Marcel Proust At the age of 20, Marcel Proust put his own psyche under the microscope by answering questions

meant to reveal one s innermost thoughts. More than a century later, and as demonstrated on V.F. s back page each month, the Proust Questionnaire continues to be a popular method of interviewing. This month, as Assouline publishes The Proust Questionnaire with personalities such as Lee Radziwill and Diane von Furstenberg providing the answers we present Proust s own responses from 1892. illustration by AndrÉ Carrilho April 2005

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your most marked characteristic? A craving to be loved, or, to be more precise, to be caressed and spoiled rather than to be admired. What is the quality you most like in a man? Feminine charm. What is the quality you most like in a woman? A man s virtues, and frankness in friendship. What do you most value in your friends? Tenderness provided they possess a physical charm, which makes their tenderness worth having. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Lack of understanding; weakness of will. What is your favorite occupation? Loving. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Not, I fear, a very elevated one. I really haven t the courage to say what it is, and if I did I should probably destroy it by the mere fact of putting it into words. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Never to have known my mother or my grandmother. In which country would you like to live? One where certain things that I want would be realized and where feelings of tenderness would always be reciprocated. Who are your favorite writers? At the moment, Anatole France and Pierre Loti.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Who are your favorite poets? Baudelaire and Alfred de Vigny. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Hamlet. Who is your favorite heroine of fiction? Berenice. Who are your favorite composers? Beethoven, Wagner, Schumann. Who are your favorite painters? Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt. What are your favorite names? I only have one at a time. What is it that you most dislike? My own worst qualities. Which talent would you most like to have? Willpower and irresistible charm. How would you like to die? A better man than I am, and much beloved. What is your current state of mind? Annoyance at having to think about myself in order to answer these questions. What is your motto? I prefer not to say, for fear it might bring me bad luck.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Olivia de Havilland With dozens of beloved performances and two Academy Awards for best actress to her name, the incomparable Olivia de Havilland has left a professional mark on Hollywood that cannot be surpassed. Herewith, the Gone with the Wind star pauses to reflect on champagne, Nelson Mandela, and tap dancing. photograph by Annie Leibovitz March 2005

What is your greatest fear? The loss of physical, financial, and psychological independence. Which living person do you most admire? Nelson Mandela. What is your greatest extravagance? Champagne. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Change is to are and the answer is my two children. When and where were you happiest? In their company, each of us doing his/her own thing in perfect harmony.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Which talent would you most like to have? The gift of coolheadedness or the ability to tap-dance. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? To have my son alive again, happy, healthy, and engaged in the work he loved most. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Person: as me, myself, and I. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Thing: as a California redwood tree tall, strong, deep-rooted, long-living, aromatic, benevolent, reaching toward the sun, the moon, and the stars. What are your favorite names? Alexandra and Alexis. What is your most treasured possession? The christening cup of Geoffrey Raoul de Havilland, given me by his mother after his death on September 27, 1946, while attempting to break the sound barrier in the DH-108, the de Havilland experimental plane. What is your favorite occupation? Doing cryptic crosswords or, equally, reading tales of mystery and imagination. What is the quality you most like in a man? Make that plural and the answer is clear-sightedness, humor, fairness, fidelity to purpose. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Thoughtfulness.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is it that you most dislike? The deception and exploitation of the naïve and defenseless. How would you like to die? I would prefer to live forever in perfect health, but if I must at some time leave this life I would like to do so ensconced on a chaise longue, perfumed, wearing a velvet robe and pearl earrings, with a flute of champagne beside me and having just discovered the answer to the last problem in a British cryptic crossword. What is your motto? Dominus Fortissima Turris. (Variously translated as God is the strongest tower or God is my tower of strength. )

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

John Kenneth Galbraith The author of nearly four dozen books, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, with his observations on public policy, has traced and shaped the course of 20th-century American history. This month, as the first authorized biography of him is published, the 96-year-old champion of progressive thought pauses to reflect on George W. Bush, journeys to New York, and Shakespeare. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Freedom of thought, in a peaceful and economically benign environment, enjoyed with devoted friends. What is your greatest fear? Unquestionably, the continuing survival of the warmongers and, obviously, the nuclear threat. I have these fears not alone for me or this generation but for all who follow. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Neither Herbert Hoover nor Karl Marx. Which living person do you most admire? I admire most persons, with the possible exception of Milton Friedman and George W. Bush. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My worry about the foolishly unworried. What is the trait you most deplore in others? The habit of offering uncontrolled repetitive counsel and advice. What is your greatest extravagance? None. A Scottish upbringing is still in control.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your favorite journey? To New York now forbidden by my doctor. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Modesty a contrived virtue. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Magnificent. Incoherent. Innocent. What is your greatest regret? The books I never wrote. What or who is the greatest love of your life? This is the easiest of all the questions: Catherine Atwater Galbraith, my love and wife for 67 years. What is your current state of mind? Politically distressed. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Obvious and inescapable: helping to rescue economic scholarship from its committed and often self-serving error. What is your most treasured possession? My wife and family, and the intellectual rewards of a life in economics. What is your most marked characteristic? An uncontrollable fear of boredom. What do you most value in your friends? The joys of communication, reciprocal help, support, and mere presence. Who are your favorite writers? I cite the inescapable William Shakespeare.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Who is your favorite hero of fiction? No doubt Huckleberry Finn. What is your motto? There is no major case against life s enjoyments.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Linkletter Since his days as host of Art Linkletter s House Party, which aired on CBS from 1952 to 1969, Art Linkletter has captivated audiences with his irresistible humor and canny way of interviewing children. Their unscripted answers were the inspiration behind Linkletter s best-selling book, Kids Say the Darndest Things, as well as the TV series of the same name, which he co-hosted alongside Bill Cosby. Here, the 92-year-old Emmy Award winner pauses to reflect on family, Ronald Reagan, and tardiness. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being surrounded by my 14 great-grandchildren, eight grandchildren, three children, and my wife of 68 years in a San Diego resort. What is your greatest fear? A stroke that immobilizes me and paralyzes my thinking and speaking. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Ronald Reagan. Which living person do you most admire? Billy Graham. What is your greatest extravagance? Having a great car and a great house. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Being the richest person. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Being untidy, being careless about clothes. Which living person do you most despise? Anyone who abuses children.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your greatest regret? I never knew my parents. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife. When and where were you happiest? Home with family. What is your current state of mind? Happy, content, and challenged. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? My lost son and daughter. Their deaths were my greatest loss. What do you consider your greatest achievement? My family. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? An eagle. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? The same as my present life: entertainer, business entrepreneur, educator. What is your most treasured possession? My health. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Alone in prison as a child abuser. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Ulysses.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is it that you most dislike? Vain braggarts and tardy people. How would you like to die? Seated at sunset in Hawaii overlooking the breaking waves. What is your motto? Mean what you say.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Aileen Mehle Writing as Suzy for W and WWD, Aileen Mehle captivates both her readers and the boldfaced names she covers, providing sharp-eyed accounts of every glamorous social scene. Herewith, the woman who always gets the scoop pauses to reflect on Lady Godiva, terminal procrastination, (not) keeping a diary, and Brigitte Bardot. illustration by Joe Eula August 2005

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sunday in the park with Georges, three of them. Washington for his wisdom, Saint George to slay lurking dragons, and Clooney to carry the picnic basket. Seurat could take the day off. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Lady Godiva, because, despite saddle burns and a few split ends, for one day in her life she didn t have to worry about what to wear.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Terminal procrastination. Terminal, I say. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Probably Who else would tell you these things? But I plan to keep on saying it. What is your greatest regret? That I didn t keep a personal diary of my singular career and all the dazzling adventures along the way. Shhh. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My son and my family. When and where were you happiest? Now in New York will do, though I miss the gorgeous, glamorous years gone by when society was more than boring benefits, book parties, and store openings and when social climbers had class. What is your current state of mind? Hurried, harried, and happy to be. As Suzy once said, Deadlines beat lying on a bed of nails but not by much. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Is it too cute to say a cat on Cleopatra s lap? If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Brigitte Bardot in her prime with Stephen Hawking s I.Q. What is your most treasured possession? Keepsakes my beautiful, beloved mother left me. What do you most value in your friends? Being there.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What are your favorite names? Aileen, because that was my mother s name, too. And Diane de Poitiers, because it runs trippingly off the tongue. How would you like to die? Laughing, of course. What is your motto? Semper fi but I ll bet some Marine already beat me to it.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Umberto Eco The author of four best-selling novels, as well as numerous essays, Umberto Eco reigns as Italy s master storyteller by combining complex philosophical themes and page-turning plots. With his latest book, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, out this month, the author pauses to reflect on Spinoza, grandchildren, and Mickey Mouse. photograph by Wowe July 2005

What is your idea of perfect happiness? A state of satisfaction that lasts a little more than five minutes. What is your greatest fear? To lose my sense of humor at the moment of my death. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Baruch Spinoza.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Which living person do you most admire? Let me wait until they die, so to be sure of my feelings. What is your greatest extravagance? I quit smoking. What is your favorite journey? The years during which I am writing a new novel. I am wandering through a private and secret territory, nobody knows what I am doing, and I feel happy. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? No real virtue, if such, can be overrated. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Everything I do not like my image in the mirror. However, I do not feel disturbed, because several times I discovered that a lot of nice people had a different opinion. Which living person do you most despise? Once again, let me wait until their death. (They must have time to change.) What or who is the greatest love of your life? Since four years and a half, my grandchild. When and where were you happiest? When I had time enough for my hobby: work. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? To have another grandchild. What is your most treasured possession? My collection of old rare books. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Intolerance (but because I have enough money to live well; otherwise it would be starvation).
PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your favorite occupation? I said it above: work. But do not forget that I am one of those happy persons who identify their work with their hobby and vice versa. What do you most value in your friends? The capacity to keep a secret. Who are your favorite writers? Dante, Nerval, Joyce, Borges. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Julien Sorel. No, perhaps Mickey Mouse. Who are your heroes in real life? As Brecht said, Unhappy the land where heroes are needed. What are your favorite names? Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus, and Jim. What is your motto? As James Joyce once said to his brother, The music hall, not poetry, [is] a criticism of life.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Sue Mengers With a client list that included Ali MacGraw, Gene Hackman, and Barbra Streisand, Sue Mengers, the first superagent, ruled 1970s Hollywood with her brash, no-nonsense style. Herewith, the expert deal-maker dishes on insects, Paris Hilton, and sleeping. illustration by Jack Nicholson June 2005

What is your idea of perfect happiness? To be left alone. What is your greatest fear? Insects. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Golda Meir. Which living person do you most admire? My plumber.
PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? There s not enough paper What is the trait you most deplore in others? Lack of humor. What is your greatest extravagance? Grass. What is your favorite journey? From the living room to the bedroom. On what occasion do you lie? In order not to hurt someone. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My height, or, rather, lack of it. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? O.K., next, When I was alive, and HellOHH! What is your greatest regret? That I never represented Fatty Arbuckle. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Jean-Claude Tramont. When and where were you happiest? Anytime in Ravello with Jean-Claude. Which talent would you most like to have? I d take any one. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? That I don t have any.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Not having children. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A pussycat. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Paris Hilton. What is your most treasured possession? My sense of humor and my bed. What is your favorite occupation? Sleeping. What is your most marked characteristic? My weight. What is the quality you most like in a man? That he breathes. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Forgiveness. What do you most value in your friends? Utter devotion. Who are your heroes in real life? Doctors. What is it that you most dislike? A leaking roof. How would you like to die? I think I already have.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your motto? Tomorrow may not be another day.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Jack Welch One of the most successful, and sometimes controversial, C.E.O. s in corporate history, Jack Welch transformed G.E. into a global giant during his two-decade tenure. More than three years after retiring, and with his latest book, Winning (which he co-wrote with his wife, Suzy), out this month, Welch pauses to reflect on phoniness, golf, and opera. photograph by Gasper Tringale May 2005

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Suzy and a beach. What is your greatest fear? Losing someone I love. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Phoniness. Which living person do you most admire? President Bush (41), for his character, patriotism, and decency.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your greatest extravagance? Expensive wine. What is your favorite journey? From the house to the beach on Nantucket in my old red Jeep. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Waspy formality. Which living person do you most despise? Petty, officious bureaucrats everywhere. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Don t be a victim. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife, Suzy. When and where were you happiest? The last three years have been the happiest of my life. Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I had been a great golfer. What is your current state of mind? Super-blessed. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? I wish my mother had lived to see the rest of my story. What do you consider your greatest achievement? That G.E. s success touched so many lives. What is your most treasured possession? I ve got lots of things but friends and family are all that really count.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Living your life as a fake. What is your favorite occupation? C.E.O. but that s over. What is your most marked characteristic? Candor. What is the quality you most like in a man? Authenticity. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Smart, sexy, and fun, all mixed together. What do you most value in your friends? The willingness to wallow with me through thick and thin. Who are your heroes in real life? My mother and my friend Si Cathcart, who died three years ago. What is it that you most dislike? Opera. How would you like to die? Quickly but no time soon. What is your motto? Win.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Maureen Dowd For the last 10 years, Maureen Dowd has brought her audacity and acid wit to The New York Times. She has criticized almost every political figure in her path and still managed to win a Pulitzer Prize. All while wearing heels. Now that her second book, Are Men Necessary?, has hit stores, the girl with gall shares her thoughts on Jeb Bush, Jane Greer, and the mini-bar. photograph by Gasper Tringale December 2005

What is your greatest fear? Jeb Bush 2008. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Madame X. What is your greatest extravagance? Bringing unnecessary presents for unnecessary men. What is your favorite journey? Pago Pago (if only Dan Quayle hadn t been along).

