Ethel Merman, Mother Teresa...and Me: My Improbable Journey from Chateaux in France to the Slums of Calcutta

Ethel Merman, Mother Teresa...and Me: My Improbable Journey from Chateaux in France to the Slums of Calcutta

by Tony Cointreau


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935212348
Publisher: Easton Studio Press, LLC
Publication date: 02/15/2014
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tony Cointreau is an heir of the French liqueur family. His voice took him to the stage, and his heart took him to Calcutta. After a successful international singing career and several years on the Cointreau board of directors, he felt a need for something more meaningful in his life.

Tony’s childhood experiences with an emotionally remote mother, an angry bullying brother, a cold and unprotective Swiss nurse, and a sexually predatory schoolteacher left him convinced that the only way to be loved is to be perfect. This led him on a lifelong quest for unconditional love and for a mother figure.

His first “other mother” was the internationally acclaimed beauty Lee Lehman. Then the iconic Broadway diva Ethel Merman became his mentor and second “other mother.” His memoir describes his close family relationships with both women, as well as his years of work and friendship with Mother Teresa, his last “other mother.”

Tony believes that he had no special gifts or talents to bring to Mother Teresa’s work and that if he could do it, then anyone could do it. All that really matters is a willingness to share even a small part of oneself with others.

Table of Contents

Part I The First Mothers


Dotie and Jacques 1

The War 6

Hello, Little Baby 12

Escape 14

"Mother Only Loves You When You're Perfect" 18

Mémé 22

Maman Genevieve 28

Family Battles 41

My Annus Horribilis: Winter 1949-Summer 1950 48

Tata 63

Panic Attacks 65

My First "Other Mother" 68

Boarding School 78

Being Different 101

Arthur 105

The Gossip Columns 112

My Second "Other Mother" 115

The Runaway Heiress 125

Another Nervous Breakdown 130

Summer Stock 134

Ethel, Judy, Mr. Sinatra-and Jim 137

A Tragic Mistake 145

My Beautiful Friend 151

"They Found My Navel" 154

The Unimaginable 159

"And Who Are Tow?" 162

Hooray for Hollywood 165

Lavender Tulips 175

"Le Tout Paris" 183

The Family Pact 190

The Best of Friends 196

Part II The Last Mother

Calcutta 201

Gift of Love 214

Tony the Volunteer 218

"My Kids" 226

The Man in Black 233

Not My Fault 237

Meeting Mother Teresa: My Third "Other Mother" 240

Choices 246

"A Light That Leads Home" 251

Back to Calcutta 253

Mother Teresa's Last Easter 265

Agnes Bojaxhiu 277

Between Two Worlds 279

Goodbye, My Beautiful Friend 281

"That Was Your First Mistake" 284

Our Wedding 286

Epilogue 289

A Tribute to "My Kids" 291

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Ethel Merman, Mother Teresa...and Me: My Improbable Journey from Chateaux in France to the Slums of Calcutta 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Chrissy_W More than 1 year ago
thought-provoking and lovely Did I enjoy this book: I seem to be making a habit of reading memoirs written by famous people I’ve never heard of, but I liked it just the same.  Cointreau’s book is thought-provoking and lovely:  he writes about his dark moments with poise, his bright moments with humility, and his in-between moments with a charming respect for the world around him.  Cointreau may not have motivated me to head to Calcutta or volunteer for hospice care, but he’s certainly motivated me to snuggle my son a bit more tightly. Would I recommend it: Sure! As reviewed by Melissa at Every Free Chance Book Reviews.  (I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Adversity can produce many forms of dysfunction but also many forms of sensitivity and compassion that become a gift to those who are hungry for same.  It so often arises out of one’s own hunger for connection.  Tony (Jacques) Cointreau’s childhood was far from pretty, with a case of brutal abuse and really tough, nasty relatives who seemed to delight in inflicting discomfort if not actual pain on Tony.  Next to that were his parents who raised Tony on the “Real men don’t cry,” belief and showed zilch affection. Yes, they were the wealthy family famous for building the famous liquor business but that seemed to be the only bright side of this family who alternated living in the United States, Paris and Europe.  What a troupe! This memoir charts the psychological nightmares, panic attacks, and other illnesses arising from this inhuman childhood, but Tony Cointreau seems to have been made of tougher stuff and the right people were always there to later bring him through each crisis.  This, the mid-1900s and later, was a time when therapy was not deemed a normal, helpful exercise.   Tony, however, was gifted with surrogate mothers in the form of Lee Lehman, wife of the financier Lehman; Ethel Merman, a singer of momentous talent but also with a heart of gold; and Mother Teresa who truly saw God in every human being (despite what some biographies have said in denial).  This isn’t name dropping; Tony had a deeply meaningful relationship with these women and also had the support and friendship of numerous other famous people like Pierre Cardin and more. You truly get to know the surrogate “mothers” and this is a delightful, poignant aspect of this memoir that makes it very special. Tony’s lover is a relatively silent but dominantly supporting character throughout this account. For Tony became a renowned singer in the USA and Paris, later took over the family business for a brief period and finally was drawn to Mother Teresa’s work in caring for the dying poor. Outlining the above is not a spoiler at all; to read this memoir is a rich, inspiring experience, with a little something for everyone within its memorable pages.  Very nicely done!