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Elsa Maxwell

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Start of film
Introducing Elsa Maxwell
Philip Morris commercial
A nightmare party
Elvis Presley
Nikita Kruschev
Jane Mansfield
Thoughts on drinking
Thoughts on 'society'
Why does Elsa write about 'society'
Cleveland Amory's quote about 'society'
Mixing societies
Her book RSVP about 'society'
Immorality in 'society'
More immorality in America
Divorce is ruining America
Extramarital affairs
Elsa's opinion of fidelity in marriage
Her book How To Do It
Why Elsa never married
Her popularity in the world
Elsa and her feud with the Duchess of Windsor
Historian Cleveland Amory's quote on Elsa Maxwell
Elsa's thoughts on Greta Garbo
Elsa's thoughts on Arthur Godfrey
Mike Wallace closing monologue
Philip Morris commercial
Next week: Eleanor Roosevelt
Philip Morris commercial
Closing credits
Digitization credits
Dock windowTranscript
Guest: Elsa Maxwell
Saturday, November 16,  1957
WALLACE:  Good evening.  Tonight our guest is Elsa Maxwell, the Queen of International Party Making, a keen observer of the very rich and the very beautiful at work and at play.   Miss Maxwell, you recently drew up a list for what you called "A Nightmare Party".  The guests include Elvis Presley, Jayne Mansfield and Nikita Kruschev.   In a moment, I'd like you to tell me what would be so nightmarish about that.   What you're about to see is unrehearsed, uncensored.  My name is Mike Wallace, the cigarette is Philip Morris.
WALLACE:  And now to our story.....  Elsa Maxwell has been disturbing the peace ever since the day that she was born almost seventy-five years ago in a theatre box during the performance of an opera in Keokuk, Iowa.   As a poor girl, she lived by her wits and she invested them in journalism, song writing, acting and above all in carving a niche for herself in international society as a party maker.
WALLACE:  Elsa, first question,you're recognized as the "Queen of International Party Making" - party giving, you have dined with the great and the near great  but just recently in your book How To Do It which I have here in front of me, you drew up a list of what you call a "Nightmare Party" --  the guests include Elvis Presley, Jayne Mansfield and Nikita Kruschev and I'd like to know why you think -- seriously now -- why you think that would be nightmarish?
 MAXWELL:  Well to me, they are three of the most horrible people in the world that I could imagine and because of that they're horrible on the eyes, their horrible atmosphere these three  -- but -- well, Dave Beck was in that too you know.....
 WALLACE:  Yes he was and several others -- I've chosen these three particularly.  Now, here are people of accomplishment, you may admire or not admire their accomplishment  but they certainly are accomplished people.  They would have interesting chatter I would imagine to make..... 
 MAXWELL:  You mean Mr. Kruschev would?
 WALLACE:  Well I don't know what Mr. Kruschev would say to Miss Mansfield or vice versa but a nightmare party -- seriously. 
 MAXWELL:  That's my idea of a horrible party, that's all -- what I really meant -- just a horrible party. To be hostess to those three alone would be something that would give me a nightmare.
 WALLACE:  I would think that the talk might be fascinating, after all what is
a party but good talk?
 MAXWELL:  I would know what they'd say before they spoke.
 WALLACE:  Like for instance?
 MAXWELL:  Well, for instance, Elvis Presley would never speak, he'd just move his pelvis around, that's all and I'm not interested in pelvises or their movements  and I'm tired of this young utterly unattractive man without any talent whatever, with a face horrible with that lank hair that falls down that drives young women all over the country in some  -- some sort of a..... ecstasy which is....
WALLACE:  Well now wait.  You say he has no talent and yet I think that you'll agree that he has been taken into the bosom of America in a certain sense and has been..... very, very well paid for it, apparently.
 MAXWELL:  Well do you think that means  talent ' to be taken to the bosom of America?
 WALLACE:  It may or it may not.....
 MAXWELL:  Nooooo...... for the moment only cause we're a rather sometime hysterical in our younger -- younger sets.  You see --  anything for a sensation -- anything for a quick movement -- a quick sensation -- this man is not even allowed to be shown above the waist....
WALLACE:  Well they said the same thing.....
MAXWELL:  I heard Ed Sullivan say on his own show, this is a fine American boy.  He patted him on the back only there so there you are, even he couldn't say more than that.
