She’s been a catalog model, cigarette girl, Vegas cocktail waitress, New York theater actress and bit part player in an Oscar-winning movie.
But it was one photo session in the early 1950s that sealed Neva Gilbert’s claim to pop culture fame. The Lake Worth resident was one of Playboy magazine’s earliest centerfolds, Miss July 1954, a beautiful, long-legged blonde posed alluringly across a tiger skin rug.
“I’m the oldest living Playboy Playmate,” she proudly tells people.
But is she?
Find out, and see more photos of Gilbert then and now, in our story:
Thousands of people will be at Moonfest on Clematis street, in downtown West Palm Beach, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday night. Maybe as many as 30,000 if we’re talking the number of bodies the organizers expect the event to attract.
Even though this is a grown folks night out (21+), every year there are costume fails—no matter the age. Here are the dos and don’ts of dressing up for Palm Beach County’s biggest Halloween extravaganza.
The force was definitely with this one. A couple hundred people gathered at CityPlace in West Palm Beach Saturday night to witness 7-year-old Brady defeat Darth Vader.
To become a Jedi Knight — to save everyone from evil — that’s been Brady’s wish for years. And who can blame him? He’s spent much of his life fighting tumors that have attacked his body.
The battle was intense, but the crowd had Brady’s back as he pushed his hand out toward Vader, using The Force to weaken the dark master who fell from the amphitheater stairs and fled the scene with his storm troopers.
Brady’s advice to all the other kids in the city who want Darth Vader to go down? “I would tell them to be brave,” he said.
Armed with his own light saber, Brady, a resident of West Palm, arrived in a SWAT vehicle ready to kick some butt. And he did. After a few minutes of jumping, swinging and kicking, the boy who’s no stranger to fighting, saved West Palm Beach (and possibly all of South Florida) from the dark forces.
The Jedi master received advanced Jedi training by the local SWAT team in order to face Darth Vader and his troops. Brady was later honored with a key to the city by West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and Police Chief Bryan Kummerlen.
To learn more about Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, which grants a wish every 16 hours, at an average cost of $5,000 each, for children in 13 Florida counties and the U.S. Virgin Islands, click here.
ORLANDO — When the leaves turn brown and begin to fall, when the weather starts getting a tad nippier at night, when the NFL season is in full swing, that only means one thing….it’s time to get the living heck scared out of you at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort.
Yes, the 26th annual frightfest returns Friday, running on select nights through Oct. 31 with nine haunted houses, including those featuring Leatherface, the chainsaw-loving homicidal maniac from “The Texas ChainsawMassacre;” Michael Myers, the knife-wielding, slow-walking killer from, oh, 68 “Halloween” films; the bloodthirsty zombies from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and, the one I’m looking forward to most, the pea soup-spewing, head-spinning demonic little girl from “The Exorcist” – still the scariest movie ever made.
If that’s not enough, look for more chills and thrills inside “American Horror Story,” FX’s wildly popular anthology, but ridiculously violent, series and “Krampus,” a horned creature who punishes children at Christmastime. Gives new meaning to the “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” lyrics, “You better watch out/You better not cry/You better not pout/I’m telling you why,” doesn’t it?
Also look for five scare zones and two live shows.
Anyone who really knows me, knows Halloween Horror Nights is one of my favorite events of the year. I moved to Florida from New York in 1996 with my family and I’ve been to every HHN since.
This year, I’m psyched about “The Exorcist,” a movie that haunted my dreams for months after seeing it as an 11-year-old kid when the film premiered in 1973. I wasn’t alone. Moviegoers were reported fainting in theaters. I wasn’t that bad. I just covered my eyes a lot. If I had another set of hands, I would’ve covered my ears while little girl Regan (Linda Blair) was speaking in tongues. I still haven’t forgiven my mom for taking me.
Anyway, I’m 54 now. Way past the childhood trauma of watching a little girl’s head spin 360 degrees while she’s saying the kind of naughty things no little girl has any business saying.
At least, I hope I’m past that trauma. I’ve seen the film several times since 1973 and usually rent it around Halloween as part of my own personal “Horrorfest” movie marathon I host at home. But watching a film and seeing a possessed little girl whose voice is deeper than mine in person are two different things.
Look for an upcoming blog on my reaction to little girl Regan’s evil antics in the coming weeks.
For more ghoulish information on HHN, click here….if you dare! (Cue sinister laugh)
On Wednesday, yacht owner Thomas Henry Baker’s boat, the Time Out, ended up on the beach just south of the Palm Beach Inlet as he returned from a trip to the Bahamas. Baker, who police say admitted drinking Long Island iced teas on board, blamed his GPS for directing him to shallow waters near the beach. He was charged with boating under the influence, his second such arrest in the last month.
Back in 1984, Mollie Wilmot’s maid awakened her the day after Thanksgiving, saying the society hostess had guests at her oceanfront mansion, one door south of what was then still the Kennedy estate.
Wilmot expected it was the photographer scheduled to shoot her house for Town & Country magazine that day.
Instead, it was the captain and 10-member crew of a 197-foot Venezuelan freighter now towering over her pool cabana as the derelict rust bucket pounded her seawall into concrete chips.
Ever the hostess, Wilmot served the crew finger sandwiches, caviar and coffee in her gazebo, becoming the glamorous star of a reality show playing out on her beach.
I was working for a Miami TV station at the time and was among the gaggle of reporters and photographers who showed up later that day.
