Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise (and many additional ports of call).  I shall indulge in some ruminations about this amazing woman, this memoir published November 2010, and an event to celebrate all of it.

Kay Thompson was born November 9, 1909 as Kitty Fink in St. Louis, Missouri to a family of modest means and set her sights on the horizon and the big time from an early age.  This Kitty became Kay Thompson, singer and arranger and style maven.  Kay Thompson, advisor to stars and performers of all types.  Kay Thompson who was a great friend to Judy Garland and loving godmother to Liza Minnelli.  Kay Thompson who as Maggie Prescott in the 1957 film Funny Face sings “Think Pink” to a room of fashion house employees and outshines Fred Astaire on screen.  Kay Thompson who  wrote of a headstrong and pampered little girl named Eloise who lived at the Plaza.  Oh Kay.

Sam Irvin has crafted a readable, lovely, loving but not blindly glorifying, luscious and detailed testament to an amazing women.  In the words of Garland as “The Star” in “The Interview” campy segment of 1945″s Ziegfeld Follies.

“Madame Crematante, gentlemen, will be a monumental biographical tribute to a monumental biographical woman who toiled, searched, starved, slaved, suffered, pioneered so that the world – you and I – could reap the benefits of her magnificent discovery, the safety pin!”

Judy Garland as The Star in “A Great Lady Has An Interview”.

A monumental biographical tribute to a monumental biographical woman.  Now several chapters in, I am smitten with the writing.  I have been smitten with the object of the biography for years.  I  shall share quotations and findings as appropriate as I read them.  Here is  a taste, a phrase that stopped me dead and forced me (yes forced me) to share on various social networking sites.  So Sam Irvin quoting Kay Thompson, p. 40:

“I’m in love all the time! It’s fun! It’s the salt and pepper of life — and I adore salt and pepper! I want my whole life to be highly seasoned.”

What is not to love about this woman’s style?

© Martha Wade Steketee (November 5, 2010)


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