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Gravitas. On what occasion do you lie? On Proust Questionnaires. What do you dislike most about your appearance? The upkeep. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Chuckleheaded presidential cronies. What is your greatest regret? Lipstick traces. What or who is the greatest love of your life? You ll be the first to know. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My credit report. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Covering six presidential campaigns in heels. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Jane Greer in Out of the Past. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A crisp, perfectly salted French fry. What is your most treasured possession? My sanity. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? No mini-bar.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Where would you like to live? Chateau Marmont, Room 64. What is your favorite occupation? Anything but the occupation of Iraq. What is the quality you most like in a man? Patience. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Impatience. What do you most value in your friends? Availability at deadline. Who are your favorite writers? Jean Rhys and Preston Sturges. Who are your heroes in real life? The personal assistants of famous people. What are your favorite names? Rummy, Wolfie, and Brownie. How would you like to die? After my enemies. What is your motto? When blue, wear red.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Mike Wallace In his more than 60 years on the air, Mike Wallace has interviewed almost every president of the last half-century and, at 87, continues to add to a list that includes Salvador Dalí, Yasser Arafat, and Malcolm X. As he publishes Between You and Me: A Memoir, the unmistakable voice of broadcast journalism speaks out about his skinny bowlegs, self-absorption, and his idol, Martin Luther King Jr. illustration by AndrÉ Carrilho November 2005

What is your idea of perfect happiness? There s no such thing.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your greatest fear? I don t have any left. I ve already lost a son. I guess, maybe, that my wife would leave me, but she wouldn t dare. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Diogenes. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Self-absorption. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Self-absorption. What is your greatest extravagance? I don t have one. I m too frugal ask my wife. What is your favorite journey? To work, wherever. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My skinny bowlegs. Which living person do you most despise? Hey, I m bipartisan. What is your greatest regret? Not enough time with my kids through the years. When and where were you happiest? Nineteen thirty-nine. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Station WOOD, 20 bucks a week. What is your current state of mind? Bewildered. Where are we and where is the world?

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Suffocate my candor. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Still hangin at 87. What is your most treasured possession? Home on the Vineyard. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Suicidal memories of depression. Where would you like to live? Right here in God s country, New York City. What is your most marked characteristic? Marks from a bad case of acne. I was always happy when it was a gray rather than a sunshiny day. What is the quality you most like in a man? Loyalty. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Honesty. Who are your favorite writers? Andy Rooney. Who are you heroes in real life? Martin Luther King Jr. He is the man. When Lyndon Johnson was doing everything he could to make black folks happier, King had the balls to come out against participation in Vietnam, taking on his greatest supporter. What is your motto? From my high-school yearbook, Hold the fort, I m coming. Now? Fuck em.
PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Donald Sutherland Possessing a penchant for the odd, Donald Sutherland has portrayed a crack army surgeon, a space cowboy, and the slimy professor who stole Boon s girlfriend in Animal House. With roles in the new TV series Commander in Chief and the film Pride and Prejudice, the 70-year-old actor talks about politics, his family, and Joseph Brodsky. photograph by Sam Jones October 2005

What is your idea of perfect happiness? A peace-pursuing government I can support. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Dr. Norman Bethune. Which living person do you most admire? Arundhati Roy.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? The inability to fluently speak my wife s language. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Slavish adherence to fanatical religious beliefs. What is your greatest extravagance? Love. On what occasion do you lie? A gentleman is never unintentionally rude.

Oscar Wilde

What do you dislike most about your appearance? Just about everything. In fact, now that I think of it, everything. Which living person do you most despise? Powerful political people who lie as a way of life. You choose. It s a long list. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife, Francine Racette. Which talent would you most like to have? Wit, as defined by Alexander Pope in The Rape of the Lock. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Their inheritance. By that, I mean, what we have done to the world we have borrowed from them. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A rabbit? A duck? How would I know? A Brussels sprout? What is your most treasured possession? My mind.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your favorite occupation? Imagining. What is your most marked characteristic? Unbridled passion. What is the quality you most like in a man? A love for mankind. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Acuity. Who are your favorite writers? T. S. Eliot, Yeats, Joyce the list goes on. Ayn Rand is not on it. Who are your heroes in real life? People whose passion compels me. General Roméo Dallaire, Constance Rice, Paul Krugman, Pete Sampras. How would you like to die? By my own hand, with those I love gathered around me drinking a fine Bordeaux rouge. What is your motto? Try to stay passionate, leave your cool to constellations. Passion, above all, is a remedy against boredom. Joseph Brodsky

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Karl Lagerfeld Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, who designs for Chanel, Fendi, and his own Lagerfeld Gallery line in addition to his work as a photographer and book publisher has a secret: he loves what he does. Looking back on a career spanning half a century, the Kaiser indulges Proust, and us, with his thoughts on indifference, Monday mornings, and being quadrilingual. photograph by Karl Lagerfeld September 2005

What is your idea of perfect happiness? I am perfectly happy as long as I don t ask myself if I am happy What is your greatest fear? To lose my health. A boring subject, but life is more fun when you feel great

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I got used to even my bad traits. Indifference is one of them against it.

I still fight

What is the trait you most deplore in others? I take people the way they are with me but that may be also a part of my indifference. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Manipulative religious hypocrisy. On what occasion do you lie? When it makes circumstances easier What do you dislike most about your appearance? I spend my life working on that subject What is your greatest regret? I have little regret for wrongdoings of my past. Just a little remorse sometimes What or who is the greatest love of your life? My life is not over yet. There is no other way to answer such a question What is your current state of mind? Much more positive than I expected it to be at my age What do you consider your greatest achievement? It may sound strange: myself, or what I did with myself how I manipulated myself. What is your most treasured possession? I fight against possessions. They victimize you would not mention.

if not, little worthless things I

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Ill health, unwanted loneliness, and to be honest to be poor; or the three together Where would you like to live? New York could be the next step

but I am not a one-place person.

What is your favorite occupation? My jobs: fashion, photography, publishing books. If not, time with my friends and daydreaming. What do you most value in your friends? I take them as they are. Family you get friends you have to find to find the right friends without too much questioning.

Up to you

Who are your favorite writers? In what language? I like poets best, E. Dickinson (English), R. M. Rilke (German), Mallarmé (French), Leopardi (Italian). I speak no other languages and I don t believe in translated poetry Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Virginia Woolf s Orlando Who are your heroes in real life? There are a few, but I cannot mention them. Some people would be surprised not to be on the list and others would be perhaps What are your favorite names? Tancrede (for boys), Allegra (for girls). What is it that you most dislike? Monday mornings How would you like to die? I hate the idea of death I prefer to disappear

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Robert Altman When M*A*S*H opened, in 1970, Robert Altman established himself as an independent, irreverent force in Hollywood. At this year s Academy Awards, the maverick of moviemaking received an honorary Oscar for his work as a director, producer, and writer. Before releasing his 39th film, A Prairie Home Companion, he speaks out about frugality, foolish risks, and Buffalo Bill. photograph by Julian Broad April 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Screening a new picture in a room full of virgins. What is your greatest fear? See above answer. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Buffalo Bill. Which living person do you most admire? Harry Belafonte.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My tendency to take foolish risks. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Their reluctance to take foolish risks. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Frugality. On what occasion do you lie? What day is today? Which living person do you most despise? W. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Cut. What is your greatest regret? Doing this questionnaire. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Kathryn Reed. When and where were you happiest? Working. Which talent would you most like to have? Card counting. What is your current state of mind? Cautiously optimistic. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I d make my legs the same length.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? No comment. What do you consider your greatest achievement? I ve made only the movies I wanted to make. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? I m immortal. What is your most treasured possession? Memories. What is the quality you most like in a man? The ability not to take one s self seriously. What is the quality you most like in a woman? The ability to take me seriously. Who are your favorite writers? Raymond Carver and Roald Dahl. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Philip Marlowe. What is it that you most dislike? Movies that explain everything. What is your motto? Giggle and give in.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Dave Brubeck Long before Take Five hit the million mark, in 1959, Dave Brubeck had established himself as an ambassador of jazz. Now 85, the pianist and composer, who has written more than 100 classical works, has hardly slackened, still playing 80 nights a year. Here, he reflects on Dostoyevsky, stride piano, and procrastination. photograph by Annie Leibovitz March 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? All commitments fulfilled. What is your greatest fear? War. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Jesus. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Inadequacy. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Procrastination.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Self-confidence, when it morphs into a know-it-all attitude. On what occasion do you lie? To avoid hurting someone, or when I forget the truth. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My nose. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Write that down or groovy. What is your greatest regret? That more people have not heard my composition Regret, recorded by the London Symphony. What or who is the greatest love of your life? The what is music, the who are my wife and family. When and where were you happiest? May 8, 1945, Regensburg, Germany, the end of World War II in Europe. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A more retentive mind. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? For each to be fulfilled. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A piano. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Johann Sebastian Bach.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your most treasured possession? Faith. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Betrayal. What is it that you most dislike? The suffering of innocents. Who are your favorite writers? Dostoyevsky, Thomas Mann, and Mark Twain. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Huckleberry Finn. Who are your heroes in real life? John Paul II, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Darius Milhaud. What are your favorite names? The names we gave our children: Darius (after Darius Milhaud), Michael, Christopher, Catherine, Daniel, and Matthew. How would you like to die? Playing stride piano. What is your motto? Hang in and hang on.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Jay McInerney After his first novel, the tragicomic Bright Lights, Big City, in 1984, Jay McInerney was hailed as a modern F. Scott Fitzgerald. He seemingly disappeared among New York s literati, but returns to reclaim his title with The Good Life, published by Knopf this month. Here, the author reflects on George Plimpton, bespoke clothing, and his ex-wife s potbellied pig. photograph by Gasper Tringale February 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being in love. What is your greatest fear? Not being in love. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Pepé Le Pew. Which living person do you most admire? The author of the most insightful and laudatory review of The Good Life.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My tendency to exaggerate. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Sadism. What is your greatest extravagance? Bespoke clothing. On what occasion do you lie? Most. What do you dislike most about your appearance? I ll tell you after I have it fixed. Which living person do you most despise? The last person who wrote something nasty about me. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Really, I promise. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My tendency to get mistaken for Bret Easton Ellis. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Lack of trust-funding. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Brightness Falls. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? My ex-wife s potbellied pig. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? George Plimpton.

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Who are your favorite writers? Fitzgerald, Carver, and Austen. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Stephen Dedalus. What is your most treasured possession? My first edition of The Great Gatsby. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? No wine list. Where would you like to live? The penthouse of One Fifth Avenue. What is your most marked characteristic? Foolish optimism. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Susceptibility to my charm. What is your greatest regret? Ruining my last marriage. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My twins, Maisie and Barrett McInerney. How would you like to die? In bed with my true love after a night on the town.

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Catherine Deneuve It has been nearly 50 years since Catherine Deneuve made her film debut, in Les Collégiennes. Today the Parisian beauty, currently starring in Palais Royal!, reigns as the grande dame of French cinema. A former Chanel model and now a mac icon, she reveals her green thumb, an early love of Hermès, and a strong aversion to insects. photograph by Paolo Roversi January 2006

Which historical figure do you most identify with? George Sand. Which living person do you most admire? Aung San Suu Kyi. What is your greatest fear? The war.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Having too many things on my mind at the same time. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Inconsistency. What is your greatest extravagance? Spending all my money when I was 17 years old to buy an Hermès Kelly bag. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Beauty. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My left ear. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Je ne finis pas mes phrases. [I do not finish my sentences.] What or who is the greatest love of your life? Nature. Which talent would you most like to have? The gift of a scientific mind. What is your current state of mind? Restless. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My future. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Nothing. What do you consider your greatest achievement? A wild garden.

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If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A lime tree. What is your most treasured possession? Lucidity. What is your favorite occupation? Playing in the garden. What is your most marked characteristic? Impassivity. What is the quality you most like in a man? Fantasy and talent. What do you most value in your friends? Uniqueness. Who are your favorite writers? Rainer Maria Rilke. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Mandrake the Magician. What is it that you most dislike? Insects. How would you like to die? In my sleep or standing. What is your motto? À coeur vaillant, rien d impossible. [With a valiant heart, nothing is impossible.]

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Edward M. Kennedy In 1962, Ted Kennedy replaced his brother John in the Senate. Over the past 44 years, he has been re-elected seven times, prevailing as the lion of the Democratic Party. This month he releases America Back on Track, challenging the country with a modern test of its oldest principles. Here, Senator Kennedy reflects on poverty, James Bond, and Republican control. photograph by Gasper Tringale May 2006

Which historical figure do you most identify with? My brothers Jack and Bobby. Which living person do you most admire? My wife, Vicki, because of all she does. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I gain weight just by looking at food. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Bigotry.

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What is your greatest fear? Another two years of Republican control of Congress. What is your greatest extravagance? Maintaining my 60-year-old wooden sailboat, Mya. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sailing on Mya with Vicki at my side and my dogs, Splash and Sunny, at my feet. And, of course, a Democrat in the White House and regaining our majority in the Senate. What is your favorite journey? Driving down Route 6 on my way home to Hyannis Port. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Silence. On what occasion do you lie? When I tell each of my sisters that she s the prettiest of them all. What do you dislike most about your appearance? I can t quite perfect that GQ crisp look. Which living person do you most despise? Osama bin Laden. When and where were you happiest? Every Thanksgiving, when our family gathers on Cape Cod. Which talent would you most like to have? Persuading more senators to vote as I do. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I d have won in 1980.

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If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Jack would have had a second term. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Having children who turned out to be the loving, involved, and interesting people they are. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Probably a punching bag. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? One of the Three Tenors. What is your most treasured possession? My brother s dog tags from PT 109. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Suddenly losing a loved one. What is your favorite occupation? U.S. senator. What is your most marked characteristic? Loyalty to friends and never giving up. Who are your favorite writers? Mark Twain, Seamus Heaney, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? James Bond. Who are your heroes in real life? My brothers.

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What is it that you most dislike? Poverty in this land of plenty. What is your motto? The dream shall never die.

