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Black Tie International:
The Bear Who Lived at the Plaza

 

 
"The bear Who Lived at the Plaza"

By:  Ward Morehouse III
Review by Beatrice Williams-Rude

 

“The Bear Who Lived at the Plaza” is the latest work from polymath Ward Morehouse III. The author, playwright, Amazon adventurer, diarist and chronicler par excellence of grand hotels, has written a most charming account of his life with his father, longtime theater critic of the World Telegram & Sun, Ward Morehouse Jr. Morehouse père was an intrepid traveler and brought exotic pets home for his son, Bangkok the bear and Joburg the lion cub among them.


   But this is more than an account of young “Wardie’s” menagerie. Rather, it’s about the lifestyle and people who made it possible to house the pets in the posh hostelries.

There is a fascinating interview of Eugene O’Neill and his third wife, Carlotta Monterey. It took place in Tours, France. The playwright, believed by many to be America’s greatest, had invited the esteemed critic, Ward père, to visit. Among the revelations was that O’Neill’s favorite work of his own, at that time, was the complex expressionist work “The  Great God  Brown.” (He was then working on the monumental “Mourning Becomes Electra.”)
 

  Morehouse père’s favorite play was “Rain,” by John Colton and Clemence Randolph, based on a short story by Somerset Maugham. Whether he would have liked it so much had anyone other than Jeanne Eagels played Sadie Thompson is an open question. There was a profound bond between them. Jeanne Eagels telephoned him hours before she died, but tragically he didn’t receive the message until the next day.
 

  There are affectionate tales by Ward III of his stepmothers as well as of his mother. All are interesting and all connected to the theater. Among them is Jean Dalrymple, a mighty force behind New York City Center, one of Mayor La Guardia’s most important legacies until last year, when it closed. Jean Dalrymple was an honored theatrical producer, among the few women to succeed in this field.
 

  The book is sprinkled with anecdotes about authors, namely Hemingway and Fitzgerald; stars of stage and screen,  some of yesteryear: Maude Adams, Jeanne Eagels, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Miriam Hopkins, Katharine  Cornell, Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, and newspapermen, including Walter Winchell.
 

  There are also vignettes about the adventures of Ward III.

  “The Bear Who Lived at the Plaza” is ideal summer reading—at the beach, waiting at airports, riding in trains. It’s like being a party to a lively conversation among people one admires.

 

Published in the USA by BearManor Media; $24.95; 81 pages.

 

 

Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/Blacktiemagazine.com

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