Monsieur Chariot

Monsieur Chariot
That Dazzling and Luminous California Metropolis known as The City Of The Angels, USA
June 08
Offering Discreet Tutelage in the Metropolitan Arts to Inquiring Gentlepersons of Variously Misguided Social Persuasions


Editor’s Pick
APRIL 12, 2009 4:56PM

Running Into Faye

Rate: 58 Flag


M. Chariot ran into Mlle Faye Dunaway at the dry cleaner's recently. I was picking up one of my fancier waistcoats, which had incurred a stain resulting from an overenthusiasm for the veal — when I detected an angry, patrician voice coming from further down the counter. There stood Faye Dunaway, a ticket in hand, bejewelled knuckle on hip, looking peeved. She, like all movie stars, is much tinier than one would imagine from watching her films. Tiny, very slender, even stick-like, a coat of expertly applied maquillage, perfectly dressed, artificiel, like a Beverly Hills matron, all whites and creams, with a kind of cloche on her head, an expensive caramel bag, gold jewelry.

She seemed impatient, cold, unfriendly to the staff. A constricted quality. Snatched her plastic-sheathed gown and stalked out, looking like she'd just as soon firebomb the place. I'd heard absolutely terrible rumors about her here in LA, but this was the first time I'd seen her in person. Did not get a good impression, I can tell you that. But - try as we might - how many of us give "a good impression" to a stranger's gaze each and every day?


Here in Los Angeles, seeing film stars in "real life" (if that's the appropriate term for my bumblings about the Boulevard) is quite illuminating. I'm not talking about stars on some kind of publicity tour, signing books, or in a professional situation, gladhanding the fans and smiling warmly at the camera. I'm talking about the supermarket or the dry cleaner, the parking lot or the nail salon. Ordering coffee at Starbuckle. On film, they are typically open and vulnerable and 'giving' to the audience via the camera. When you see them going about their business in the real world, they can appear, by contrast, very closed, guarded, opaque, uninterested, dismissive of the gawping public. It's disconcerting, akin to running into an old friend who has mysteriously decided to snub you.

All of which leaves me impressed with stars who are forever granting autographs and acknowledging their fans while dining in restaurants and the like. It can't be easy. Addressing the so-called 'adoring' public has got to be like making one's way through a snake pit at an insane asylum. You never know what's coming at you. In a crush of strangers, who is going to thank you for your performance in Network and who is going to try to poke out your eyeballs with their keys? Must make navigating the public sphere seem very dicey indeed!


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It is truly wonderful to have you back with us, Monsieur! And I hope you are having a wonderful Easter Sunday.

I am up in Los Angeles on a fairly regular basis and the one thing I have learned is to never bother the film actors. Just like me I like to go about my business without adoring fans asking for a photo or an autograph.

The truly classy ones will humbly sign or stand for a quick cell camera shot. But even then I try to ignore them since I feel they deserve some privacy as well.

But that doesn't mean if I see my number actor in the world, Ryan Gosling, walking down the sidewalk, I may swoon or sigh but never loud enough to let him hear me. Plus, I understand from people in the know that he frowns on such obvious displays of adoration. Also, I'd be too shy to even ask for an autograph or a photo.