WALLACE:  They said the same thing, I think you'll agree, a few years back about Frank Sinatra, that he'd be a fad and all of the people who -- who oohed and aahed.......
MAXWELL:  Nooooo..... but Frankie had talent. He had a lovely voice, he had a sense of music and he was doomed -- doomed to success he had to be-- he was as different as anything in the world.....
WALLACE:  Uhmmmm....
MAXWELL:  .....there's no comparison.
WALLACE:  And you .......went on at some length about Miss Mansfield the other night on the Jack Parr Television Show so I think that we know your opinion about her.  Do you think.......
MAXWELL:  Well..... (LAUGHS)
WALLACE:  Who do you think she would talk to? Would she talk to Elvis or would she talk to Nikita? 
MAXWELL:  Well I don't think she'd know how to talk either of them.  She might dance with Pelvis, maybe, I don't think so.  I think she's a just a wash out myself.
WALLACE:  And tell me truthfully, if you could have an interpreter between you,wouldn't you like to talk to Kruschev?
MAXWELL:  No, because whatever he would say would not be true, whatever he would say would not be honest, he's the best, the greatest comedian in the world this man is,  comic sense and a horrible sense and a very dangerous man, because of that, he's a great drinker.  All great drinkers are dangerous.  He's a drunk...
WALLACE:  All great drinkers are dangerous?
MAXWELL:  Very..... most of them.
WALLACE:  Why -- why are all great.....
MAXWELL:  Because they say and do things under provocation of liquor that they wouldn't' do ordinarily.... drink as much vodka as that must necessarily more or less become dangerous.
WALLACE:  Your friends -- do you have any great drinkers -- I'm not asking for names, Elsa --do you have any great drinkers among your friends and audience.
MAXWELL:  Not-- not that I see because I don't drink myself, maybe that's why I don't know.
WALLACE:  Well why don't you drink, Elsa?
MAXWELL:  I'm always drunk anyway.
WALLACE:  You mean you're drunk with happiness of living.
MAXWELL:  I'm so full of -- what would you call it, pep is a silly word.
WALLACE:  joie de vivre?
MAXWELL:  I'm sitting here now -- if I wanted to put my energies, I could blow you out of this studio Mike.......
WALLACE:  I shouldn't be the least bit surprised.
MAXWELL:  I could..... I could and I think that's a God given gift.  It's something that's born in me.  I don't know what it is... atomic quality. 
WALLACE:  Elsa, you have made your reputation, you have chosen to live and work
in so called society.....
MAXWELL:  Oh, so little of that, do you suppose all the work I do has to do anything with society?
WALLACE:  Well now wait..... now wait, perhaps not today.......
MAXWELL:  No......
WALLACE: .....but over the years, yes Elsa......
MAXWELL:  Well because you must change your.....atmosphere, you must contrast your life.  Look at all the  little song writers in the world.
MAXWELL:  They write songs, they write songs that are sung by everyone.  Who sees songwriters?  No one, look at all the beautiful artists in the world,  they sculpt-- they paint -- they're magnificent artists and... perfect stage.... who sees them, no one.
WALLACE:  Well I don't know whether this.....
MAXWELL:  I do but very few people do.
WALLACE:  Well I see what you mean.   The fact of the matter is, the people that you write about in your column, the people with whom you spend most of your time socially, I gather from your column,  are people who live in so called society and what I'm after is, why have you..... 
MAXWELL:  Would you call Mr. Felix Gaillard, the new Premier of France in society?
MAXWELL:  I write about him all the time.
WALLACE:  Well I know, but now for instance.....
MAXWELL:  Of course Madame Callas who is the greatest interpretative artist of the that lives, she's certainly not in society, I write about all those people all the time.
WALLACE:  You do write about those people?
MAXWELL:  Somerset Maugham, he's not in society.
WALLACE:  I agree that you do - you do write about those people too...  but I think that you'll agree that you made your first reputation so to speak as being the Chronicler of the doings of high society so called, and I would like to know why you chose  to live and work in so called society in view of some of the shocking things that we hear about it, for instance, Society Historian, Cleveland Amory has written about society.
