Category Archives: Georgann Rea

Come Fly With Me!

The new paperback edition of Chanel is out today!  And it’s being featured at the Hudson News Store in all your favorite airports!  Perfect for vacation reading!

Both the photo of my mother, Georgann Rea and the one of me and my sister Robin were taken by my late step-father, Oliver Rea.  The new edition also includes the first chapter of the sequel, Heart of Glass due out in March 2016!
Happy Summer!  Happy Reading!


New Paperback!


Fresh from the publisher!  My first copies of the new Chanel paperback which includes the first chapter of the sequel Heart of Glass!  The books will be available two weeks from today and will be featured at Hudson News in airports all over the country! I think Gallery did a lovely job.   And I absolutely love the Tiffany blue.  That’s my mother on the cover and Robbie and I in the inset photo.  I hope you like Chanel and will look forward to Heart of Glass which is being published in March, 2016.


New Cover for Summer!

Chanel Bonfire reissue (1)

This is an early proof copy of the new paperback cover for Chanel due out this summer!  The reissue will include the first chapter of the sequel, HEART OF GLASS!  That’s my mom on Lyford Cay with Robbie and me in the inset.  The photos were taken by Pop, my once-upon-a-time stepfather Oliver Rea (note the misspelling of his name on the credit).  Should be out in July in time to take to the beach!


And One For Mahler! — Elaine Stritch on Chanel

Actors (L-R) Michael Hayden, Dorothy Loudon & Wendy Lawless in a scene fr. the Roundabout Theater Co.’s production of the play “The Matchmaker”.

In the early 90s I played Ermengarde in  Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker” at The Roundabout Theater in New York.  Broadway diva, Dorothy Loudon (Annie), played Dolly Levi but the production was plagued (maybe cursed) by problems — the death of the director’s mother, violent outbursts by Kenneth Mars (The Producers, Young Frankenstein, What’s Up Doc?) who had to be replaced, and a brief, ill-fated reunion with my mother.

Interestingly, it had been Tyrone Guthrie (founder of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis where Mother met my stepfather Oliver Rea and ran away with him) who saved the play from a premature death after a disasterous Broadway production by Max Reinhardt.  Then, the play was called The Merchant of Yonkers.  It ran thirty-nine performances would never have never have been seen again if Guthrie hadn’t picked it up fifteen years later and convinced Wilder to rewrite it and take the then minor character of Dolly Levi and move her to the center of the piece.  It ran in the Edinburgh festival and then the West End in London at the Drury Lane Theatre and came back to Broadway in triumph in 1955.  It was made into a film and then of course adapted as the musical Hello Dolly!.

Anyway, in addition to working with some wonderful actors and some crazy ones (Dorothy Loudon used to push me off stage as soon as or before I finished delivering my lines), the highlight of our ill-fated run of The Matchmaker for me was a phone call from Elaine Stritch — the Elaine Stritch or as Noel Coward called her, Stritchey.  It was either a late morning or early afternoon.  My fiancee was at work.  It was summer and very hot and we didn’t have air conditioning so I was vacuuming naked when the phone rang.  I picked it up and it was the unmistakable voice of Miss Stritch…

“Hello.   Is Wendy Lawless there?  It’s Elaine Stritch calling.  I went down to the Roundabout last night to see my dear friend Dorothy Loudon in that horrible production of The Matchmaker.  That Joe Bova is about as funny as a dead baby’s open grave.  But I wanted to tell you that you were great, kid.  That thing you’re doing up there is hard.  Making people laugh in a turkey like that isn’t easy.   I would have told you last night but I couldn’t stay.  I’m diabetic you, know and I had to run home and stick myself in the arm.  You’ve got it, kid.  Just keep doin’ what you’re doin’.”

The brief conversation remains what I consider to be one of my greatest reviews as an actress.

Thanks, Stritchey!


Hot Night at El Morocco

Okay, I don’t have any pictures, but we were there. One of the hottest nights in my memory, as if a garbage filled blow-dryer was pointed at your face. It was NYC, 1974, Robin and I in our long Laura Ashley dresses, getting drunk on champagne while Mother and Pop Bossa Nova’d and didn’t pay attention to anyone else. Listening to “Midnight at the Oasis”. Later, I passed out in the taxi. My first faint. Stay cool out there this summer.

Years later, in a strange, worlds collide, my husband and I were living in Hell’s Kitchen and we’d just had our first child, Harry. We lived in Manhattan Plaza, a building for people in the performing arts. An old lady named Mrs. Valentine who had been Toscanini’s secretary lived a few floors down from us and knitted booties for Harry. Her husband, Harry Valentine had been the Maitre ‘d at El Morocco until his retirement in the early 80s and probably poured us all into the taxi!


