Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings

( 12 )



Martha Graham and Madonna

Igor Stravinsky and Walt Disney

Frank Lloyd Wright and Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe and Nikita Khrushchev

President Richard M. Nixon...

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Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings

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Martha Graham and Madonna

Igor Stravinsky and Walt Disney

Frank Lloyd Wright and Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe and Nikita Khrushchev

President Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley

Harpo Marx and George Bernard Shaw

Salvador Dali and Sigmund Freud

Groucho Marx and T. S. Eliot

BRILLIANT IN CONCEPTION AND DIZZYING IN EXECUTION, Hello Goodbye Hello is a daisy chain of 101 fascinating true encounters, chance meetings, and disastrous collisions between the celebrated and the gifted, the famous and the infamous. Witty and wicked, Hello Goodbye Hello is the perfect example that truth is stranger than fiction (and infinitely more enjoyable).

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Captivating…Glittering…Engaging…Entertaining…[Brown] has whipped up a gratifying summertime confection — funny, diverting, occasionally sad.”
—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“Deliciously clever and amusing…Hello Goodbye Hello is splendid company, not to mention perfect for the beach, the lake or the pool.”
—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

Hello Goodbye Hello is a hilarious book, clever and thoroughly researched…dip into this book anywhere and you will be rewarded with something delightful.”
—Moira Hodgson, Wall Street Journal

“Brown’s collection of odd encounters could be titled Famous People Behaving Badly. They’re irresistible.”

“Craig Brown is the wittiest writer in Britain today.”
—Stephen Fry

“The book that made me laugh most was Craig Brown’s quirky game of biographical consequences.”
—Julian Barnes, Times Literary Supplement “Books of the Year”

"Craig Brown is something of a national treasure in Britain. . . . Hello Goodbye Hello is a bravura feat of narrative engineering. . . . A joyful, fun read espsecially for its widgety, ingenious construction."
—David Kamp, Vanity Fair

The Washington Post
…deliciously clever and amusing…many of [the encounters are] exceedingly funny, a few of them surprisingly revealing and a few rather sad, and all of them connected by the daisy chain to end all daisy chains…All in all, Hello Goodbye Hello is splendid company…
—Jonathan Yardley
The New York Times
…captivating…a glittering daisy chain that reads like a mathematical proof of the theory of six degrees of separation…Instead of using his celebrated gifts as a parodist in these pages, Mr. Brown chooses a straightforward narrative voice that proves as pliant as it is entertaining. In drawing upon an assortment of source material including diaries…biographies, interviews and obituaries, Mr. Brown constructs portraits that have all the immediacy of reportage, all the fanciful detail of fiction. He has whipped up a gratifying summertime confection—funny, diverting, occasionally sad.
—Michiko Kakutani
Publishers Weekly
In this expansive game of “six degrees,” British humorist Brown (The Lost Diaries) chronicles a loop of 101 remarkable celebrity meetings beginning and ending with Adolf Hitler. From the unexpected (Helen Keller and Martha Graham) to the legendary (Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney) or the strangely fitting (Groucho Marx and Charlie Chaplin), the stories unfold as succinct anecdotes, many notable for their bizarre context. Dozens of chance encounters, fast friendships, and dire rivalries are recounted in an informal yet informative manner, tying together oft-disparate threads of the 20th century through some of its most distinguished participants. With each story leading to the next (Leonard Cohen shares an elevator with Janis Joplin, who befriends Patti Smith, who had recently encountered Allen Ginsberg, and so on) it’s easy to see this as popcorn reading, but it’s impossible to stop with just one story. Brown also structures his gimmick by limiting each story to 1,001 words, though footnotes aplenty add more spice to the mix. Given the author’s origins, it’s not surprising there’s a mild bias toward European notables—some of whom might not be familiar to American audiences—however, no character is too odd nor any encounter too trivial to be included. Entertaining, enlightening, shameless, and humorous: this collection sheds light on the life and times of some strange, wonderful, and notorious personalities. Agent: Zoë Pagnamenta, Zoe Pagnamenta Agency. (Aug)
Library Journal
British satirist Brown (The Tony Years) here recounts the real-life meetings of various pairs of (mostly) famous people throughout the 20th century. Each of the 101 meetings is covered by Brown in exactly 1001 words. The pieces form a daisy chain: one of the participants in the first encounter carries over to the next encounter, meeting someone new, and so on. Some meetings are pointed: H.G. Wells's report on time spent with Stalin captured the self-deluding nature of leftist enthusiasm for the USSR in the 1930s as well as Wells's smugness in his own judgments. Some are poignant: Princess Grace advises the younger Princess Diana on living in the spotlight. President Richard Nixon gives a drug-addled Elvis a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs special agent badge. You won't find Grand History in this volume, but it has much to say about the perils of celebrity and the oddly sociable animals we humans are. A prefatory "Note to the U.S. Edition" offers biographical notes on a dozen of the men and women who may be less well known to American readers. VERDICT This book is likely to be vastly popular. Once most readers pick it up, they won't be able to put it down.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
Kirkus Reviews
A hilarious collection of strange-but-true tales of encounters between the rich and famous. BBC Radio Host, Daily Mail columnist and all-around English wit Brown (The Lost Diaries, 2010, etc.) delivers a fine and funny assortment of oddball celebrity meetings and matchups. Some are well-known, such as when a drug-addled Elvis Presley met Richard Nixon, or Marilyn Monroe snuggled up to visiting Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. At least one is historically important: when Prince Felix Youssoupoff lured Grigori Rasputin to his death. Most, however, are delightfully inconsequential, whether it's Harpo Marx driving Sergei Rachmaninoff bonkers with his harp playing, Sarah Miles sharing tea with a thigh-squeezing nonagenarian named Bertrand Russell, or Leonard Cohen having a quickie with Janis Joplin (and getting a song out of it). Some encounters go off without a hitch, such as between mutual admirers Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain. Others slightly misfire; Groucho Marx tries to impress dinner companion T.S. Eliot by quoting The Waste Land, only to find the poet "was thoroughly familiar with his poems and didn't need me to recite them." At least they talked, which is barely more than can be said for James Joyce and Marcel Proust. There are also plenty of bad dates, whether it's Madonna snatching off Michael Jackson's glasses and sailing them across the room, Isadora Duncan tempting Auguste Rodin with her perfect young body, or Allen Ginsberg making an awkward pass at Francis Bacon. Brown is as smart as he is puckish, and there are plenty of laughs on this terrific trip through modern fame.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451684513
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 8/20/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 334,245
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig Brown has been writing the Private Eye celebrity diary since 1989 and is a columnist for London’s Daily Mail. He has also written parodies for many publications, including the Daily Telegraph, Vanity Fair, The Times, and The Guardian. The author of several books of fiction and nonfiction, he lives in London.

