like I’m from Connecticut. We bought a whole house for what a crummy two-bedroom apartment in the city would have cost and, yes, it’s different.

First, I had to learn how to drive—there is no public transportation up here. And also, the taxi thing—you can’t stand out in the middle of Elm Street and wait for a yellow cab to pick you up. It’s just not going to happen—standing there with your arm in the air, you’ll just look like a crazy person.

Sounds like a New Yorker cartoon waiting to happen.

Back in the day, it would have been drawn by a Westporter.

Covering The New Yorker In Westport

It’s one of the New Yorker‘s most famous covers: the view of the rest of the country, from Manhattan. Everything from the Hudson River west is wasteland or the Pacific Ocean.

The view from Westport can look a bit myopic too. For instance, because so many illustrators lived here (and started Famous Artists School), we still think of ourselves as an artists’ colony.

Those 2 things — the New Yorker and art — come together this month in clever, self-patting fashion. The Westport Historical Society‘s next exhibits focus on Westport’s influence on the famed magazine.

“Cover Story: The New Yorker in Westport” highlights the 761 covers designed between 1925 and 1989 by 16 artists living in the area. An amazing 44 of those covers actually show Westport scenes.

This Charles Saxon cover from December 19, 1959 seems inspired by the Westport train station.

This Charles Saxon cover from December 19, 1959 seems inspired by the Westport train station.

Artists include Garrett Price, James Daugherty, Perry Barlow, Charles Addams and Whitney Darrow Jr.

From 1939 to 1973 the New Yorker’s art editor was James Geraghty. He too lived here, so his suburban commuter mentality greatly influenced the covers.

Curator Eve Potts has collected artifacts, anecdotes and correspondence from Geraghty and the families of the 15 artists for this show.

The first page of "Hiroshima" in the New Yorker.

The first page of “Hiroshima” in the New Yorker.

A companion exhibit — “Can’t Tell a Book by its Cover…” — is based on a New Yorker quirk: the cover offers no clue to the stories inside.

That was especially true on August 31, 1946. The entire magazine was devoted to one story: “Hiroshima,” by John Hersey. He soon moved to Westport, bowled and golfed with Geraghty’s local New Yorker teams — and served on the Board of Education.

A later resident of his South Turkey Hill home was Martha Stewart. In the hands of a talented illustrator, that idea would make a perfect New Yorker cover.

PS: Here’s one New Yorker cover that resonates especially strongly today. Artist Jenni Oliver is not a Westporter. But her subject matter — on November 12, 1984 — is poignant, considering the upcoming demise of 15 trees on the Longshore entrance road.

Here you go:

New Yorker - Longshore cover

(An opening reception for the 2 exhibits is set for Sunday, January 26 (3 p.m.). For more information, click here or call 203-222-1424.)

‘Talk This Way’

After more than 20 years of reading The New Yorker, I still never know what I’m going to find.

Yesterday I found a Westporter I never heard of.

Brad Pitt

Tim Monich helped Missouri native Brad Pitt speak like Tennessee hillbilly Aldo Raine in "Inglourious Basterds"

Talk This Way,” by Alex Wilkinson, profiles Tim Monich.  He’s got 1 of those fascinating jobs you never think about, or even know exist:  He teaches actors to talk.

Talk, that is, the right way for whatever role comes their way.

The New Yorker says:

Tim Monich taught Brad Pitt to talk as if he were from somewhere deep in the mountains of Tennessee.  He taught Matt Damon to speak as if he were South African, and Hilary Swank to speak like Amelia Earhart, who was from Kansas but had gone to boarding school near Philadelphia….

In early September, having nearly finished teaching Gerard Butler, who is Scottish, to speak as if he were from New York, for “The Bounty,” Monich began teaching Shia LaBeouf, who is from Southern California, to speak as if he’d grown up on Long Island, for “Wall Street.”

Tim has helped Donald Sutherland — a Canadian — speak like a South African, an Englishman, a wealthy New Yorker, a Kansan, a Georgian, an Oregonian, a North Carolinian, a Mississippian, a Michgander, a Minnesotan, and a member of the Polish politburo.

Sutherland said:  “He’s not a mechanic, and he doesn’t impose.  He comes in from underneath and supports your instincts; he doesn’t try to define them.  There are many people who do what he does, and by and large they offer constraints.  He offers liberation.”

His Westport home includes 6,000 recordings — “almost surely the largest private one of its kind” — of people talking.  They represent an enormous variety of places, periods and social stations — including tapes of Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter and, from 1890, John Wilkes Booth’s brother Edwin reciting Othello.

It’s a fascinating piece.  The New Yorker, as it often does, shines a spotlight on someone who would never wander into it himself.

The fact that Tim Monich — despite living in our arts-oriented town — has managed to stay out of our own spotlight for all these years, makes The New Yorker story all the more special.