Cindy Adams credits her late husband, columnist and funnyman Joey Adams, with her success as a writer: "My career came because I married Joey," Adams told New York magazine. Adams felt she "wasn't meant to be a housewife," so she wrote for local papers, helping out her husband's cohorts at the Long Island Press from time to time with contacts. It seemed that wherever she went with her husband, she was able to form bonds with the people she met. This ability led to a biography of Indonesia's President Sukarno in 1965; ten years later, she wrote a biography of Jolie Gabor, mother of the famous Gabor sisters. (Both books are now out of print.) When Adams wrote about visiting the ailing shah of Iran for the New York Post in 1979, it was only a matter of time before they offered her a job.
Today, Adams is one of the Post's longest-running gossip columnists. Her catchphrase -- "Only in New York, kids, only in New York" -- gives an idea of her nudge-nudge, wink-wink style. Her rapid, ticker-tape prose is low on pronouns and articles, and her soft-pedal items tend to be about as sensational as Liz Smith's, which is to say, not very. But she has a bit more moxie than Smith, and her freewheeling column isn't afraid to be snarky or self-referential.
This same spirit infused The Gift of Jazzy. After relatively obscure biographies of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy and Lee Strasberg. Jazzy was the autobiographical account of how a little Yorkie helped Adams cope with Joey's death in 1999. A gift from television producer and friend Michael Viner, Jazzy "weighed two pounds, two ounces and was the size of a rat's ass," Adams recalls. The book is filled with cameos from the likes of Joan Rivers, Hillary Clinton, and Imelda Marcos and studded with minor but not uninteresting tidbits from showbiz (including a tiff with notorious diva Raquel Welch). She notes that many strong women are similarly attached to little, little doggies, including Liz Taylor: "Married so often, she has rice marks on her face," La Liz's only "constant love" was her Maltese, Sugar.
With The Gift of Jazzy, and the heartwarming follow-up featuring Jazzy's successor, Juicy -- Living a Dog's Life: Jazzy, Juicy, and Me -- Adams has had the best venue yet for displaying her sense of humor and her view of a rarefied world -- one where she and her beloved canine companion are sitting right on top.
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"I lie about how much I make, I lie about what I weigh, I lie about my sex life and I lie about my age," she said in the New York Times in 2003. "That's all I lie about. I hate liars." She admitted to being "60-something" in USA Today around the same time.
Adams is a founding personality of TV's A Current Affair and has also been an on-air commentator and reporter for TV and radio, including Good Morning America and ABC's Eyewitness News in New York.
She released her own perfume brand in 1977: Gossip by Cindy Adams. She and Jazzy also had a boutique at Macy's, called (natch) Jazzy's of Park Avenue.
Adams's first job was as a model.
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In the winter of 2003, Cindy Adams answered some of our questions.
What was the book that most influenced your life ?
The Bible -- because it has given meaning and comfort to the majority of mankind for the last 2,000 years, and I am just one small thread in that immense tapestry. And because the chapter on John begins: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
What are some of your favorite books, and what makes them special to you?The Bible -- For reasons already stated.
Clash of the Titans by Richard Hack -- A fascinating dual biography of media titans Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner -- a penetrating look at how the news we see every day is controlled and disseminated.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand -- A classic work that remains as meaningful today as it was when it was published 50 years ago.
Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy -- Whose message of hope and healing has been transforming lives for more than 100 years, including mine. I learned so much from this book.
Act One by Moss Hart -- Because it was the definitive book on coming of age in the theater.
Every Night, Josephine! by Jacqueline Susann -- Because it is a love story about the adventures of a pampered little New York dog.
Leadership by Rudy Giuliani -- Because it captures the spirit of New York at its best.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- Because it remains the greatest story of the American Dream ever told and the best portrait of an era ever painted.
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck -- Because it captures the spirit of traveling throughout our country (and again features a beloved dog).
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold -- Because I am just now loving it.
What about some of your favorite films?
Chicago, Chicago, and Chicago.
Anything but rap.
Who are your favorite writers, and what makes their writing special?Frank Rich, William Safire, Evans & Novak, Peggy Noonan, and anyone else who writes under a tight deadline and does consistently excellent work on an almost-daily basis.
Alice Sebold is the most important writer to emerge in the new century.
Stephen Hawking, because he is one-of-a-kind.
Mark Twain, because he was a father of great American humor while at the same time speaking out on important issues.
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