Angels and Devils


IMG_0030me in hippie clothes headshot

When I was 18 years old I had an anthem.

At the time, two women, who seemed almost elderly, but were only in their mid-50s, were my feminist role models. They didn’t know it.

My own mother was a very independent woman and was already a pretty good role model. But she wasn’t as forthcoming and strong. I felt my mother’s strength was just the hand she’d been dealt. That’s another story for another time.

These two women, who had just entered my life, were fierce and unapologetic about their strength. Janet had a degree as a medical doctor and was a New York shrink on the Upper East Side. Ruth had an MSW and practiced therapy out of her duplex in Beverly Hills. She also happened to be the mother of my then boyfriend.

When these two besties got together, they wore matching (although in different colors) Lanz nightgowns to bed. They’d giggle all night during their two-week long, if not longer, slumber parties.

The headboard of Ruth’s bed was a spectacular mural of hand painted cherubs (angels) and clouds.  Their lives, their friendship, their headboards, their taste in music and books and film, all seemed fantastic to me. I was captivated.

Ruth and Janet turned me onto my anthem. I knew and recited the words by heart. I bought the album and played it more than some people were playing Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Over and over all day long, I pulled the needle back to start my favorite song again one more time. This was 1972. The album was released a year earlier.

Dory Previn

The singer-songwriter’s name was Dory Previn.

Follow me through this Six Degrees of Hollywood Separation. It reads a bit like Peyton Place – the TV series that starred actress Mia Farrow. When Dory Previn lived in London with her composer husband Andre Previn she was befriended by that very same actress. Mia then stole her husband.

Andre and Mia had three kids together. And adopted another three.

After Mia and Andre divorced, Mia adopted a seventh child. Turns out, she was only halfway there. Before she was done, she’d pick up another seven.

A few years earlier, Mia had been in a brief marriage to Frank Sinatra. Frank got to enjoy Mia with no kids. Frank and Mia’s wedding photo was displayed in a prominent place in Ruth’s ex-husband’s home.

After Previn came Woody Allen. He played jazz clarinet and Mia was drawn to men with musical talent. If she’d seen my father play harmonica, maybe I’d be writing about stepmom.   With Allen there would be a couple of more kids, and a handful after that.

You don’t live under a rock, so you know about the Woody-Mia scandal. Mia and Andre’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi started sleeping with her “stepfather” Woody. They later married and she never spoke to her mother again. There were many allegations. Mia sent Woody a Valentine with a spike through the heart that said it all.

When the scandal broke Woody famously said, “The heart wants what it wants.” Presumably, it doesn’t want a spike through it. Woody and Soon Yi adopted children of their own but not as many as Mia.

Flashback to that album Dory Previn recorded after Mia ran off with her husband. Dory had made her own spiked valentine. It was a song called Beware Young Girls.

Mia should have listened to it.


Turns out it’s not the song that was my anthem that Dory Previn wrote. Sorry, I got sidetracked by all the gossip. My favorite song was “Angels And Devils The Following Day — on her 1971 album titled Mythical Kings and Iguanas. I can still recite the lyrics by heart all these years later. Enjoy the music.

In honor of this story, go to Nate n’ Al’s deli where I went without fail every single Saturday morning with my father.  I would often bring my boyfriend or any other friends who were hungry and needed to be fed.  If you’re in New York, go to Barney Greengrass or Russ and Daughters Cafe.  Pretend it’s 1971 again.

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4 Responses to “Angels and Devils”

  1. robin says:

    there were 2 albums, no?
    in any case, julie and i played them ad nauseam, as teenage girls do.
    can still recite lots as well.
    welcome back. missed your writing…

  2. jennifer dudley arbaugh says:

    six degrees of dori and mia AND fredde….. I never listened to her music but I will now… and put on my playlist…. as for mia… we all seem to have a memory… as for you.. always the highest praise for your blog, writing and my admiration… now.. and hopefully… forever and a bev hills memory.. x jda

  3. pauli cymet says:

