Rex Reed Bangs a Gong on the Mediocrity of Modern Life

He eventually landing a job inside the publicity department of 20th Century Fox, where he had to go into the steam room — ”in my starched shirt” — in addition to read gossip items to the studio head, Spyros Skouras, emerging soaking wet in addition to disillusioned.

The studio “was spending millions of dollars to sink Elizabeth Taylor inside the Nile in ‘Cleopatra,’ yet at the home office, they were saving on rubber bands,” Mr. Reed recalled. He made $57.50 a week, he said, survived on 35-cent ham salad sandwiches through Woolworth’s in addition to lived in an actress cousin’s apartment on 23rd Street while she was in upstate completely new York doing stock theater.

“in which was a one-room apartment over a Chinese restaurant, where all the roaches came up to visit at night,” he said. “You would certainly turn on the lights, they were so brazen they would certainly just stare at you, they wouldn’t even run. I thought, ‘in which will be horrible, yet in which’s completely new York.’”

The studio eventually laid him off after budget cutbacks, in addition to in 1965 he fled the city to knock around Europe with friends in a rented red Volkswagen. He ended up at the Venice Film Festival just as his money was running out. “I didn’t know how I was going to get home,” he said. Mr. Reed decided to pose as a journalist in addition to bluff his way into interviews with Jean-Paul Belmondo in addition to Buster Keaton, the aging silent film star who was promoting “Film,” a 22-minute experimental silent movie written by Samuel Beckett. Mr. Reed sold both articles, doing enough to buy a return ticket to the United States.

The Keaton article, which appeared inside the completely new York Times, was hammered out on film-festival stationery. (“Buster Keaton was there, looking for all the planet like the kind of man dogs kick. …”)

Settling in completely new York, Mr. Reed soon became an in-demand magazine writer, then a hot job: churning out swashbuckling profiles of Tennessee Williams, Warren Beatty in addition to many others. His unflinching Ava Gardner profile for Esquire in 1966 portrayed an embittered former screen siren two-fisting Dom Pérignon in addition to cognac, complaining about her tenure at MGM as “17 years of slavery” in which the studio “tried to sell me like a prize hog.” The article wound up in Tom Wolfe’s 1973 anthology, “The completely new Journalism.”

Mr. Reed was also becoming a regular on “The Dick Cavett Show” in addition to “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.

“He developed his own fan club on the show,” Mr. Cavett said in a phone interview. “I remember on one show, he said about Nancy Sinatra in which she looked like a ‘pizza waitress.’ I actually began to worry. One of the musicians said to me, ‘Don’t worry, Frank doesn’t have a temper, ha ha ha.’ I think I went home in addition to ordered a fallout shelter.”

Mr. Reed continues to consider physical appearance of public figures fair game. In 2013 he was denounced for calling the actress Melissa McCarthy “tractor-sized” in addition to a “female hippo” in his review of the comedy “Identity Thief.”

“I felt truly bad for someone who will be swimming in so much hate,” she told The Times then.

“She went nuts because all her fans turned out of the woodwork in addition to were mad at me,” Mr. Reed said. “yet what did she do? She lost 50 pounds. She started off doing her own fashion designs. She looks terrific currently, in addition to will be getting roles in which don’t require her to fall down in mud puddles.”

Mr. Reed knows firsthand the mercilessness of the camera, in addition to the critics. In 1969 he edged out George Hamilton, he said, for a prominent role in “Myra Breckinridge,” the big-budget film adaptation of the Gore Vidal novel whose protagonist undergoes a sex change — a scandalous notion then.

inside the film, the sex change was reduced to dream sequence. Mr. Reed played the pre-transition Myron to Raquel Welch’s Myra.

At the outset, the film, which also starred Mae West in addition to Farrah Fawcett, looked like a blockbuster. in which quickly became a very different sort of disaster movie. The original director, the venerable George Cukor, fell out, along with Bette Davis in addition to Burl Ives, Mr. Reed said. Ms. West, then in her late 70s, was entrusted to write key scenes, in which Mr. Reed in addition to Ms. Welch refused to appear. “She didn’t understand the movie at all,” Mr. Reed said.

