Several years ago, I came across a book that blew me away when I read it. The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun by Robert Greenfield relates astounding details about music industry titan Ahmet, the founder of Atlantic Records, who was married to Mica for 45 years before he died at the age of 83 in 2006.
Ahmet and Mica Ertegun at Regine’s in New York City. Photo: Courtesy of Vanity Fair, May 2017
The lifestyle of Ahmet and Mica is also described in an article written by James Reginato that’s titled Under Mica’s Spell. It appeared in Vanity Fair, May 2017. The following are interesting excerpts from this piece.
BOTH CAME FROM WEALTHY BACKGROUNDS
Mica, who is now 90 years old, and doing great, recalls that her childhood was “very luxurious.” She was an only child who, during World War II, was sent from Bucharest to her family’s country house to escape bombing raids. In 1942, when she was 16, she married the son of another land-owning family, who was 15 years her senior.
In 1948 they fled Romania’s Communist government and settled in Canada where they purchased a farm. Mica looks back fondly on the 10 years she spent there, rising every morning at five to collect eggs, but dressing at night for candelabra-lit dinners. “It was tough, but it was the best time of my life. When you are young, anything can be great.
Her life changed in 1958 when she was 32 and met Ahmet, the son of Mehmet, the dean of the diplomatic corps. Ahmet was raised in the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC. When he met Mica, he had just resumed his bachelorhood after a two-year marriage to a Swedish-American actress who was said to resemble Greta Garbo. According to Greenfield, his biographer, he said, “Mica had a greater elegance and aristocracy than any of the girls I knew. She was much more of a lady.”
Mica Ertegun and designer Bill Blass. Photo: Courtesy of Vanity Fair, May 2017
MARRIAGE AND AN EXCEPTIONAL LIFE
Mica says of Ahmet, “He was a man like nobody else. He fascinated me.” On April 6, 1961, she married him in a small ceremony in a Manhattan apartment. While Ahmet immersed himself in the record business, Mica set about decorating the five-story town house they had bought on East 81st Street. Then, in 1967, she and her best friend, Chessy Rayner, founded a decorating firm, which they named with their initials, MAC II. (They liked the ring of it because “it sounded like a trucking firm,” Mica explains.)
Chessy Rayner and Mica Ertegun working on a MAC II project. Photo: Courtesy of Vanity Fair, May 2017
Ahmet reached the apex of the music industry and Mica drew international society to their lunches, dinners and parties. “It was all very heady and glamorous,” says Bette Midler. “I came from Hawaii, I had no background and this was so rarified. I remember being incredibly impressed by the experience – the house was so beautiful, the food was so exquisite, the service impeccable.” Jann Wenner, another frequent guest, says, “Mica was surely one of the most sophisticated people I’ve ever met. She didn’t care if you were Eric Clapton or Henry Kissinger – she welcomed everybody and brought these worlds together.”
To sum up, Henry Kissinger says, “She’s a classy lady.” Kid Rock, the American singer, producer and actor, expresses his sentiments differently. He says, “She’s one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever been privileged to know.”
MOLLY’S GAME: A MOVIE TO SEE
On the wickedly winter night of Thursday, January 4th we set off for the 7:00 pm showing of Molly’s Game at the Kips Bay theatre. Since this was the day of the “Bomb Cyclone” in New York we weren’t surprised to see a relatively sparse audience: their loss, our gain. The movie was fantastic. It’s a gripping story based on Bloom’s 2014 memoir. The brilliant script by veteran screenwriter (and now director) Aaron Sorkin and superb acting by Jessica Chastain (strong-willed in Zero Dark Thirty) makes for an action-packed flick you won’t want to miss. Next step? I plan to get her book, which is titled, Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, my High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker – the true story of a poker princess who gambled everything, won big, then lost it all. Sounds like a great read to me.
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I’ve never been able to pull it off BUT I’ve always wanted to go to Australia – everything I’ve heard about it fascinates me. That said I often watch those “survival” TV shows where a person takes a wrong turn in a desert, forest, mountain or the outback and is lost for days on end. Then an “outdoor survivalist” comes on and says, “If only they had done thus-and-so – they would have had food and water.”
Over the years, the airline industry has experienced many twists and turns – and one of the most remarkable has been the evolution of the stewardess or airline hostess. That said I was stopped in my tracks by an article in Travel & Leisure, April 2020 titled “Taking Wing.” It featured a photo of a flight attendant’s dress from 1965 and was skillfully written by Ann Hood who has delivered a detailed on-the-scene report.
In a city like New York, that has a population of close to nine million, it’s great to know that there’s something for everyone. This gave me the idea to write about fun and/or favorite spots in all five boroughs, namely: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. So, in this blog we’ll cover places I’ve personally enjoyed over the years and spots mentioned in an article that ran in Condé Nast Traveler magazine in April 2020. Here are five slices of the Big Apple:
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