“Are you sure you were talking about water skis? From where I sat it looked as though you were conjugating some irregular verbs.”

Grace Kelly as Frances Stevens in To Catch a Thief (shown here in Monaco with co-star Cary Grant)

Claudine Longet

Megan Draper, is that you?

No, it’s Claudine Longet, a French chanteuse and co-star of the 1968 Peter Sellars’ film The Party.

The demure and wistful Ms. Longet enjoyed American crossover appeal following her TV and movie appearance and music recordings. She also was married to singer Andy Williams from 1961 to 1975. Close friends to Senator Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, they were at both the Ambassador Hotel and Good Samaritan Hospital when the Presidential nominee was fatally shot. They named their son Bobby, born in 1969, in his honor.

Longet’s life went from celebrated to scandalous when she was arrested and charged with fatally shooting her boyfriend, Olympic skier Vladimir “Spider” Sabich at his Aspen home in 1976. At her trial, Longet said the gun discharged accidentally as Sabich was showing her how it worked. She was convicted of misdemeanor criminal negligence and sentenced her to pay a small fine and spend 30 days in jail.

Since the trial, she now lives a mostly secluded life. In 1980, Mick Jagger wrote a song about Spider Sabich’s death that was intended to be on the Rolling Stones album Emotional Rescue. The song, titled “Claudine,” carried lyrics that painted a graphic picture of some of the more salacious aspects of the affair and killing. However, it was deemed too controversial and was removed, although it was included on several bootleg Rolling Stones albums. In November 2011, the track “Claudine” was released on the Rolling Stones’ deluxe reissue of their album Some Girls

Here’s Claudine in happier times, singing the Henry Mancini and Don Black ditty “Nothing to Lose” in The Party.

“It is not what France gave you but what it did not take from you that was important.”

Gertrude Stein, American author

Happy Birthday, Henri Rousseau

Born May 21, 1844, Henri Rousseau was a French painter of the Post-Impressionist movement. He is known primarily for his jungle scenes, although the artist never saw a jungle himself or left Paris for that matter. Criticized at the time for his childlike technique, his work has since proven quite unique, sophisticated and much respected, even inspiring other famous artists like Pablo Picasso. He died in Paris in 1910 with the following epitaph written on his tombstone:

“We salute you Gentle Rousseau you can hear us.
Delaunay, his wife, Monsieur Queval and myself.
Let our luggage pass duty free through the gates of heaven.
We will bring you brushes paints and canvas.
That you may spend your sacred leisure in the
light and Truth of Painting.
As you once did my portrait facing the stars, lion and the gypsy.”

Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain

Maybe it’s because I just booked my plane ticket to Paris in July, or simply a blissful recognition that Friday has arrived, but this morning I decided to revisit one of my favorite movies from over a decade ago. Jean-Peirre Jeunet’s Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, or Amélie to American audiences, debuted back in 2001 [12 years!] with the story of a young woman who performs good deeds for others while secretly romancing a stranger who collects discarded images from a Metro photo booth.

amelie amelie_bunny_pic

Quirky, touching and irresistibly charming, the film achieved a broad, positive reception and introduced us to French gamine Audrey Tautou. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and put it in your Netflix queue. And, if you have, maybe it’s time for another look. Much like Amélie’s father’s gnome, who takes an unexpected journey around the world, you just might find yourself transported to Paris, on a scooter, racing down the hills of Montmartre, holding on to someone you love. 


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