This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Kay Thompson, author of "Eloise," discusses how the character Eloise came into being. Thompson explains that prior to writing "Eloise" she was married, lived in a house and worked at MGM. In 1947 she gave all of this up to go into a saloon business as an entertainer, she lived in hotels during this period. Often Thompson speaks in the voice of Eloise.
Maurice Dolbier introduces Ruth Slenczynska. She speaks of her book "Childhood," which recalls her youth as a piano virtuoso and her father's savage discipline and his efforts to make her into the best pianist in the world. She eventually broke away from him and later returned to performing. She discusses performing around the country and answering questions about her memoir. She performs a brief piano piece.
Finally, former Secretary of State Dean Acheson is introduced by Dolbier to discuss his book, "A Citizen Looks at Congress." Acheson speaks about the state of education in the United States, noting that young Americans coming out of school at 22 are not prepared to work in the real world. He goes on to speak about his book - and the complexities of governments.
For more on Dean Acheson's appearance at the luncheon please go to: http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/neh-preservation-project/2013/feb/13/dean-acheson/
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71294
Municipal archives id: LT7878
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
If you listen outside the door of the functions room at the Plaza. I haven't done it but I'm told. You are likely to hear both boys as early as dictate another bet that. The first get from someone who is not named Ali is one of the brightest stars in the American of the thing the guy composer dancer young actress singer. Bringing to all her road through the computers the eyes of the breathtaking but they. Are if you were describing one of her nightclub act. But it was paced like I'm off Atlantic. She has also been a costume designer One popular line of apparel but she originated well known by the label pay for something fancier than. About a graphical paragraph about this is that our favorite form of recreation is sitting in a heap and staring at the sky now it's a trotting picture of yourself the consummate rest. But the thought of Miss Thompson ever resting is hardly credible in nineteen fifty five she added authorship to her long list of creative talents with a book about a spoiled little girl. I didn't think you were going to bring it with you. Know. This is the world of you know not the plaza. Where you can get away with things you know that. Yes in one hundred fifty five Miss times and wrote a book about a charming little girl. Of six who won the heart of every one of the Plaza Hotel by making yourself such a newsman. By her delicious Larry unconventional. That had winning did not stop at the Plaza through her own words and they were nice pictures always and they are just off to tens of thousands of readers including the Royal College who adores her remark on who is devoted to her and clearly an emirate who agrees with me that she is the end. Her famous now become international the publication of her adventures in Paris Paris like the Plaza will never be the same and I take great place here introducing the only person. Who has any influence of Eloise's behavior. I think. All of this wrapped up in the one device. I said that I'm here. How are you enjoying hotel life so far. Adam how can you know. How can you ask. For you do anything about this whole engine don't pay anything simply. Charge at full gallop to do that but of these you don't do it this is Talk of the reality and this is the way I found so unusual but that's the way she sounds a lot of people have asked Kerry why did you write always buy no answer I don't know why did a lot of people say How did you write it or how did it all come about and it's it's an interesting thing that probably to made I made up so many stories about how it started I haven't a good Which one is the right one but I'm going to tell you as close to the truth as I can possibly think it I have always do my best knowledge live in a house I love living in a house I think it's a normal habitat in one hundred forty seven I was in Hollywood and I lived in a lovely house in Bel Air I was a lovely hostess I had a lovely job at M.G.M. I had a lovely husband and one hundred forty seven I decided to give up my lovely job and G.M. I gave up my husband and I gave up my lovely house and I went into the saloon business. I wasn't selling as I was entertaining the people who bought it which is practically the same thing. You know how saloons are the first one was in Las Vegas and I went there and I didn't live in a lovely house I lived in and a hotel there. Hotels like saloons one leads to another I left Las Vegas and went on to Dallas Texas another hotel from there to Miami and other hotels still and so I became a hotel liver and no more house and I finally landed after Paris and London and all kinds of hotels things and I didn't New York in New York and that's the Plaza Hotel which I love very much and I will say that I like it better than any other good. But it's a pretty nice one and I learned a lot about it from living then I found kind of settled down to living there while living there people would say OK Were you living and I was I'm living apart and I said you