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Read an Excerpt




The Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue, New York

Autumn 1957

One afternoon in the autumn of 1957, the most venerated architect in America, Frank Lloyd Wright, now aged ninety, is working in his suite in the Plaza Hotel, New York, when the doorbell rings. It is Marilyn Monroe, come to ask him to design a house.

Since their marriage in June 1956, Arthur Miller and his bride Marilyn Monroe have been based at Miller’s modest two-storey country house near Roxbury, Connecticut. Dating from 1783, it has 325 acres of land planted with fruit trees. A verandah at the back looks out across endless hills. A short walk from the house is a swimming pond, with clear spring water.

It is just right for Miller, who likes to live in the countryside, away from the flash world of celebrity, and is known to be careful with money. But Marilyn has other plans. She loves to spend, and has firm ideas about what is glamorous and what is not. Her self-esteem is bound up with her ability to splash out; she craves nothing but the best.

Like so many men, Frank Lloyd Wright is immediately taken with Marilyn.35 He ushers her into a separate room, away from his wife and his staff, and listens intently as she describes the sort of home she has in mind. It is spectacularly lavish. Once she has left, Wright dips into his archives and digs out an abandoned plan for a building he drew up eight years earlier: a luxury manor house for a wealthy Texan couple.

The parsimonious Miller is taken aback when he hears of Marilyn’s grandiose vision for their new home. ‘That we could not really afford all of her ideas I did my best not to dramatize, but it was inevitable that some of my concern showed.’ When she tells him the name of the architect, Miller’s heart sinks. But he bites his lip, hoping good sense will prevail. ‘It had to seem like ingratitude to question whether we could ever begin to finance any Wright design, since much like her, he had little interest in costs. I could only give him his day and let her judge whether it was beyond our means or not.’

One grey autumn morning, the Millers drive Frank Lloyd Wright to Roxbury. Wright is wearing a wide-brimmed cowboy hat. He curls up in the back seat and sleeps throughout the two-hour journey.

The three of them enter the old house together. Wright looks around the living room, and, in what Miller describes as ‘a tone reminiscent of W.C. Fields’s nasal drawl’, says disparagingly, ‘Ah, yes, the old house. Don’t put a nickel in it.’ They sit down to a lunch of smoked salmon. Wright refuses any pepper. ‘Never eat pepper,’ he says. ‘The stuff will kill you before your time. Avoid it.’

