Archive for August 6th, 2008

Charles Fernley Fawcett

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

He was called “The Mayor of the Via Veneto” and his office was the “Cafe de Paris”. Charles Fernley Fawcett knew everyone in all the right social circles around Europe and for that matter, around the world.
He and his friends helped to make the restaurant “Piccolo Mondo” in Rome the “in” restaurant frequented by the “La Dolce Vita” crowd who also dined at Taverna Flavia in the sixties and seventies. I remember an incident at Piccolo Mondo where Charlie told the maitre d’, after a poor dining experience, “We put you on the map but we can just as quickly take you off”.

After his passing in London earlier this year on 3 February 2008 at the age of 92, there was not one mention by the American press regarding this great American, who was during his lifetime an R.A.F. pilot, Foreign Legionnaire, recipient of the French Croix de Guerre and the American Eisenhower medal who fought for many causes in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.

In the film “Charlie Wilson’s War” the video shown by Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) to Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is the documentary shot by Fawcett
Here, Joanne Herring, the glamorous Texas socialite played by Julia Roberts in Charlie Wilson’s War,
describes Fawcett to Charlie Wilson:
“You will adore this man. There have been eighteen books written about him. He has been decorated by every country in the world. To give you an idea, he was the first man in the Belgian Congo after the
bloodbath; he married eleven Jewish girls to get them out of Nazi Germany and said he didn’t have one
honeymoon. Every time there has been a disaster in the world, Charles Fawcett was there. You will never
meet anybody like him”.

He dated the actress, Hedy Lamarr, whom I also knew in the days that I was living on Benedict Canyon in
Beverly Hills. It so happened on one evening during a dinner party, while Hedy was sitting at the dining table, the phone rang and it was the Beverly Hills Police who asked to speak to my friend who was then my house guest and was dating Hedy at the time. As it turned out, the phone call was regarding a shoplifting incident where she was allegedly accused of taking merchandise from a department store, which I believe, was Saks Fifth Avenue. Saks let her get away with it because they knew who she was, and preferred to let the B.H. police handle it very discreetly, and the whole matter was settled privately. She was not so fortunate in Florida when she was later arrested for shoplifting without the protection of Beverly Hill’s finest. To set the record straight, Hedy did not need to shoplift it was one of her eccentricities. A little known fact about the actress is that she contributed to and patented an invention of spread-spectrum communication technology in 1942, although it was ahead of its time, it contributed to what was to be the forerunner of modern technology with the use of micro-chips to make cellular phones and internet communications possible.

I read with interest the connection between Charlie Fawcett and Ricky di Portanova for in fact, it was I who introduced them. I believe that Charlie let me park my car at the villa where he was a guest. I told Charlie that Ricky had invited me to join a cruise around the Med with a few others, including his then girlfriend Sandra Hovis (later to be his wife). The yacht called “Miranda” that he rented for a month was anchored off the coast near Rome waiting to pick me up. I told him to come along and go aboard to meet Ricky, as I knew that they would get along. It seems as if they did.

The last time I saw Charlie was when I invited him to a dinner party I gave in honor of my friends, author, Henry Miller and his wife Hoki (pianist/singer Hoki Tokuda) in Los Angeles.

All of Charlie’s many friends must miss him; he was one of a kind!

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