Last night hundreds of fans lined up to buy Thank Heaven, Leslie Caron's autobiography, and to hear an interview with her.
What did she wear? A lovely long herringbone brown-gray jacket with a matching skirt. Her blouse was a brown satin and she wore knee-high black boots with an elegant shine. The show stopper was a large brooch--a spray of stones in shades of pink. To sum: She looked terrific, like a movie star should, and her fans were not disappointed.
The room at Barnes & Noble on Broadway in New York was filled to capacity with standing room outside the doors. Even folks who had purchased books were not able to get into the room. New York obviously loves Leslie Caron. And no one was disappointed with her comments about her life and work. I think hearing about her first screen kiss from Gene Kelly might have been a highlight of the night. She was very young and had been asked to do a screen test with him. "He knew I could dance, he had seen me in the ballet, but he wanted to know how I would handle the scene." Obviously, she did very well because she got the part in An American in Paris. (By the way--both Gigi and An American in Paris have been recently re-released on DVD with commentary by Leslie. Very informative and inside stuff.)
It was also an inspiring note when she admitted that she had eliminated negative comments about people who might have earned such distinction in the book. She felt in writing that nothing would be achieved by settling old scores and with time most things had worked out well. Not dwelling in negativity is a hallmark of this book. However, if ones reads between the lines, there is a truth that can't be denied.
Of course, the fans who showed up--one gentleman had traveled all the way from Washington, DC for the event--are just the tip of the iceberg. I hope Madame Caron takes a great deal of heart in how much joy she has brought for so many years.
She continues her journey on stage and screen in February when she will be in a French production of A Little Night Music. If I could wiggle my nose to get to Paris, I'd be there for one of the six performances. Kristin Scott Thomas will also be in the production.
I feel very honored to be acknowledged in Leslie's book and to have had a seat at last night's event. It was very special to me. My only regret--I wish we'd more personal time for "girl talk" or to shop. Perhaps next time she comes to New York. She's a very busy lady on this trip and the show must go on--as it does to California where, among other things, she'll get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame--next to Gene Kelly. I'm sure it will make her very happy, as does the enthusiastic reception of her book.
A sad note: She has closed the Auberge in France. Economic conditions forced the decision as American travelers have cut way back. But I also suspect that it was a very demanding for her. It's for sale, as she informed us last night.
A charming note: There are to be Leslie Caron paper dolls in 2010. For aspiring ballerinas, a must gift.