Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Miscellaneous: ‘There’s a Mr. Sinatra on Line Two’

Sure, John F. Kennedy knew how to cash in on that Hollywood magic. Bill Clinton, too. And from the looks of things, John Kerry isn’t doing too badly when it comes to tapping into this business of show. But for my money, nobody did it better than Henry Kissinger. He’s not exactly your leading man type. And he was never top-billed. But in rubbing elbows with the stars, he became something of a star himself.

Thanks to a National Security Archive FOIA request, transcripts of over 3,500 phone calls Kissinger had while he was Secretary of State have been declassified. He talks to Nixon, to world leaders, to the biggest names in journalism.

He also talks to celebrities. Naturally, these are the phone calls that I’m interested in.

Here’s Dr. K in 1973, advising Liza Minnelli on her upcoming trip to Israel. Please note that the transcriber misspells her name. Considering that ‘Liza with a Z’ debuted the previous year, there is no acceptable excuse.

Kissinger also stays on top of Danny Kaye’s UNICEF work, and has smoke blown up a certain delicate orifice by the very best in the form of Lew Wasserman. He talks with Ben Bradlee about Woodward and Bernstein just weeks after ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN hits theaters. (Love that Liv Ullmann reference.) He goes to see JAWS on July 17, 1975. No word on what he thought of the movie.

I was a little disappointed that I could only find one conversation between Kissinger and super-producer/force of life Robert Evans. It’s not even an interesting one. There are juicier exchanges between the two in Evans’ memoir, THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE.

My personal favorite is this chat between the Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Board. Frank asks Kissinger, “Do you want me to straighten out Angola for you?” Kissinger says he could use a few of Frank’s “enforcers.” I tell ya, they’re a pair of jokers, and both of them are wild.

The most disturbing thing about their conversation? Frank asks after Kissinger’s wife Nancy. The next few lines have been redacted.

We’re through the looking glass here, people.

Miscellaneous: Links

James Wolcott offers this dispatch from the ‘New York is Book Country’ festival. It contains several reminders of why New York is the greatest city on earth. And Verlyn Klinkenborg of the New York Times remembers all of the late Janet Leigh’s performance in PSYCHO, not just the shower scene.