My friend, you maybe can tell, David Patrick Columbia, brilliant chronicler of New York Life and times honored me with this great piece. We had a fun lunch even though the pouring rain almost made me cancel! So glad I didn’t!
I used to write my dating column “The Search for Mr Adequate” for him for many years. He is a voracious reader and
so this means a lot, as well as a guy who knows show biz life himself having written books about Debbie Reynolds, among others.
David is man about town, every night, so for him to take time on this…Wow! Enjoy!
by David Patrick Columbia
|I went to lunch at Sette Mezzo with Susan Silver. Susan has recently published a memoir called “Hot Pants In Hollywood.” For those who are not old enough to remember, Hot Pants were very short shorts that were made in luxurious fabrics such as velvets and silks. They were “hot” fashion in 1970-71, the mini- taken to its ultimate, and were often worn with sleek dress boots.|
|They turned out to be a fad, but a very important one, coming on the heels of the Women’s Liberation Movement. And, in Hollywood, which was where the author was working, all the coolest and hippest stars wore them to dressy parties. Knowing Susan — whom I met in the mid-’70s, here in New York, through our mutual friend Beth DeWoody — Susan wore hot pants too. In Hollywood.
Born and brought up in Milwaukee, she went to Northwestern, but knew early on she wanted to be a writer, having started writing “poetry” when she was still a child. She also wanted to live in Hollywood. This was not an unusual dream for many of us born in that era of the last half of the last century. Hollywood was still known as the Dream Factory and not a few of us wanted to live there and work there.
Susan’s parents objected to the distance since she was an only child. Nevertheless she had an uncle who lived there (and was very important in the industry as a writer and producer – Cy Howard) who was willing to look after her safety, and so she was allowed.
When she was finished with school and committed to remaining, she signed up to become a movie extra. That entailed classic Hollywood experiences with stars such as Steve McQueen and Elvis, which add spice to her tale of pursuing her dreams. From there she took a job in production of a new TV show called “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” — one of the most popular variety shows of the late ‘60s — which brought stardom to Lily Tomlin and Goldie Hawn.
From there doors opened and Susan was now certain that she could write comedy. Women writing sitcoms and comedy were new and few in the industry, but by the early ‘70s she had written her first three episodes of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.” From there, in the next decade, by 1980, she was one of the most prolific comedy sitcom writers, as well as screenwriter of Movie-of-the-Weeks.
By the 1980s, Susan was one of the most productive and successful television writers in the business. She’d also prospered to the point where she decided to take a break and pursue some other interests. That was when she rented out her house in Sherman Oaks and acquired a Fifth Avenue apartment where she still lives today.
Her stories about Hollywood are true and demonstrate the nature of life in that community of make believe and make-believin’. But aside from the glitz and the glamour and funny peculiarities of life in Lotusland, this is really the story about a liberated American woman who made a life and a career out of what could have been only a dream. She tells it in her contemporary wit as a humorist and screenwriter, always providing the bits that can make you laugh. But beyond that, her life has been a treatise to modern American womanhood, something any woman (and many men) can admire for her pluck, her stamina, and her unflagging optimism. Which probably comes from her relationship with her father who adored her. She adored him, too.