Chanel Bonfire 2014

Beautiful Chanel Ads in Vogue, Lucky and Allure
Gorgeous ads in the Winter glossies including the VOGUE with brilliant Jessica Chastain on the cover who would, btw, be marvelous as my beautiful but damned mother!
Many thanks to the artists and writers at Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster for the ads.  And don’t forget, the Chanel paperback is now available at Target in their Emerging Authors Section!

Martell’s Restaurant

Martell’s Restaurant
1469 3rd Avenue
New York City of My Youth

I can not even find a photo of Martell’s Restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan — the blue-and-white striped awning, the tile floors, blue-and-white checked tablecloths, big burgers and fat fries.  Martell’s was a bridge from the old joints of New York City with their pyramids of hard boiled eggs on the bar, sawdust on the floor and the faint and not-so-faint smell of beer and piss mixed with the grease from a thousand burgers and the new places that hit town in the 70s and began the shift into the world of TGIFridays.

When we didn’t go out for fancy food or to Schrafft’s  with our nanny, we went to Martell’s — our version of McDonald’s (with wine for Mother).  When I returned to New York many years later, I’d go back to Martell’s on occasion for a big bourbon and a plate of French fries — once with my step-sister (Oliver’s daughter) when our worlds and our lives re-collided.

Ouarzazate, Morocco

Ouarzazate, Morocco nicknamed “The Door of the Desert”

With the Atlas Mountains to the north and the desert to the south, the ancient city of Ouarzazate, inhabited and chiefly built by Berbers, was an important stop for traders from central Africa and the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of the continent.  It sits on a plateau about 3,800 feet above sea level.

It was to Ouarzazte that Mother and Oliver traveled when scouting the location for the jetsetters resort he hoped to build.  The French had converted the trading post into a garrison town but starting in the early sixties with “Lawrence of Arabia”, Hollywood was turning it into a movie location.  

He never built his resort but Oliver was right about the area.  It is now a major tourist destination for Moroccans and Europeans and the area is filled with luxury resorts and condo towns.  It is also home to Atlas Studios one of the largest movie studios in the world where everything from “Lawrence” to “Gladiator” to “Game of Thrones” has been shot.

Georgann Rea and Sylvia Browne

Sylvia Browne

Mother’s best friend and partner in crime from St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City, MO, died two weeks ago at seventy-seven. Sylvia claimed a psychic inheritance from her grandmother and began giving readings professionally in the 1970s.  In the next three decades she became one of the most famous psychics in the world appearing frequently on Larry King and hosting her own cable television show.  She earned millions of dollars a year giving readings and making predictions.  Her reputation was tarnished in the early 2000s by several mistaken claims about the victims of kidnappings and New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley winning the White House.  It was to Sylvia (then Sylvia Celeste Shoemaker) that Mother (then Georgann McAdams) confessed that she would marry my father James Lawless.  I wonder if Sylvia saw what was coming?

The Wyndham

The Wyndham, 42 West 58th Street

The Wyndham, located on 58th Street in Manhattan, directly behind The Plaza, was a small hotel (200 rooms) in which we lived for a short while after returning to the States from London and before moving to the Howard Johnson’s in Danbury.  I know, I know… from La Mamounia in Marrakech to The Ritz in Paris to the London Hilton to the Howard Johnson’s?!  The mind reels.

Anyway, while the Howard Johnson’s distilled, for me, the hotel experience to its essence, the Wyndham was probably the perfect example of the median hotel experience. 

It was practical:  maid service, clean, good linens, plenty of towels, and room service with acceptable food.  In addition many of the rooms also had kitchenettes for those on an extended stay.

It was convenient:  on 58th street directly behind The Plaza between 5th and 6th Avenues, it was half a block from Bergdorf’s and the Paris movie theater and around the corner from Carnegie Hall and the Russian Tea Room.

It was cheap compared to its neighbors.

And it was also glamourous:  not a flashy kind of glamour but and old fashioned, “people in the know,” un-wasteful  kind of glamour.  It was known as the actor’s hotel and many famous ones who had the money to stay elsewhere stayed there because the owners, John and Susan Mados (who also lived there) made it feel like home.  Hume Cronin, Jessica Tandy, Stacy Keach, Anthony Quinn, John Cassavetes, and Lawrence Olivier all called it home for the duration of a play on Broadway or a movie shoot or longer.  It was like a small European hotel in the heart of New York.  Sadly, it closed in 2005.