Name: Zelda Kaplan
Neighborhood: Columbus Circle
Occupation: “Citizen of the World.” I spent half my life relaxing and the other half crusading — I was a successful ballroom dancer and women’s golf pro in Miami Beach in my 20s, a doctor’s wife in New York in my 30s — and in my 60s and 70s I spent my time largely in Africa and Southeast Asia campaigning directly with local tribal government leaders for women’s and children’s rights. [Ed: She’s also a highly recognizable New York City nightlife fixture.]
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
The pan-seared branzino at Orsay.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I read books and newspapers. Many people turn a certain age and “check out,” but that is not me. In my 90s, I am not able to travel as much, so I must read everything I can at home to remain aware of global change, which provides me great knowledge to empower people through daily conversations, and through my charitable efforts.
What was your first job in New York?
Selling advertising over the phone.
What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
I don’t go to Broadway these days, but I used to love anything Helen Hayes was in, and the husband-and-wife team of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne was wonderful.
Do you give money to panhandlers?
Almost never. Sometimes you look in their face and you know it might not go to the right place, but you have to give.
What’s your drink?
How often do you prepare your own meals?
What’s your favorite medication?
I don’t use medication, but Mia Morgan bought me a bottle of vitamins last year — I just realized I forgot to take them!
What’s hanging above your sofa?
African carvings that I collected in situ from New Guinea, West Africa, and South Africa. Some of my joys of traveling off the beaten path.
How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
Anything over $30.
Anytime between midnight and 7 a.m.
Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
I haven’t seen the new Times Square.
What do you think of Donald Trump?
I’ve never met Donald Trump, but I would like to. When I heard he had a low handicap, I thought maybe we could play a round of golf.
What do you hate most about living in New York?
Who is your mortal enemy?
When’s the last time you drove a car?
I gave up driving when I arrived in New York City in 1950.
How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
To my knowledge, it has not affected me. No one I know talks
about money with me.
Times, Post, or Daily News?
The New York Times.
Where do you go to be alone?
What makes someone a New Yorker?
Someone who really enjoys the energy of this city — and someone who looks forward to coming home!