Book Review: ELSA MAXWELL – Gilded Gatekeeper – Pianist, gossip columnist, TV star, and above all a giver of great parties, Elsa Maxwell was famous for being herself.

Maxwell and host Garry Moore enjoy stuffed pheasant under glass, whereas the panel have been served food appropriated from each other’s refrigerators.

ELSA MAXWELL – Gilded Gatekeeper – Pianist, gossip columnist, TV star, and above all a giver of great parties, Elsa Maxwell was famous for being herself.

Elsa Maxwell, Tyrone Power and the Duke of Windsor at a 1948 party at Maxwell’s house on the French Riviera.

Review of Inventing Elsa Maxwell by Sam Staggs – St. Martin’s, 340 pages, $29.99

By ETHAN MORDDEN from the Wall Street Journal

Mention a celebrity, and she would reply, “My most intimate friend!” If it was anyone below the level of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she would add, “I discovered him, you know!” Occasionally, for the spice of variation, she would draw the line at, say, Vladimir Horowitz: “I’ve turned on pianists!”

Elsa Maxwell sails for Europe…  The party giver made dozens of crossing on great liners as the France, Normandie, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, America and United States. 

EElsa Maxwell knew everyone, specializing in royalty and achievers—Cole Porter, Duff and Diana Cooper, Elsie de Wolfe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Gary Cooper, Mussolini, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Maria Callas. Elsa (1881-1963) was everywhere, from Venice to Hollywood. And she did everything: She played the piano, published (“Elsa Maxwell’s Etiquette Book”), took on public relations assignments, ran a gossip column for the Hearst press, appeared in films, introduced wealthy unknowns to society, served as a television talk-show guest and was Seen in the right Places.



About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…

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