It's good Ms. Dunaway didn't treat you terribly. I'm sure she knows of you and will treat you accordingly, Monsieur
My dear Monsieur Chariot ~ I was intrigued by your encounter with Faye Dunaway. Your area is a hot spot for encounters with Hollywood idols past and present. I have seen a few celebrities in Manhattan as expected, but a few friends of mine who live in northwestern CT about 90 minutes north of the city have run into a number over the years in that more remote area. Just recently one friend was watching a movie near Patti LuPone. She has also run into Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon a number of times, too. Another friend saw Helen Hunt a few years back at an out of the way restaurant in the same area. It gives you an idea of a few notables who have country homes in rural CT. Unlike your encounter with Faye, I haven't had any negative reports to go along with these sightings.
Exactly. I wonder about this very thing often. After Alec Baldwin made goo-goo eyes and small talk to our 2-year old in a Santa Monica Starbucks, he began casually discussing the (then) writers’ strike w/my wife. If I were under such a white-hot light, I imagine myself becoming much more as you describe Ms. Dunaway than as I experienced Mr. Baldwin.
An Easter treat! May I gush for one moment? Just long enough to say that if I ever had the good fortune to run into the Monsieur at the dry cleaners or any other place public, I'd be reduced to the sentiments of a tween 13 year old girl. Your writing takes my breath away. Having said that, one of my sons works at a very trendy Hollywood restaurant. He sees celebrities on a daily basis and, for the most part, is not impressed. Oh the stories he could write! I can't imagine being judged by who knows who when going about mundane errands. I'm also rather pleased with your description of Mille Dunway. For some reason, it seems fitting.
Celebrities who graciously grant autographs and are polite to their fans are really just decent, nice people. There are plenty of others who reveal themselves to be selfish narcissists by their behavior and lack of grace. There are some who make it known that they do not want people surrounding them to ever look them in the eyes! They will also make it known that they will not be spoken to directly.
They should get over it!

Now, Faye Dunaway was a great beauty, how is she aging? Cracks in the visage? Has she bought and paid for a vacation home for her plastic surgeon? I am a trifle concerned that Ms. Dunaway was picking up her own dry cleaning! Then again when was the last time we saw her on the silver screen.

I will always remember her as the beautiful Bonnie, matched with Clyde Barrow played by the so sexy and young then Warren Beatty. That was a stunning couple! Warren sadly is one who relies on his wife for communication with underlings.

Monsieur Chariot, I feel I must bring this up, as I feel your personal safety may be in jeopardy. Is there any possibility that Ms. Dunaway might be the Whole Foods stalker? It wouldn't be the first time that a big star went over the edge. The encounter in the dry cleaners might not have been a coincidence. Please check your vehicle, she might have placed a GPS device in it, or on it. One cannot be too careful.

Cheers, my darling Frenchman.
Oh, oh. One of my favorite life moments was being out for dinner in Houston and realizing that Vanessa and Corin Redgrave were at the next table. It was Vanessa's gorgeous voice that made me turn my head.

When we were leaving, I approached the table (both were enjoying Tila's tasty margaritas), said, "Ms. Redgrave?" She looked up at me and I simply said, "Thank you."

She gave a very regal nod of her head in reply.

That was much better than the time I knocked over my chair when dining at a table adjacent to Sir Ian McKellen. And he noticed.

You can dress me up...
How wise your are, dear Monsieur.

My own moment of decision not to become instantly recognizably famous was during the intermission of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Paul Newman and Geraldine Page. I wandered around the lobby hoping to eavesdrop on appreciative conversations expressing the awe I felt. But every single conversation I listened to on the sly was about something inconsequential and unrelated to the play. THESE PEOPLE DIDN'T DESERVE PAGE, NEWMAN AND WILLIAMS.

Let's skip swiftly over the issue of whether or not I should have been listening to strangers' conversations and passing unflattering judgments from the elevated position of my youthful self-righteousness.

That was the moment I decided never to become famous myself. If the public didn't worship Newman and Page and Williams, how could they ever worship me???

And now you add a darker chapter: being worshiped may be worse than not being worshiped. Newman may have found that out but seems always to have handled it more gracefully than Ms. Dunaway. Then again, maybe she was pissed at not being treated like royalty?

Thank goodness you were in the establishment to represent kindness and respect to the people Dunaway dissed.
Monsieur, Yes, they are quite jaded, exhausted with the same gushing and questions.......continually. And popular actors & some celebs work VERY HARD........they are most likely sleep deprived at any given public moment. At their leisure, in their home, or with family and friends where they can pass time in silence......Ohhh, sweet silence, they are most likely expressing the gentler side of their natures.....
Always good to see you Monsieur.......
So the haughty demeanor is not restricted to her characters, then.

She was on Grey's Anatomy recently. She still looks damn good, but no wrinkles, very tight skin, so yes, plastic surgery.
Twice, possibly three times, during the year or so I lived in Venice, CA, I was eating breakfast in an outdoor cafe when one of my favorite B-movie actresses, Lori Petty, stopped at the same place. Each time I was too shy to go over to say that I liked her work. My loss, of course, but probably not hers.
I often have similar thoughts when I run into movie stars in Rockford, Illinois.

