first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The first lady wore green, the queen yellow. “I could only think that here I am, the grandson of immigrants, dancing at the White House with the Queen of England,” Landau said. Barry Landau. He’s the kind of guy you may not notice in the pictures with celebrities. He is 59 and has been in the company of presidents for nearly 50 years. He is tall and bearded, with a home full of history and a head crammed with names, like boxes in an overstuffed closet ready to tumble out. He is at work on a trilogy of books about political pomp and protocol. The first, just released, is “The President’s Table,” a 200-plus-year sampling of White House cuisine, to be followed by a history of inaugurations, then a volume on presidential style. “We couldn’t get it all into one book,” Landau said with a laugh. NEW YORK – Barry H. Landau, presidential collector and connoisseur, remembers the time he was dancing with Betty Ford at the White House and Fred Astaire cut in. Oh? “I recall I was doing a `Lindy’ with Mrs. Ford, and remember `spinning her out’ when I suddenly received a tap on my shoulder; turning around to be face to face with Hollywood icon Fred Astaire,” he explained. “It’s customary for the couple to then switch partners, only to realize that Mr. Astaire was dancing with Queen Elizabeth. This didn’t faze me, as I had met the Queen 10 years earlier at a royal command performance in England.” Enter his midtown Manhattan high-rise and you might think the Smithsonian Institution had opened a new wing. The walls are covered with vintage black and white etchings of 19th-century inaugurations. A cabinet holds presidential mugs, plates, goblets and a skeleton key that fits right into the front door of the White House, or did during the administration of John Adams. Few have succeeded so well in mingling with the famous without becoming famous himself. Like a true insider, his office has a wall of inscribed photographs of presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, of Herbert Hoover and J. Edgar Hoover, of an inaugural ball in which Landau stands on a stage along with Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and many others. “He’s made it his business somehow to know everybody,” said CBS newsman Mike Wallace, a friend of Landau’s. Born in Manhattan and raised in the borough of Queens, Landau did not grow up in a political family. His father was a theater ticket broker, his mother worked in real estate and other fields, and was a photographer for columnist Walter Winchell, a source of endless show business anecdotes. Landau remembers himself as always very curious, not to mention “creative, impulsive and determined to do as many interesting things in life as I could.” Also, he had chronic bronchitis and asthma and couldn’t play sports. “So I gravitated toward older people.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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