Elaine Stritch: My Drunk and Sober Lodestar

July 18, 2014 9:03 PM

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Elaine Stritch: My Drunk and Sober Lodestar

When I met Elaine Stritch, she was sober, and I was drunk. It was 1998 at a book party for Joan Collins at the bygone social X-ray hangout Mortimer's. The party is a blur of martinis mixed with the floating heads of other women of a certain age: Nan Kempner, Arlene Dahl, Blaine Trump. It was my idea of heaven. I'd moved to New York from a small town in the South to drink at parties like this. I was the publicist for Ms. Collins' book, which is how I got in the door. At 30, I thought I was jaded when it came to bending elbows with the rich and famous.

Across the room stood tall and boney, whiskey-voiced, seventy-something Ms. Stritch. She was chatting in a corner with a younger woman. This was before she had had the biggest hit of her life with her one-woman show At Liberty about her career and struggle with the bottle. But then she was most famo...

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