Hollywood on the Potomac

Curse of Hope!

January 13, 2019

As reported in the Palm Beach Shiny Sheet, “Mildred ‘Brownie’ McLean, a longtime fixture on the Palm Beach social scene who once turned down the Hope Diamond, died at home Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, at age 101. Known as ‘The Duchess of Palm Beach,’ Mrs. McLean led a grand and glamorous life full of parties, travel, philanthropy and adventures that included not only her brush with the legendary diamond but the selling of her Palm Beach home to John Lennon and Yoko Ono.”

This note was published when she turned 100: Brownie McLean, grande dame of Palm Beach, turned 100 on Bastille Day.  I was introduced to her many years ago by Baroness Garnett Stackelberg with whom I often went to Palm Beach.  My favorite destination with Brownie was a trip to Morocco for the King’s birthday where we stayed at La Mamounia in Marrakech and where she was a fixture on the disco dance floor until 3 AM and where and when I became friends with Astronaut Alan Sheppard.  The Palm Beach Post (The Shinny Sheet) has just published an article to commemorate her birthday.


My article and interview with Brownie was first published in 2013:

When we noticed a photo in Biznow of The Hope Diamond gawkers at The Smithsonian with this commentary: “Economic Club prez David Rubenstein pulled out the Hope Diamond, the Smithsonian’s most valuable item ($200M) and everyone ran up to snap a cell phone photo, including Anthony Williams and Mark Ein,” we couldn’t help ourselves.  We called “Brownie” McLean, daughter in law of Evalyn and Ned McLean, (the last private owners of the Hope Diamond) in Palm Beach. OK, so you can see where this is going.  But first, a little background on the famous jewel.

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Michelin Guide DC

December 30, 2018

Nothing against tires, but guests that showed up for the Annual Michelin party at the Residence of France weren’t there for tires. Guests indulged in a night of Champagne and gourmet cuisine hosted by Ambassador Gérard Araud and The Michelin Guide DC 2019 team to honor the best restaurants in Washington.  So, how did a tire company become an authority on fine dining?  Joanie Martin, Chief Administrative Officer for Michelin North America, explained it this way: “I’ve worked for Michelin for more than 21 years, including an assignment at our headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Working in the birthplace of Michelin really helped me understand the essence of the Michelin brand at a deeper level. I’ve traveled to cities across the country to represent Michelin with our customers. I have found that US cities like Washington, DC that have Michelin Guides also have a deep sense of identity and pride, which is expressed so beautifully in the cuisine and experiences created by these extraordinary chefs in their restaurants.”

“Sometimes I hear people ask, ‘The Michelin Guide, is that Michelin, the tire company? How are tires related to restaurants?’ The answer to this question is, of course, yes, it is that Michelin,” Martin further explained.  “In the early days of motoring, the Michelin brothers simply wanted to make it easier for people to drive more and enjoy the experience. The Michelin Guide started as a guide to services for the automobiles like fuel and tire repairs, and just a short time later The Red Guide began to include stars that rated the restaurants, the very same ratings framework that continues today.The guides helped establish Michelin as a trusted partner, a companion for trips to enjoy exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey while also giving motorists the opportunity to use their tires. Nearly 120 years later, the same spirit is in the heart of Michelin’s culture. Our purpose is that we care about giving people a better way forward. In a sense, every trip is a special journey. That spirit and purpose inspire Michelin’s entire approach to mobility. We help make it possible for people and goods to move about affordably and efficiently.”

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Some 'Bests' of 2018

December 26, 2018

Knock Out Abuse: Nothing is more powerful than women supporting other women. On November 1, during the 25th Anniversary Knock Out Abuse Gala, $1 million dollars were raised to benefit women and children who are survivors of domestic abuse. This was a record-breaking year for the 25th  fundraising gala. For the first time in Knock Out Abuse gala history, $1 million dollars were raised through sponsorships, extraordinary silent and live auctions and ticket sales. 

The funds raised are a third more of what was raised in during the 2017 gala. The three chairwomen responsible for this achievement are: Norma Commons Ramsey, Ann Walker Marchant and Denise Grant. The funds will benefit women and children who are survivors of domestic abuse. Beneficiaries are: Crossway Community, Safe Shores, The DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, and Bethany House. Kathleen Guinan, CEO of Crossway Community, the recipient of the Break The Silence Award, spoke about the impact of Knock Out Abuse’s support.

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