I have always dated beautiful, and bright, women. I never married,
probably because of the trauma of growing up with a father and
mother who were so desperarately unhappy, but never divorced.
When I was a freshman at Columbia, I dated a Barnard freshman
named Stephani Cook. When Stephani was a senior, she entered a
nationwide contest sponsored by Glamour Magazine for the best
dressed coed in America. In effect, it was a contest for the most
beautiful coed in America. Stephani won, a win that launched her
on a multi-year career with the most prominent modeling agency
in the world, the Ford Agency in New York City. Thus, she graced
the covers of the most famous women's magazines such as Seventeen
and others. In the early 1980s, she authored the book "Second Life,"
which was an incredibly well crafted account of her years growing
up and her excruciatingly painful early years of adulthood. And
though I dated beautiful and bright women throughout my life,
really one of the happiest facets of my life, the most beautiful
woman I ever encountered I saw in the film "Casablanca" made
in the early 1940s starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Ingrid Bergman, simply put, is the most mesmerizing, transcendently
beautiful woman I have ever seen. And I really cannot put into
words why she is, by far, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
When she came to Hollywood in the late 1930s, the studio moguls
said she needed to change her name, that she was too tall, and
that her nose was too big. Ingrid's riposte, an important part of her
exquisite beauty, I believe, was she was not going to change her
name, that her height did not bother her, and that she would not
undergo any plastic surgery. In "Casablanca," Ingrid first appears
as she enters Rick's Cafe Americain with her husband. I click at
that moment to freeze that frame so I can gaze, for as long as I
wish, at Ingrid's face (she never wore make-up), even from a
distance. It is iridescent, and every time I do this, I am transfixed
for minutes. That scene, that one scene, is the most extraordinary
moment of all the scenes of all the great movies I have ever watched.
I wish Ingrid were still alive so I could tell her what I've just shared
Copyright 2020 Tod Howard Hawks
every time I do this,
A graduate of Andover and Columbia College, Columbia University, Tod Howard Hawks has been a poet, a novelist, and a human-rights advocte his entire adult life.