WALLACE:  He said, "It is a world of feuds and gossip columns and separate bedrooms, relations between the sexes are so complicated that the only way you can tell if members of the set are going together  is if they're married and then almost surely they are not."  Would you think -- would you say that's an accurate...
MAXWELL:  Not entirely but I wouldn't think he would know.
WALLACE:  You wouldn't think Cleveland Amory would know?
WALLACE:  Well he's a reputable author, a respected person..... 
MAXWELL:  Yes, but what does he know about what you call high society?
WALLACE:  Well now he wrote a book called "The Last Resort"......
MAXWELL:  I know, but what did he know? 
WALLACE:  Which I gather.......
MAXWELL:  He's a very nice and very handsome young man.....
MAXWELL:  .....but I never met him till the other night a few months ago and I -- I........
WALLACE:  You mean and because you met him......
MAXWELL:  I meet everybody.
WALLACE:  You meet everybody......
MAXWELL:  Everybody.
WALLACE:  ....and unless you have met somebody, he has not arrived......
MAXWELL:  Not yet.  (LAUGHS)
WALLACE:  But -- but why are you apparently so proud to be a part of what we know as society if you go along with what Mr. Amory says and I gather that you do.
MAXWELL:  Not entirely but uh in some ways, yes but this is what -- I said that a long time --do you remember at our last interview?
WALLACE:  That is correct.
MAXWELL:  .....but I don't go -- I don't go out a great deal in society but when I give a dinner or a great supper or something of that sort, I invite beautiful people,  they're more beautiful than the other ones. Eggheads are not good looking, the women who are intellectual are not so handsome........ are not so beautiful.   I must have beautiful women and handsome men.   If you have a gathering that is gracious and lovely, they're flowers, they're decorations they're living decorations.  I'm a perfectionist, that's why I ask them.
WALLACE:  Do you ask no eggheads to your parties?
MAXWELL:  Oh, other parties, oh yes, that's different.
WALLACE:  But you can't miss mix society?
MAXWELL:  Not at all not at all.
WALLACE:  Eggheads are not good looking -- you find -- you think a man like Adlai Stevenson is unattractive? 
MAXWELL:  No, he's not terribly attractive though, he's not very handsome, he's nice -- I like him very much but he's not what you'd call a handsome man.
WALLACE:  Elsa, what I'm driving at is this, and you and I talked about this on the air once before and you said some fairly emancipated things about your life and times in society  and the people with whom you had spent a good deal of time over your life.....
MAXWELL:  But listen Mike, you're mistaken, a person that writes as much as I do, that works as hard as I do and I write music, I'm a musician, I go to operas, I go to Philharmonics, I go to orchestral things,  I see artists of all kinds; I can't spend as much time in society as I'm supposed to do.   It's what you read in the paper where I must have it in my paper, to mix it with the ether things I write about.
WALLACE:  Elsa, you wrote a book called "RSVP", correct?......
MAXWELL:  Yes, yes.
WALLACE:  .....In that book, you said that you would rather not think that most of your friends are immoral people.   You said you hated to think that they are but you said if you withdrew from your immoral friends, you would have very few friends left.  That's a pretty accurate quote, Elsa......
MAXWELL:  Friends in a certain set.......
WALLACE:  In a certain set, the set that I'm talking about.....
MAXWELL:  Yes, well..immoral... say amoral -- kind of.
WALLACE:  All right. Why does the......
MAXWELL:  Why must we go back to the old book, we're talking about a new book.
WALLACE:  We're going to talk about this new book, but I'll -- you made to me what was -- what was a very interesting comment and I would like to go a little more deeply into it tonight, if we may.   What I would like to know is, why does this immorality or amorality infest what is called society, cafe or high society.  Is there.......
MAXWELL:  Well......
WALLACE:  .....something corrupting about great wealth and too much leisure and independence ?
MAXWELL:  I think everyone should have something to do, a job but I think people are not so immoral as you probably imagine or even I probably imagine.   There's a different set -- you see, I see all sorts of sets, I see Rome, I see Venice, I see Paris, I see Greece, I see Portugal, I see Lisbon;
MAXWELL:  I see difference, I'm well known and I know well everywhere and all I said was this and I said this again and I'll say this again, I like the home to be respected.   I like the father and the mother to be the father and the mother, other children as they grow up, as they're born, and as they marry and to find that --  I found that in foreign countries much more than I do here, that's all.
