Pierre Salinger's Eyebrows
Now that we've written about Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Washington-based journalist, Grant Rampy, how about another fun installment involving a capitol city heavyweight?
We interviewed former JFK press secretary, Pierre Salinger, back in 1995 and had a great couple of hours with him. He was a superb storyteller and a very cordial host.
One funny thing that sticks-out as I recall that day, occured just as we were about to roll tape on the interview.
Salinger had incredibly bushy eyebrows. They looked like a pair of the fattest, furriest, caterpillars that decided to nap on the man's browline-- and never move.
At times, 'the eyebrows' (I've placed them in their own special set of quote marks as they seem, to me, to be their very own living entity) would get a bit... um... disheveled.
As I looked at Salinger's face, I noticed that I could no longer see his eyeballs. 'The eyebows' had come unhinged, and flopped over to obscure the man's eyes behind a dense curtain of... ah, eyebrow hair. Ack!
Again, I emphasize: these were no ordinary eyebrows. The hair seemed thick-- like the sorta stuff that grows atop your head.
I momentarily panicked. How the hell do you tell a notable guy that you can't see his eyes because of HIS EYEBROWS?!?
With the fear of offending the man (and suddenly losing the interview), I decided to simply be honest.
"Uh, Mr. Salinger? One quick thing before we roll..."
I leaned in, and whispered, "Uh... your... uh..."
With that, I made a mussy gesture with my hands that blurred and blended the normally separate and distinct space between eyebrow and eye.
To my everlasting relief, I needn't say more. The man 'got' it.
With that, he pulled from his jacket's front pocket the tiniest comb I have ever seen.
He then gave his brows -- and I'm not making this up, folks -- a quick makeover. Instead of brows with a heavy droop, they suddenly had a spunky, uplifting quality. The eyebrows were now lifted and spike-y. Salinger always seemed to have a certain Santa-like-gleam in his eyes, and now 'the 'brows' seemed to add to the mischevious look.
When he finished, he slid the specialized comb back into his pocket, gave me a wink, and said, "Happens all the time."