Book It: A Society Columnist's Heritage plus Cagney & Lacey Producer's Memoir in Historic Lafayette Square Villa, 4 p.m. (Reception); 5 p.m. (author talk and book signing) at the former home of Princess Conchita Pignatelli (RSVP required)
WAHA invites you to meet TV producer Barney Rosenzweig and tour a literary legend's former home at one of our periodic "Books in Historic Places" events next week.
Rosenzweig will talk about growing up in Boyle Heights, his lifetime in television, and his memoir, Cagney & Lacey and Me: An Inside Hollywood Story, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blond. This author talk and book signing will be held at a home associated with another Hollywood literary figure, society columnist Princess Conchita Pignatelli, whose father was the namesake for Sepulveda Boulevard. (The book will be available for purchase and signing at this event.)
In a media landscape today filled with strong female voices, it is worthwhile remembering there was a time not too long ago when most women journalists were relegated to newspapers' "Society" pages and a TV program about two women detectives was considered "groundbreaking."
But as television producer Rosenzweig recalls in Cagney & Lacey and Me, in the mid-1970s, when the feminist movement was in full gear, he realized that "never in the history of motion pictures or television had Hollywood made a film where two women related to each other as did Paul Newman and Robert Redford. In other words, there had never been a buddy movie featuring women. Why not make one?"
Rosenzweig's light bulb moment eventually morphed into the popular TV series about two female New York City police detectives, Cagney & Lacey, which aired on CBS from 1982 to 1988. The show starred Sharon Gless as Christine Cagney, a single, career-minded woman, and Tyne Daly as Mary Beth Lacey, a married working mother. The series received 14 Emmys over the course of its run, and changed the course of women characters on television.
A generation earlier, Princess Conchita Sepulveda Chapman Pignatelli made headlines - literally - as the leading society columnist for William Randolph Hearst's Los Angeles Examiner newspaper. The famed princess (who was the daughter of Ygnacio Sepulveda and the ex-wife of a Papal prince) was a contemporary of and friendly competitor to gossip columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper. As a reporter for nearly three decades, from the early 1930s until the Examiner closed its own doors and merged with the Herald-Express in 1962, Princess Pignatelli profiled the royal families of Europe, General MacArthur's return to the U.S. and Hollywood stars such as Sophia Loren. During much of this period, Princess Pignatelli held home court at a 1926 Spanish Revival villa in Lafayette Square.
Barney Rosenzweig is one of television's best-known producers (along with Cagney & Lacey, he helmed John Steinbeck's East of Eden, The Trials of Rosie O'Neill and Christy). He has three daughters, including Allyn Rosenzweig Mango. Allyn and her husband, David Mango, are newer West Adams residents and they have just restored the Princess Pignatelli house.
Our hosts have invited us to tour the house during the reception before the author talk and book signing. The event is free (we do ask you to RSVP so we can provide enough food and beverage) but the books are not, and will be for sale.