Mourning Nancy LaMott
“What one reads in the newspaper,” said Bismarck, “can also be true.” I thought of that wry remark as I looked at the obituaries for the cabaret singer Nancy LaMott that ran in the New York papers last December. The circumstances of her death made it a newsworthy event, especially in a town with two tabloids: she was married on her bed in a Manhattan hospital, an hour and a half before she died of liver cancer, two weeks short of what would have been her forty-fourth birthday. Yet none of the papers offered a first-hand account of the ceremony, in part because, except for me, no journalists were present, and I wrote nothing about it. It was, I felt, a private matter.
Keeping Nancy’s secrets was nothing new for me; I had been doing it since the day we met. She was, as my wife Liz once said, a blurter: every important thing she ever told me about herself burst out of her without warning, either as soon as we got together or in the middle of a conversation about something else. As a working journalist, I interviewed her twice, and on both occasions she unthinkingly said things that would have been acutely embarrassing, to her and other people, had they been published.
About the Author
Terry Teachout is COMMENTARY’s critic-at-large and the drama critic of the Wall Street Journal. Satchmo at the Waldorf, his first play, runs through November 4 at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.