Category Archives: Kansas City

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?

Holly Golightly

Holly Golightly aka Lula Mae Barnes

Eloise was an icon that symbolized my childhood in New York–unsupervised, wild and crazy, lonely, but always, somehow safe and frequently fun.  Holly Golightly was the symbol of my mother’s time in New York.  The Georgann Rea of the Dakota and Park Avenue, with charge accounts at Bergdorfs and Bendels and Bloomingdales and tables at La Grenouille and Lutece was a creation of my stepfather and his taste and money and also of my mother and her aching desire to have the perfect life she’d always dreamed about–glamourous and romantic and important.  She’d glimpse it, grab at it and hold it in her hand like the exquisite jewelry my stepfather bought for her but she’d never be able to hang onto it.  Underneath her frosted hair and her little black Italian silk cocktail dresses, mother would always be the Iowa orphan (Loreta May Gronau) and abused little girl from Kansas City (Georgann McAdams) looking for unconditional love and a sense of belonging.

Rags to Riches

From Kansas City to Versailles in one blog post!

A much quicker version of my mother, Georgann Rea’s journey from Iowa orphanage to Kamsas City Plaza dweller to Minneapolis actor’s wife to Dakota dwelling Broadway Producer’s wife to wealthy American Divorcee in London!  Thirty years from there to here and in ten more she’d be broke again.  

Here we are on an ASL trip to Versailles.  Note the crazy 70s styling.


Winstead’s in Kansas City Today on Chanel Bonfire

Winstead’s in the Plaza Section of Kansas City
Home of Kansas City’s “steakburgers” since 1940 and the location of my parents’ first illicit dates.  My mother knew my grandfather would not approve of her marrying an actor or a landed alien from Canada.  When they were married they kept it a secret from him for as long as they could.  I wonder if the waitresses knew. 

Fighter of Pancho Villa, bank president, rib maker, man of mystery.

My grandfather, William McAdams…

…ran away from home at fifteen, lied about his age to join the army and fight Pancho Villa, started a bank and later, adopted my mother.  Here he is the way I remember him, on his patio in Kansas City cooking his famous ribs.  Served with hush puppies (one of the most incredible things my sister Robbie and I ever gobbled down).  He’d spend all day back by the bbq slow-cooking them with a bottle of bourbon at hand.  The ribs had a secret ingredient.  Sadly, he took the secret to his grave along with many other mysteries we’ll never know the answers to. 


From Chanel Bonfire

My mother did finish her book, “Somebody Turn Off the Wind Machine” and it was optioned by Columbia Pictures by the famous fellow (and his daughter) in this photo. Sadly, the film was never made. Can anyone guess who was attached to play my mother? Think hot in the 80’s. Go!


Four Stars from People, people!
And I’ll keep posting this offer periodically: If your book club is reading Chanel, I’d be happy to schedule a Skype Q & A with you!  If you all are having coffee or tea, I’ll have coffee or tea on my end!  Cocktails?  Cocktails!