WALLACE:  You find more immorality in America..... 
MAXWELL:  No, oh yes not immorality..... shall we say lack of principles of keeping the home together.....
WALLACE:  .....In America than in foreign countries?
MAXWELL:  Oh yes. The home is always together in foreign -- foreigners because they don't divorce.  You see divorce is a...is our dreadful, dreadful... or... the ointment, the fly in the ointment...,
WALLACE:  The fly in the ointment?
MAXWELL:  Divorce is ruining America, ruining it, there's no question.
WALLACE:  Well then.......
MAXWELL:  When you get............the seventh husband who has already been discussed or the eighth husband of a certain famous dime store heiress.   Is that charming, is that good for the children to read?
WALLACE:  No, I'm sure that it's not........
MAXWELL:  That she's going to marry again seven times or eight times with all those people.
MAXWELL:  Now real people are the people that you and I are talking to probably now all through this country.   They can't afford these things, they haven't enough money, they work hard, they're interesting with -- amongst themselves. They're very fine people.   I get eight hundred letters a week, now that's a lot of letters.   Personal letters to me at the Waldorf where I live, not to the studio, more to the studio and in those letters, I find such a rare combination of common sense, good will, curiosity charm. 
WALLACE:  Well, yes...
MAXWELL:  -- I can't tell you...
WALLACE:  Elsa, Elsa, but what your suggesting...
MAXWELL:  You don't find that on 5th Avenue,....or Park Avenue...no ...
WALLACE:  On 5th Avenue... 5th and Park Avenue are two immoral Avenues, as far your...
MAXWELL:  Well, immoral you always say, I don't call it immoral...
WALLACE:  Well -- what -- it is immorality.....
MAXWELL:  Well...
WALLACE:  Now wait just a second Elsa, what you have said then is that we divorce too easily here in the United States.....
MAXWELL:  Much too easily.
WALLACE:  ...And I think that you said the last time that we talked, that you rather condone for instance, keeping a marriage alive if it becomes necessary,  by a man having a mistress, and a wife if necessary having a lover, but staying together, is that true?
MAXWELL:  As it happens in case, I have no idea I don't pry into the affairs of my friends at all.
WALLACE:  No ... I 'm just talking about this..... philosophically....
MAXWELL:  Yes... but I only see that in foreign countries, where the Church predominates, they're Roman Catholics, I must say I'm not one myself at all, where the Church is there,  where there's no divorce, I find that there's an attitude there of of home, the home is there, the the house is there, the family is there.....
WALLACE:  And infidelity goes on, on the side and that's alright as far as your concerned...
MAXWELL:  I don't ask what they do.... I don't know what they do.....
MAXWELL:  I only know that the house is there the home is there, and the family is respected, every day Christmas,the Father and Mother are there.  Every New Years, every Easter, now that's good.
WALLACE:  Let me ask you a  blunt question and I hope that you give me a straight forward answer.   What do you think is the importance of fidelity in marriage... How what do you, Elsa Maxwell, think about that.
MAXWELL:  If I were married, I would loathe and kill the man who would betray me.
WALLACE:  That's not what I asked you.
MAXWELL:  Well I'm saying from my point of view.....
WALLACE:  Yes...
MAXWELL:  ....another point of view I cannot judge.  I don't know.  You can never judge completely the minds of our fellow-men. But I believe so in fidelity myself that I never married.
WALLACE:  That's one of the reasons that you never married...
MAXWELL:  One of the reasons... yes.
WALLACE:  Truly?
MAXWELL:  I give up...
WALLACE:  Because, you don't believe that it's possible for you..
MAXWELL:  What reason would I have otherwise.  I always speak the truth Mike that's my great fault.
WALLACE:  (Laugh)... or your great charm...
WALLACE:  The a-- but I wonder if you are being entirely candid with me tonight as candid as you were the last... time, but that's up to you...
MAXWELL:  Yes... yes...
WALLACE:  You... you... in that same book, ah... How To Do It, in this book, How To Do It, you write of your life as a party giver  -- you say party giving isn't simply of a matter of trotting out the best china, and hoping for the best; it is loving, it is giving, it is sharing.
MAXWELL:  You must always try to give happiness to others.
WALLACE:  Well now that's taking. 
MAXWELL:  In my parties I do.