After lunch, Marilyn remains in the house while the two men trudge half a mile up the steep hill to the crest on which the new house is to be built. Wright never stops to catch his breath: Miller is impressed. At the crest, Wright turns towards the magnificent view, unbuttons his fly and urinates, sighing, ‘Yes. Yes indeed.’ He glances about for a few seconds, then leads the way back down the hill. Before they go back into the house, Miller steals a quick private word with Wright. ‘I thought the time had come to tell him something he had never bothered to ask, that we expected to live fairly simply and were not looking for some elaborate house with which to impress the world.’

The message is plural, but it should have been singular. An elaborate house with which to impress the world is, in a nutshell, just what Marilyn is after, which is why she hired Frank Lloyd Wright in the first place. But Wright affects not to hear. ‘I saw that this news had not the slightest interest for him,’ says Miller.

A few days later, Miller visits the Plaza Hotel alone. Wright shows him a watercolour of his extravagant plan: a circular living room with a dropped centre surrounded by five-foot-thick ovoid columns made of sandstone with a domed ceiling sixty feet in diameter, rounded off with a seventy-foot-long swimming pool with fieldstone sides jutting out from the incline of the hill. Miller looks at it in horror, mentally totting up the cost. He notes with indignation that Wright has added a final flourish to his painting – a huge limousine in the curved driveway, complete with a uniformed chauffeur.

Miller asks the cost. Wright mentions $250,000, but Miller doesn’t believe him: it might cover the cost of the swimming pool, ‘if that’. He also notes that Wright’s ‘pleasure dream of Marilyn allowed him to include in this monster of a structure only a single bedroom and a small guestroom, but he did provide a large “conference room” complete with a long board-room-type table flanked by a dozen high-backed chairs, the highest at the head, where he imagined she would sit like the reigning queen of a small country, Denmark, say’.36

The marriage goes from bad to worse. Miller and Monroe have nothing to say to each other. ‘He makes me think I’m stupid. I’m afraid to bring things up, because maybe I am stupid.’ Marilyn adds that ‘I’m in a fucking prison and my jailer is named Arthur Miller ... Every morning he goes into that goddamn study of his, and I don’t see him for hours and hours. I mean, what the fuck is he doing in there? And there I am, just sitting around; I haven’t a goddamn thing to do.’

Miller fails to give the go-ahead to Wright, who dies in April 1959. Miller and Monroe divorce in 1961; Monroe dies in August 1962.

Thirty years later, the plans are dusted off and enlarged. Marilyn’s dream home finally emerges as a $35-million golf clubhouse in Hawaii, complete wtih banqueting rooms, a men’s locker room and a Japanese furo bath with a soaking pool, not to mention seated showers.

