Photographer Allan Warren, shot these pics of Gloria Swanson in 1972 in her NYC apartment at 920 Fifth Avenue. He wrote me to give a little background,
"... those shots were taken at four a.m. As we had had a late supper after her show 'Butterflies are Free' and chatted in her apartment till dawn broke..."
Oh, sorry, do I need to tell you who Gloria Swanson was? Well, at one time, she was THE biggest star in the world, when the movies, and she, were both young. She starred in dozens of silent films and was nominated for the very first Academy Award for Best Actress. She also produced her own films, including Sadie Thompson and The Love of Sunya and in 1929, she transitioned to talkies with The Trespasser. She’s best known for her role as Norma Desmond in the classic 1950 film, Sunset Boulevard. (She also starred as herself in her last film role in Airport 1975.)
I have a Gloria Swanson story. Indulge me, it’s short. When I first came to Manhattan in 1980, I was couch surfing for a while. I was staying in my friend photographer Bill Westmoreland‘s loft, I think it was in the W 30s? (Once Bill reads this, he can correct me on the details…) I was sleeping on the couch in the AM after a long night at Danceteria and the phone rang. Everyone was at work, so the machine picked up. I hear a voice on the other end leaving a message…
“Hello, it’s Gloria Swanson. I’m looking for Tim. Can you tell me where I might find Tim? Hello. Is Tim there…?”
I’m running around the loft trying to find the phone… dial tone. Damn. I missed talking to Gloria Swanson. Her autobiography had just come out and I was actually reading it at the time, so I had a few conversation points. What a fascinating life. Among other things, she was a health nut, a vegetarian from WAY back. Oh, btw Tim might not have been his name, but he was a friend of Bill’s who did errands for Gloria occasionally.
Anyway, these photos were taken a few years earlier in 1972, in the apartment she called from, at 920 Fifth Avenue.
UPDATE: I did hear from Bill about the details and I was pretty close…
Yes, my loft was on 37th st. in the Garment District…Tim was living with me for a while and yes, he drove Miss Swanson around and ran errands for her… after he moved out Miss Swanson continued to call for him at my number–I would tell her that Tim no longer lived here and would give her his new number…we chatted quite a few times over a 3 or 4 month period…until one day when I answered the phone and, after having given her his new number numerous times, I said,
“Glo, he doesn’t live here…try the new number”… to which she responded,
“Oh, yes Mr Westmoreland, I do think I have it in my address book, thank you so much.”