The Press: The War of the Roses

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She also reminded the public what a faithful wife she had been during Rose's trouble with Showgirl Joyce Mathews. "When Billy called me because he was in trouble when the police found Joyce Mathews in his penthouse trying to commit suicide, I rushed to him and protected him." At the time, Rose had told his public: "Now is the time to have a wife." Eleanor now charges that he had "later betrayed me again and again."

Meanwhile, Hearst's Journal-American interviewed Mrs. Bernie by phone and broke out an "exclusive": BERNIE WIDOW CALLS ROSE'S STORY 'LIES.' Mrs. Bernie, said the Journal, wanted to remind Billy of his days as a syndicated columnist. Then Eleanor was the model of a faithful wife and often the star of his column. "Billy knows as well as I do that Eleanor is a fine girl. She was a wonderful wife and he told everybody how great she was. He wrote it in his columns . . . and he knows she is still the same girl."

To this, Rose mockingly turned the other cheek. Said he: "Let's make everybody happy. I fully concede that Eleanor is the finest woman since Florence Nightingale; that Wes Bernie is a road-company Joan of Arc; that Louis Nizer, Eleanor's attorney, is president of the Sweet Fellows Club; that Alberta Jones has astigmatism, and it must have been three other people. And finally that Billy Rose has horns and hooves and ought to be ground up for hamburger."

Cut-Rale Seamstresses! Then, as if prompted by Mrs. Bernie's reminder of his columnar days, Billy Rose sat down to write the best column of his life, and it was given free to all newspapers as follows:

"I see by the papers that Eleanor is accusing me of being a tightwad. She is absolutely right. Compared to me, Scrooge was a philanthropist. For instance, throughout our marriage we lived in a five-story town house on Beekman Place, with only one lousy elevator. The furniture was secondhand stuff—designed by Chippendale and other 18th century English carpenters. The old Crown Derby plates she ate off had occasional cracks, and the antique Paul Storr silver was once slobbered in by King George III. The pictures on the walls were horrors—the work of hacks like Rembrandt, Hals, Velasquez and Renoir.

"During the summer I made her rough it in a 30-room shack in Mt. Kisco. This estate had only one swimming pool, only one tennis court, and a private movie theater with only one operator. On our private golf range, Eleanor had to play with repainted balls. When it came to servants I really put my foot down. I refused to hire more than one butler, one cook and three maids. What's even worse, Eleanor had only one personal maid and one personal laundress. She got only $17,000 pocket money a year . . . Her clothes were mostly rags stitched together by cut-rate seamstresses like Hattie Carnegie and Valentina . . . She had only 113 pairs of shoes, 41 sweaters, and eleven ratty-looking fur coats. At no time did I ever buy her an $80,000 sable.

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