A 60-Year Friendship

Eva (left) and Alice, both in their 20s

The friendship between Alice De Lamar and the actress Eva Le Gallienne lasted for almost 60 years. Both had homes in Weston that still exist. Eva bought a tiny cottage built in 1775 on four acres of rocky land in 1927, paying $3,500. Alice built Stone Brook, not far from Eva’s home, around 1930.

The two women met in the early 1920s, when Eva charmed Alice into investing in a play performed in Paris called “Jehanne d’Arc,” in which Eva starred. Alice had spent her early years in Paris and kept an apartment there.

The opening night was considered a social triumph, but the play was not favorably reviewed, and it closed after a few weeks.

Attendees included the American ambassador, the French cultural minister, Mrs. Vincent Astor, Elsie de Wolfe, actress Constance Collier, composer Ivor Novello, writer Dorothy Parker, pianist Arthur Rubinstein, and composer Cole Porter.

“Norman-Bel Geddes is the unchallenged genius of scenic design in this country. He has, strangely enough, an urge to direct rather than design exclusively. He directed Eva Le Gallienne in a play by Mercedes d’Acosta about “Jehanne” d’Arc in Paris and set back by a couple of decades the never too robust artistic reputation of America in the eyes of the French.”  TIME MAGAZINE review

Alice invited Eva to her villa in Italy to recover from the failure of the play.

Eva wrote, “I found Alice to the highest degree a sensitive person — who allows other individuals their entire freedom — who makes no personal demands on them — with whom one can remain for hours at a time silent — without misunderstanding. And when personally called upon, a creature of great strength & gentleness — & a kind of serenity of wisdom, naive & childlike. I am deeply grateful for all that.” (Eva LeGallienne: A Biography, by Helen Sheehy).

While there has been speculation that Alice and Eva were once lovers, Helen Sheehy, Eva’s biographer, is certain they were not. “Perhaps she (Alice) would have liked a more intimate relationship, but she was painfully shy, and Eva was not interested in Alice as a lover. De Lamar would protect, support, and encourage Le Gallienne. Blessed with wealth but lacking artistic talent, she lived vicariously through the artists she helped.” http://www.helensheehy.org/eva_le_gallienne__a_biography_22436.htm




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