Robert Crichton, Cornelia Otis Skinner, and Garson Kanin

Monday, January 16, 1967

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Maurice Dolbier introduces the day's first speaker, Robert Crichton, who discusses what made him decide to write about the people in a small town in Italy in the book "The Secret of Santa Vittoria." He recounts being hit by a car, and learning the realities of Italy. Soon after he left the hospital he was robbed of all his money. He also discusses his career and fame and describes watching people on the subway reading his book.

Next, Dolbier introduces Cornelia Otis Skinner, who discusses her most recent work, "Madame Sarah," a biography of Sarah Bernhardt. She notes that the book was difficult to write because there was such a wealth of information about Bernhardt, though all of the accounts seem to contradict one another. She tells a humorous story about a French actress she interviewed. She discusses the impact of her acting on the people who saw her. As a person, it was difficult for Skinner to know how to feel - as she was both lovable and hateful, interesting and irritating, kind and cruel.

Finally, Dolbier introduces Garson Kanin, author of "Remembering Mr. Maugham," a memoir about W. Somerset Maugham. She recounts his decision to write about his Maugham, how they came to know each other and eventually become very close friends. He relates stories of Maugham. He discusses his surprise to find that people of the day do not know how Maugham is.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 71351
Municipal archives id: T1809

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Maurice Dolbier


Robert Crichton, Garson Kanin and Cornelia Otis Skinner


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About Books and Authors Luncheon

Hear, first-hand, the thoughts and voices of some of the greatest thinkers, adventurers, and characters of our nation.

Legendary New York Herald-Tribune book review editor Irita Van Doren, moderator of the series [1949-1968], has an intellectual largesse and a genuine interest in the American literary arts, which produces engaging, sometimes off-beat discussions with both first-time and veteran authors. 

In addition to literary writers like Louis Auchincloss, James Michener, and Rachel Carson, listeners are enthralled by nonliterary experts speaking on their autobiographies.  Sammy Davis, Jr., expounds on Yes, I Can!; burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee entertains audiences while promoting Gypsy, A Memoir; and sociologist Vance Packard defends his groundbreaking exposé on advertising, The Hidden Persuaders. 

Those notable personalities join a slew of others like Steve Allen, Marian Anderson, Bennett Cerf, Noel Coward, Jules Feiffer, Edna Ferber, A. E. Hotchner, Fannie Hurst, Jane Jacobs, Somerset Maugham, Vladimir Nabokov, Gore Vidal, Jessamyn West, and Marguerite Young.  An indispensable catalog of craft talk and biographical context, the New York Herald-Tribune Books and Authors Luncheon series explores all manner of disciplines and issues in American arts and history.


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