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Ron Howard His aw-shucks, affable nature as a child actor won over audiences, but it is his undeniable talent as a director and producer that has made Ron Howard a mainstay in Hollywood. With a career that spans from American Graffiti to Arrested Development, the Oscar winner pauses before releasing The Da Vinci Code this month to reflect on his father, Santa Claus, and The Daily Show. photograph by Sam Jones June 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? I don t believe in perfection, but those acrimony-free gaps during our family holidays can be downright blissful. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Lenny Wilkins. A long career as a point guard, a longer career as a head coach.

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Which living person do you most admire? My father, who at 19 had the courage to change the course of his family s history by damning logic, leaving the farm, and coming to Hollywood to be in the show business. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Emotional reliance on other people s approval. What is your favorite journey? The journey of discovery that every film project entails. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Trendiness. On what occasion do you lie? When young kids ask about Santa Claus. What do you dislike most about your appearance? It s a tie between the gap-toothed grin framed with big ears and the roundshouldered, bowlegged slouch. Which living person do you most despise? Joseph Kony, the Ugandan rebel leader. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife, Cheryl. Hands down, and I ve had a lot of love in my life. When and where were you happiest? The delivery room for the birth of my kids, standing at the altar watching Cheryl walk down the aisle, and the wrap party of the first film I directed, at 23. Which talent would you most like to have? Spontaneous wit. I always think of the good comebacks on the car ride home.

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If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Save the drama for the spotlight, people. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Forty-eight consecutive years of steady employment in television and film, while preserving a rich family life. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A woman. My wife keeps wishing that upon me, and I find she often gets what she wants. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? One of those hyper-observant extraterrestrials that occasionally swing by planet Earth. What is your most treasured possession? The Oscar for best director. What is your most marked characteristic? Patience. Who are your favorite writers? The Daily Show with Jon Stewart staff. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? R. P. McMurphy, of One Flew over the Cuckoo s Nest. What is it that you most dislike? Firing people. What is your motto? Panic is not our friend.

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Art Buchwald For half a century, Art Buchwald has captured the ironies of American life. Now 80, the seasoned satirist reflects on Paris, laughter, and his growing battle with kidney failure. photograph by Diana Walker July 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being healthy. What is your greatest fear? That I won t be healthy. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Mark Twain. Which living person do you most admire? Jimmy Carter.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I m egotistical, and I m always bragging. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Putting me on hold while on telephone calls. What is your greatest extravagance? It s changed now, but probably my computers and cameras. What is your favorite journey? Paris from 1948 to 1962. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? People who say they ve got to tell the truth. On what occasion do you lie? Only in my column. Which living person do you most despise? I despise people who tell me what God wants. They don t know any more than I do. What do you dislike most about your appearance? I m not a clotheshorse. I hate to take haircuts and I hate to shave. I have to shave twice a day. I guess I m in the same boat as Nixon. He had to shave twice a day, too. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I love you. I even say it to people I hardly know. What is your greatest regret? That by the time this article comes out I might not be here. But knowing that I am going to be in Vanity Fair, I d like to stick around. If I m in heaven, I hope I can get the issue there. If not, maybe your circulation department will give a discount to those already up there.

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What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife, Ann, whom I was married to for 40 years. When and where were you happiest? Paris, when I was working for the New York Herald Tribune from 1948 to 1962. I owned Paris. I had readership there that I would have never had in the States. Which talent would you most like to have? Living. What is your current state of mind? Terrific. I am happy because I went into the hospital and I ve gotten a lot of publicity. I now get to see all of my friends and family, and I am able to say good-bye to all of them. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I d probably get a new kidney. That would be nice. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? I want them to be happy and to get along with each other. And I want them to miss me. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Making people laugh. I don t know if it s an achievement, but I love doing it. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? As I am. What is your most treasured possession? All of my writing my 32 books and all of my columns. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? I had two depressions. You can t get much lower than that.

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Where would you like to live? Washington. Mainly because all of the action is here. I m not a person who vacations, goes fishing, or plays golf. I just love to work. What is your most marked characteristic? I m a big fantasizer. What is the quality you most like in a man? Honesty. What is the quality you most like in a woman? If she likes me, I like her. They asked me that about Hillary Clinton. She likes me, and if that s part of her character, I like her. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty. Who are your favorite writers? Bob Benchley, E. B. White, Irwin Edman, and all those guys who came out of The New Yorker. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Captain John Yossarian, from Catch-22. Who are your heroes in real life? It s hard in the world I live in to have heroes. What is it that you most dislike? Bigotry, people who lie to you, politicians who lie because they have the power to do so just anybody who tries to BS you. How would you like to die? I am in a place now that the chances of me being gone by the time this comes out are pretty good. I have been here for 10 weeks, and I ve seen all my

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friends and loved ones. It s a beautiful place. Where I am now is a wonderful place to go. What is your motto? To be or not to be: that s a good question.

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Sherry Lansing For more than 12 years, she acted as chairman and C.E.O. of Paramount Pictures, but Sherry Lansing has left the Hollywood high life behind to embark on a career in philanthropy, establishing her foundation for cancer research and education. As she launches her latest venture, Primetime a movement that offers retired seniors the opportunity to give back by volunteering Lansing reflects on self-esteem, NetJets, and great dish. August 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being in love with someone who loves you back. What is your greatest fear? Being dependent. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Mary Lasker. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My need for approval.

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What is the trait you most deplore in others? Situational ethics. What is your greatest extravagance? NetJets. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Charisma. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Wrinkles. Which living person do you most despise? Those who preach hatred and intolerance. It s a long list. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I m confused. What is your greatest regret? That I didn t invest in Starbucks, Google, or Fiji water. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband. Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to write. What is your current state of mind? Joyous and free. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My need to be in control. What do you consider your greatest achievement? It s yet to come.

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What is your most treasured possession? Self-esteem. It didn t come easy. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Loss of hope. What is your favorite occupation? Philanthropy. What is your most marked characteristic? Enthusiasm. What is the quality you most like in a man? Loyalty, unconditional love, and sexiness, but not necessarily in that order. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Loyalty, trust, and fun. What do you most value in your friends? Their nonjudgment, and great dish. Who are your favorite writers? Joan Didion, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gabriel García Márquez, and the writers of 24. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. Who are your heroes in real life? Medical-research scientists. How would you like to die? In my sleep after great sex. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? America s first queen.

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What is your motto? Regret what you did, not what you didn t do.

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John P. Murtha Last year, Representative John P. Murtha, of Pennsylvania, was lauded for his break with the president over the Iraq war. He announced his bid to become the next House Democratic leader amid criticism and concern over his congressional deal-making, which has often helped the Republican Party. Here, the Vietnam veteran takes a moment to discuss Tip O'Neill, incompetence, and the American troops. photograph by Gasper Tringale December 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Good health. What is your greatest fear? I fear for the future of our country because of the direction this administration is taking us in with the debacles in Iraq. We've lost our credibility around the world, and our young people are going to have to foot the bill for this war well into the future.

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Which historical figure do you most identify with? Teddy Roosevelt as president: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Tip O'Neill as Speaker of the House: "All politics is local." Which living person do you most admire? The wounded troops I visit almost every week in the hospitals. These young veterans inspire me because of their immense courage, their dedication to their country, and the obstacles they overcome every day. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Impatience. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Incompetence. What is your favorite journey? I've been all over the world during my 32 years in Congress, but my favorite trip is traveling back and forth from Washington to my district, in western Pennsylvania. I enjoy the solitude and peacefulness of the beautiful countryside. The real beauty of the trip comes during the fall months, when the leaves change their hues. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Reticence: the unwillingness to speak out when you feel it's the right thing to do. Which living person do you most despise? I can't imagine taking the time to actually despise anyone. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I say yes too often. What is your greatest regret? I have no regrets. I always look ahead.

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When and where were you happiest? I enjoy every day. What is your current state of mind? I love my job. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I'm comfortable with who I am. I try to use my God-given resources to the best of my ability every day. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Yet to come What is your most treasured possession? I have several: the letters and memorabilia I've been given over the years by people I've helped, my great-grandfather's Civil War hat, two golf clubs President Clinton gave me on January 19, 2001 his very last day in office. What is your most marked characteristic? Early in my career, I used to sit by myself on the floor of the House to learn policies and procedures. Wilbur Mills, former chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, asked me why I was always by myself and what I was doing. When I told him, he gave me two pieces of advice that I've tried to live by and that I've become known for: specialize in one area, and always keep your word. What is the quality you most like in a man? Courage. Who are your favorite writers? Leo Tolstoy, Winston Churchill, and David McCullough. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Winston Churchill. He just couldn't have been real.

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What is it that you most dislike? Exploitation, mischaracterization, and weakness. What is your motto? "Live every day to the fullest."

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Jerry Lee Lewis The title of his much-anticipated studio album, Last Man Standing, couldn't be more fitting as Jerry Lee Lewis reinforces his status as one of rock 'n' roll's founding fathers. Nearly 50 years after his raucous debut on Sun Records, he pairs up with a roster of music icons, from Little Richard to Keith Richards. Here, the piano pioneer reflects on God, Gunsmoke, and his left hand. Q&A by George Wayne November 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? I think true happiness can only be found in heaven. Here on earth, happiness just comes and goes. What is your greatest fear? Flying in bad weather is one of them.

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What is the trait you most deplore in others? When people claim to be something they're not. What is your greatest extravagance? Cars and motorcycles. What is your greatest regret? I don't have any great regrets. I meant whatever I did whenever I did it and I stuck by it. What or who is the greatest love of your life? This God-given talent and the One who gave it to me. When and where were you happiest? One of the happiest times was when I first heard Dewey Phillips playing my recording of "Crazy Arms" on the radio and telling everybody who I was. Which talent would you most like to have? The one I've got! What is your current state of mind? I'm very excited and focused on my new album, Last Man Standing. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I'd turn the clock back about 40 years and know then what I know now. What do you consider your greatest achievement? That in my life I've reached goals that every musician strives for: I've been No. 1 on both the rock 'n' roll and country charts, and I have fans from all over the world, all walks of life, young, old, and in between. What is your most treasured possession? My dog, Topaz, although I'm not sure who owns who.

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What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Losing my children, my mother, and my father were the lowest depths of misery that I've ever had. What is your most marked characteristic? My left hand is dynamite! What is the quality you most like in a woman? I don't like women; I like ladies. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and honesty. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Gunsmoke's Matt Dillon. Who are your heroes in real life? They're all dead and gone now, but my mom, my dad, and my Uncle Lee and Aunt Stella Calhoun were my heroes. What is it that you most dislike? Mistreatment of children and animals. How would you like to die? Peacefully. What is your motto? "Live and let live, but keep outta my way."

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Margaret Atwood At once an activist, a writer, and a mother, Margaret Atwood is irrefutably one of the foremost female authors of our time. She has written more than 40 works, including her latest, Moral Disorder. Here, the Canadian talks about her daughter, polluters, and good news. photograph by Christopher Wahl October 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? A canoe, mixed sun and cloud, no deadlines in sight. What is your greatest fear? A bear attack in a forest fire. Which living person do you most admire? Anonymous. She s working to make the planet greener. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Ineffectual whining.

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What is your greatest extravagance? Mad, gamble-packed entrepreneurial enterprises, such as writing. What is your favorite journey? The Ottawa River by boat. Although I ve never done it. On what occasion do you lie? When asked about other people s clothing choices. Which living person do you most despise? Major polluters. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? If I were you I would Maybe it s for the best. What is your greatest regret? Not being an opera singer. When and where were you happiest? At 7:59 p.m. on May 17, 1976, in Toronto. That s the Exact Minute our daughter was born. Soppy answer, but true. What is your current state of mind? Lazy, anxious, and distracted. But I ve learned to live with it. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I d stop saying yes to inessential requests. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Greatest is too big a word. The most thrilling one for me was my first professional publication, at age 20. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A snail.

Never mind.

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If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? A raven. What is your most treasured possession? That stone cat on my front porch. Give it back, whoever took it! What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? No good news. Where would you like to live? In a tree. What is your favorite occupation? Sleeping. That way you don t have to deal with No good news. What is your most marked characteristic? Unjustifiable optimism. What is the quality you most like in a man? Funny, smart, unjustifiably optimistic, and good at taking the lids off jars. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Funny, smart, unjustifiably optimistic, and a superlative gossip. Who are your favorite writers? I never tell. The others will hear about it, dead or alive. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? I never tell that, either. (Live in hope, Mr. Darcy.) Who are your heroes in real life? I m bad at picking heroes. What is it that you most dislike? Politicians who lie about important things other than clothing choices, and

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use those lies for exploitation, power grabs, global-warming evasion, and personal profit. How would you like to die? Of a painless disease, with a month s warning, on a spring day, with some good news in hand. What is your motto? Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

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Howard Schultz In 1971, the first Starbucks opened at the illustrious Pike Place Market, on Seattle s waterfront. A New Yorker humbly raised in a Brooklyn housing project, Howard Schultz went on to create a multi-billion-dollar company with nearly 11,000 stores worldwide. Prior to celebrating the coffee chain s 35th anniversary, next month, he reflects on his father, the perfect shot of espresso, and the working people of America. photograph by Jim Wright September 2006

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Enjoying the perfect shot of espresso, which many have compared to the nectar of the gods. What is your greatest fear? That I won t help to solve America s health-care crisis and address the needs of the 46 million people in our country without health insurance. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Robert F. Kennedy. Which living person do you most admire? Warren Bennis.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? The need to over-achieve. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Hubris. What is your greatest extravagance? My imagination. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Perfection. On what occasion do you lie? When people are late, and I say it s O.K. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Double short nonfat latte, three-quarters full. What is your greatest regret? My father passed away before seeing me succeed. What is your current state of mind? Envisioning the next phase of growth at Starbucks, particularly in China. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To be more patient. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? To have more time together. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A public servant who has the courage to lead without regard to special interests, polling, or assessing my chance for re-election.

