So far this month in coverage of the Astor-family-will trial, we’ve learned that Brooke Astor used to tell people that Bill Clinton hit on her, and forgot who her good friend Matthew Broderick was, in public. And now that we’ve heard testimony from the Carnegie Corporation president, we have three new, even-more-awesome social faux pas in which to delight:
• Astor once forgot which Douglas (father Kirk or son Michael) was at her own dinner table. After figuring Kirk was “not that young,” she deduced that it was Michael.
• At that same party, Astor not only didn’t recognize Douglas’s wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, but she also went out of her way to burn her. “Who is this woman?” she asked when the Oscar winner passed. Upon being informed, she sniped loudly and within earshot: “Well, she’s wearing the wrong dress for this occasion.”
• Best of all, though, was on that same night when she got stuck in a conversation with the guest of honor, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Prince Charles’s famous lover (this was before they were married). Noting that Parker-Bowles’s great-grandmother also conducted a famous affair with Edward VII, she cracked: “Two generations providing mistresses! … You’re keeping this mistress business in the family!”
Trial lawyers used this as evidence that Astor was losing her marbles. But from where we’re sitting, her wit appears to have been sharper than ever.