Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt

I had a short chat with BBC radio concerning the actor Jack Nicholson, whom I knew slightly during the Seventies and Eighties. Alas, it had to do with age, his and mine, 77 and 78 respectively. No, the man on the other end of the telephone did not ask me anything embarrassing. All he wanted to know was if women still come on to an oldie, or are they, as Jack Nicholson claims, a thing of the past.

Well, for starters I do not believe that Nicholson is telling the truth, that he's now alone and fears he will die alone because women have abandoned a sinking ship. He has a sense of decorum and knows how ridiculous a man our age sounds when talking about women, especially younger women, something Jack and Taki have in common. Jack Nicholson has been chasing beautiful women all his life and will continue to do so until the moment the man in the white suit pays him a visit. And that goes for me too, except that his fame and celebrity status give him an unfair advantage over the poor little unknown Greek boy.

Never mind. I was born behind the eight ball, so I'll take it like a man, a man whose four great loves -- Ava Gardner, Betty Grable, Cyd Charisse and Ginger Rogers -- were unrequited. In fact, it was worse than that. They never knew of my existence, except for a brief intro to Ava in Spain. She asked me if I was gay when I told her I was a tennis player and not in the bullfight business. That was in 1957, and later that year I had a chance with Ginger, and also blew it. Then, years later, I went swimming with Cyd off the Cap d'Antibes, came on too strong, and was told to drop dead -- or rather drown. Betty I never met. That is the story of my miserable life. The title of my autobiography is Le Misérable .

What I could have told the BBC interviewer is that Jack Nicholson should consider himself lucky that he never seduced Feng Lung, the Chinese lady who found compromising emails on her mobile from her husband to his lover, chopped off his penis, and, after the poor man had had it reattached by medics, sneaked into his hospital room, chopped it off again, and threw it out the window. Police and doctors were unable to find it and believed it had been taken by a stray dog or cat. Ouch! No, old Jack, whom I hardly know, is telling a cock and bull story because he's a gent. And this despite the fact he grew up thinking his grandmother was his mother, something quite normal for trailer-park people, I am told. Nicholson stuck by Roman Polanski when the pocket Pole was toxic, and also stuck by Eddie Dodson, the most prolific of bank robbers, who made Willie Sutton look like an amateur. (When asked by a judge why he robbed banks, Sutton earned a place in Bartlett's by telling him, 'Because that's where the money is, judge. …

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