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What is your most treasured possession? My memories. Where would you like to live? I can think of worse places than Majorca, Spain. What is your favorite occupation? I m living it. What is your most marked characteristic? The ability to dream more than others think practical and expect more than others think possible. What is the quality you most like in a man? Emotional intelligence. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Authenticity. Who are your favorite writers? Herman Melville, Billy Collins, and Morris West. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Merlin. Who are your heroes in real life? The working people of America. What is it that you most dislike? A sense of entitlement. What is your motto? Success is best when it s shared.

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Norman Mailer Over a career that has spanned six decades, Norman Mailer has been a literary force to be reckoned with from The Naked and the Dead, in 1948, to his notable presence in New Journalism, to his current and most controversial feat, The Castle in the Forest. In his first novel in more than 10 years, the Pulitzer Prize winning paladin deftly blends fact and fiction to tackle his greatest villain yet: Adolf Hitler. Here, the 83-year-old reflects on inanition, Anna Karenina, and Texas Hold 'Em. photograph by Gasper Tringale January 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Let the next 35 responses offer their clues. A fool draws a road map to his magic city. What is your greatest fear? That I will never meet Michiko Kakutani and so not be able to tell her what I think of her. She has an unseemly haste to rush into print with the first very bad review of any book I write. She does this ahead of publication. That is a

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strategy. If the first review of a book is dreadful, an author needs at least three good ones to change that first impression. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Hemingway. His suicide suggested the unseen perils of my profession. Which living person do you most admire? Muhammad Ali. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Inanition it comes on me from time to time. I also detest it in others. A judge will never forgive a criminal for a crime he is capable of committing himself. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Banality. For that matter, it's a close cousin to inanition. What is your greatest extravagance? Restaurants. What is your favorite journey? It used to be crossing the Brooklyn Bridge when homeward bound from a good dinner in Manhattan. Now it's the sight of Provincetown as one rides up over the last rise and there is the Pilgrim Monument in all its subtle presence. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Prayer. Of all the lofty practices, it is the most abused. Church professionals lead the scurry crew who profit from pushing prayer. On what occasion do you lie? Most of all when playing Texas Hold 'Em. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Forgive me. I'll skip this laundry list.

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Which living person do you most despise? Well, it used to be Ronald Reagan. He was the most ignorant president we ever had. Now George W. has appropriated his seat. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? It is not easy to construct a complex sentence without using "that." What is your greatest regret? The memory of the books I promised to write and didn't. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Norris Church Mailer, my wife of these last 30 years. Which talent would you most like to have? There are several kinds of athletes I wouldn't have minded becoming. There is also the ability to sing. I once described my voice in the following manner: "Mailer vocalizes with the matchless authority of a man who has never been known to hit a note on pitch." What is your current state of mind? Benevolent astonishingly so. It's one of the few perks of old age when it's there. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Hey, they're perfect. What do you consider your greatest achievement? I look to entertain the notion that it is to be found in my latest novel. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? What an idiocy! God, if He or She is paying any attention, would have a wittier notion of how to punish and reward the first stages of one's new existence.

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If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? I would like to be a novelist who is more accomplished than the last one. What is your most treasured possession? I am just superstitious enough not to name it. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Wasting my days. Where would you like to live? Where I have lived Brooklyn Heights years ago and now in Provincetown. Until you get to Maine there is no more beautiful town on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. What is your favorite occupation? One always returns to writing. I resist the temptation to say that good fucking is really my favorite. One is now too old to talk like that. What is your most marked characteristic? I'd like to think that I know how to push the envelope. It's become a necessary virtue. We Americans have become so uneasy, so stupid, so guilty, and so flatulently patriotic that we are in danger of ruining a fine land. What is the quality you most like in a man? There to stand up when called. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Beauty, mystery, wit, and the inner superiority to be above political correctness. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty, wit, and, believe it or not, the power to come forth with close criticism.

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Who are your favorite writers? I'll only mention the dead. Every live author you do not mention will never forgive you. So, I'll list Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Stendhal, Melville, Hemingway, Faulkner, Dos Passos, Proust, Zola, Mann, Goethe, and, oh yes curses Shakespeare! Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Let's say not the hero but the protagonist from whom I learned the most. That might be Anna Karenina. Who are your heroes in real life? So few. F.D.R., J.F.K. Also, de Gaulle and Castro; yes, one must put up with the worst of these two, but they were heroic in their day. Heroism may be of greater value to civilization than political achievement. What are your favorite names? I have nine children. I would list their names. What is it that you most dislike? Overweening piety used for political purposes. Hitler and Himmler come to mind. So do a few minor American figures in high places today. How would you like to die? Without undue fear which is to say die with the same confidence I have now that there is another world one enters, and so the finest of all the clichés is that death is a great adventure. What is your motto? That should be obvious. It has to be "Excelsior!"

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Sidney Poitier The definition of a perfect gentleman, Sir Sidney Poitier has beguiled audiences for more than 50 years. The eternally debonair leading man not only inspired through his performances but also broke social barriers as the first African-American to win an Oscar for best actor and has continued a lifelong crusade dedicated to human rights. As he turns 80 this month, Poitier reflects on discipline, his shyness, and Thurgood Marshall. photograph by Gasper Tringale February 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? When my consciousness, my instincts, and my values are in tune with the universe. What is your greatest fear? Mankind's unwitting extinction by its own misdeeds.

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Which historical figure do you most identify with? Thurgood Marshall. Which living person do you most admire? Nelson Mandela. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? The frequent wars between my shyness and my social tendencies. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Impoliteness. What is your greatest extravagance? Books. What is your favorite journey? The one that started with my conception, roughly 80 years ago. On what occasion do you lie? First, let me disarm that loaded question. I know how easy it is for one to stay well within moral, ethical, and legal bounds through the skillful use of words and to thereby spin, sidestep, circumvent, or bend a truth completely out of shape. To that extent, we are all liars on numerous occasions. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Are you trying to tell me something I don't know? Far as I can tell, I still have most of my hair, my gut is not hanging over my belt, and I still have all of my teeth. Which living person do you most despise? Generally, I tend to despise human behavior rather than human creatures.

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What is your greatest regret? I cannot recall what that might have been, but whatever it was, I survived it. And I have no regrets about that. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife, my six children, my five grandchildren, my one great-grandchild, and Sproutie, the family dog. When and where were you happiest? I was happiest making films, writing books, and surviving prostate cancer. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wouldn't change a single thing, because one change alters every moment that follows it. What do you consider your greatest achievement? I leave that judgment to others and to history. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? I don't want to come back. What for? What is your most treasured possession? The love of family and friends. What is your most marked characteristic? Discipline. What do you most value in your friends? Honesty. Who are your favorite writers? Bill Bryson, Carl Sagan, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Timothy Ferris, Toni Morrison, and Walter Mosley.

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Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Jason Bourne. Who are your heroes in real life? My mom and dad. Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, and Bono. What is it that you most dislike? The callousness with which poor people are deceived, ignored, and dismissed. What is your motto? "To be ever respectful of the forces of nature that designed our entrance and our exit."

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Ellen DeGeneres When Johnny Carson asked Ellen DeGeneres over to the couch after her first appearance on The Tonight Show, his intuition couldn't have been more spot-on. Twenty years later, she has won America over with her selfdeprecation and dance moves. As she takes the stage as the host of the Academy Awards, DeGeneres shares her thoughts on Burt Reynolds, SeaWorld, and Journey. photograph by Andrew Eccles March 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? I don't know how happiness could get any more perfect, but I think it would involve more puppies. What is your greatest fear? Finding a panther in my bathroom. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Burt Reynolds.

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Which living person do you most admire? Is Teddy Roosevelt still with us? I liked him. He was a good president. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? That I don't really know the definition of "deplore." What is the trait you most deplore in others? Tardiness. No, wait, arrogance. How about being late and then being arrogant about it? What is your greatest extravagance? I hope this doesn't affect your opinion of me, but I have a garbage can that you don't even have to touch for it to open. You put your foot in the sensor zone. It's very extravagant. What is your favorite journey? Whichever one "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" is on. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Small wrists. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My hair can really bug me sometimes. Which living person do you most despise? I don't despise anyone. That's a waste of energy. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I say "By Jove!" way too much. Either I do or Sherlock Holmes does. Whoever it is, it has to stop. What is your greatest regret? I don't have any regrets or I wouldn't be the person I am today. Although, my 80s mullet does come close.

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What or who is the greatest love of your life? PDR. Which talent would you most like to have? I'd like to play the piano. Just the black keys. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? I'm going to save this answer for my memoirs. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being able to do what I love, and being able to install a dimmer. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? I've always thought I'd come back as an animal, preferably one that has no predators. So either a tiger or a killer whale. Watch, I'll end up in a SeaWorld with some kid shoving an oversize toothbrush in my mouth. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? That's a bummer of a question. What is your most marked characteristic? I, like Popeye, am what I am. What do you most value in your friends? Availability to play poker. Who are your favorite writers? My writers. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Madonna and Garp. What are your favorite names? Off the top of my head, Tabitha, Darrin let's see whole cast of Bewitched. Great fake names.
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Samantha. Basically the

What is it that you most dislike? What's with focusing on the negativity? How would you like to die? No, thank you. What is your motto? "Let's try to beat that."

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Helen Thomas With acuity and unmistakable gumption, Helen Thomas has covered the White House since John F. Kennedy, a tour de force in the world of political reporting. Here, the journalist, who has stepped up to challenge President Bush on more than one occasion, reflects on silence, the piano, and Sir Thomas More. photograph by Nigel Parry April 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Fulfillment of personal goals and dreams. A lasting love. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Historic personalities who have great ideals for all mankind Jefferson, Lincoln, F.D.R., Kennedy. Which living person do you most admire? President Jimmy Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Timidity when I should have spoken up. Missed opportunities. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty. Lack of heart and soul. What is your greatest extravagance? Wardrobe. What is your favorite journey? Anywhere in good company. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Silence when words were needed. On what occasion do you lie? I prefer "No comment." It's not necessary to lie. Which living person do you most despise? Dislike, not despise. Those with a lack of compassion for their fellow man and the downtrodden. What is your greatest regret? Not studying enough, not reading enough. What or who is the greatest love of your life? All the great and inspired people who crossed my path. When and where were you happiest? When I started covering history every day at the White House. Which talent would you most like to have? I'd like to play piano, and find great happiness in listening to music. What is your current state of mind? Unhappy with the invasion of Iraq.

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If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I'd be a better reporter. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Staying alive and alert. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A deeper, more interesting, thinking person. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? U.S. president. What is your most treasured possession? Good memories, long friendships, and beloved music. Where would you like to live? Washington, D.C. What is your most marked characteristic? Directness. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. What do you most value in your friends? Compassion and good conversation. Who are your favorite writers? Dickens, Tolstoy, and Hemingway. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? A Man for All Seasons' Sir Thomas More and Andrei Bolkonsky of War and Peace. Who are your heroes in real life? Ramsey Clark, Michael Ratner, Bill Moyers, Walter Cronkite, and Sam Donaldson.

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What is it that you most dislike? A president lying the people into war. How would you like to die? With my boots on. What is your motto? "Know when you are happy. Know yourself. Know your enemy. Ask not for whom the bell tolls."

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Penny Marshall The same New York chutzpah that made Laverne a household name has certified Penny Marshall as an enduring presence in Hollywood. The wisecracker shares her thoughts on chastity, pizza, and quaaludes. photograph by Brian Bowen Smith May 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Multiple orgasms and the veal at Ago. What is your greatest fear? Clowns, the Rally Monkey at Anaheim, and boredom. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Which living person do you most admire? My brother, Garry.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? That I smoke. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Helpfulness, especially when people try to break me of my smoking habit, or not being on time. What is your greatest extravagance? Basketball season tickets and sports memorabilia. What is your favorite journey? Hitching a ride on a private plane where smoking is allowed. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Chastity. On what occasion do you lie? To get an actor out of the Winnebago and onto the set. What do you dislike most about your appearance? You name it, I hate it. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "Liar" and "Yo!" What is your greatest regret? That when I was a size 0 there was no size 0. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Pizza and my daughter. Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to play a musical instrument well. What is your current state of mind? A little logy.

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If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Better teeth and gums. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Having the ladies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League get recognized by making A League of Their Own. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Michael Jordan or a Fudgsicle, though I call it a "fudgicle." If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? A rock 'n' roll star. What is your most treasured possession? My sports collection. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? When they stopped making quaaludes. What is your favorite occupation? Doctors Without Borders. What is your most marked characteristic? A slight New York accent. What is the quality you most like in a man? Sense of humor and stamina. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Sense of humor and weight problems. What do you most value in your friends? Sense of humor and honesty.

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Who are your favorite writers? Richard Yates, Richard Price, and Jack Olsen. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Peter Pan, and Raskolnikov of Crime and Punishment. What is it that you most dislike? Cheapness and greed. How would you like to die? Professionally, onstage with the rest of my friends. Privately, alone and quickly. What is your motto? "Live fast and die middle-aged" or "Every day could hopefully be your last."

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David Steinberg Throughout his comedic journey from guest-hosting for Johnny Carson to directing episodes of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm David Steinberg has tried just about anything for a laugh. He continues to win the crowd over as he publishes his memoir, The Book of David, this month. Here, the holy man of humor jokes about Moses, Nixon, and Frank Sinatra's, um, penis. photograph by Patrick Fraser June 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? An all-Yiddish-speaking Canada. What is your greatest fear? Pork. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Moses, who proved that it's all about who you know.
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Which living person do you most admire? Pink. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Let me see. I'm thinking. Can I get back to you on this? O.K., procrastination. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Outing a C.I.A. agent because you're pissed about something else. What is your greatest extravagance? My dog, Izzy. A big poodle so smart he's now learning how to punch up my scripts. What is your favorite journey? The journey from the Manitoba tundra to subbing for Johnny Carson. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Taking over a country and forcing democracy on it. On what occasion do you lie? Mostly after I've seen anyone perform. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Maintaining it. Which living person do you most despise? I don't despise people, but a lot of them sure annoy the hell out of me. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "He's a big dog, but he's very friendly." What is your greatest regret? When I stood short and did it their way. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Obviously my lovely wife, who's bound to read this.