bore good to live I mean how can you stand I thought in the wind with love and I love room service level stuff and the beds fascinated me and I may just write a book on because I have slept in and then I thought there might be too much reader identification. So instead of doing it from from my angle I talked to a friend one day who said who called who used to call every Sunday is used to be with her bizarre and that's a good place to be from and she was just about to marry somebody named Billy and she called and she said Carrie darling I don't want to talk to you I'd like very much. So I'm freaked out phone I said Yes I. Mean She said Yes I'm about to get married to Billy that is you know I adore him and not. Take what I want to you when I'm out. And she said Well Billy you know it's terribly sweet but his mother is such a beast and so falls My mother was three and a half two and the end of that. A lot of people. Are very devoted to me because they put up with me fed me things about other ways and began to grow from the beginning of the saloon business when they. First started out. We began playing child and I was and they were. But he wanted to be and everywhere every city people wanted to play with us so it was only natural that developed and finally became a human being. You got to write it down and I said because I'm. Naturally you know what happened I met Hillary Knight and. I gave up. And we had fun and. We took it over. He said looks like a book. We were kind of surprised because I've never written a book and. Don't want to read it. Later But anyway he took it and the. Point is that if. Anything to say about. Anything simply get a piece of paper and write it down and. Just. I just want to say thank you I. Have read something about it. And listening. When you. Ellie is Miss Thompson have to leave to take part in a rehearsal at least Miss times and has to take part in the rehearsal. Bellamy's goes. On the thirteenth of November this year or so the anniversary will be celebrated at Town Hall in New York it was on that day twenty five years ago that a young American pianist made her debut that a very young American P.X. next day reviewing roots functions because performance the Herald Tribune critic Jerome Bowen wrote that he had witnessed a musical phenomenon you continued this story girl of eight was in some ways even more amazing then was you had a mentor when when he first appeared in New York as a boy of eight it is one thing to manipulate a half sized violin and quite another to place a girl of eight before a huge concert grand and await anything more than the weak tones one would naturally expect but sitting on the edge of the store with her feet barely able to reach the pedals this child grew from an instrument incredible volumes of self if Mr Obama been aware of the whole story as misled has told it in the autobiography he might have changed one word in his account a girl of eight Yes Amazing yes but not a try the artist in town hall stage that evening had never been allowed to be a trial childhood as the title of her book says had been forbidden before but it was yourself luncheons gave her father reading her story want to surprise to discover that he even allowed her to have a baby who would certainly he was very impatient at her having to go through that period two hours after his daughter had been born in a hospital in Sacramento California he examined her and said between bursts of sobs look at those good sturdy wrists look at the tips of her fingers I swear to you my mouth that's a musician. When she was twelve days old you told us an Francisco columnist that someday should be one of the world's greatest musicians adopting a course of Stern and often even savage parental discipline yourself sentence gay set out to drive his daughter to upgrade the methods were often shocking results for stuff at the age of four she performed an hour long recite before she was six she had studied under and been praised by such artist as Schnabel Petrie Rachmaninoff before her New York appearance she had astonished critics by her playing in Berlin and in Paris as her success grew so grew also the well nigh fanatic ambitions of her father it was a story that could only end in tragedy for one or the other to find our own way in up to live her own life groups luncheons cover up the way of the way in which this was done and of the effects that stemmed from it she writes with sober honesty an autobiography. Returns of a product of our common returns of a prodigy a rare the world of music welcomes the triumph at return of a mature and fully individual artist we welcome here today both as member and as musician this roof sentients. Mr ladies and gentlemen when I was asked to come and make a few remarks to you this afternoon I couldn't help thinking of the last time the phrase a few remarks have come up in my career. It was in connection with a concert I was playing in a small town in Texas a few days before my reciting a prominent member of the sponsors committee and I received a long distance phone call asking if I would include some short musical selection and dedicate this to the memory of the recently deceased. They asked me to think it over and telephone the program printer directly advising him what selection I would want to designate as his purpose the logical choice seemed to me to be the funeral march from the great people at minus shall. I put through a call to