Category Archives: The Dakota

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.

Rumplemeyer’s and The Auto Pub

Hotel St. Moritz, 50 Central Park South

I can not for the life of me find a photo of Rumplemeyer’s Ice Cream Parlor which was housed at the St. Moritz on Central Park South but it was my first favorite place in New York.  Begun as a restaurant originally called Rumplemayer’s and imported from Paris and run by the Viennese chef Rumplemayer, it was an original part of the hotel (built in 1930) in which the likes of Marlene Dietrich dined.  By the late 60s when we moved to New York it was the most wonderful ice cream place filled with white painted iron, stuffed animals and leather booths.  It was like Christmas.  We’d go after skating lessons at Rockefeller Center or after a walk through the park from the Dakota or a trip to the slide at FAO Schwartz.  Once we even went there for dessert after eating at the Auto Pub in the GM building…

The Auto Pub at the General Motors Building

…which was like having Christmas on top of Christmas.  The Auto Pub was just a burger joint that had regular booth and table seating but also had seats inside sections of cars.  In another room there was a kind of mini drive-in where you could eat and watch movies.  Our mother’s second marriage may have been spirallying out of control but New York was not stingy with wonderful distractions for me and Robbie.

Venus in Fur a la Place de la Concorde

Mother in her mink at the Place de la Concorde
It is hard for many in this post-PETA, animal rights oriented time to understand the meaning of fur, especially mink, to women of my mother’s generation.  More than the couture clothes, fabulous jewelry and furnishings she was able to buy, the apartments in the Dakota, on Park Avenue, in South Kensington she was able to rent or own, a fur coat signaled her arrival to herself.  And of her many fur coats, her mink was the most important–an incredibly warm, impossibly soft piece of fashion armor that was also as intimate as any item of lingerie.  Her mink was for Mother a cocoon she could wear–it signalled her transformation from provincial Kansas City girl to jet-setting socialite even as it comforted her and protected her from doubters, snobs, and inconvenient questions.  And as the money began to run out, the jewels and Mercedes sold, the coat could provide glamourous cover and a blanketing reminder of where she’d been and how far she’d gone.

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.


“We had been living in the Dakota, the late nineteenth-century, neo-gothic apartment house at the corner of Seventy-Second Street and Central Park West, for about a year and a half. And while I would later think of the place – the setting for the film “Rosemary’s Baby” and the future and final home of John Lennon – as a glamorous backdrop for my mother’s tumultuous second marriage and divorce, at the time it was just our rather large and wonderfully spooky apartment, in which I was about to find myself awakened by my mother’s rescuers.” 
Chanel Bonfire