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When and where were you happiest? During Watergate, when I was comparing Nixon's face to a foot. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Less raw sensuality. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being on Nixon's enemies list. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Frank Sinatra's dick the early years. What is your most treasured possession? The memory of my brother. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? My daughters' dating during their teenage years. Where would you like to live? In infamy. Barring that, Malibu. What is your favorite occupation? Mine. Hanging out with friends whose job is to make people laugh. What could be better? What is your most marked characteristic? There is no level of incompetence that I can't identify with. What is the quality you most like in a man? I like a man who can come to my house and fix things. What is the quality you most like in a woman? The same as above. What do you most value in your friends? They're funny. Funny matters.

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Who are your favorite writers? Mark Twain. Philip Roth. Paddy Chayefsky. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Tonto. Imagine how hard it is to be the friend of the Lone Ranger. What is it that you most dislike? Pretension. How would you like to die? Quickly, after getting a laugh. What is your motto? "When the owl screams, the hunter pisses on his boot."

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Quincy Jones Parallel in magnitude to his music career, Quincy Jones's humanitarian efforts have left an indelible mark across the globe. With Jubilee 2000 activists, he helped to relieve $27 billion in Third World debt, and his Project Q has aided millions of African children. Here, the maestro on a mission reflects on hugging, Count Basie, and the year 2043. photograph by Larry Sultan July 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? To see the children of the world receive their God-given rights. As Tolstoy said, "I shall not eat my piece of bread until everyone has a piece of their own." No one should starve while we eat. What is your greatest fear? Of ever becoming a grown-up, please. Which historical figure do you most identify with? John Johnson, Gordon Parks, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Having too many things on my plate due to an overdose of passion. What is your greatest extravagance? Passion, love, and affection. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Abstinence. What is your favorite journey? The one that began on March 14, 1933, that I pray will continue, at the very least, until 2043 a goal Thomas Olsen and my other Nobel brothers in Stockholm promise me is attainable. What do you dislike most about your appearance? After I lose 16 pounds, I will have no dislikes whatsoever. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "Can I have a little bit more of that?" What is your greatest regret? Since the age of 13, concentrating on arranging, orchestrating, and conducting instead of more songwriting, but it isn't too late. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My children, their children, my family, and my real friends. When and where were you happiest? Conducting and arranging for Frank Sinatra and Count Basie's band at the age of 31. Which talent would you most like to have? To be a great father. What is your current state of mind? Concern for the state of the world, and the joy of jiggling the molecules.
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If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Not a damn thing. It is what it is. What do you consider your greatest achievement? My precious children. Each and every one of them. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? One of my daughters' dogs. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? When you are not able to turn darkness into light. It is a choice. What is your favorite occupation? Any form of creation from the blank page to the execution of a passiondriven vision. What is your most marked characteristic? Obsessive curiosity, a joie de vivre, and hugging. What is the quality you most like in a man? The ability to accept the female side in all of us. What is the quality you most like in a woman? An honest heart, a big mind, and inner and outer beauty. Who are your favorite writers? Aleksandr Pushkin, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Pablo Neruda, and Toni Morrison. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. Who are your heroes in real life? Nelson Mandela, Paul Kagame, Oprah Winfrey, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Colin Powell, Sidney Poitier, Bono, Hani Masri, and the late Steve Ross.
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What is it that you most dislike? Bullshit!!! How would you like to die? In 2043, in my sleep, after working all day, having wine and dinner with my family and closest friends, and making passionate love with my lady. Not a second before. What is your motto? "I'd rather say, 'I'm sorry I did it,' than 'I wish I had,'" and "Live each day like it's the last, and do each task like it's the first."

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Helen Gurley Brown Just a small-town girl from Green Forest, Arkansas, Helen Gurley Brown became editor of Cosmopolitan and liberated women's magazines with her spunk and sexual brashness. Proof that good girls may go to heaven but bad girls go everywhere, she reflects on hair color, Cleopatra, and pussycats. photograph by Melanie Dunea August 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? There is no such thing as perfect happiness. We know there are good times and bad times, sometimes predicated on what's happening in nature. We have no control over that as human beings, so I think we have to ignore the idea of perfect happiness. What is your greatest fear? That I won't be able to handle aging better than I am now. At 85, I am technically old and, while being intellectually grateful I made it this far, I don't like being old and dread being older.

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Which historical figure do you most identify with? Cleopatra. She was a good boss and had a good love life. Which living person do you most admire? President Bill Clinton. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Sorry, I can't let myself think of one! I've tried to fix anything fixable. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Not doing what they say they will when I need them to do it. Not returning phone calls is another. What do you most value in your friends? They are supportive in times of trouble, happy for you in times of achievement, and good to spend an evening or day with. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I address everybody as "pussycat," but nobody minds, and it's a nice term of endearment. What is your favorite journey? La Samanna, on St. Martin, in the Caribbean. Yes, Paris, London, and Florence are good journeys, but La Samanna is for collapsing, snoozing, and indulging in piña coladas. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? My husband's overtipping. He carries only $20 bills in his pocket. On what occasion do you lie? Telling people they look great in a new outfit when they don't. Saying I loved the party when I didn't. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My fat tummy.

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What is your greatest regret? That I never sat down with my mother and asked her to talk to me about her life. It was a terrible life two husbands died on her, daughter in a wheelchair from poliomyelitis before the Salk vaccine. I should have persuaded her to talk as I do my girlfriends. She had nobody else to do that with. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, David Brown. When and where were you happiest? I'd say right now. I'm married to a pussycat and still have a good job with the Hearst Corporation. There are now 59 editions of Cosmopolitan all over the world. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I'd get my tummy to be flat again. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Editing Cosmopolitan successfully so Hearst didn't have to close it down in 1965, when it was losing tons of money. What is your most treasured possession? My husband, if the possession can be a person. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Worrying yourself crazy over somebody you love. Where would you like to live? Exactly where I am living the Beresford Apartments, on Central Park West and 81st Street. We have the top four floors of a tower apartment. I'm slightly prejudiced, but I think it's the best apartment in New York. What is your most marked characteristic? I'm a workaholic.

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What is your greatest extravagance? Hair color. It costs $136 to color, shampoo, and set, but I'm too old to be running around with white hair. Chanel suits are another indulgence. What is the quality you most like in a man? He should think I am attractive and like to be with me. Who are your favorite writers? William Shakespeare, Nora Ephron, and Joan Didion. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Scarlett O'Hara. Who are your heroes in real life? My husband and Art Buchwald as he faced death. What is your motto? "Get up and do it if it needs to be done, even if you hate it!"

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Jasper Johns Having grown up in Allendale, South Carolina, a setting in which there were no artists and there was no art, Jasper Johns came to New York in 1949 and changed the course of American painting with his imagery and iconography. Here, the artist reflects on remembrance, silver-skinned fish, and the afterlife. photograph by John A. Lund December 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? I am not strong on perfection What is your greatest extravagance? a frugality that seems to confuse people who work with me What is your current state of mind? something like very slow panic What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? desire for approval

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What is the trait you most deplore in others? the tendency toward self-description What do you consider the most overrated virtue? virtue itself What is your favorite occupation? painting What is your most marked characteristic? never knowing whether to expand or contract What do you most value in your friends? tolerance, I suppose When and where were you happiest? Pearl Street in 1950s NYC, but memory distorts What do you dislike most about your appearance? what I imagine to be the general effect Which living person do you most despise? there is none On what occasion do you lie? when I think it is useful What or who is the greatest love of your life? no one, no thing Which talent would you most like to have? the ability to remember or forget at will If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? my inability to sing or dance

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If you could change one thing about your family,what would it be? no one thing would do the trick What is your most treasured possession? my refrigerator What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? intolerable pain of any sort Who are your favorite writers? among them, Freud, Helen Keller, Edwin Arlington Robinson Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Jack (be nimble) Who are your heroes in real life? dead artists and, a few, alive What are your favorite names? William, Mary, Augusta What is it that you most dislike? seeing fish with silver skin marinating in cream What do you consider your greatest achievement? only my work suggests, perhaps wrongly, an effort in that direction If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? unlikely If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? must I decide before I die Where would you like to live? not in the past

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How would you like to die? effortlessly What is your greatest regret? an absence of clarity What is your motto? I have none

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Shirley MacLaine At 21, Shirley MacLaine possessed enough poise and moxie to land a starring role in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry. The Oscar winner has worked with Billy Wilder, shared the screen with Jack Nicholson, and found a second calling as an author. With the publication of Sage-ing While Age-ing, the actress and writer reflects on enlightenment, her dog, and New Mexico. photograph by Annie Leibovitz November 2007 What is your idea of perfect happiness? Searching for it. What is your greatest fear? The violence of enlightenment. Which living person do you most admire? The people who work with and for me. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My impatience, which can cause me to be really caustic and rude. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Same. We detest in others what we detest in ourselves. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Monogamy. On what occasion do you lie? When I eat sugar and say it doesn't matter. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My bloated stomach after eating sugar.

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What is your greatest regret? Not spending more time with my daughter when I was working. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My dog Terry. All of nature. Which talent would you most like to have? Being patient with people who have no work ethic. Maybe they have something to teach me. What is your current state of mind? Content, but discontent with the leadership worldwide. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Being able to do nothing. What do you consider your greatest achievement? The way I think. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A zillionaire who gives away all his money. Yes, I would like to come back as a rich man who would live without corruption, respect nature, women, and small, insignificant things. What is your most treasured possession? Two necklaces from my Santiago de Compostela Camino. All of my animals. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Prison. Where would you like to live? Wherever I am with Terry, but not in a confined space. New Mexico is fine for me.

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What is your most marked characteristic? My humorous cynicism. Who are your favorite writers? Those who tell the truth about themselves. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? I don't read fiction. My life is fiction. Who are your heroes in real life? Those who are optimistic through pain. I am a physical pussy unless I'm dancing or working out. What is it that you most dislike? People who don't care about themselves. What is your motto? "I am part of God in Light."

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Neil Simon Lauded for creating hit after hit onstage and on-screen, Neil Simon has established himself as a true rarity in show business and remains beloved by critics and audiences alike. A master of comedy and an observer of the human condition, the Pulitzer-winning playwright, who turned 80 this year, takes a moment to reflect on re-writes, Fred Astaire, and East 62nd Street. photograph by Nigel Parry October 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being aware that I am experiencing it. What is your greatest fear? "Listen, I have bad news." Which historical figure do you most identify with? Age-wise, Moses.

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Which living person do you most admire? Mayor Bloomberg. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I'm a moron when it comes to mathematics. What is your greatest extravagance? The blue suit I only wore once. What is your favorite journey? First trip to London and Paris. Aah, yes. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Humility, unless you really need it. What do you dislike most about your appearance? It ain't what it used to be. Which living person do you most despise? He knows who he is. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "It's for you, hon." What or who is the greatest love of your life? My first wife and my current wife. Which talent would you most like to have? To dance like Astaire. What is your current state of mind? Re-writes, re-writes, re-writes. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Smile a good deal more.

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If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? That I didn't have more. What do you consider your greatest achievement? That I went from there to here. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Me again; I can't shake him. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Taller, younger, smarter, and braver. What is your most treasured possession? The first painting I bought in Paris. Not expensive. Where would you like to live? One sixty-five East 62nd Street, again. What is your favorite occupation? Watching young and old people in Central Park. What is your most marked characteristic? Looking for a better line. Better than this one. What is the quality you most like in a woman? That she's not a man. What do you most value in your friends? What friends? Who are your favorite writers? Dickens, Shakespeare, and Mel Brooks. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Dr. Watson, I presume.

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Who are your heroes in real life? Lincoln, Truman, and Washington. Really. What is it that you most dislike? The middle toe of my left foot. How would you like to die? Never knowing it. What is your motto? "Try to wake up each day. If not, call 691-7330."

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Sonny Rollins Before reaching 21, Sonny Rollins played with Thelonious Monk a sign of the saxophone colossus he would become. For more than 50 years, the jazzman has enriched the world of music with his progressive improvisational style. This month, he turns 77 and performs at the 50th anniversaries of the Monterey Jazz Festival and his first concert at Carnegie Hall. Here, Rollins reflects on his plumber, good food, and inner consciousness. photograph by Larry Fink September 2007

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Perfect happiness is something which doesn't exist in this life. The goal is to never be too happy or never be too sad. What is your greatest fear? Not getting close enough to my aspirations. Which living person do you most admire? I'm afraid that I don't admire people that much. Maybe my plumber.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Not always being resolute enough. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Slovenly personal traits. What is your greatest extravagance? Overindulgence in good food. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Probably thriftiness. On what occasion do you lie? When I'm absolutely forced to by one of life's stupid entanglements. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Probably "You dig?" What is your greatest regret? Not saying some things to departed associates. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Of course my late wife, Lucille. Which talent would you most like to have? The one that I have. What is your current state of mind? Peaceful but active. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Listening to my inner consciousness and summoning the strength and determination to act on it. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? A more evolved, intelligent being.

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What is your most treasured possession? When I lost so many prized possessions on 9/11, I learned a lesson: possessions are not "where it's at." What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being in the belly of the beast in a straitjacket. Where would you like to live? Wherever I can be left alone. What is your favorite occupation? Music, or whatever contributes to the edification of others. What is the quality you most like in a man? Listening more than talking. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty. Who are your heroes in real life? Anyone whose life is lived giving more than taking. What is your motto? "Do unto others," and, secondly, one I made up about watching TV: "Images and lies, and bad for your eyes."

