Monday, February 18, 2008

East Hampton 1952: Anita Zahn & The Duncan Method

In Memorial for Everett Martin Sims
(June 27, 1920-February 18, 2002)

In the 1950's, Ev and his boyfriend "Bill" rented a converted chicken coop on a Lily Pond Lane estate owned by an "Isadorable," one of the German orphans adopted by Isadora Duncan and her sister Elizabeth Duncan in the 1920's, by the name of Anita Zahn. Anita had parlayed her early dance notoriety into a career as a danse arts teacher--at Spence, the Upper East Side girls school during the winter, and in the summertime, at her house on East Hampton's Lily Pond Lane.
Here is Ev standing in front of the ballroom side of the house in 1952. In recent years the house has been owned by Mr. Eastman, Linda Eastman's father. I can't remember, but either the chicken coop, or some portion of the house was said to be the original county poor house--one of the oldest extant structures in Suffolk County, New York.

Anita was the danse instructor to a young Jacqueline Bouvier and her sister Lee. Mrs. Onassis must have learned her breathy manner of speaking from Anita. At the end of every summer a big recital would be held. One of Ev's favorite anecdotes concerned Anita thanking the volunteers who helped pull off the recital one year. He would imitate Anita's hesitant German-inflected staccato,
"And...I would thank...Mr Everett Sims...for cleaning...the toilet bowls."
In my era, centered on the 1980's, Anita was a grand dame presence at all of our big parties. We young people loved to sit at her feet and ask her questions like, "Anita, tell us again the story of why you didn't marry Stokowski," while she ate it up. The marriage between different generations was a key component of the success of those parties.

This is Everett, but not Anita, from the same roll of film, taken on the East Hampton beach in 1952. It just screams La Dolce Vita.

This is Bill, Ev's partner in the era, who recently left us. He was considered major beefcake material in his time. I don't recognize the house, which although it looks tightly built for stormy weather, also looks highly vulnerable to erosion. Perhaps an East Hampton historian/beach walker will inform us of its status.

Bill and Ev were a golden couple. Bill was a literary agent with one big-name client, who shall remain nameless here.

A couple of shots of Bill, who not surprisingly given his looks, was quite a slut.

Ev in Amagansett during the same period.

The following is my favorite shot of Ev because it is his most erotic image, in my humble opinion. He clearly has a major hangover and maybe I should be telling this to my therapist and not broadcasting it on the internet.

In any event---bye Ev. You ain't missing a thing. Just keep an eye out on us please.


Anonymous said...

"Miss" Zahn was my dance teacher from First to about Fourth Grades at Nightingale Bamford (NOT Spence) - from 1962 on.
At the start of each class she would plunk down a big basket, from which we would slide out huge squares of colored silk in the most ravishing array of hues, and she'd admonish us not to blow our noses in them! Wearing mini-togas in seafoam green nylon, we would flutter around the room with our kaleidoscopic veils, even when we were acting out her "visit to the catacombs of Rome" to somber accompaniment on the piano.I do remember her accent, but I had no idea she was living it up in East Hampton during summers!

stevenwarran said...

What a charming comment, but of course, it doesn't do my credibility any good, at all!

Anonymous said...

She also taught at Spence... your credibility is intact! She was a part time teacher at Spence/Chapin and Nightingale.

Anonymous said...

I was a student of Anita Zahn's in the Ballroom at Sacred Heart for many years; she is legendary among alumnae of a certain age. Her ethereal presence, leaping across the Ballroom with the gauze scarves and the lemon cookies she served at the end of class... all great memories. It's wonderful to see these photos. Thank you.