    I hope you check this site for recent comments, Frdderica, I am at home, alone, tonight, having a light dinner & thought I would bring dinner to the computer & open your blog. I didn’t really know what to expect, except that I knew I would like your writing. Well, like it iis not the word. Why don’t you turn your musings into a book- even an online one? Your style popped out again in my view, exactly as I thought it might. Your humor is a hoot and a half.
    Mythical & Iguanas-I think I broke the needle on my stereo with that one.I remember all of it-the Mia, the whole nine yards,the be careful of young girls (I was one then, & she was right). And I loved the songs, as they spoike ot me, loud & clear. I would bet that’s the first time in 30 years that I’ve heard it again. Why, I don’t know, just started following other performers. At that time my UCLA roommates mom & dad treated my roomie & I to a concert at a large arena. I don’t remember where, but we saw Sinatra, MInzelli perform and, of course, Mia. Minelli was in rare form-terrific. Sinatra-well, who didn’t fall in love with Blue Eyes? That was my 2nd time seeing him in person , first time in Vegas, & I swear, as dnaive as I must have been, I thought he was singing to me. For real. His eyes were so blue & penetrating, and he was sooooo sexy; it was his timing & that you knew he’s been around the block & knew his way around women-any women. He later became close personal buddies with my S.F. childhood friend’s parents & I learned more about him. The husband, my friend’s dad, worshipped the ground FS walked on. The wife, was cooler, but smitten, despite her husband being better looking & equally sexy. FS gave them an anniversary party & gifts & brought Robert Goulet to their house as a guest.-I was not invited, too bad. Just the family only. I always wanted to meet him just to get the vibes up close & personal, but it wasn’t in the stars. Mia at that time looked lke a forlorn waif-with the pixie cut & she was even thinner than I was, and I was a twig.She looked so INNOCENT & HE LOOKED old enough to be her dad, I remember thinking when I saw them interact at the concert. I understood the attraction, but it seemed off, somehow.Iwon’t comment on WA & her, as he repulses me now. So thanks for blogging. I can’t wait to read the rest of your writings. You DO have a way with words, you certainly do. You ARE a writer, married to a writer. Whetjerr you call yourself a writer or not. Would you call Jackie Collins a writer? Of course, the best tale teller in the world. I sat with her many times when we belonged to Tramp. Her husband befriended me, the late handsome, debonair Oscar. He thought I was nervy, cheeky, cute & clueless as I drove a Cutlass. He said to me one night, let’s go outside.I said “why?” He said “follow me” . I did He said is that really your car? I proudly said “yes”, as it was a Perinwinkle blue Cutlass, band new, and I had erned the $ to buy it, so loved it. He said “Pauline, Pauline-you are a major player in showbiz, I hear about you all the time–you may be only a service to the industry biz, not an actress, but you are in the loop, my dear. You CANNOT drive an Olds. I want you to really consider what I am telling you. It’s bad for y our image. I went home to my boyfriend I was living with, & told him later of the conversation. He said “he’s absolutely right., you are from SF. & non-pretentious, but the game is different here-and if you want to be in it, you havfe to play according to the rules. Image is everything.” I called my mom, the most down to earth woman, not a phony bone. She said “Oscar is right”. Buy a Rolls, please.”. Next day I consulted my business partner, & we both bought Jags as we didn’t think we could ever drive RollsR’s–still have the car–had a newer one in between-& it’s old & feeble, but I at attached to it…Jackie & I had our hair cut by the same stylist at Rilys on Sunset. She sat next to me one day, may she rest in peace,& started with her stories-You would have loved it. She was totally bawdy, no holds barred, hysterically funny, even better in person than in her books. I will never forget that hour, it was magical.. SHE was a writer. The most detailed Dickensian writer-her characters became very real. You were sure you knew them & could predict their actions in the tales.. So the point of this rambling like a rolling stone, mini-blog for you, is don’t say YOU ARE NOT A WRITER. You are. Thank you for sharing your blog with me. I can’t wait to read the rest of your posts. NEVER let talent go to waste-share it with the world, Frederica. G-d put you here with a mission-maybe that’s one of them. Silnce I’ve never met you, I don’t know. But I feel somehow like you are a special connection-no reason why, no explanation, just on the same page..& both of us are FUN, FUN women!

  4. pauli cymet says:

    Sorry about the many typos. I type l00 & write fast & careless about it. & would have corrected but don’t see the edit key.

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