Actually, you can't blame them for their reticence. I'm sure many wonder if the oddball that is approaching them could be another Mark David Chapman. It's not a lifestyle I envy.
Another thing that a lot of people don't know about actors is that many of them are very shy when they are not acting. Watching an interview with Johnny Depp he appears painfully shy.

And maybe the dry cleaner had "misplaced" her designer dress for a week. I've known someone that happened to-- she assumed that someone from the cleaners borrowed her gown, cleaned it, and returned it to her a week later.
I'm always so disappointed to hear stories of celebrities behaving badly. I honestly can't imagine what they have to complain about - they got into the business wanting to be recognized and be a start. They get paid inordinate amounts of money to be a star. They make so much money they can easily sequester themselves away from the riff raff that wants their autograph, or gawks, or says, shyly, "I loved you in Mission Impossible!" It's nice to be admired and liked for how people *imagine* you to be. You don't even have to reveal your real self to them - just smile and nod and sign.

I guess it must be difficult when people are no longer that interested in your celebrity - hard to acknowledge you are yesterday's news, Faye who? to the majority who would rather ogle Lindsay Lohan or Hannah Montana. But still I'd advise the estimable Ms. Dunaway to get some perspective. You only live once, my dear. Might as well enjoy all the gifts you've been given.....
Do you think she might have been having a bad day? I wonder why she didn't send someone to pick up the garment for her. We don't get many movie stars in the Maine woods - must be interesting in your neck of the woods.
I must admit, M. Chariot, your close encounters are so superior to mine. Even though in a fit of pique, I'd rather see Mme. Faye than M. Ozzy, d'accord?

And how lovely not only to see you back among us, but near (and I'm sure dear) to Stellaa, on whose post I earlier wrote a comment about the wonderful film Network. Plus ca change...
Ah, the life you lead, Monsieur. It is always such a pleasure to see you here. Yes, I must agree with all that you say. I can't imagine a life that leaves you so open to the public. I have always been a fan of Faye. Thank you for this glimpse into the rich and famous! Bon Soir! :)
Fame.....it's just about the worst thing I can imagine.
Monsieur, congratulations on the Easter treat: an EP!!
It is startling to see the apparition suddenly made flesh, is it not? This has happened to me on a few occasions, mostly during the time I lived in New York City, occasionally in other locations.

Once, I was having dinner at Harvey's Chelsea Restaurant in NYC and Hal Holbrooke was dining with his family at the next table. Being a proper New Yorker, I glanced at him occasionally but otherwise left him alone. Lori Anderson lived in my neighborhood (this was before she married Lou Reed) and I spotted her at the grocery store. I was very interested to know what an avant garde musician/performance artist stocked her pantry with. Lots of frozen food it turns out. I didn't bother her, either.

I have similar stories, but the point is always the same--they were simply going about their business, just as I was going about mine, and it just did not seem necessary or appropriate to interrupt them, even to pay them a compliment.

Oh, poor Faye! She was no doubt completely upset that her PA Marie ran off to Switzerland with her last PA Janet. Something like that. Having to get her own cleaning! Oh, the insult of such a situation.

Happy Spring
I have a post brewing for some day about encounters I've had with "stars". It is eye-opening to see them out in the real world, including for the reason you point out which is how different they look including almost always being quite tiny - the men too!
Isn't she just terribly plasticked now? Or so it seems.....

How terrible to be so beautiful and to have to grow old. Very few of them seem to be able to do it well, sigh.
It's a real pleasure to read such a well written post.

Would it be too uncouth to ask what dry cleaners she was at? As a resident of Los Angeles, I might want to take a shirt there some day.
Interesting observations. The price of fame, I guess.