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Julie Andrews Born in interwar Britain, Julie Andrews became a cinematic icon as Mary Poppins and, later, Maria von Trapp. With the forthcoming publication of her memoir, Home, the Oscar winner reflects on family, meadowlarks, and her nose. photograph by the Everett Collection March 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Can I get back to you on that? What is your greatest fear? Fear! What is your most marked characteristic? I bet you thought I was going to say my nose.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I interrupt too much. Which living person do you most despise? enry iggins! What is your greatest extravagance? Flowers. What is your current state of mind? Hopeful. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Chastity. On what occasion do you lie? Occasionally. If I feel it s kinder than the truth. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My nose. What is the quality you most like in a man? Intelligence and a sense of humor. What is the quality you most like in a woman? A sense of humor and intelligence. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Do you know what I mean? or Are you all right? What or who is the greatest love of your life? My family. When and where were you happiest? In London. When Blake [Edwards, her husband since 1969] made me laugh so much I wept. Blake says I slept with a smile.

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If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My nose. Which talent would you most like to have? Next time around, I plan to be a classical composer. What do you consider your greatest achievement? The miracle of giving birth. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A meadowlark. Where would you like to live? Where there are meadowlarks. What is your most treasured possession? Family photographs. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being without hope. What is your favorite occupation? Pottering in my garden. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Charlie Brown. What are your favorite names? Those of my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. What is it that you most dislike? Poverty, hunger, unhappiness. How would you like to die? Peacefully holding my mate.

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What is your motto? When in doubt, stand still."

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Joan Fontaine Seven decades after she began her Hollywood and stage career, Academy Award winning actress Joan Fontaine, 90, leads a quiet life at her California home, Villa Fontana. Here, the former screen darling ruminates on her beloved dogs, chastity, and doing it all over again. photograph by A. Clifford Bagwell March 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Working in my garden while my five A.S.P.C.A. dogs smell the roses water them.

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What is your greatest fear? As I lost my Brentwood, California, house and its contents in a firestorm in 1964, I fear the same might happen to Villa Fontana.

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Which historical figure do you most identify with? Eleanor of Aquitaine, as she was my all-time favorite role, in The Lion in Winter, and which gave me the best reviews of my career. What is your greatest extravagance? Buying a car just for my canines. What is your favorite journey? Portofino to Capri. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Virginity. On what occasion do you lie? When being tactful or evasive. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Ah! What or who is the greatest love of your life? The English language. What is your current state of mind? Contentment. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Recklessness. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Impulsiveness. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Gossiping, denigration, chitchat, disloyalty. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Peace and tranquillity.

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What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Losing a child. What is your most treasured possession? My house and its three acres of gardens, in the woods. What is your most marked characteristic? Independence, sense of humor. What is the quality you most like in a man? Knowledge and respect, affection without demands. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Intellect, honesty, openness, loyalty. Who are your favorite writers? Du Maurier, Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontës, Gwendolyn Brooks. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? D Artagnan, from The Three Musketeers, who taught me some things were going on in Milady s boudoir. My mother, when I questioned her at 10 years old, said, You ll have to ask someone else. Who are your heroes in real life? Winston Churchill. Alas, no greats today, except Mother Teresa. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Me again. Get it right this time! What is it that you most dislike? Noise. How would you like to die? In bed alone.

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What is your motto? Free at last!

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Mia Farrow From her early days on Peyton Place and her haunting performance in Rosemary s Baby, Mia Farrow has lived a life not unfamiliar with romance and horror. The famous lover, mother of 14, and humanitarian returns to the screen this month in Be Kind Rewind. Here she ruminates on responsibility and chocolate. photograph by Gavin Smith January 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? A world community governed with responsibility, compassion, and respect. What is your current state of mind? Galvanized. What or who is the greatest love of your life? James Agee. At 14 or so I read Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and fell deeply in love. Never mind that he had been dead for years.

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Which living person do you most admire? Paul Farmer, Desmond Tutu. What is the quality you most like in a man? Moral conviction, courage, intelligence; the ability to surprise and make me laugh. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Same. What is your greatest extravagance? Chocolate. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Indifference. Brutality. What is your greatest fear? That humankind continues on a course of irresponsibility and destruction. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience. Which living person do you most despise? The regime in Khartoum, responsible for the ongoing suffering of millions of innocent people in Darfur. When and where were you happiest? Often and anywhere. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I want chocolate. Which talent would you most like to have? The talent of Bach and (while I m dreaming) the ability to play the violin like Heifetz.

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If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would be a man. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A smart, bouncing baby. What is your most treasured possession? A protection charm given to me by a Darfurian woman in 2004. I wear it around my neck always. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Hopelessness, despair. What do you most value in your friends? Passion. Honesty. Humor. Commitment to helping others. Who are your favorite writers? Dostoyevsky, Mann, Kafka, Yeats, Dante, Gabriel García Márquez. And my James (Agee), of course. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Atticus Finch. Who are your heroes in real life? Humanitarians, aid workers. Which historical figure do you most identify with? In my dreams: Albert Schweitzer. ( You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it s a little thing, do something for others something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. ) How would you like to die? Swiftly. Without warning. The pain-free kind.

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What is your greatest regret? I am not a doctor working in Africa. What is your motto? With knowledge comes responsibility.

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Karl Rove A principal architect of the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush, Karl Rove, 57, has charted a long course from the internship he landed with the Republican Party in Utah almost four decades ago. Here, the president s former deputy chief of staff reflects on his fear of going broke, his impatience, and his voracious reading habit. illustration by Piotr Lesniak February 2008

What is your current state of mind? Energized, challenged, ready. What is your greatest extravagance? Too many books. What is your greatest fear? Living foolishly above my means and running out of money. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Not being authentic.

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What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Try to be more patient. What is the quality you most like in a man? Quiet confidence. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Strength of character. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Fabulous! After that, Look followed by an explanation. Which talent would you most like to have? To play a musical instrument or sing worth a darn. What or who is the greatest love of your life? The who are my wife and son. The what is America. Where would you like to live? Texas, of course. What is your favorite occupation? Politics. What is your most treasured possession? My books, starting with the first one I can ever remember reading, Great Moments in History. Who are your favorite writers? In alphabetical order: Jorge Luis Borges, Gabor Boritt, Ray Bradbury, G. K. Chesterton, Winston Churchill, David Herbert Donald, T. S. Eliot, Joseph Ellis, Gary Gallagher, F. A. Hayek, Paul Horgan, Paul Johnson, Tom Lea, C. S. Lewis, Abraham Lincoln, John D. MacDonald, David McCullough, Merrill Peterson,
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Robert Remini, Andrew Roberts, William Shakespeare, Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, Evelyn Waugh, and Robert Wiebe. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Travis McGee or Borges himself. (Was he real? Or not?) Who are your heroes in real life? The men and women who volunteer to go into harm s way wearing the uniform of our country s military. What do you most value in your friends? Honesty and loyalty. What is your most marked characteristic? Energy and precision are tied. How would you like to die? At home in my bed asleep, sound of mind and body but just too damned old. What is your motto? I like the one that used to be the motto on the unit coin of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Blackhorse: Be prepared! Find the bastards. And pile on!

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Bette Midler With her ribald wit and emotional voice, the Divine Miss M is one of the world s greatest live performers. In between headlining The Showgirl Must Go On at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, overseeing the New York Restoration Project, and starring in the remake of the classic ensemble film The Women, out next month, she paused to reflect on her country and her mental health. illustration by Risko August 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? An empty house and a good book. What is your greatest fear? That the greatest days of my country are past.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Impatience. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Ignorance and arrogance. What is your greatest extravagance? Flowers and philanthropy. What is your current state of mind? Agitated. On what occasion do you lie? Who needs an occasion? What do you dislike most about your appearance? My roots. Which living person do you most despise? The Bluetooth-wearing S.U.V. driver who idles in front of my building. What is the quality you most like in a man? Guts. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Balls. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I gotta get crackin . Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to read a spreadsheet. What do you consider your greatest achievement? My daughter, Sophie.

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If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? The wind. Where would you like to live? At Sissinghurst. What is your most treasured possession? My sanity. What do you most value in your friends? A talent to amuse. Who are your favorite writers? Nabokov and P. G. Wodehouse. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Ignatius J. Reilly. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Wallis Simpson and Johnny Appleseed. What is it that you most dislike? Pollution and polluters. What is your motto? Fuck em if they can t take a joke.

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Emma Thompson Having evidenced unrivaled range and revived Jane Austen for a modern audience, the two-time Oscar winner and star of Brideshead Revisited, out this month ponders her thighs, oenophilia, and weightier matters. photograph by Chris Floyd July 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Hot weather in Scotland. What is your current state of mind? Overstimulated. What is your greatest fear? Losing a child. Knives. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Greed.

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What is the trait you most deplore in others? Greed. What is your greatest extravagance? Wine. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Cleanliness. What is it that you most dislike? Bigotry. On what occasion do you lie? To get out of going to things. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Dimply thighs. What is the quality you most like in a man? Uxoriousness. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Ability to laugh in the face of disaster. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I have to say ; Is it time for a drink? What or who is the greatest love of your life? My family. When and where were you happiest? Just after giving birth without painkillers. Which talent would you most like to have? To play the piano exceptionally well.

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What do you consider your greatest achievement? Giving birth without painkillers. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Then who would I be? If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what do you think it would be? A human being. Again. What is your most treasured possession? My Finnish sauna. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Clinical depression. Exile. What is your most marked characteristic? Enthusiasm. Lots of teeth. What do you most value in your friends? Humor. Who are your favorite writers? Carver, George Eliot, Austen, Twain, Spike Milligan. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Sherlock Holmes. Which historical figure do you most identify with? [British socialist and early feminist] Annie Besant. Who are your heroes in real life? [Ugandan aids activist] Noerine Kaleeba and [British human-rights activist] Helen Bamber. My father, Eric Thompson. My husband, Greg Wise.

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What are your favorite names? Gaia, Tindy, Ernie, and Walter. What is your greatest regret? Not having been able to have more children. How would you like to die? By the river, in Scotland, clutching a good bottle of wine.

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John Cusack He may be sewn into memory holding a boom box above his head, but John Cusack, 41, will display his gravity in War, Inc., a political satire he also wrote and produced, which is featured at the Tribeca Film Festival this month. Here, the romantic-comedy veteran shows his pensive side. illustration by Risko Risko June 2008

What is your current state of mind? Bloodied and slightly doom-struck, but I am comfortable with these themes. I remain basically unbowed. What is your greatest fear? Beyond the normal issue of the mortality of my nearest and dearest, strangely it is a fear of inertia. If I stop, I may not be able to start again. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Whenever I m lazy enough to assume people think like me. It s a kind of

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vanity that gets me in trouble a lot. Also, I tend to project a purity of heart into people who impress me, which is very child-like. What is the trait you most deplore in others? The inability to think for themselves. Or the need to define one s core in fiveminute sound bites. Which living person do you most admire? Living? Nelson Mandela would have to go down as one of the three great figures of the last century. Which living person do you most despise? Very tough question. They exist in the realm of war profiteers. These men and women are the lowest form of human consciousness, truly and completely spiritually fucked. Theirs is an amazing satanic dance: create a new market with war, bar competitors from the aftermath, then pay your own companies at a cost-plus basis, which guarantees profits, all at the taxpayers expense. They are the biggest welfare freaks on the planet. On what occasion do you lie? Only when awake or speaking or looking at someone What or who is the greatest love of your life? The great white buffalo. When and where were you happiest? Hunting it. Which talent would you most like to have? Music. It seems the closest art to prayer and where the shamans roam. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Take myself less seriously. And I would try not to be famous for at least a week or two as an adult.

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What do you consider your greatest achievement? I couldn t say I have one besides the small amount of good I ve done for other people. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would it be? An angelic (not demonic) non-corporeal presence. Would like to travel light. What is your favorite occupation? It would be great to be a medium. Who are your favorite writers? I can only speak to what has inspired me lately meaning stuff I have read or reread by Garry Wills, Bob Dylan, Cormac McCarthy, Mark Leyner, Naomi Klein, Hunter S. Thompson, and J. D. Salinger. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Just happened to reread Salinger, and Zooey Glass made me very happy indeed. Who are your heroes in real life? Let s go with Jesus. Not the gay-hating, war-making political tool of the right, but the outcast, subversive, supreme adept who preferred the freaks and lepers and despised and doomed to the rich and powerful. The man Garry Wills describes with the future in his eyes paradoxically calming and provoking, and whom Flannery O Connor saw as the ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of [one s] mind. What are your favorite names? I like the name Doctor Zhivago. What is your greatest regret? That I have lived selfishly or fearfully (when I have).

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How would you like to die? While dreaming would be a great transition. What is your motto? An old Yugoslavian proverb I always come back to: Tell the truth and run.

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David Mamet During his three-decade career, David Mamet, 60, has been an anomaly in Hollywood: a dramaturge whose scripts are the main attraction. With the release of his latest film, Redbelt, this month, the writer, producer, and director reflects on critics, a recent move, and being a fireman. illustration by Risko May 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? My idea of perfect happiness is a healthy family, peace between nations, and all the critics die. What is your greatest fear? My greatest fear is that the audience will beat me to the punch line. What is your greatest extravagance? My greatest extravagance was, on moving house in Boston, empowering my decorator to conduct the whole procedure while I was away on location.
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What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? My lowest depth of misery was, on my return, the discovery that she had moved me into the wrong house. What is the quality you most like in a man? The quality I most admire in a man is steadfastness. What is the quality you most like in a woman? The quality I most admire in a woman is kindness. And that they should look good in blue jeans. What or who is the greatest love of your life? The greatest love of my life is my wife and my kids. Which talent would you most like to have? The talent I would most like to have is the ability to cloud men s minds. This was possessed by Lamont Cranston (The Shadow) and various East European stage directors. What do you consider your greatest achievement? I consider my greatest achievement the few times I have refrained from telling various producers to go fuck themselves. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? If I were to die and come back as a person or thing, it would be a person. What is your favorite occupation? My favorite occupation is directing a movie. This beats napping not by much, but nonetheless. What is your most treasured possession? My most treasured possession is the urn containing the ashes of my dog Fluff. There is not much difference between contemplating the urn and

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looking at my current dog, asleep on the couch. But I do not have to walk the urn. What is your most marked characteristic? My most marked characteristic is an all-inclusive, nonjudgmental joy in the constantly diverting multiplicity of human beings. And foreigners. What do you most value in your friends? What I value most in my friends is loyalty. Who are your favorite writers? My favorite writers are Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather, Dawn Powell, George V. Higgins, Patrick O Brian, and John le Carré. Who are your heroes in real life? My heroes in real life are firemen. What is your greatest regret? My greatest regret is that I was never a fireman. How would you like to die? I would not like to die. What is your motto? My motto is Be Prepared. I am told this is also the motto of the Boy Scouts, but, if so, this only proves that they were acting according to my motto earlier than I.