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Table of Contents

Note to the U.S. Edition xvii

Author s Note xxi

Adolf Hitler + John Scott-Ellis 1

John Scott-Ellis + Rudyard Kipling 4

Rudyard Kipling + Mark Twain 7

Mark Twain + Helen Keller 11

Helen Keller + Martha Graham 14

Martha Graham + Madonna 17

Madonna + Michael Jackson 20

Michael Jackson + Nancy Reagan 23

Nancy Reagan + Andy Warhol 26

Andy Warhol + Jackie Kennedy 29

Jackie Kennedy + HM Queen Elizabeth II 32

HM Queen Elizabeth II + The Duke of Windsor 35

The Duke of Windsor + Elizabeth Taylor 38

Elizabeth Taylor + James Dean 41

James Dean + Alec Guinness 44

Alec Guinness + Evelyn Waugh 47

Evelyn Waugh + Igor Stravinsky 51

Igor Stravinsky + Walt Disney 54

Walt Disney + P.L. Travers 57

P.L. Travers + George Ivanovich Gurdjieff 61

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff + Frank Lloyd Wright 64

Frank Lloyd Wright + Marilyn Monroe 67

Marilyn Monroe + Nikita Khrushchev 70

Nikita Khrushchev + George Brown 74

George Brown + Eli Wallach 78

Eh Wallach +Frank Sinatra 82

Frank Sinatra + Dominick Dunne 85

Dominick Dunne + Phil Spector 88

Phil Spector + Leonard Cohen 91

Leonard Cohen + Janis Joplin 94

Janis Joplin + Patti Smith 97

Patti Smith + Allen Ginsberg 100

Allen Ginsberg + Francis Bacon 103

Francis Bacon + HRH Princess Margaret 106

HRH Princess Margaret + Kenneth Tynan 109

Kenneth Tynan + Truman Capote 112

Truman Capote + Peggy Lee 115

Peggy Lee + President Richard M. Nixon 119

President Richard M. Nixon + Elvis Presley 123

Elvis Presley + Paul McCartney 127

Paul McCartney + Noël Coward 130

Noël Coward + Prince Felix Youssoupoff 133

Prince Felix Youssoupoff + Grigori Rasputin 136

Grigori Rasputin + Tsar Nicholas II 139

Tsar Nicholas II + Harry Houdini 142

Harry Houdini + President Theodore Roosevelt 145

President Theodore Roosevelt + H.G. Wells 149

H.G. Wells + Josef Stalin 152

Josef Stalin + Maxim Gorky 155

Maxim Gorky + Leo Tolstoy 158

Leo Tolstoy + Pyotr Il'ich Tchaikovsky 161

Pyotr Il'ich Tchaikovsky + Sergei Rachmaninoff 164

Sergei Rachmaninoff + Harpo Marx 167

Harpo Marx + George Bernard Shaw 170

George Bernard Shaw + Bertrand Russell 174

Bertrand Russell + Sarah Miles 177

Sarah Miles + Terence Stamp 181

Terence Stamp + Edward Heath 184

Edward Heath + Walter Sickert 188

Walter Sickert + Winston Churchill 192

Winston Churchill + Laurence Olivier 195

Laurence Olivier + J.D. Salinger 198

J.D. Salinger + Ernest Hemingway 202

Ernest Hemingway + Ford Madox Ford 206

Ford Madox Ford + Oscar Wilde 209

Oscar Wilde + Marcel Proust 212

Marcel Proust + James Joyce 215

James Joyce + Harold Nicolson 219

Harold Nicolson + Cecil Beaton 222

Cecil Beaton + Mick Jagger 225

Mick Jagger + Tom Driberg 228

Tom Driberg + Christopher Hitchens 232

Christopher Hitchens + George Galloway 236

George Galloway + Michael Barrymore 240

Michael Barrymore + Diana, Princess of Wales 244

Diana, Princess of Wales + Princess Grace 247

Princess Grace + Alfred Hitchcock 250

Alfred Hitchcock + Raymond Chandler 253

Raymond Chandler + Howard Hawks 256

Howard Hawks + Howard Hughes 259

Howard Hughes + Cubby Broccoli 262

Cubby Broccoli + George Lazenby 266

George Lazenby + Simon Dee 269

Simon Dee + Michael Ramsey 272

Michael Ramsey + Geoffrey Fisher 276

Geoffrey Fisher + Roald Dahl 279

Roald Dahl + Kingsley Amis 282

Kingsley Amis + Anthony Armstrong-Jones 285

Lord Snowdon + Barry Humphries 288

Barry Humphries + Salvador Dalí 291

Salvador Dalí + Sigmund Freud 294

Sigmund Freud + Gustav Mahler 297

Gustav Mahler + Auguste Rodin 301

Auguste Rodin + Isadora Duncan 304

Isadora Duncan + Jean Cocteau 307

Jean Cocteau + Charlie Chaplin 311

Charlie Chaplin + Groucho Marx 314

Groucho Marx + T.S. Eliot 317

T.S. Eliot + Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother 321

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother + The Duchess of Windsor 325

The Duchess of Windsor + Adolf Hitler 329

Acknowledgements 333

Bibliography 335

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 11 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 14, 2012

    good book, a bit dry

    I liked this book. I would recommend it. I think the idea is pretty clever -stringing the people together like this, however, it is a "dry" read- a bit hard to get through and at times I found myself going over a page because my mind would wander and here, it was something laugh out loud funny - just the way it's written, it is in English but I do find sometimes when I am reading a book from a British author, I have trouble with it and I do not know why that is. It's something I've noticed. Also the people I was very familiar with, of course, I liked those stories much better than those I was not as familiar with. I would borrow this one from a library rather than running out and buying it.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    easy read, interesting how one persons life interacts with anoth

    easy read, interesting how one persons life interacts with another.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2012

    Would recommend waiting until it came out in paperback.

    Most of the stories were entertaining, however I thought a lot of them were boring.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    An easy read,interesting and light

    This is a book filled with almost trivia facts of encounters within interesting or famous people.it is a book to pick up when you want to distract yourself and read something of some interest.It is well written and has an interesting devotion by the author for research on issues one wouldn't come across otherwise.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2012


    Is leaning against the door nak.ed and waiting.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 25, 2014

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    Posted March 16, 2013

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    Posted October 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted December 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted October 9, 2012

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    Posted September 22, 2012

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