When I was in the Navy, I was a driver for the singer/actor Meatloaf when he came down for a USO tour in 94. I got to spend four days with Meatloaf and his family. They were great--they included me in everything(okay, I was their driver, but still, they made me feel part of the group). They were actually a rather normal family.
Figures. She probably drinks her refreshments in a paper cup.
"No wire hangers, EVER!!!"
She's one of the most gorgeous women in the world. And Network, Chinatown, etc. What a track record. She looks like she was from a different time. Like the starlets of the 1940s. Almost as if we are slowly evolving and faces slowly change. There was always something retro about Faye. Maybe she is the last starlet. Now their are stars.
Truly great post. Loved your description of her and hope she was just having a bad day. It must be horrible to be in the limelight all the time.
Rated for that chance celebrity encounter. To me, (unless they're politicos and I really identify with their policy issues) celebrities are like animals in the zoo. It's okay to look, but don't get too close. They might bite.

I've often thought that it would be nice to put together a short autobiography composed solely of my celebrity encounters.
And at no point did you happen to glance and see her gazing at you with all her hatchet-faced lustful longing?
Oh for the good old days.
These talkies have ruined everything.
Ever the gentleman, Monsieur is kind to give the Pretty People the benefit of the doubt. Living among and being a member of the Plain People myself, I don't really have the opportunity to be as gracious as you. However, I do like to tell acquaintances about my "good friends" Joan Walsh and Dave Cullen, who are always on their best behavior when I "meet them." (I had a quickie conversation with Diane Rehm once at a book signing here in Cleveland and I feel like she's a regular member of my car pool, but please do intervene if you overhear Lainey talking about her Good Friend Diane Rehm. That would be going a bit far I fear.)
I'm so very happy you are back, Monsieur. On one hand I feel for the "stars" with people gawking at them, and a possible dangerous situation, yet they do make a lot of moola. I guess it's a trade off.
Bon Soir, M. de Chariot!

That photo of Ms Dunaway does have a certain "Bonnie and Clyde I'm-going-to-blow-you-to-Kingdom-come" aspect to it, I admit. but then, I'd probably hate being super-famous and feel I couldn't stick my nose out of doors without a heavy disguise. Anonymity doesn't seem so bad, all of a sudden.
Loved this. A guy I know in LA has a family that will not go to ANY Sean Connery movie. Apparently, the sister in the family almost backed into a car driving by (not an Astin-Martin). Connery leans out the window (so they say) and snarls, "Where didja get choor lisenshce, you shilly bitch!"
I would have said, "Hey! Roger Moore!"
I don't want to talk out of school, but I once had a torrid affair with Ms. Dunaway. I found her to be as rambunctious as a schoolgirl. Unfortunately, it ran it's course and we parted ways. She asked me once if she should do "Supergirl" and I said of course. I don't think she ever forgave me for that. Perhaps that may explain her attitude.
M. Chariot, may I take you bake to my write up about my shoulder rub with Emmylou Harris over berries at the market?
And her beaming smile?

There are celebs who are not so full of unhappiness.

By the way, I'm looking at the pimento strip across the horizon as the sun decides to arise.
I went to high school with Faye Dunaway's neice. She was very beautiful and amazingly sweet, caring and down to earth. A very warm girl.

I'm surprised at some of these comments that jump to judge Ms. Dunaway. What the hell? Are you at your best, more warm, most caring and perfect all the time?
Mon ami, times must be tough for Ms Dunaway if she actually has to pick up her dry cleaning. Don't they have delivery?

I would just assume ignore any celebs that I run into in public for two reasons. One, they probably just want some privacy and to be left alone. Two, if they want adulation, let them go on stage and perform.

I enjoyed this glimpse into your fair city of the angels.

My very best wishes and regards.
I think the
So true. I've actually been surprised by the friendliness of the very few movie actors I've seen here in the LA area. Bette Midler turned out to be very unpretentious, waiting her turn for sushi in a crowded restaurant, for example. I think it must be a shame not to be able to have a bad day without someone dissecting it at length. Well, my mother does that to me on a regular basis, but I mean a stranger doing it would be very irritating to say the least.
I'm so glad not to live near or hang out in Taos. Perhaps Julia Roberts might make for a pleasant chance encounter but I fear what my reaction would be if running into Donald Rumsfeld while picking up my parka at the cleaner's.

