James Earl Jones (Star Wars), Elizabeth Ashley (Dividing the Estate), John Larroquette ("Night Court"), Cybill Shepherd ("Moonlighting"), John Stamos ("Full House"), and Kristin Davis ("Sex and the City") head the all-star cast of Gore Vidal’s political thriller The Best Man.
Gore Vidal : born October 3, 1925 is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar (1948), outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality. He also ran for political office twice and has been a longtime political critic.
An Excerpt from “Salad Days”
by Gore Vidal
Tanaquil LeClercq, Donald Windham, a server named Virginia Reed,
Buffie Johnson, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal, 1949
Photograph (c) Karl Bissinger.
There we sat one day in the Manhattan garden of the Café Nicholson: Tanaquil Le Clercq of Balanchine’s ballet company; Buffie Johnson, a painter; writers Donald Windham, Tennessee Williams and me. For me, Karl Bissinger’s picture is literally historic, so evocative of a golden moment when we were neither at war—our usual condition, it now appears—nor in a depression. Look at the civilization we could have created!
I don’t know what effect the picture has on those who now look at it, but I think it perfectly evokes an optimistic time in our history that we are not apt to see again soon. And it reminds us that, seemingly out of nowhere, came a great ballerina; one of the first well-known women painters; a good novelist, Mr. Windham; and our greatest playwright, Tennessee Williams. This was pretty good for a summer’s day in the garden of a New York City brownstone.
Since that day in 1949, there have been, obviously, other interesting figures added to the scene, but none has the power of what I like to think of as the cultural genesis of the United States as depicted by Karl Bissinger.
TRIVIA: Gore Vidal penned only two plays in his lifetime: The Best Man and Visit to a Small Planet – both of which achieved success on Broadway and in film. Perhaps he and acclaimed American playwright Tennessee Williams exchanged secrets during their years as close friends.
Gore Vidal, left, with Tennessee Williams and John F. Kennedy.
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