What are you doing today?
Walking the dog in the park before I go out to play bridge.
Tell me about your style.
Everybody says I still dress the way I dressed in high school. I grew up in Cambridge, and Harvard’s influence was very strong. It was seersucker suits, white bucks, all that.
I like your neck scarf.
I had neck surgery two and a half years ago, and it still doesn’t look like my neck to me. Everyone says, “God, you’re chic.” I say, “Kid, I just don’t want to wear a tie.” I really don’t have much of an ego about what I wear. My granddaughter—who is my life, by the way—just asked me if I changed my glasses, and I said, “Oh, did I?”
When did you come to New York?
December 1945. The day I got out of the Army. I was in the OSS, which people in Washington called “Oh So Social.” I thank God for it, because it really made my war. If I’d been stuck in the infantry, I would’ve been shot by my own men.
What did you do for work?
Well, I should’ve quit the goddamned scene in New York and been a writer, but as it was, I worked in advertising, I worked at a magazine called Coronet, I worked at Radio Free Europe, I worked at Bantam Books. Basically, anything that was guaranteed to not make me rich, I accepted. It’s the Irish curse. But I did win a lot of money on television quiz shows. They were all rigged in those days. I had to miss questions to build up suspense. They couldn’t throw me off because I got a lot of fan mail—nuns in Oregon were praying for me.
Any summer plans?
We’ve had sixteen years in Bridgehampton in what was truly one of the best houses, but we sold that because we spend the summer in Italy and the winter in Florida. The past seven years, we’ve been in Lucca, but the villa is too big—30 rooms.
Do you shop in Italy?
Oh, yes. At Brioni.