|Intl. Notebook||Apr 13 2010|
Confidential tries a new look on the outside, sticks with the tried and true inside.
Here’s an unusual black Confidential from April 1958, which offers a mere trio of cover teasers. But the streamlined look outside doesn’t change the interior formula, which means you get the usual selection of dubious journalism, including a piece on black voter turnout designed to get white people seriously worried, and a story on CIO president Walter Reuther that emphasizes the possibility that he was shot by communists. But the most interesting story—to us, at least—concerns oilman/billionaire J. Paul Getty and gossip columnist/society hostess Elsa Maxwell, because the two well-known figures present an instructive lesson in contrasts.
Getty came from a wealthy family; Maxwell’s humble background made her an intruder in high society. Getty was as vicious as a mongoose, but his wealth prevented what would have been a well-deserved fall from grace; Maxwell used pure charm and intelligence to rise to a position as the most celebrated society hostess in the world. The worst Maxwell probably ever did was dish on society types in her gossip column; Getty once allowed kidnappers to cut off his grandson’s ear rather than part with a ransom, and once extended to Alfried Krupp von Bohlen—a German munitions baron who had given lavishly to the Nazi Party, used Jewish slaves in his industries during WWII, and allowed his factory yards to be used for executing POWs—an invitation to his house warming party. Advantage, Maxwell. One other thing in her favor—she’s the person the phrase “the hostess with the mostest” was popularized about. We’d take that as a legacy any day.