31 December 2014

Fred Astaire really did not like champagne

In December 1961, Fred Astaire received an advance copy of the newest issue of Playboy Magazine which showed a photograph of him holding a glass of champagne. The photo was from one of his movies ("The Pleasure of his Company") and would appear in the Playboy article despite Astaire's repeated refusal to be shown with a drink in his hand. Seeing his wishes so blatantly ignored, Astaire wrote a letter to Playboy's editorial director A.C. Spectorsky. Both Astaire's letter (in which he remained surprisingly civil instead of getting angry) and Spectorsky's apology (sent shortly thereafter) are shown below.

1956, Fred Astaire photographed by Richard Avedon
Source: heritage auctions/ image reproduced with permission


December 22, 1961

A.C. Spectorsky, Editorial Director
232 East Ohio Street
Chicago 11, Illinois

Dear Mr. Spectorsky:

Thank you for sending me the advance copy of January Playboy Magazine in which there is a photo of me in the "Toasting the New Year" article.

However, since you have asked me for my comments, I feel it only fair I should tell you the circumstances under which this photograph appeared. First I was asked from the Eastern Office of the magazine to pose for a picture with a drink in my hand. I stated that I respectfully declined the invitation since I have no favorite drink and did not wish to appear in the article. A few weeks later I was called on the telephone by someone at the local Playboy office and was again approached about posing with a drink in my hand, which I again declined. I was then asked if I objected to the use of a photograph from one of my pictures, namely "The Pleasure Of His Company", in which I am holding a glass of champagne, to which I again specified that I did not wish it used and that I did not wish to participate in this article with a drink in my hand since I had no favorite drink. This was thoroughly understood.

Perhaps you can understand now why I am amazed at the use of this photograph of me with a glass of champagne in my hand "Toasting the New Year". Obviously there is no harm done but I just want to point out to you that I really do not happen to like champagne.

With kindest regards, I remain,

Sincerely yours, 
And here is Spectorsky's answer, dated 2 January 1962:

Source: heritage auctions/ image reproduced with permission


January 2, 1962

Mr. Fred Astaire
1129 Summit Drive
Beverly Hills, California

Dear Mr. Astaire:

Thank you for your letter of December 22. Had I been aware of the facts you put forth, your picture most certainly would not have been used. I apologize for the entire organization-- and simultaneously thank you for the reasonable tone and lack of heat in your letter. We could not be more pleased.

I would like to take this occasion to extend you season's greetings as best I can, being in process of still recovering from convivial imbibing of that drink whose dislike you and I share completely.

May I repeat that we are sorry for the treatment we accorded you, and may I also assure you that this is totally atypical of our behavior and contrary to our policies. I would also like to cop a plea for those of my colleagues who were involved: I assure you they are innocent of piratical intent and can only be charged with that dread disease known as lack of communication which afflicts us all in this rapidly growing and proliferating enterprise known as PLAYBOY. Apparently, your ultimate refusal for the use of a picture from one of your films either failed to register with those responsible or filtered through too late to make a change.

We hope this unfortunate incident won't prejudice you against this magazine and this organization, and we (and I, personally) want to express gratitude for your writing.


A.C. Spectorsky
Associate Publisher and Editorial Director


1 comment:

  1. A lesson in civility. May we recall it throughout the coming year.