My goodness, you own several waistcoats?
My contact with celebrities has been quite minimal, so minimal in fact that I think they may consciously avoid me. Or perhaps I have a lifestyle that is so minimal that our paths never intersect. My wardrobe is worthy of Goodwill, but not the drycleaner. My entire experience of drycleaning consists of having been the clean-up boy 41 years ago at a drycleaning shop in Salem, Oregon.

In the realm of fine cuisine, there is a chance that I might encounter a celebrity were one to appear at Baja Fresh or Dairy Queen.

I once saw a local TV weatherman walking down a street, and I could scarce contain my excitement.

But my closest and only brush with True Greatness came from the fact that one of my many ex-wives, a drug dealer in her younger days, once partied with Sly and the Family Stone. This brings me a certain fame by association, and if any of you want my autograph, I will be happy to send you one, for a small fee.
LOL @ Mishima.

Well if you lived in Los Angeles you'd have the opposite problem. Frustration when a celeb is given special treatment while you are standing there waiting to pay for something.

My oddest celeb encounter may have been in the checkout line at WholeFoods when Gweneth Paltrow popped in to ask the guy at my register is he had any smokes. (WholeFoods doesn't sell smokes, in case you didn't know).
I guess she was having a bad couple of decades.

I had a one on one conversation for over an hour with her in...oh, must have been the mid 70's, she wore a beret and looked beautiful in it. I remember she was very interested in our conversation and I felt very flattered she was so attentive and kind. It was also the same night Dennis Hopper was kicking the back of my seat in the movie theater and stage whispering about how cute the girl in the film was. It was me. That fact aside it did not make me any more appreciative of his kicking.

Astute Hollywood observations.
Buffy, are you famous? Should we be knowing about you? :)
Thank you for another delightful celebrity tale, Monsieur, full of white and cream descriptions. You are quite generous in your appraisal of Ms. Dunaway's character in this instance. Yes, celebrities are as deserving of privacy as the rest of us. That said, the person behind the dry cleaning counter is as deserving of respect as Ms. Dunaway. Having a bad day or being forced by some circumstance to pick up one's own dry cleaning is no excuse for incivility. At the same time, I must agree with you. Fame cannot be easy. To require that celebrities always be on their best behavior is an unfair expectation.
Must be tough not being able to be testy with a dry cleaner without someone recognizing you and blogging about it! I like to think I'm generally good-natured to those I encounter, but I'd hate to think that any time I got pissed because the bangles on my expensive dress were melted by improper cleaning, thousands of readers would pass judgment on whether or not I was a nice person in real life.
Surprising that she didn't recognize one of her own when she saw you. Did you mention you write for OS? She should be asking you for YOUR autograph! Harumpphh!
My dear fellow writers ~ I thank you for your interesting ruminations on celebrity-related behavior, something which I find myself thinking about frequently - only because here in Los Angeles, lonely persons such as myself are plagued by celebrities.

Several years ago, a psychiatrist friend was visiting me from London, and was of course anxious to see a star or two. We were enjoying a moment's refreshment outside one of my favorite Hollywood cafes when a car pulls up in front and I can see habitué Jodi Foster gathering her purse and preparing to emerge. My friend fails to notice, and so I whisper, quite under my breath I assure you, "That's Mlle Jodi Foster!!!" He glances at her and insists I'm mistaken. I, in turn, insist that I am quite correct. This whispered argument continues for a few moments during which I find myself becoming furious.

Piqued by his arrogant refusal to recognize my expertise in the matter, when Mlle Foster finally locked her car and arrived at the door to the cafe, I called out, in my breeziest and friendliest voice, "Hello Jodi, my dear!" She looked me up and down, from top hat to spats, and replied in what can only be described as a most quizzical tone: "hi..."? and proceeded into the store for her SugarFree Chocolate Mint Latte (to GO).

My bold greeting proved two things at once: I managed to prove to my biggety British friend that I know a celebrity when I see one, and at the same time proved to Jodi Foster that I was an insufferable boor. Let this be a lesson to you!
Oh but Faye Dunaway *is* indeed an ill-behaved has-been.