WALLACE:  That's taking parties pretty seriously.
MAXWELL:  Well, to give joy to people, to make people laugh to make them happy.
WALLACE:  For most women now Elsa, real loving, or giving or sharing means marriage.  Now I'm sure over the years you had numerous opportunities..
MAXWELL:  Now, you mean the first opportunity I've had in Philadelphia.  From an old man in a wheelchair, was wheeled up that was gripped.  Selling my books today, in Wanamaker's (LAUGHS)  ...and an old man in a wheelchair was wheeled up and he said, "Miss Maxwell, you've never been married, if you would marry me I'm ready to marry you now."   Why he had to be carried out of the wheelchair... it actually happened.  It was very funny.
WALLACE:  But over the years why... in addition to the fear of...
MAXWELL:  Because I'll tell you quite honestly, I did not feel fit, to be only married.   I belong to the world I knew it instinctively when I was quite young.   I belong to the world, certainly I am the most shall we say immodestly, and  the best known people in the entire world today.   Why, because I did not marry and I felt that I was not for marriage It wasn't my... thing to do.
MAXWELL:  I felt it that very strongly... you know you have these extra sensory perceptions... you know what I mean, that was mine.   A part from the fact also, that I wouldn't want to ever belong, to anyone so sufficiently that any slight thing, could... because I'm sensitive...  you wouldn't believe that but I am, that would hate me beyond belief, I couldn't bear the thought of belonging to any one thing.  That's true.
WALLACE:  Is it a fear of an inability to give yourself to any one person?
MAXWELL:  To any one person, yes.  I'd give myself to so many.  I'm loved I think by say twenty million people today, quite loved.
WALLACE:  Elsa as...
MAXWELL:  That's a lot of people and I love them.
WALLACE:  I know but to love and be loved by twenty million people... its... its an interesting idea but, at the same time isn't there a lot of loneliness involved in being loved and loving twenty million people?
MAXWELL:  No... no.
WALLACE:  Truly Elsa?
MAXWELL:  No, no honestly not.  I mean I find it very exciting, to have evidence everywhere I go... love,  affection, belief, niceness, sweetness.. its... its a thrilling thing Mike.   And everywhere I go no matter where... on the Streets... in cabs, limousines, everywhere I mean that today and that's quite a thrilling thing.   So it must have been leading up to this in a certain way.  Eventually, I think I shall be an Evangelist.
WALLACE:  An Evangelist?
MAXWELL:  An Evangelist.
WALLACE:  Ah... 
MAXWELL:  An Evangelist.
WALLACE:  Well... I'm... I'm not sure that I quite understand... an Evangelist on whose behalf or for what development...
MAXWELL:  For myself to help others.
WALLACE:  This will be the new Elsa Maxwell cult?
MAXWELL:  It might be you can never tell...
WALLACE:  The latter day Aimee Semple McPherson?
MAXWELL:  No not that... oh not that's fake.  I hate fake you know that.  But I'm getting towards something.... which is... is new to me and I...
WALLACE:  But Elsa... isn't it awfully superficial.  Listen to me.  Let me read to you from King Features columnist, Lesley Gordon, an article back in June 2nd.   He wrote as follows, he said, "Elsa Maxwell devastated her enemies with a spectacular coop... when she showed up at the seasons most elegant Ball with the fabulous Marilyn Monroe as her guest.   The immediate result was a hastily drawn pact of peace between between Elsa and the Duchess of Windsor... who had been feuding with each other.   Now isn't that a fairly childish and petty thing. 
MAXWELL:  But it's perfectly true.
WALLACE:  Indicative of a superficial code of values...
MAXWELL:  No.  No not at all.  You see my serious side isn't involved ever in parties.  But that was true.  I'm now a great friend of the Duchess of Windsor, and she is a dear.
WALLACE:  Well now...
MAXWELL:  Because Marilyn Monroe came to the party.
WALLACE:  That is why the Duchess of Windsor is your friend because...
WALLACE:  Because you were able to bring Marilyn Monroe to the party...
MAXWELL:  No.  I brought Marilyn Monroe to the party because I lunched with her the day before.
WALLACE:  Yes but I mean... why should this be of a...
MAXWELL:  Let me tell you and explain...
WALLACE:  Surely.