the printer as instructed and hurriedly gave him the information just as he was starting to roll his presses you can imagine my consternation when I arrived at the concert. Picked up a copy of the House program and saw inscribed between heavily really heavy black rule the legend encrypt you to our departed secretary treasurer a few remarks by Frederick show that. Fortunately for the we're all very grateful for that little time after lunch you know his music every day most of what he had to say. Fortunately for you here today roof length then that will create little time for after London. Because there is a folder in grand piano waiting over there and I am looking forward to addressing you in the language of the language I have been speaking to people all around the world everything. I travel around the world on my concert appearances I am however the things I question concerning my book for the. People seem especially serious as my real motive in putting down this frankly for those who have read the book always put the same two. How did you manage to stand it as long as you did it and if you had your life to live over again knowing what you now know. What you have broken away from your father at an early age. I would like to answer these questions in the briefest possible way first as for the motivating opposition crowd good let me say that were it may be perfectly true that setting for the whole story in vivid detail Louisiana fully was important to me personally as an absolutely final break from the stranglehold of my father I felt even more. That the telling of this tale in all. Like the new sample of a gifted sensitive young girl and feeling I want to make perfectly clear in this. That I am the fool to the fall for the earth a gifted young. Actually there are many good reasons for starting musical training early if a child interesting to watch. And there are really great talent this early promise to the public constant practice and exposure to fine teaching and great music a little it can do only good. On the other hand right motive in doing what you did with me with something else and whenever I hear of other parents cracking talented youngsters before the public the first thing I want to know is what's behind the if a parent exposes his child to good music early in life because he wants the child to amass a wealth of musical experience well and good but if he is doing it merely in the hope of winning fame and fortune for him. Referee sensible of our goal and this is the thing which my own rather unusual experience so strongly to underline there comes a time when on reaching emotional and intellectual maturity the young person with real talent must be given freedom to set the best for exactly has been caught in and here with his own highly personalized thinking and feeling. I am reminded of Joseph Martin's rather succinct analysis of the difference between the cost cities and the crew crowded. That the age of four man once told me if precocity plays like a twelve year old and at the age of twelve he plays like a four year old a real prodigy on the other hand plays like a twelve year old at the age of four and continues to develop throughout his life. Now as to the question of why and how I stood the brutalities of my forbidden childhood as long as I did and didn't make the break from my father earlier I think I can best answer there one by citing a story my mother has told me about a time when I was about seven years old and we were all living in Paris my mother was sufficiently upset over the because it will end mental cruelties my father was inflicting on me to propose taking me and my two sisters back home with her to California. But however dearly I might have yearned to escape the spark and discipline to which I was being subjected Apparently my first thought was but how would I have piano lessons you wouldn't have Lessons My Mother told me you wouldn't even have a piano then I couldn't possibly go I replied for you see even at that early age music itself was already so important to me that I could bear anything rather than be separated from it up to a point that piano music and my musical craning and my father were all in my mind and it wasn't until the Holocaust in one thousand nine hundred thirty nine came about that in in force period of leisure in which to think things out that I was able to make the separation once and for all I suppose but the real miracle of my case is not my father's book conceit that he could by will produce a musical genius but the incontrovertibly fact that whether by his will or in spite of it the music was there in me and always was and always would be there the consuming passion of my life. Now as to whether knowing what I now know and being by some imaginary grace given the chance to live my life over again. Differently I think the answer strangely enough is no crew without my. Driving I might have a more normal childhood and become an artist anyway but it would have been twenty thirty years later and I would not have what I now have to look to the glowing sense of self. That I have in place today seems to me to be will work what ever price my father gave me. And. For me that it does for most performers I must say that I believe this is largely due to my father who dumb and beat the technique into me before my mind and fingers to develop conflicting habits now it is so. That I find myself completely free as few pianists are t