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Carolina Herrera Having dressed style icons from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Renée Zellweger, the Caracas-born designer has defined elegance for three decades. Here, her sense and sensuality are on display as she ponders love, laughter, and fantasy. illustration by Risko September 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Perfection does not exist only God is perfect. What is your greatest fear? The loss of memories. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Impatience. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Envy.
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What is your greatest extravagance? The waste of time. What is your current state of mind? Sunny but with a few clouds here and there. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Virtue. On what occasion do you lie? Whenever I have to it is called manners. Which living person do you most despise? Anyone who abuses a child. What is the quality you most like in a man? A man has to have sensibility, wit, mystery, tolerance, and strength Romance also helps. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Loyalty. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? If. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Fortunately, my husband. When and where were you happiest? In many stages of my life. Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to read the minds of other people. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would like to have much greater knowledge.

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What do you consider your greatest achievement? My children. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Carolina Herrera. What is your most treasured possession? My imagination, which allows me to create a world of fantasy. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The suffering of someone you love. What is your most marked characteristic? Curiosity. What do you most value in your friends? The ability to make one laugh. Who are your heroes in real life? The unknown people who make the world safer: nurses, researchers, doctors, teachers, etc., etc. What is it that you most dislike? Cruelty. What is your greatest regret? Things that I could have done but didn t. How would you like to die? In peace, with my eyes open, waiting for the next great adventure. What is your motto? Always leave room for fantasy.

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Michael Bloomberg The 108th mayor of New York City has never shied from controversy banning smoking from restaurants and bars, switching his political affiliation, and re-awakening City Hall. Here, the self-made mogul and philanthropist laments his Spanish and ponders politics and family. illustration by Risko October 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Having people come up to me on the street and say, Great job, Mayor! (And not just my relatives.) Which living person do you most admire? My mother. She ll be turning 100 in January. She taught me independence, compassion, and not to get too big of a head. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Height.

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What is your greatest extravagance? Popcorn. What is your current state of mind? Boy, I wish popcorn was on my diet. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My Spanish. I ve been studying for seven years and I still speak como un novato. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Emma and Georgina Bloomberg. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? I d come back as myself. But with a better golf swing. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Watching a loved one die. What do you most value in your friends? Honesty. Loyalty. And, of course, sincerity. (If you can fake that, you ve got it made.) Who are your favorite writers? Tom Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, and Mel Brooks. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? A political candidate who s not afraid to address the difficult issues, take on the special interests, and refrain from partisanship and pandering. (You did say fiction, didn t you?) Who are your heroes in real life? The men and women who put on a uniform and put their lives on the line for their fellow New Yorkers every day.

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What are your favorite names? I don t know. But definitely not the ones I got called marching in the Saint Patrick s Day parade on Staten Island after putting the smoking ban in place. What is it that you most dislike? When decades of scientific discovery take a backseat to political ideology something I refer to as political science. That, and smoking. What is your greatest regret? That my father didn t live to see his son do pretty well in life or see his grandchildren go to schools he never thought someone named Bloomberg could go to. How would you like to die? Having given all my money away and bouncing the check to the undertaker! What is your greatest fear? Eight years in City Hall, no subway series. What is your most marked characteristic? Curiosity. Where would you like to live? New York City. Why would you want to live anywhere else?

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Tom Jones As timeless as he is infectious, the Welsh crooner releases his latest album, 24 Hours, this month. The veteran Lothario pauses to reflect on his hair, his dirty mouth, and what he looks like in the shower. illustration by Risko November 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being in good health. What is your greatest fear? Prison. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Being late. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Bullishness.

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What is your greatest extravagance? Fine wines. What is your current state of mind? Naughty. On what occasion do you lie? I don t maybe a fib, but not a lie. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Thinning hair. Which living person do you most despise? I don t despise anyone living. What is the quality you most like in a man? Understanding. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Sense of humor. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Any and most swearwords. What or who is the greatest love of your life? The ability to sing. When and where were you happiest? When I was finally released out of bed, at age 14, after being confined for two years with tuberculosis. Which talent would you most like to have? To play the piano. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To have one that looks good in the shower.

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What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being knighted by Her Majesty the Queen. Where would you like to live? Wales. What is your most treasured possession? My voice. What is your favorite occupation? Singing. What is your most marked characteristic? I m quite unassuming. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty. Who are your favorite writers? James Fenimore Cooper. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Superman. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Churchill. What are your favorite names? Dom and Pérignon. What is it that you most dislike? Having to get up to an alarm clock. What is your greatest regret? Don t have one.

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How would you like to die? In my sleep. What is your motto? Live and let live.

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Roger Moore The longest-tenured leading man of the 007 franchise has excited the envy and stirred (not shaken) the hearts of generations of Bond fans. Here, the 81-year-old author of the new memoir My Word Is My Bond flaunts his inimitable British charm. illustration by Risko December 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being with those that I love, and they have no problems. What is your greatest fear? Pain of any sort. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Cowardice. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Selfishness.
PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Which living person do you most admire? Nelson Mandela. What is your greatest extravagance? Time wasting. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Virtuousness. On what occasion do you lie? Whenever my mouth is open. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My waistline. Which living person do you most despise? That is the easiest question: Mugabe. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? F k you! and F k me! What or who is the greatest love of your life? Kristina, and all my children and grandchildren. When and where were you happiest? This morning in bed. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My modesty. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Becoming 80. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Who said I am going to die?

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Where would you like to live? I am there already. What is your most treasured possession? My wife. What is your favorite occupation? I have it, but I would rather be a doctor of medicine. What is your most marked characteristic? My sickening charm. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty. Who are your favorite writers? Josephine Hart, William Buckley, James Clavell, Jeffrey Archer, and Taki. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Rhett Butler. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Richard the Lion-Hearted. What is it that you most dislike? Intolerance and any form of bigotry. What is your greatest regret? I didn t work with David Lean. How would you like to die? I have no intention of doing so! What is your motto? Do unto others etc.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Katie Couric Emmy-winning journalist, cancer-awareness advocate, and Everywoman, Katie Couric has interviewed everyone from Tom Cruise to Kofi Annan, to, most recently, Sarah Palin. Here, the managing editor of the CBS Evening News turns the tables on herself. illustration by Risko January 2009

What is your idea of perfect happiness? At the kitchen table, laughing with my daughters. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I can be a sore loser and an obnoxious winner. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Pretentiousness.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your greatest extravagance? My red Thunderbird. What is your current state of mind? Exhausted. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Inner peace. On what occasion do you lie? My parents don t need to know everything. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My chewed-up fingernails. What is the quality you most like in a man? Integrity. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Humor. Which living person do you most admire? Paul Farmer. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Honestly, you guys What or who is the greatest love of your life? My daughters, Ellie and Carrie. When and where were you happiest? I had just brought Carrie home from the hospital, and she, Ellie, and I were taking a nap while my husband, Jay, was playing a Chopin nocturne on the Steinway we had bought each other for our birthdays.

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Which talent would you most like to have? I would sing like Ella Fitzgerald. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I d grow six inches. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising awareness about colon cancer. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Thomas Jefferson. Where would you like to live? New York City or Tuscany. What is your most treasured possession? My grandmother s pillbox collection. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Helplessness. What is your most marked characteristic? My gummy smile. Who are your favorite writers? Edith Wharton, Carson McCullers, Harper Lee, John Steinbeck, Philip Roth. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Mulan. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Amelia Earhart. Who are your heroes in real life? My parents, cancer researchers, and Dara Torres.

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What is your greatest regret? Not telling my husband I loved him 20 times a day. How would you like to die? Quickly. What is your motto? Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Dustin Hoffman From an unassuming college grad and a hungry young reporter to a crossdressing actor and an autistic genius, his range and oeuvre are astonishing. The star of this month s Last Chance Harvey reveals his secrets to Hollywood immortality. illustration by Risko February 2009

What is your idea of perfect happiness? When the coffee kicks in early in the morning and I m on the couch with my dogs, reading the paper. What is your greatest fear? My belief that saying it makes it happen. Which living person do you most admire? The Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira, who is 100 years old and still working.

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What is your greatest extravagance? Disposable glasses. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Moderation. On what occasion do you lie? When people ask, How are you? The real answer I save for my therapist. What do you dislike most about your appearance? That it is only skin-deep. Which living person do you most despise? Any bully. What is the quality you most like in a man? Non-threatening. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Threatening. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? How was yours? What or who is the greatest love of your life? My family, which keeps growing. When and where were you happiest? The moment I knew I would spend my life with Lisa. Which talent would you most like to have? To play good jazz piano. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I d like to read faster.

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What do you consider your greatest achievement? Knowing how much I don t know. What is your most treasured possession? My notebooks. What do you most value in your friends? Private planes. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Auditioning. What is your favorite occupation? Eavesdropping. What is your most marked characteristic? Unpredictability. However, those who know me find me very predictable. Who are your favorite writers? Nineteenth-century Russians. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Mr. Magoo. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Columbus if it s true that he knew where he was going, got lost, and found a place that was better. Who are your heroes in real life? Those who overcome adversity. What is your greatest regret? Waiting too long to do those things that I m finally hoping to do now. What is your motto? The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

Oscar Wilde

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Elaine May The writer (Heaven Can Wait), director (The Heartbreak Kid), and groundbreaking comedienne (An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May) summons her inimitable wit, and pauses for reflection. illustration by Risko March 2009

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Healthy junk food. What is your greatest fear? Forgetting the punch line of a joke while I m telling it, and/or death. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cocky ignorance. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Fortunately I ve conquered it.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your greatest extravagance? Wasting time. What is your current state of mind? Fraught. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Virtue. On what occasion do you lie? When answering questionnaires. What is the quality you most like in a man? Generosity. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Patience. Oddly, it s a quality none of the women that I like have. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? The only child of two genetically perfect billionaires. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? You re kidding and Oh, fuck and Oh, fuck, you re kidding. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My daughter. When and where were you happiest? Thursday, three:fifteen, 1998, Bowdle, South Dakota. What do you consider your greatest achievement? I m hoping I haven t achieved it yet. Where would you like to live? On a train.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Bad X-rays. What is your most marked characteristic? My breasts. Or do you mean something else? What do you most value in your friends? Availability. Just kidding. Character. Who are your favorite writers? A lot of the Russians, a lot of the French, Jane Austen, Rex Stout. Who are your heroes in real life? Oskar Schindler, Miep Gies, Doctors Without Borders that whole crowd. What is your greatest regret? Having a time limit. What is your motto? Don t throw away designer clothes. How would you like to die? I ve given that question a lot of thought. There is no way I would like to die.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Valentino Retirement has hardly slowed down the fashion eminence s dolce vita. The designer, who has dressed the likes of Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor, now stars in the role he was born to play himself in the documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor, out this month. illustration by Risko April 2009

What is your idea of perfect happiness? No telephone calls. What is your greatest fear? To get very sick and not have a fast death. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I am not able to delegate to others what I know I can do faster myself. It s the impatient Taurus in me.

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What is the trait you most deplore in others? The lack of manners. What is your greatest extravagance? To have five pugs, and travel with them. What is your current state of mind? Much more relaxed than when I was designing eight collections per year. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Fidelity. On what occasion do you lie? When I am wrong. Which living person do you most despise? Too many choices; too many failures in this world. What is the quality you most like in a man? Courage. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Courage. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Voilà. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My work. When and where were you happiest? Among my very close friends. Which talent would you most like to have? The art of the accountant.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What do you consider your greatest achievement? That I was one of the designers who helped make Italian fashion known everywhere. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A butterfly. They are free and don t get old. What is your most treasured possession? The portrait of Eleonora di Toledo made by Bronzino. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? To be sick and poor. What is your most marked characteristic? Optimism. And the concept that nothing is impossible. What do you most value in your friends? They have to love my designs! Who is your favorite hero of fiction? The Wizard of Oz. Who are your heroes in real life? My parents. What is it that you most dislike? Cruelty to helpless animals. How would you like to die? In my sleep. What is your motto? Everything is possible: Yes you can!

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Jane Fonda With the curtain about to fall on her first Broadway appearance in nearly five decades, the star of Moisés Kaufman s 33 Variations pauses to reflect on her unscripted life. illustration by Risko May 2009

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being totally present and at peace in the moment and knowing that my children and grandchildren are all right. What is your greatest fear? That we won t act fast enough to save the planet. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? The tendency to withdraw into myself. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cynicism.

