After a Fashion

The Texas Film Hall of Fame honors the legs that launched a thousand clips -- Texas legend Cyd Charisse, and your Style Avatar is off and running in the SXSW sweepstakes.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE TEXAS I felt like a young Judy Garland getting an e-mail from Louie B. Mayer himself. The e-mail from my own L.B. was similarly terse. "Call me," it commanded. I wisely obeyed, knowing exactly which side my bread is buttered on. "You're going to dinner with Cyd Charisse. Just you," he barked. "Ooohhh, just me?" I purred into the phone, with visions of me and Cyd all tucked away in some cozy corner of the Driskill Bar, yakking away like best girlfriends. "No," he snapped me out of my reverie, "not just you and Cyd. It's a dinner for Cyd. The invitation is for you only. Don't bring anyone. Call the Film Society. They'll tell you the specifics." And he hung up. In the blink of an eye, it seemed (not to mention a flurry of outfits), there I was, at Eddie V's at the Arboretum, making small talk with an interesting assortment of people, awaiting Cyd's arrival. Austin Film Society president Charles Ramírez-Berg and his beautiful (and beautifully dressed) wife Cecilia were there. There was Rebecca Campbell, executive director of AFS, looking daring yet demure in black Alencon lace, and her charming husband, Andy Hinman. The inimitable Chale Nafus, AFS VP, whose knowledge of film coupled with his sparkling repartee probably made him my favorite dinner partner. Lisa and Bob "Daddy-O-- Wade were there -- he (the famous artist who designed the awards) was effusive and amusing, and she (co-chair of the Texas Film Hall of Fame gala) and I bonded quickly. Also attending was Eddie Safady, the youthful and connected president of Liberty Bank, and Angela and Mort Topfer, legendary philanthropists. The chatter was formal and polite, but Cyd was late. Seems they had made the mistake I almost made: going to the Eddie V's downtown, instead of the one at the Arboretum. Finally her limo arrived, we were all introduced. Budd Moss, Cyd's manager, accompanied her; he was a former actor married to Ruth Roman and engaged to Carolyn Jones... though not at the same time. As we were being seated, Bruce Vanderhoff, a member of Cyd's small entourage, said, "So you're the reporter." Tossing my head like I had lots of long hair, I snarled in my best Ann-Baxter-as-Eve-Harrington voice, "What of it?" His rather innocent question gave me nightmarish visions of an alternate e-mail guest list that might have read: "Cyd will the there of course, with her manager, and So-and-so and So-and-so will be attending, So-and-so will be there, Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so will be there. And, oh yeah. That reporter will be there." We had warmed up to each other immediately. I later committed the ultimate faux pas by asking Cyd if she needed a hairdresser the next day. Everyone laughed because it turned out my dinner partner, Bruce, was her hairdresser. The evening was gracious and lovely, ending with a toast that I presented (written for me by my esteemed sister Margaret Moser). Cyd was visibly moved, and asked for a copy, which I dutifully proffered the next night at the Awards show.

TFHOF There is no Austin event more glittering than the Texas Film Hall of Fame awards. Last year was wonderful. This year was dazzling. There were brushes of greatness: chatting with the incredibly gracious Dan Rather; exchanging pleasantries with the handsome and accommodating Dennis Hopper; praising the legendary Willie Nelson; catching up with my darling Sissy Spacek (who remembered me well from the clips I selected for her induction last year); standing backstage with the Queen of Texas, Ann Richards; paying compliments to famed directors Peter Bogdanovich and Terrence Malick; shaking hands with Jack Valenti; and joking with a remarkably un-silly Cheech Marin. A favorite moment was standing with Cyd Charisse backstage, watching the presentation of the clips of her career that I had the honor of selecting. She leaned over and told me, "You have chosen exactly the right ones. Thank you for your insight." The pleasure was all mine, I said. (I could not accept the compliment without mentioning the breathtaking editing job that Sandra Adair did with the clips. She made a handful of choppy scenes become pure magic on the screen.) After Cyd received her award, it was announced that it was her birthday, and she was presented with an enormous cake, decked with a representation of her famous legs, and Larry Gatlin led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to her. These were just a few of the memorable moments in a truly stellar evening -- more of which I'll be bringing to you over the next few days. Everyone involved in the production of this event has reason to be glowing with the satisfaction of a job very well done.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Cyd Charisse, Driskill Bar, Eddie V's, Austin Film Society, Charles Ramírez-Berg, Rebecca Campbell, Andy Hinman, Chale Nafus, Lisa & Bob Daddy-O Wade, Eddie Safady, Liberty Bank, Angela & Mort Topfer, Budd Moss, Ruth Roman, Carolyn Jones, Bruce Vanderhoff, Texas Fil

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