Thursday, November 14, 2013

Behind the scenes with a legend

One of the fun things about my job is that I get a chance to interview and meet with a slew of celebrities who come through town. 

At the top of my list this year was meeting one of my personal media heroes, former Town & Country editor Pamela Fiori. I'm an avid Town & Country reader, especially during her 17-year reign there. I've admired her from afar for so long that it never occurred to me that I might actually have the opportunity to meet her in person one day. I also love her books on Capri, St. Barths and Palm Beach.  The photo collage above are pictures from two of Pamela's books.  

Pamela was the speaker at the Mint Museum Auxiliary's Fall EnrichMINT fundraiser at the Mint Museum uptown on Nov. 7. If you go to you'll see my Scene & Heard column, video and a slideshow from her talk. There were a lot of interesting parts of her speech, and my interview with her afterward, that I didn't have space to mention in my article. Here is more of her wit and wisdom:

  • Pamela stayed at the Duke Mansion while she was here. She absolutely loved Charlotte, thanks in part to the warm welcome she received from the amazing ladies of the Mint Museum Auxiliary. "Charlotte is beautiful. To me, it represents the best of America," Pamela said. 

  • I always thought Pamela was from a pedigreed background, but she grew up in a solid middle class family in Union, New Jersey. Her best friend since 5th Grade, Vicki Goldenberg, traveled to Charlotte to be with her. Vicki was as delightful as Pamela. "We don't get to see each other as often as we would like, but we have always made an effort to stay in touch. You have to reach out because it's so easy to let old friends slip out of your life," Vicki said. (In the photo at the top of this blog, Pamela is in the center and Vicki is on the right.)
  • Of all the people Pamela has met in her career, the person who is one of her favorites is Robert Redford. (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Paul Newman were also tops on her list. So was Audrey Hepburn, although they never met. Hepburn inspired Pamela's interest in UNICEF, and Pamela went on to receive its Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award.) What she admires about Robert Redford is how he has never compromised his standards, he only does work that he thinks is important and philanthropy is part of his life. She also got a kick out of  how he never wanted to be recognized for his good looks. "He hates it when people tell him he's handsome.
  • When I asked her what really bothers her about today's world, she said that people ask questions but then they don't listen to the answers. She's also disturbed by how electronic devices have made us detach from the world around us. The main message she wanted to get across is that we all need to pay attention to what's going on around us - in our lives, our community, or country and our world. 

Pamela, I'm paying attention to everything you say and I truly respect your observations and opinions. Let's talk more over a cocktail in Capri. Until then, ciao bella. 

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson