Recalling the Great, Great PR Woman, Lois Smith

So it was a weepy get-together at the 92nd Street Y where such as Meryl Streep and Rosie O’Donnell got into a semi-loving-correcting contretemps onstage over another actress, Claire Danes. (All I can say is that Lois Smith would have loved every moment of this friendly “argument.” Lois was such an “innocent” in her embracing positive motherly manner that she once looked at me in amazement when I told her one of her clients had used cocaine right in front of me. “Really, Liz — I never suspected that!” said Lois. She left it at that and to my conscience. I didn’t print it.)

Anyway, I found it pretty remarkable and appealing that another Smith — Lois — could be eulogized in person by the mistress of all she surveys, Oscar-and-every-other-kind-of-winner Meryl Streep. (Streep was formidable and the best of most speakers at the recent Nora Ephron memorial and she out-does herself informally time after time!)

At the Y, it all began with emcee Rosie O’Donnell. She was wearing red, imitating Lois who was famous for the scarlet coat she wore on the red carpet so her celebrity clients could easily find her.

Rosie opined that she hoped Lois “was up there” talking with Marilyn Monroe and with Nora Ephron taking notes. Then, Rosie segued into a bit about whether Claire Danes now employs a lisp on the TV series Homeland.

This was followed by Lois’ former partner Leslee Dart reminding that Lois called those she loved by the pet name, “Ducks!” (She had sprayed the premises with Lois’ favorite, Joy perfume!) Ms. Dart won applause by noting that the PR industry should follow Lois’ lead and “be less self-centered, and kinder” … Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers made some funny remarks… there was a song from Mandy Patinkin. Then — I think it was then, this was all interrupted by Streep who defended Danes, saying that the latter “had her mouth taped up for two days — and she’s pregnant — you get a pass!” Rosie yelled from backstage, “Sorry!”

In speaking, Streep said something to the effect that, in the past, “… This is hilarious; people wanted to preserve their privacy and Lois seemed to think this was reasonable. “She credited Lois with giving her own family a private life before the era of cell-phones and 24/7 entertainment-media tweets!
When Rosie got on to close, she remarked on “being dissed by Meryl Streep at a memorial.”

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