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The Great Gatsby

REVISITING AN OLD SPORT

As part of the Museum Movies in Huntington series, the Huntington Historical Society will present a special screening of ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1974) starring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow and Sam Waterston at the Whaling Museum, 301 Main St., in Cold Spring Harbor on Wednesday, July 11 at 7 p.m. $5 per person. Reservations are required (no walk-ins) by calling 631-427-7045.

 

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Vanderbilt estate’s restored pool in 2017

When William K. Vanderbilt II created his Eagle’s Nest estate and mansion in the early twentieth century, he included a golf course, tennis courts and a saltwater pool with cabanas, overlooking Northport Bay.

Decades ago, the pool was filled in for visitor safety and today it is planted with grass. Earlier this summer, the Vanderbilt Museum restoration staff repaired and restored the pool and cabanas and, according to the original design, repainted them white. With the completion of the project, the museum has another singular, scenic location for receptions, parties and weddings.

The pool complex is built into the steep hillside, which made possible the imposing semicircular wall and double staircase that splits at a landing below the grand entry steps. The sides of the wall, which is crowned by a balustrade, step down several times. Each step is decorated with an urn of flowers.

The double stairways, with elegant wrought-iron railings, wind down each side of the wall to the walkway that encircles the pool. On the walkway level, in the center of the wall, is a large niche that showcases a statue rising out of a shallow basin. The statue, which is also a fountain, is a neoclassical bearded man with a cherub standing on each shoulder.

The staff also restored the twin cabanas adjacent to the waterfront edge of the pool. Crew members removed the deteriorating cabana roofs and constructed new ones from the remaining inventory of original, curved, Mediterranean-style ceramic tiles purchased by Vanderbilt’s architects. The carved wooden cabana doors, removed and stored for years, were rehung and repainted. Between the cabanas is a small terrace of bricks set in a herringbone pattern.

Several years ago, the Vanderbilt pool had an anonymous moment of fame on the silver screen. That moment had its beginnings in 2013 when, even in its deteriorated state, the pool design appealed to Australian movie director Baz Luhrmann.

Restored cabanas and terrace, overlooking Northport Bay

When Luhrmann was doing research for his film “The Great Gatsby” (2013) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, he and his production designer, Catherine Martin, visited some of the remaining Gold Coast mansions on the North Shore of Long Island. They spent an afternoon exploring and photographing the Vanderbilt estate, mansion and pool. Luhrmann was so impressed with the pool that he created a version of it and its graceful, curving twin staircases, for his movie.

A May 2013 Vanity Fair article detailed Luhrmann’s visit: In the film, Gatsby’s parties are centered around his circular pool, which later serves as the setting of a tragic climactic scene. During an extensive location scout of houses in Long Island, Martin says, she, Luhrmann, and their crew stumbled upon their inspiration at Eagle’s Nest, a Spanish Revival–style mansion that Vanderbilt began building in 1910.

Even though the pool had been filled in with grass and dirt after a hurricane, she says, Luhrmann was so taken by the property that he had his music supervisor and an assistant spontaneously act out the pivotal scene right there. “The video that Baz shot that day is almost identical to the scene that ended up in the movie,” she said.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport is open on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. through April 2, 2018. Mansion tours are given at 12:30, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-854-5579.

Photos courtesy of Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

By Kevin Redding

Strap in, old sport. The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook is bringing you back to the roaring twenties for a special fundraiser and examination of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 literary masterpiece. Chasing Gatsby: The Journey from Book to Film is a one-night event Saturday, May 6 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. that explores the enduring power of “The Great Gatsby,” Fitzgerald’s universally revered novel about excess and tragedy in the fictional town of West Egg on Long Island in the summer of 1922.

“To me, it doesn’t get any better than this for a program,” Neil Watson, the museum’s executive director, said. “We’re all really proud of what we’ve put together because it really pushes the limit for us of what’s possible in programming — it will bring theater, performance, the written word and Hollywood under one umbrella. There’s nobody else putting this kind of event together.”

Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails will be served to attendees as they follow the classic novel’s progression and interpretations throughout the years with the help of an impressive panel of guest speakers.

John Bedford Lloyd

Actor John Bedford Lloyd, known for his film roles in “Crossing Delancey” and “The Abyss,” will join Tony Award-nominated actress Anne Twomey, best known for originating the stage role in “Nuts,” in reading selected excerpts from the book.

Christine Vachon, award-winning producer of the new Amazon series “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” based on the life of Fitzgerald’s infamous wife, Zelda, will discuss how three Hollywood film adaptations — the 1949 version starring Alan Ladd and Betty Field, the 1974 version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow and the 2013 version starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan — approached the source material differently and show clips from each.

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR’s “Fresh Air” will also be there to talk about her 2014 book, “So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures.”

Julie Diamond, director of communications, said the program has been in the works for about six months and will coincide with the museum’s Prohibition on Long Island exhibition May 5. “We try to organize public programs that correspond with our exhibitions, so Gatsby is complementary to that era of Prohibition in the 1920s and is highly regarded as one of the best examples of American literature,” she said.

Maureen Corrigan

Watson, who referred to “The Great Gatsby” as one of his favorite books of all time, said it didn’t take long for the program to take shape. “It started with the idea of just doing readings [from it] and really evolved quickly from that into a much more interactive experience,” he said. “To have this right in our backyard on Long Island, where the novel takes place, is wonderful.”

“We want the public to look at our museum and see this museum is about exhibitions we do, the carriage collection, the education programs we do, but also about this kind of program,” said Watson. “It’s really looking at the museum as a cultural hub for the area, and we want everybody to really take advantage of it because there’s so much here and the more we can do and the more we get the community responding we can up our game too.”

Watson called on his wife, Judy Blundell, a National Book Award recipient and successful author of books for young adult and adult readers, to moderate the event. “I’m so thrilled,” Blundell said in an email. “I can’t imagine a better group to discuss how and why this gorgeous novel manages to capture the imagination of generation after generation. In only nine chapters and 50,000 words, Fitzgerald delivers an iconic American story told in language and images consistently fresh every reading.”

“I think it’s a smart program and it has everything — it’s entertaining, it’s dramatic and it’s fun and you learn something too, which is great,” said Watson. “I think it’s going be a wonderful evening.”

Tickets for the event are $35 per person or $75 for premium seating and may be purchased online at www.longislandmuseum.org/events. The museum staff expects the limited-seating program to sell out, so act quickly, old sport.

The Long Island Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook. For more information, please call 631-751-0066.

Standing in front of Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) at Port Jefferson Free Library's tea party are, from left, Linda Gavin; Earlene O’Hare; Carol Stalzer; Shirley Weiner; Stephanie Costanzo; Lucio Constanzo; Francesca Lutz; and Deborah O’Neil. Photo by Heidi Sutton

In celebration of the 90th anniversary of the publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary novel “The Great Gatsby,” the Friends of the Port Jefferson Free Library held a Gatsby Tea Party fundraiser on Wednesday, April 29.

Guests enjoyed a wonderful lunch and dessert and sipped tea from their favorite teacups. Shirley Weiner presented a lecture on F. Scott Fitzgerald and his literary works which was followed by a raffle drawing.

The Port Jefferson Historical Society loaned a period costume exhibit, featuring a flapper dress, a man’s tuxedo and a bridal trousseau, for the occasion.

Proceeds from the event will be used to fund projects at the library such as its Living Heritage programs, Dickens Festival events, music programs, Baby Book Welcome Bags, Vets Memorial Project, family carnival and more.