Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

SEPTEMBER SONG: WITH A LITTLE
HELP FROM HER “FRIENDS”

I had the biggest crush on Kitty Carlisle Hart for the
longest time. But so did every other guy who ever met the
woman. She was one classy dame. You may remember her
from television. But the widow of the legendary producer
Moss Hart also chaired the New York State Council on the
Arts for Governors Nelson Rockefeller, Hugh Carey, Mario
Cuomo, and George Pataki. She once sang “I’ll Be Loving
You Always” at a birthday party in my honor. I now
return the favor. I broadcast this “appreciation” of Mrs.
Hart on September 22, 2004.

Kitty Carlisle Hart, age ninety-four-and-a-half, stood in the spotlight last night at Feinstein’s in the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan, a most fitting venue for this particular, spectacular dame. The New York newspapers call her an “uber diva.” And Liz Smith says she’s got the best pair of legs in New York.

For her opening number, Mrs. Hart proclaimed to her adoring fans, “Hello, old friends. Are you O.K., old friends? Who’s like us? Damn few!”

Her “old friends” being Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, George Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Harold Arlen, Alan Jay Lerner, Arthur Schwartz, and Irving Berlin.

Mrs. Hart dedicated her show—she calls it a “gig”—to “the giants of the American musical theater” she knew and entertained as a young leading lady, and later as the wife of a towering legend, Moss Hart, the playwright and producer. She was brilliantly accompanied at the piano by David Lewis, whose thin, reedy voice evokes memories of the great singer-songwriter Matt Dennis.

Kitty Hart looked out into the New York audience and with clear, perfect diction, said, “I began my career seventy years ago. And I’m thrilled to return to my beginnings.”

Some of the songs she sang were achingly tender. Others were witty and sophisticated. All were incurably romantic:

-355-

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