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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 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

Leave a Reply