I remember when she called on the phone to inquire about a book, back when I was a bookstore clerk on Sunset. You probably know the one, Monsieur.

So how did I know it was she? Because she *said* so. Like, announcing who she was made her more important or something. If this was a her wish, she was calling the wrong bookstore. And the wrong town.

I can't recall which book she was looking for, but I went to go look for it on the shelf, and when I came back, she was no longer on the line.

But she called back! Her reason for not being on the line anymore? "You took too long." I kid you not. So not only is she a brat, but a stupid one too. This was 15 years ago. I guess she hasn't learned her lesson yet. People do talk.
I am so glad you are back. Have you gotten over Chloe, or should I say, has she gotten over you?
oh, monsieur, it is a delight to finally make your acquaintance. well, virtually at least. this is a wonderful piece and so so so very true. i love that you're so understanding about how these stars can become quite brittle in public once the attention becomes second nature and overwhelming.

i lived in that area for several years and had many of what i call brushes with greatness. but the best one of all took place at hugo's on sunset. is that still here, that great breakfast place with the eggs and pasta combinations. it was memorial day adn i was with a friend to whom i was whining about not having big plans for the holiday weekend and feeling envious of all those who had said big plans. well, in walked steve martin and richard dreyfuss. not together. with different groups of people. it was lovely to overhear their conversations and to learn that they were gracious with waitstaff and such.

and what a pleasure to realize that people who had infinite choices were spending their time dining in the same place as i was. i haven't whined about holiday plans since then. because, as we say back on boston, ya nevah know. love lvoe lveo and gratitude
shoot. forgot to mention how exceptional your writing is. everything i've heard about you is true!!! but, please, won't you reconsider and marry my friend deliablack? she's very much in love with you. :)
Eloquent, brilliant, immensely perceptive. Absolutely perfect piece.

This is a must read for everyone actor in Hollywood.

Who could realize that they are martyred for the craft. As if, in the end we hate them for the illusion, they fantasy they provide.

Thank you for what you said about Lohan too.
Ah, those magnificent high cheek bones (hers, not yours). Bonnie, Network, Chinatown. I'm her sister, I'm her daughter, I'm her sister.... It's all coming back to me now.

A high-strung, narcissistic ectomorph if ever there was one. Imagine being that irritable and seemingly unhappy after all those years of adulation. One of those people I'll be very content to remember as she probably never was.

Rated for the flood of ambivalent faux memories this fine post induced, M. Chariot.
[Oops. That should read She's my sister, she's my daughter, ...]

Sorry. This warm weather brings the raccoons out at night. When they shake themselves, they give off clouds of stale dandruff. That, in turn, impedes clear thinking among Hypersensitives, especially if we've just touched something that has touched peanuts.
Monsieur, your comment on Lindsay Lohan was genius. Sheer poetry.

And I've watched that "Fire at the Disco" video around 200 times. I think its brilliant. It's just perfectly bizarre.
Dear Monsieur,
She stole my heart in Bonnie and Clyde; I was jealous of Warren Beatty. I could hardly control my passions when she played chess with Steve McQueen, likely the hottest movie ever made, and without nudity or sex. But we all know what happened later....

You likely nailed it when you stood in her shoes and imagined what she must feel like every day when her fans and detractors stalk her every move. Very nice tale! Rated
Methinks a certain M. Chariot need be posting more stuff.
M. I enjoy your posts very much, and have forwarded them to friends. This one is wonderful in it's description of Ms. Dunaway, but calming and understanding of the plight of the madness of celebrity. I like it. Very zen. Thank you.
I too have shared a significant moment in my life with Ms. Faye Dunaway. In a land and time far, far, away when I had the magical privilege to frequent another galaxy populated by icons of stage and screen, I found myself face to face with Faye across a crowded room. It was New Years Eve 1972, New York City, at a ringing out the old and ringing in the new hosted by Lee Strasberg of Actor Studio renown.

Well, there stood Faye Dunaway…the skinniest human being I’d ever seen outside of a statistic recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. Incredible, I thought that a human being could be so skeletal and still be drawing breath. She was adorned for the occasion in a white tee shirt and jeans.

We’ve all come a long way since then, it seems.