Nothing made any sense. In one scene Mr. Reed sashayed through an orgy scene “having a bottle of champagne, in addition to my jacket over my shoulder, like William Holden in ‘Sabrina.’” yet in which was “a completely ridiculous orgy, everybody was fully clothed.”

“When in which picture ended, in which was $30 million over budget in addition to they had filmed half of in which.”

If nothing else, the project established him socially among the Hollywood A-list. He recalled dinner parties at Ruth Gordon’s house: “On my right would certainly be Jean Renoir, in addition to on my left would certainly be Orson Welles.”

different dinner parties, he was glad to miss. Like Steve McQueen, John Phillips in addition to seemingly half of Hollywood, Mr. Reed claims to have turned down an invitation to dine, along with Jacqueline Susann, the “Valley of the Dolls” author, at Sharon Tate’s house the night of the Manson family murders.

Photo

Raquel Welch as Myra in addition to Mr. Reed as Myron in “Myra Breckinridge.”

Credit
20th Century Fox

“I said, ‘Jackie, I want to stay home in addition to eat lemon meringue pie in my pajamas, in front of the T.V. at the Beverly Hills Hotel,’” Mr. Reed recalled.

He was back in completely new York by the time the devastating reviews for “Myra Breckinridge” rolled in. Howard Thompson of The Times seemed to be channeling Rex Reed himself when he described the film as a “grim grotesquerie” in which “collapses like a tired, smirking elephant with no place to go.”

While there would certainly be different scattered roles — “Inchon,” “Superman” — Mr. Reed’s destiny would certainly be to write about movies, not star in them. “I just never had the luck,” he said. “I was never handed a Great script. I just think in which one of the reasons in which movies are so profoundly screwed up today will be because the last person who gets any credit for anything will be the writer.”

Lennon Gave Him TV Guide

Mr. Reed may not have made a fortune inside the film business, yet he will be sitting on millions of dollars of real estate. “in which’s an awfully comfortable bachelor pad,” he said of the book-filled Dakota apartment he has lived in since 1969, which he bought for $30,000.

He found the apartment through his friendship with Ruth Ford, the Broadway actress who lived there with her husband, the actor Zachary Scott, whose family “owned half of Texas,” Mr. Reed said. The playwright William Inge, Judy Garland, Judy Holliday in addition to the saxophone player Gerry Mulligan were all neighbors at various points.

“I moved into in which apartment with an A.&P. shopping cart, some books in addition to whatever I could drag over through my little walk-up on 73rd Street,” Mr. Reed said. His only furniture was a corduroy Queen Anne chair in addition to a sleeping bag. The night he moved in, the film star Robert Ryan, who was president of the Dakota’s board, rang the doorbell to welcome him, in addition to the two shared instant coffee, Mr. Reed on the sleeping bag, Mr. Ryan inside the chair. “Do you think in which happens today?” he asked.

Boris Karloff was another neighbor. Rudolf Nureyev, Leonard Bernstein in addition to Rosemary Clooney lived inside the building. “Betty” Bacall, whose spacious three-bedroom apartment sold for $21 million in 2015 after her death the previous year, in addition to Mr. Reed used to eat together regularly, he said.

He once signed a petition supporting John Lennon when the government was trying to deport Mr. Lennon because of his drug use in addition to political activism. Mr. Lennon thanked him having a one-year subscription to TV Guide, Mr. Reed said, adding, “in which was his bible. All he did was lie around stoned watching television.”

If Mr. Lennon famously sang, “All You Need will be Love,” Mr. Reed appears to disagree.

“I don’t have ‘relationships,’ except friends,” he said. “I don’t know, love will be not something in which I’ve been truly Great at. I think people are intimidated by people with opinions.”

He sighed, as if resigned. “I think in which’s all over as far as in which goes. How do you go start looking for a wife or a boyfriend or a significant different? in which’s too late. in which would certainly be nice, though, to find somebody who’s truly handy having a wheelchair, because in which day will be coming.”

yet even if his mobility will be impaired, Mr. Reed will remain a bucking bull inside the china shop of current sensibilities.

“If I had to give the greatest dinner party of my own choosing inside the planet, the only person I would certainly invite in which I have never met was Adolf Hitler,” he said. “Everybody else, I’ve met.”

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