Alone Together: My Life with J. Paul Getty

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It was 1935. Flame-haired Teddy Lynch finished singing "Alone Together" at the swanky nightclub the New Yorker and left the stage to find a charming stranger at her friends' table. It was Jean Paul Getty, enigmatic oil tycoon and America's first billionaire.

In her passionate, unflinchingly honest memoir of two outsize lives entwined, Theodora "Teddy" Getty Gaston—now one hundred years old—reveals the glamorous yet painful story of her marriage to Getty. As formidable as he was,...

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Alone Together: My Life with J. Paul Getty

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It was 1935. Flame-haired Teddy Lynch finished singing "Alone Together" at the swanky nightclub the New Yorker and left the stage to find a charming stranger at her friends' table. It was Jean Paul Getty, enigmatic oil tycoon and America's first billionaire.

In her passionate, unflinchingly honest memoir of two outsize lives entwined, Theodora "Teddy" Getty Gaston—now one hundred years old—reveals the glamorous yet painful story of her marriage to Getty. As formidable as he was, Teddy was equally strong-minded and flamboyant, and their clutches and clashes threw off sparks. She knew the vulnerable side of Getty—he underwent painful plastic surgery and suffered terrible phobias—that few, if any, saw.

A vivid love story, Alone Together is also a fascinating glimpse into the twentieth century from the vantage point of one of its most remarkable couples. This is how the other half lived—dinner dances, satin gowns, beach houses, hotel suites, first-class cabins on the Queen Mary. Teddy's extra-ordinary life story moves from the glittering nightclubs of 1930s New York City to Mussolini's Italy, where she was imprisoned by the fascist regime, to California in the golden postwar years, where Paul and Teddy socialized with movie stars and the elite.

But life with one of the world's richest men wasn't all glitz and glamour. Though terrifically charismatic in person, Getty grew more miserly as his wealth increased. Worse, he often left Teddy and their son, Timothy, behind for years at a time while he built planes for the war effort in the 1940s or brokered oil deals—he was the first American to lease mineral rights in Saudi Arabia, which made him, at his death, the richest man in the world. Even when Timothy was diagnosed with a brain tumor, Getty complained about medical bills and failed to return to the United States to support his wife and son. When Timothy died at age twelve, the marriage was already falling apart.

Teddy's unrelenting spirit, her valiant friendship, and her winning lack of vanity transform what could have been a sob story into a nuanced portrait of a brilliant but stubbornly difficult man and the family he loved but left behind, as well as an enchanting view into a bygone era. This was a life lived from the heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tycoon J. Paul Getty, as passionate in bed as he was about building an oil empire, jotted mashed notes to his wife while on the road, as shared in this intimate self-portrait from socialite and singer Theodora (Teddy) Gaston, the fifth and final Mrs. Getty. Sexually abused by her stepfather and rejected by her first love for being half Jewish, young Teddy found success as a nightclub chanteuse in the 1930s. While performing at the Club New Yorker, young Teddy met Paul, her future husband. As gossip columnists spread rumors of the romance, Getty, who vowed never to remarry for the fifth-time, bought her an engagement ring. In 1940 they tied the knot in Mussolini's Rome. Following the ceremony the groom zoomed back to the U.S. while the young bride continued taking voice lessons abroad. Despite prolonged separations and her observation that he "wasn't the easiest of husbands," Teddy gave birth to a son in 1946. Sadly, within five years the marriage was on the rocks and their son developed an optic tumor, which cut his life tragically short. With the help of Diehl, Gaston offers an intimate diary of the hectic love life by a woman who is about to turn 100 and wants to set the record straight. (Sept.)
C Magazine
“Their whirlwind courtship ... is the stuff of legend.”
“Teddy vividly reflects on the tumultuous days of her marriage to the world’s first billionaire and the tragedies that defined their lives.”
LA Times
“’Alone Together’ is a whirlwind tour through the storied places and people of the early 20th century: the Stork Club and the Russian Tea Room, appearances by Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Jesse Lasky.”
Kirkus Reviews
A society girl–cum–torch singer's entertaining but overly sentimentalized memoir about the years she spent living with and loving America's first billionaire, J. Paul Getty. Gaston met oil tycoon Getty at a New York nightclub in 1935. From the first moment they danced, the otherwise independent young singer felt like "[she] wanted to belong to this man [she] knew nothing about." Getty, a four-time divorcé and patron of the arts, wooed the much-younger Gaston with ardor and encouraged her to pursue a career in opera. He invited her to Europe, where he put her in contact with legendary vocal teachers like Blanche Marchesi and introduced her to a glamorous world of elegance, royalty and artistic refinement that went beyond anything she had known in New York. Getty married Gaston in Rome on the eve of World War II and demanded she break off her studies to return home with him. Gaston remained in Italy to finish her studies, only to become a prisoner of war. She endured hardship and privation for more than two years but also experienced passionate love with a handsome Turk. When Gaston returned to the States in 1942, it was to an increasingly stingy husband who now spent most of his time working, traveling and having affairs that he denied. The couple moved to California, where Gaston gave birth to a son, who died before reaching his teen years. The child brought the drifting partners together only briefly before Getty abandoned his family to pursue the wealth and power that became his governing obsession. Sweeping in scope, the book, which draws throughout from Gaston's and Getty's letters and diaries, offers a glimpse into a privileged world where all that glittered was far from being gold. An epic personal saga for the Harlequin Romance crowd.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062219718
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 345,838
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Theodora "Teddy" Getty Gaston, born in Chicago in 1913, began singing at the age of sixteen in the chorus of J. J. Shubert's Arms and the Maid and, in the twenties, performed as a torch singer in New York's most prestigious supper clubs. She studied opera in Europe and worked for the New York Herald Tribune during World War II. After a long romance, she married J. Paul Getty, with whom she had one child. During their eighteen-year marriage, Teddy acted in Forgotten Women and Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend, and she started a water company, a candy company, and a children's charity in her son's name. In 1990, she wrote her first book, The Mark of the Eagle.

Digby Diehl is one of the most trusted and successful literary collaborators in America. He has written, cowritten, rewritten, researched, and edited more than three dozen books. He was the founding editor of the original Los Angeles Times Book Review and previously served as a book columnist for AARP The Magazine and as a literary correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America. Diehl is currently the book editor of The Rotarian and writes articles and reviews for publications such as Esquire, the New York Times, People, and TV Guide. He lives in Pasadena with his wife, Kay Beyer Diehl.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    Not much substance.

    If you like a book that has lots of name-dropping (mostly of obscure people and places) and not much of a story, then this is the book for you. A big disappointment.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 12, 2013

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    Posted January 10, 2014

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    Posted September 8, 2013

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