MAXWELL:  ....explain what is actually true...
MAXWELL:  If you read the American Weekly the First of December, I tell the whole story and I apologized to the Duchess.  My apology.  You read it.
WALLACE:  Several months ago you told me as follows Elsa, you said about the Duchess of Windsor, "I don't...
MAXWELL:  Nevermind, I'd rather you didn't read that, if you don't mind.
WALLACE:  Well now why?
MAXWELL:  Because we are now friends... and to say what I said, which I've said, would be unkind...
WALLACE:  But you suggested that she was less...
MAXWELL:  I would rather you didn't read it now because we are now friends.
WALLACE:  Then we can't...we can't take very well take seriously if you were said this to me six months ago-- and now you are friends.
MAXWELL:  I said it to you yes in---- March.
WALLACE:  In March.  And now here in November you say...
MAXWELL:  I rather you didn't say it now because I take it back.  I'm nice enough to apologize to her - which I've done.   Now I'll tell you the whole story, I was lunching with Marilyn Monroe and her husband two days before the April in Paris Ball which I regard as my Ball. Because I invented it, its mine.  
MAXWELL:  The Duchess was there with the Duke and another little group not so... so favorable to me, we were sort of rivals in a way, and the Duchess worked for this Ball,  the head of the French Committee, which she is now next April again, head of the French Committee and I saw and heard that she was working for this Ball honestly.   She was selling tickets and doing (unintelligible) very nice if she does it, its my Ball really, so that I let it by.
MAXWELL:  As Mrs. Hearst wanted Marilyn Monroe to come to the party, because she was giving an affair with her afterwards, and Marilyn Monroe said to her it's wonderful to be here  and no one ever notices us, no one pays any attention to us any more, Arthur and I can walk in the Streets no one bothers us,  so I said well then come to my Ball tomorrow, I live (unintelligible) between Two and She came in and pandemonium and it was a bombshell.
WALLACE:  And you made it up with the Duchess...
MAXWELL:  No... not at all.  The papers came out and said, "Elsa beats the Duchess."
WALLACE:  I see.
MAXWELL:  Elsa beats the Duchess.   I could not allow, that I after all, who am just, well nothing but myself, that the wife of the former King of England that that could happen to me... that I could be thought to be part of that. 
WALLACE:  Elsa...
MAXWELL:  I wrote her a letter and I said, "My dear Duchess, this has been said, I wrote... I want you to know that I have nothing to do with this at all I deplore this, I detest it.  From then on we were friends.
WALLACE:  Very good.
MAXWELL:  As a start.
WALLACE:  Elsa, we spoke about this last week with society historian in Cleveland Amory.  And he told us this about you, I'd like you to listen...
WALLACE:  ...and then we'll take a minute out and then I'll come back and get your... ah... reaction, he said, quote.  "I find it impossible to take Miss Maxwell seriously, and I only wish she didn't. Her opinions in relations with people seem to be subject to change for any reason which might be beneficial to her..."
MAXWELL:  You know why...
WALLACE:  Wait a minute...
MAXWELL:  I'll tell you why.
WALLACE:  "The whole thing is a combination of high... high powered publicity and hyped up ego which despite its size wears pretty thin." 
WALLACE:  "Her idea of making a contribution to the world seems to be to have other people make contributions to Elsa Maxwell." end quote.   Now then in a minute we're going to come on back and hear your reaction to that if we may in just sixty seconds.
WALLACE:  Now then Elsa, I won't go all through that quote again, from Cleveland Amory but I would be curious to know your reaction to what he had to say,  and we have just three minutes between now and the end of the program.
MAXWELL:  First of all, what ever he says, no one cares, I least of all.  No one bothers to care, no one ever commented even on his comments.
WALLACE:  He is a reputable writer.
MAXWELL:  Well, yes.  But what I say people do note they do note, very much and what he said that is because he cannot bear that I should now become friends with the Duchess of Windsor  who turned him down completely as his ghost writer.  That is something he will never get over and will never like, and now that I'm friends with her he can't bear it.   He's trying to get back to me in a little boys way of shooting peas through a pea shooter.
WALLACE:  Mmmmm....
MAXWELL:  (intelligible)...who knows, who cares for Cleveland Amory.
