on the cover:
Valentino. Kerouac. Warhol. Dylan Thomas. Frank Zappa. Bobby Fischer… Why on earth did they come to Utah? What did they do here? And what could it possibly matter?
Find out the answers to two of these questions in this light-hearted, completely factual guide to Utah’s most unlikely visitors. In twenty-five historical vignettes, author Will South provides a goldmine of little-known trivia: the gist of Mark Twain’s interview with Brigham Young, the highlights of Groucho Max’s and Charlie Chaplin’s escapade in a Salt Lake City brothel, Natacha Rambova’s real identity as a Utah girl, and other details, accompanied by an impressive array of rare photographs.
Other notables include Susan B. Anthony, the famous nineteenth-century women’s activist; Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, eccentric world explorer and early sex researcher; Vladimir Nabokov, controversial expatriate Russian author; Orson Welles, anti-establishment Hollywood guru; Oscar Wilde, flamboyant British playwright; and Frank Lloyd Wright, modernist architect with an attitude.
What is the secret to Utah’s drawing power? As the “Crossroads of the West,” perhaps the answer lies in being a layover away from California.
about the author: Will South serves as Research Curator for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, where he has written a guide to the permanent collection. He received his doctorate in art history from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he was named Henry R. Luce Fellow for 1991. Included among his publications in the field of American art history are California Impressionism for Abbeville Press, Guy Rose: American Impressionist for the Oakland Museum, Califonia Grandeur and Genre (with Katherine Plake Hough and Iona M. Chelette) for the Palm Springs Desert Museum; Making and Breaking Tradition: A History of the Salt Lake Art Center for the Salt Lake Art Center; and a monograph on American impressionist James Taylor Harwood (1860-1940) for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.
Andy Warhol Slept Here?
Famous and Infamous Visitors to Utah
Salt Lake City
Cover Design: Ray Morales
∞ Andy Warhol Slept Here? was printed on acid-free paper and was composed, printed, and bound in the United States of America.
© 1998 Signature Books. Signature Books is a registered trademark of Signature Books, Inc. All rights reserved.
02 01 2000 99 98 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Andy Warhol slept here : Famous and infamous visitors to Utah / by Will South.
Includes bibliographical references.
1. Utah—Description and travel—Anecdotes. 2. Utah—Biography—Anecdotes. 3. Celebrities—Travel—Utah—Anecdotes. 4. Travelers—Utah—Anecdotes. I. Title.
979.2—dc21 98-6313 CIP
Foreword by Aden Ross … vii
Introduction … ix
1859 Horace Greeley … 1
1860 Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton … 3
1862 Mark Twain … 6
1863 Albert Bierstadt … 8
1882 Oscar Wilde … 11
1895 Susan B. Anthony … 16
1906 Sarah Bernhardt … 20
1911 Groucho Marx and Charlie Chaplin … 24
1911 Ruth St. Denis … 27
1915 Joe Hill … 31
1922 Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova … 34
1931 Maude Adams … 37
1941 Vincent Van Gogh … 41
1943 Vladimir Nabokov … 43
1947 Jack Kerouac … 46
1947 Orson Welles … 48
1952 Dylan Thomas … 51
1953 Frank Lloyd Wright … 53
1960 Marian Anderson … 56
1963 John F. Kennedy … 59
1964 Bobby Fischer … 63
1967 Andy Warhol … 65
1970 Robert Smithson … 69
1973 Frank Zappa … 72
1993 Stephen Hawking … 75
Sources … 78
[p.vii] In 1918 the great novelist James Joyce, the Dada artist Tristan Tzara, and the Russian Communist leader Vladimir Lenin all lived in Zurich. Of nearly equal improbability, we learn in this book, luminaries ranging from Mark Twain to John F. Kennedy, from Rudolph Valentino to Andy Warhol, and from Susan B. Anthony to Stephen Hawking have all visited Utah. Sometimes their experiences here were impressive and dignified; sometimes their visits read like sojourns in an alternate reality construct.
In every case, Will South, who has long been a delightful commentator on the Utah art scene, shares his bemused gaze and intelligent observations. Together, we watch such scenes as Groucho Marx and Charlie Chaplin playing leapfrog over ash cans in Salt Lake City, Bobby Fischer competing in sixty-three simultaneous games of chess in Ogden, and Marian Anderson riding the freight elevator in the Hotel Utah. Enchanting, infuriating, inspiring, humbling moments fill this volume.
Often famous visitors left a lasting mark on Utah residents: the painter Albert Bierstadt, the dancer Ruth St. Denis, the poet Dylan Thomas, and the musician Frank Zappa directly influenced the course of our arts. Other visitors left a different kind of impression: Oscar Wilde and Sarah Bernhardt sparked heated debate, if not [p.viii] outright disapproval; and Andy Warhol’s appearance simply requires reading for yourself.
Unfortunately, in the minds of some people, Utah has the same reputation culturally that the Great Plains have topographically—a place to cross as rapidly as possible, or to avoid altogether. For those of us who linger here, however short a time, the cultural landscape assumes a different shape, usually comprised of subtle, gem-like moments. Will salvages and re-creates these charismatic moments; his micro-history contributes nuance and texture to the state’s larger history, just as these visitors contributed to our collective imagination. It isn’t chance that charisma comes from the Greek word for “gift.”
Although few of us met any of these people, Will South happily makes it possible for us to meet them now, and in a form where they cannot get away. Their visits—in person and on paper—make living in Utah just a little more charming, a little more incredible, and a lot more fun.
[p.ix] Utah is a peculiar place. Which is not to say that it isn’t a beautiful place, because it is; or that it isn’t populated with some interesting people, because they are here. Utah is simply different, in a decidedly odd way.
Most Utahns are politically just to the right of Darth Vader, yet Utah has a long history of supporting the arts—an activity usually considered liberal, if not morally deviant, in many parts of America. Socially, Utah is one of the last great strongholds of patriarchy, and yet it was the second state in the Union (after Wyoming) to grant women the vote. Physically, Utahns are generally pretty healthy, and collectively frown on excessive drinking and smoking. But they eat more ice-cream than the rest of the free world put together. The list of bizarre ironies goes on.
Somewhere on that list is the notion that Utah has been, until fairly recently, an isolated culture. Historians and sundry critics have written over and over about this land’s geographic and cultural separation from civilization. Yet, for all its purported remoteness, lots of people found a way to visit Utah during the last hundred and more years. Building a railroad straight through here helped considerably. This also made it easy for locals to leave, but that’s another book.
People who visited Utah brought with them their [p.x] ideas and their talents in addition to their luggage. While it’s impossible to know just how much and in what specific ways visitors have influenced the lives of natives, it is certain they were a constant reminder of the bigger world beyond the Wasatch Mountains. This little book is about a couple of dozen of the more famous and infamous visitors who passed through and stirred the imaginations of those they contacted.
Several scholars and would-be scholars contributed in positive ways to this book. Thanks to all of you, and special thanks to Paula Evershed, my long-time girlfriend, for reading the original manuscript; to Amy J. Coleman for her research efforts; and to Allen Chapman, who must be credited up-front for providing the inspiration.