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What is your greatest extravagance? Buying large trees to place around my ranch house. (I am too old for saplings.) What is your current state of mind? Acceptance. On what occasion do you lie? When the truth will serve no purpose and only hurt. What do you dislike most about your appearance? My naked self in an overhead light. Which living person do you most despise? Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Kissinger just about equally for their cynicism and disdain for life. What do you most value in your friends? Honesty. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My children and grandchildren. When and where were you happiest? Hiking to the top of a 14,000-foot mountain. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My inability to have a long-term intimate relationship. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Never settling for what is, but striving for What if ? Where would you like to live? Right where I am.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is your most treasured possession? My ranch and its ever changing wildness. What is your favorite occupation? Mountain climbing. What is your most marked characteristic? Being down to earth. Who are your favorite writers? Proust, Shakespeare. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Abraham Lincoln. What is it that you most dislike? A lack of compassion. What is your greatest regret? Regrets are a waste of time except as things to learn from. Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to sing. How would you like to die? In my home, in bed, surrounded by my family. I can see it all quite clearly, and I am not afraid of it. What is your motto? It s better to be interested than interesting.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Alec Baldwin The former Studio 54 waiter and leading light of the Baldwin clan has transformed himself into one of the finest character actors of his generation. The star of 30 Rock and this month s My Sister s Keeper muses on his hometown, his daughter, and a particular leaked audiotape. illustration by Risko June 2009

What is your idea of perfect happiness? On a boat with my daughter, Ireland, headed to Sunset Beach on Shelter Island, with our friends. What is your greatest fear? That my daughter will grow up to become a paparazzo. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Insecurity. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Overconfidence.
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Which living person do you most admire? Michelle Obama. What is your greatest extravagance? Criterion Collection DVDs and whiling away the day with WQXR. What is your current state of mind? New York. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience. Which living person do you most despise? The person who leaked Christian Bale s audiotape. What is the quality you most like in a man? Masculinity with a splash of interior decorator. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Femininity with a splash of Arctic explorer. Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to sing on Broadway. What or who is the greatest love of your life? A 13-year-old girl I first met in the delivery room at Cedars-Sinai, in L.A. When and where were you happiest? Anywhere with Ireland, but preferably at a ridiculously scary movie eating popcorn and Twizzlers. What is your most marked characteristic? Either being benevolently controlling or clearing my throat. What do you consider your greatest achievement? When I say the line the right way while the camera is actually rolling.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Who are your favorite writers? Tennessee Williams, David Mamet, Joe Orton. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Charlie Brown. What is your greatest regret? Faking a heart attack on April Fools Day 2004, for my daughter and my girlfriend. How would you like to die? Saving someone else s life or at the final moment of Letterman s monologue.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Judd Apatow The auteur behind a string of brilliantly puerile comedies about guys who won t grow up The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, this month s Funny People shows why he s the witty savant of perpetual adolescence. Illustration by Risko July 2009

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Watching my wife and children eat. What is your greatest fear? That I will suddenly lose my sense of humor, and everyone knows it but me. Which living person do you most admire? Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Neil Young. Not in that order. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? That s hilarious.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My bottomless pit of need. Soft erections. It was hard to keep it to just two. What do you dislike most about your appearance? A back that makes me look hairier than Aristotle Onassis. Which living person do you most despise? I don t despise anyone. Should I? What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife, Leslie Mann. Don t call her Leslie Apatow or she ll get upset. Which talent would you most like to have? I would like to be a sexual dynamo. I mean, Leslie would like me to be a sexual dynamo. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would live in the moment. Even now, I am half watching Saturday Night Live while doing this. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? I couldn t get the job done in one. I need at least 11. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A beloved dog. What is your most treasured possession? The book Cruel Shoes, autographed by Steve Martin when I was 13. What is your favorite occupation? Reading self-help books and forgetting what I ve learned. What is your most marked characteristic? A giant chicken-pox mark between my eyes. Is that what you meant by marked ?
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What do you most value in your friends? What friends? Who are your favorite writers? F. Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Roth, Andre Dubus, James Brooks, Garry Shandling, Warren Zevon. Who are your heroes in real life? Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates. What is it that you most dislike? Ancient religious laws. How would you like to die? A moment after someone tells me I am going somewhere great. What is your motto? Less jizz, more heart.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Tony Curtis He punched out Burt Lancaster in Trapeze, he killed Kirk Douglas in The Vikings, and he wooed Marilyn in Some Like It Hot. The author of the forthcoming Nobody s Perfect reflects on his six-decade career. Illustration by Risko August 2009

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Top billing. What is your greatest fear? People might not remember me. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Forgetting people s gifts. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Bad breath.

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Which living person do you most admire? Arnold Schwarzenegger. What is your current state of mind? There s nothing wrong with having a little fun. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Saying hello. On what occasion do you lie? When it looks like I m in trouble. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Not much. What is the quality you most like in a man? Good nature. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Voluptuousness. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Thanks a lot, whether I mean it or not. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife, Jillie. Which talent would you most like to have? That of a brain surgeon. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I d be three inches taller. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being unique.

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If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? The son of Ali Baba. What is your most treasured possession? An excellent mind, good health, and a pair of legs to run. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? To lose one s brother. What is your favorite occupation? Acting in the movies. What is your most marked characteristic? My charm and intelligence. Who are your favorite writers? Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Charles Schulz. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Tarzan. Which historical figure do you most identify with? The Medici prince. Who are your heroes in real life? Drug enforcers. What is it that you most dislike? Bullshit. What is your greatest regret? That I never had a regular education. How would you like to die? Alone.

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What is your motto? Fuck em and feed em fish.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Garrison Keillor The voice of the prairie and the author of Pilgrims, out this month reflects on love, how to extort a compliment, and his inimitable voice, among other things. Illustration by Risko September 2009

What is your idea of perfect happiness? To be wildly, desperately, carelessly, nakedly in love, of course. Crazy, obsessive love: brooding, baying at the moon, writing daily missives to the adored. Who wouldn t want this? Even though the crash is painful. What is your greatest fear? That this is all there is, and there is no more. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Assembling the team that keeps A Prairie Home Companion going after 35 years knock on wood.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Self-denigration, an old strategy for extorting praise from people. ( I am a terrible person. No, you re a wonderful person and we all love you. ) Which living person do you most admire? My president, a heroic figure also good- humored, pretty smart, elegant; and if the rest of the world thinks he typifies America, I don t mind at all. What is your greatest extravagance? An apartment in Manhattan, when I live in St. Paul. I need the peace and serenity of New York, but this is hard to explain to people. What is your current state of mind? Fertile; borderline manic. Jumping from one ice floe to another, with the slavers in hot pursuit. What do you dislike most about your appearance? I don t smile. I feel like I m smiling, but I m not. It comes from being in radio, where smiling only makes you look like an idiot. What is the quality you most like in a woman? High-spiritedness, wit, a love of repartee and wordplay and allusion and jokes in other words, an English major. What or who is the greatest love of your life? The simple act of putting pen to paper, even just to write a postcard. Who are your favorite writers? Updike, Cheever, Bellow, O Connor, Roth, Rexroth, Hoagland, Powers the old typewriter crowd. When and where were you happiest? The night my daughter was born, New York, December 29, 1997. After she emerged and I held her in the palm of my hand, I walked around Manhattan in a stupor of happiness.

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If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I really miss being 43, a lot. I d love to get that summer of 1985 back. Where would you like to live? Santa Barbara, but then I d have to smile more. What is your most marked characteristic? I seem to have a distinctive voice, and if I ask strangers where the men s room is, they say, Oh, it s you. Who are your heroes in real life? Old musicians who keep doing it even if it would be easy not to: Pete Seeger, Little Jimmy Dickens, Earl Scruggs, Plácido Domingo, B. B. King, Ralph Stanley. How would you like to die? Eventually, but not yet. What is your motto? Sumus quod sumus. [We are what we are.]

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Ralph Lauren His name is synonymous with American elegance and he has a $5-billion-ayear business empire to back it up. Here, the former necktie designer and quintessential New Yorker dwells on some of life s less material luxuries. Illustration by Risko October 2009

What is your greatest fear? Illness. Which living person do you most admire? Barack Obama. What is your greatest extravagance? Having five minutes to myself. On what occasion do you lie? Rarely.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

When and where were you happiest? Eating a burnt-bacon cheeseburger and pecan pie at J. G. Melon. What do you consider your greatest achievement? My kids. Which talent would you most like to have? To speak five languages. Where would you like to live? I live in all my favorite places. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Kindness. What is the quality you most like in a man? The same. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Batman. What is your most treasured possession? My little dog, Bikini. What or who is the greatest love of your life? After 45 years of marriage, I think it s obvious Ricky. Who are your favorite writers? Ayn Rand, Ernest Hemingway. Who are your heroes in real life? As a child: Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra. Today: my psychiatrist. What is your greatest regret? I ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.

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What are your favorite names? Ralph is not one of them. What is your current state of mind? Depends upon my hair. What do you most value in your friends? Caring. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Selfishness. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Watching someone you love suffer through illness, and being unable to help. What is your motto? I had a motto, but I can t remember it.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Martha Stewart The domestic-goddess-cum-business-guru has spent decades building her multi-million-dollar company while advising audiences on how to flambé the perfect Baked Alaska. Here, the author of this month s Martha Stewart s Dinner at Home dwells on indecision, García Márquez, and family. Illustration by Risko November 2009 Answer your own Proust Questionnaire on Facebook.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? A verdant landscape filled with beautiful animals of all kinds, harp music, cumulus clouds in a bright-blue sky, and happy people conversing pleasantly, sipping cold sake from homemade bamboo cups. What is your greatest fear? I m a very fearless person.

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What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Any type of indecision. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Indecision and wishy-washiness. Which living person do you most admire? I know too many really good people to choose just one person and that is not indecision. What is your greatest extravagance? A car and driver. What is your current state of mind? Mildly optimistic. What is the quality you most like in a man? High intelligence mixed with graciousness. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Outspoken creativity. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I try not to overuse any words or phrases. When and where were you happiest? Right now, in the present. I have a short memory. Who are your favorite writers? I have too many. Which talent would you most like to have? Gabriel García Márquez s original use of language. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? I have so many heroes in real life.

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Who are your heroes in real life? Seeing the success of others whom I ve worked with or mentored. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being a teacher to millions of people. Where would you like to live? Where I live now (Bedford, New York). What is your most treasured possession? I don t have any inanimate possessions that I couldn t live without. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? I do not focus on misery unless it has to do with unkind and unfair treatment of humans, animals, or the environment by others. What do you most value in your friends? Genuine concern. What are your favorite names? Luke, Rufus, Ethan, and Alexis. What is it that you most dislike? Neglect, slovenliness, and cruelty in any form. What is your greatest regret? Not having a dozen offspring. How would you like to die? Painlessly. What is your motto? When you are through changing, you are through.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Andre Agassi As a brash young upstart, he stretched the limits of tennis etiquette. Yet his decade-long rivalry with Pete Sampras and eight Grand Slam victories would establish him as one of the greatest to ever roam the baseline. Here, the author of the memoir Open out this month muses on family, Federer, and finding his true calling. Illustration by Risko December 2009 Answer your own Proust Questionnaire on Facebook.

What is your current state of mind? Content, but expectant. Which living person do you most admire? Stefanie Graf.

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What is your greatest fear? Letting down the people I love. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? At times I ve been blinded by loyalty. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Disloyalty. What is your greatest extravagance? I ve been known to travel vast distances to try out a new snowboard. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? A tie: patience and stoicism. Which living person do you most despise? I don t have time to despise. But there are one or two broken people whom I definitely avoid. Which talent would you most like to have? Roger Federer s. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would be less unsettled/obsessed by questions like this one. What do you consider your greatest achievement? The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Waking up one day and not being able to tell the good guys from the bad guys in my life. What is your favorite occupation? I haven t found it yet.

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What do you most value in your friends? Their time. Who are your favorite writers? C. S. Lewis, J. R. Moehringer. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Odysseus. How would you like to die? At the dawn of the 22nd century, doing something I hate. What is your motto? Never bring a knife to a gunfight.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Carly Simon Muse, siren, and Seven Sisters icon, the singer-songwriter has now recorded a number of her greatest hits acoustically on Never Been Gone. Here, she pauses to share her secrets (but, no, not that one). Illustration by Risko January 2010 Answer your own Proust Questionnaire on Facebook.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? The absence of fear, and the recognition that we are all on this ship of fools together. We may in fact go to the big ship s Art Deco bar and have a glass of champagne, toasting our foibles. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Forgetting. Or, worse yet, not recognizing who my real friends are. What is your greatest extravagance? Asking department-store clerks to make up their beds with particularly

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

luxurious sheets and pillowcases, and then getting into the bed and having a little nap. What is the quality you most like in a man? A willingness to admit wrongness. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Big shoulders, a soft tummy, big breasts. I am small and she is rocking me in the twilight, perhaps even in a rocking chair. We are likely to be on a porch. She is singing me songs from Disney movies. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? O.K., I m leaving then! When and where were you happiest? Living in London in the late 60s setting my hair with beer cans and shopping for shoes in Knightsbridge. Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to organize my time and get even 10 percent of what I need to do done, and still have time to learn obscure folk songs from Serbia. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My paralyzing tendency toward inertia. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Kindness without anyone knowing that I ve been kind. Where would you like to live? On a remote South Seas island. But not so remote that it wouldn t have one really great mattress store. What is your most treasured possession? The J-185 Gibson guitar given to me by a long-lost friend.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

Who are your heroes in real life? My children, Sally and Ben, for forging ahead when I made mistake after mistake. What are your favorite names? Gérard Depardieu. Dutch. What is it that you most dislike? War or anything to do with instruments of war, or war-like tendencies. More immediately visceral, I would say: gristle, unexpected human hair, or anything that has surprisingly and aggressively intruded upon a really fine chicken potpie. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A whale with a credit card. What is your greatest regret? Not mastering an instrument. Not spending more time with my mother when she was dying. How would you like to die? Lying down, being given a delightful local potion, and being surrounded by a great tree by the edge of a cliff that leads down to the sea. Perhaps in Hawaii, with Stephen Colbert singing the Pie Jesu from the Fauré Requiem just before I finally pass into oblivion. There would be a boys choir there on the ready, to vocally assist him. There could be drums, of course. No, I think there would have to be drums. And every musician I ve ever loved and everyone else I ve ever loved. And then it starts all over again.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

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