There are all kinds of gossip – inane and boring but harmless; inquisitive and intrusive; salacious, garnished with schadenfreude; and the snide and nasty. Then there is gossip about well-known people - stars and celebrities (Hartnell makes a valid distinction between the two) – the sort of information most people are interested in and which keeps the number of women’s magazines at a surprisingly high level.
Hartnell occupies a special place in the New Zealand media. There has not been another like him. He is a star/celebrity in his own right here, and is well known in the UK and US as well. His columns had flair. He knew the people the public wanted to know things about. He wrote well. And, perhaps most importantly, there was always an absence of malice. Hartnell was never cruel. He never “outed” people.
Hartnell grew up gay in 1950/60s New Zealand, with all the bullying and trauma that entailed. But he had determination and ambition. He went to London, where he became a sought-after makeup artist, and then to the US, where he rubbed shoulders with the stars and began his entertaining writing about them.
His column series, I’m not one to gossip, but …, remains the best of its kind. This memoir shows why. Packed with photos of the glitterati (and of himself with many of them), this is a thoroughly diverting book – interesting and entertaining.
Diana Wichtel talks with the gossip columnist who, with his memoir on the shelves, made the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
It was 1985. Pre-crash Auckland was busy reinventing itself as a brazen hussy, and local celebrity culture was still wobbling along on training wheels. But at Auckland’s Regent Hotel, the Telethon stars were out: Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazzard; my old milkman Alan Dale, who had somehow ended up on Neighbours; a couple of guys from Hill Street Blues; Mike Baldwin from Coronation Street … There was, with terrible inevitability, Kamahl. Continue reading
David Hartnell has recently released his autobiography, Memoirs Of A Gossip Columnist (Penguin, $45).
The book I love most is … I’m not one to gossip but … Hollywood Babylon – It’s Back and Hollywood Babylon Strikes Again! Authors Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince write about lurid but unknown scandals from Hollywood’s golden age, as well as shocking rundowns of today’s scandals-in-the-making.
The book I’m reading right now is … Jeannie Out Of The Bottle, Barbara Eden’s autobiography. I met Barbara Eden a few years ago and she told me she was writing her autobiography, so I’d been waiting for it and am thoroughly enjoying it.
The book I’d like to read next is … Any actor or actress’s autobiography. Waiting in the wings is Dame Judi Dench’s autobiography called And Furthermore.
The book that changed me is … Hedda and Louella, a biography of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, Hollywood gossip queens of yesteryear. I got it out of the library in 1972 and from that moment I wanted to be a gossip columnist.
Former Auckland Grammar headmaster and All Black captain John Graham is among a group of seven prominent New Zealanders made knights or dames in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Auckland philanthropist Rosemary Horton and Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira, from Hamilton, who has helped lead the revival of the Maori language, have been made Dame Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit, while Court of Appeal judge Grant Hammond, Anzco Foods founder Graeme Harrison, Manawatu businessman Dan Higgins and arts patron James Wallace join Sir John as Knights Companion. Continue reading
Former Auckland Grammar headmaster and All Black captain John Graham is among seven prominent New Zealanders made knights or dames in the Queen’s Birthday Honours today.
Auckland philanthropist Rosie Horton and Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira, from Hamilton, who has helped lead the revival of the Maori language, have been made Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and Court of Appeal judge Grant Hammond, Anzco Foods founder Graeme Harrison, Manawatu businessman Patrick Higgins and arts patron James Wallace join Sir John as Knights Companion.
One rung down from the knighthoods, former Auckland Mayor John Banks and former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast have been made Companions of the order.
Recently retired Police Commissioner Howard Broad, former Race Relations Conciliator John Clarke, former Treasury Secretary John Whitehead, opera singer and administrator Christopher Doig and Mark Ford, who led the body setting up the Auckland Council, are among others to be made Companions.
Silver Ferns netball coach Ruth Aitken and captain Casey Williams, past NZ cricket captain Stephen Fleming and the most recent one, Daniel Vettori, and rugby administrator Rob Fisher have all been made Officers of the order.
Basketballer Pero Cameron and gold medal-winning Paralympian Adam Hall are made Members.
Broadcaster John Hawkesby, celebrity gossip David Hartnell, OpShop singer Jason Kerrison, first Fonterra chairman John Roadley and winemaker Allan Scott are also on the Members’ list, while former National Party president Judith Kirk and Maori educator Cathy Dewes are made ONZMs.
In the military list, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Parsons receives the Distinguished Service Decoration for his work in Afghanistan leading the SAS taskforce protecting Kabul.
Flight Sergeant Darren Smith, a helicopter crewman, has also been honoured for his rescue effort after an Iroquois crashed last year near Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington, killing three.
Copyright ©2011, APN Holdings NZ Limited
It is a good list of national honours that recognises public service in all its forms. Today’s Queen’s Birthday list creates five new knights and two new dames for services ranging from the well-known philanthropy of Dame Rosie Horton and Sir James Wallace, to the educational and sporting contributions of Sir John Graham and the writing, in Maori, of Dame Katerina Mataira. Continue reading