Y.8 -

receives Alice M. Brophy Award

HL Pat Conroy"s Angry Interview


DD 11/21/91

SO Newsday (NDAY)

Edition: CITY

Section: NEWS

Page: 11

LP `MY FATHER was a racist, anti-Semitic, anti-everything. I wish I could have found a black Jewish lesbian to marry!" That"s just one of the extraordinary comments author Pat Conroy makes to Amy Rennert in the December issue of San Francisco Focus. What an interview! Conroy, author of "The Great Santini" and "The Prince of Tides," is candor personified. Among his more startling remarks: "I would not wish an Irish Catholic childhood on an insect. Because of my father, I grew up hating Ireland, all Irish Catholics, nuns, priests, the Chicago White Sox . . . What got left out of my childhood is that no one taught me how to love. Love in my family came with fists . . . I don"t have a clue what love is about . . .

TX "My father was a consummately violent man . . . his violence is the central fact of my art and my life . . . When one of my kids spills milk at the dinner table my first impulse is to hit him . . . though I"ve never hit my wife or kids, I"ve learned that I am a violent man." What does Conroy think of the coming film version of "The Prince of Tides" and its star / director / producer Barbra Streisand? "I think Barbra did a great job - she held nothing back. I love it . . . Her sheer will and brilliance is the reason the movie got made." Conroy admits that the controlling, manipulative character of Lila Wingo in "Tides" (played by Kate Nelligan) is based very much on his own mother. The author says he was unable to write about her properly in his other autobiographical fiction, "The Great Santini," because "I didn"t think anyone would believe that kids could survive those two, powerful forces. So I did mom"s idealized self in `Santini.^ " Conroy"s mother is dead now, and he muses: "She was an amazing woman. I"ll be trying to figure her out for the rest of my life." And although Lila Wingo, a blend of fact and fiction, may not seem a terribly positive role model, Conroy does credit his mother with helping him escape his father"s legacy of acted-out violence. He recalls his mother reading aloud "The Diary of Anne Frank." Conroy fell in love with Anne and was shattered and hysterical when the book ended and he discovered what became of her. "And then my mother said something that affected my entire life. She said she wanted us to become the kind of family that would hide Jews." CONROY"S ROLLING. In addition to "The Prince of Tides," in Chester, Conn., there is the Norma Terris Theater production of a new musical, "Conrack," based upon his book "The Water Is Wide." Of course, "Conrack" was also a film that starred Jon Voight a number of years ago. This time, the teacher will sing! * * * DON"T MISS the U.S. News & World Report "Outlook" editorial this week titled "Reaping Thorns From the Family Tree," all about the Kennedys. Harrison Raine writes: "After years of averting their eyes, the Kennedys have come face to face with an awful truth: Public hostility to Sen. Edward Kennedy is so great that it could jeopardize the fate of his 31-year-old nephew, Willie, who is being tried on a rape charge. The bitter irony is that the daily humiliations heaped on Senator Kennedy in a Palm Beach courtroom are being drawn out by agents for the family . . . the answers they {the Kennedys} have been hearing from average citizens convey a raw insolence because they cannot be ascribed to political enemies or kooks." * * * SO WHAT happened when Susan Gutfreund issued her legal injunction that she should not be immortalized - along with Demi Moore, George Hamilton, Audrey Hepburn and others - in the Barney"s New York holiday windows commemorating the famous from Vanity Fair this past year? The magazine wanted to hang tough and go ahead. But Barney"s was understandably more timid. (Retailers have it hard enough in this economic recession.) The Gutfreund window will appear as originally planned on Seventh Avenue and 17th Street, but there will be no mannequin in it representing the wife of the ex-Salomon Bros. financier. * * * ^TIS THE season to be jolly - or it will be any minute! And generous, too. So I want to tell you about the Burden Center for the Aging"s 12th annual dinner dance and awards taking place in the Rainbow Room on Dec. 2, a Monday. Cattie and Donald Maron will receive the Business Leadership Award this year. (The Burden Center movers and shakers decided not to honor husbands without their wives because the Mrs. is such a big * part of the Mr.^s success - and vice versa.) Princess Yasmin Aga Khan Jeffries is receiving the Alice M. Brophy Award for her work against Alzheimer"s disease. Arthur Liman, Susan and Carter Burden, Michel David-Weill, James M. Dubin, Georgette Mosbacher, Frank A. Olson, Laura and Donald Pels, David Rockefeller, Steve Ross, Marvin Sloves, Anne Bass, Pauline and Dixon Boardman, Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, Lauren and John Veronis, Freddy Melhado, Bill Green, and the city"s commissioner on the aging, Prema Mathai-Davis, are just a few who"ll be there all spiffed up. Call (212) 921-9070 for the $500 tickets. You are needed for this great, great effort to help New York"s elderly. @Art: File Photo-Pat Conroy-No Holds Barred

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