WALLACE:  Elsa, I'd like to ask you about one of the most intriguing and puzzling women in America, a woman who has lived on the fringes of your circle in International Society, Greta Garbo.
WALLACE:  To a good many of us she's a mystery, but... ah... you have traveled in her circle: you have met her on several occasions...
MAXWELL:  ...not in my circle, but I know her.
WALLACE:  How do you explain her giving up her remarkable career and retiring into a shell, so to speak...
MAXWELL:  Because she could not bear to face the fact of losing her beauty, and becoming old.  Two things that frightened her to death,  she couldn't bear it any longer or face.   I think she was the most beautiful person in the world and one of the finest actresses.
WALLACE:  You think that... ah...
MAXWELL:  Couldn't bear it.
WALLACE:  The shyness is no pose it's simply a real desire to withdraw from the world.
MAXWELL:  Yes, she's not so shy when she's at home. She's not so brilliant you know. She's rather like a child, with jokes that...you know... she's not a very subtle person.
WALLACE:  A couple of other quick... ah... run downs on people if we may.   On October 9th, Associated Press columnist Hal Boyle, quoted you as saying, "I think Arthur Godfrey is the greatest bore that ever lived."  Why do you think that about Arthur Godfrey?
MAXWELL:  Well, I just don't like to hear him.  He's he has... to me he means nothing.  Nothing.  He quotes sentimental.  He quotes sonnets.   I don't like a man in the morning at 10 o'clock quoting sonnets.  To his audience.  He can't be quite on the level.
WALLACE:  How do you account for his tremendous popularity over so many years?
MAXWELL:  Well, he's been there for so many years and so many people are so accustomed to listening just to the things that they think they ought to listen to for so many years that's all.  They haven't graduated beyond Arthur Godfrey.
WALLACE:  Well now these very people that you were talking about before as being so intelligent and so worth while... the... the mass of Americans...
MAXWELL:  Yes...
WALLACE:  Those are the same people who are...
MAXWELL:  Well...they also like me. So they can take their choice if they like Godfrey, they like Maxwell, too.
WALLACE:  Mmm... I'm given a note to the effect that... Cleveland Amory, attacked Elsa Maxwell, (laugh) before Elsa and the Duchess made up.   I'm not quite sure just exactly what that means but... ah... we have been in touch with... ah... Cleveland Amory...
MAXWELL:  Yes. He doesn't interest me very much.
WALLACE:  Cleveland Amory..
MAXWELL:  Not at all.
WALLACE:  But, I must confess that... ah... he does seem to be interested in you, and incidentally I have read his review of your book How To Do It, which appears tomorrow in the New York Times...
MAXWELL:  Great..
WALLACE:  And its a very interesting and...
MAXWELL:  Did he tear me to pieces?  I don't care.
WALLACE:  By no means... by no means... Elsa I thank you so much for coming and spending this time with us again.  It's been a delight and I shall certainly be looking for you on the Jack Paar Program.
MAXWELL:  Thank you.
MAXWELL:  And we can recommend as very good reading, Elsa Maxwell's How To Do It, Elsa Maxwell has done well for herself, untitled at birth, she's now a friend of royalty.   Once a poor girl, today she dines with millionaires. Her career speaks volumes for the values of the society in which she and we live.   The queen of international party making, she wears her crown with a flamboyant's grace.  
Next week we go after the story of the woman who has been called the the First Lady of the World, you see her behind me.  She's Eleanor Roosevelt.  
If you'd like to hear Mrs. Roosevelt's candid opinions of America's leadership, or lack of it, her views on Soviet Russia from Kruschev to Sputnik and what it's like to be the wife and then the widow 
of one of the most powerful men of our time, we'll go after those stories next week.  
Till then, for Phillip Morris, Mike Wallace, good night.  
The Mike Wallace Interview is brought to you by Phillip Morris, Incorporated, The Quality House.


The Mike Wallace Interview:
Elsa Maxwell

The Elsa Maxwell interview was digitized and indexed for the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center by Kelly Delevan, School of Information, University of Texas.  Austin, April 2006.

Project coordinated by: Steve Wilson (HRHRC), Quinn Stewart and Grete Pasch (School of Information).  Rich media players and software tools by GLIFOS.  Hosting and technical support provided by Shane Williams, David Wilson, and the School of Information IT Lab.

Made possible by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.