To us, Wilmot offered hot cocoa on cold mornings and icy martinis at cocktail hour almost every evening. (I recall the network correspondents who didn’t have a story on the air that night indulging. The rest of us were always on deadline or preparing for live shots.)
In her big white sunglasses, Wilmot, a horse breeder and department store heiress who died in 2002, became a national figure as she tottered around her pool patio, always wearing white while carrying her dog, a white fur ball named “Fluff.”
While various agencies debated how best to get the freighter afloat and reporters made bets on when it would be hauled out to sea, the droll Wilmot gathered her Palm Beach friends to sip cocktails and watch the news unfold live from her back yard.
After overstaying its welcome by 105 days, the Mercedes was finally hauled away to become an artificial reef off the Broward County coast.
Disney studios hoped to turn the saga into a movie called “Palm Beached,” but Wilmot balked at the choice of Bette Midler playing her as well as a plot line that had her cavorting with the ship’s captain.
Wilmot’s house was sold and demolished after her death. A new house on the property sold for $23 million in 2014.
The 15th anniversary of 9/11 is Sunday. Palm Beach Post reporter Staci Sturrock wrote this column on the tenth anniversary of the attack:
It’s been years since I had the heart to sift through the contents of the vintage suitcase in my spare bedroom. But recently, I flipped open the latches of the hard-sided, marbled-green Samsonite.
There was the paper air-filter mask someone handed me on the streets of New York 10 years ago this Sunday.
There were the reporter’s note pads, scribbled with quotes like this one from an eyewitness to the attack on the twin towers: “At first, we were just watching the smoke, and then we saw people jumping or bodies falling out of the windows. They were like rag dolls.”
Or this one, jotted down two days later outside the Lexington Avenue Armory, where families sought help in locating what we then called “the missing”: “We just hope someone will tell us where we can go to find our son.”
And there, the pair of battered black sandals.
I wore the shoes most of that week, when I happened to be in New York to attend fashion shows, and wound up covering a national tragedy.
Now, I remember why I couldn’t bear to look inside the suitcase. It’s my very own “hurt locker” of recent history.
The Samsonite is also a time capsule of sorts, a historic relic, a souvenir of an era long past.
This particular model was popular in the 1950s, when the person who drove you to the airport could escort you to the gate and kiss you goodbye. When you didn’t have to remove your shoes and belt and jacket to pass through security. When grabbing your bags and heading to the airport meant packing your sense of adventure, not a couple of Xanax.
Stored inside, I can see the technological changes of 10 years. There’s a small stack of faxes.
A horizontal credit-card receipt that had been put through an old-fashioned, sliding imprinter. A packet of 36-exposure film developed at an Eckerd drugstore, not instantly routed from a phone to my Facebook page.
The photos trace my path after I scribbled this note during the initial post-attack phone call from my editor: “first person story, center of the apocalypse, walk as far south as possible.”
And so, around 10 that morning, I headed south from my Times Square hotel. Along the way, I talked to dazed New Yorkers and aimed my point-and-shoot camera at pedestrians trudging mid-avenue, pausing to stare at smoke billowing in the distance.
Out on the streets, news updates weren’t as near as the palm of your hand. Smartphones? Tablet computers? Try the occasional transistor radio or jam box. I didn’t even own a cellphone then, and neither did the many residents waiting at pay phones to call home.
Here’s a photo of information-gathering, circa 2001: two dozen strangers huddled around a car, its windows rolled down and radio cranked up.
And here’s a snapshot of how quickly hospitals mobilized that morning — attached to a tree, a hand-lettered sign that read “Blood needed at St. Vincent’s.”
Scores waited in line to donate at the Greenwich Village hospital, where green-scrubbed doctors stood outside, next to office chairs draped in white sheets, ready to ferry the wounded who never arrived.
And, in my note pad, phrases evoking the surreal nature of a catastrophe that was simply unbelievable, even with the evidence written in a disfigured skyline:
“NYC bus goes by with paramedics in every seat. … Police riding in back of Ford F-250 pickup.”
“A priest wearing a dusty white hard hat.”
“Soot falling from sky like snowflakes.”
In the end, I made it within half a mile of ground zero before encountering a policeman who had every reason to be impatient, but wasn’t. “I even threw NBC out,” he said. “Unfortunately, you guys gotta go, too.”
The days that followed were a blur of interviews with tourists and mourners and downtown residents trying to retrieve the pets they’d hastily abandoned in apartment buildings adjacent to the Trade Center.
My photos do a poor job of conveying that week’s schizophrenic mix of pride, sorrow and hopefulness: American flags hung from fences and scaffolding. The makeshift memorials of roses and sunflowers, candles and messages of peace. Mailboxes papered over with missing-person fliers.
Those hastily Xeroxed pleas for information — which typically featured professionals in their prime, oblivious to the violent fate that awaited them — were mind-boggling in number.
Two posters were handed to me outside the Lexington armory, where many fathers and mothers, friends and co-workers sought out reporters, or anyone else, who would listen to their stories.
One shows a handsome 32-year-old man in a swimming pool with a young child. He is Mario Nardone, and on Sept. 15, 2001, The New York Times described the bonds broker, who worked on the 84th floor of the South Tower, as the guy with “the million-dollar smile and the million-dollar heart.”
Less than a week later, The Times ran an obit of the lovely woman on the other flier. Rosa Julia Gonzalez, also 32, a Port Authority secretary. After the terrorists flew into the South Tower, Gonzalez called one of her six sisters, then tried to make her way to the street from the 66th floor.
According to news reports, Gonzalez was descending the stairs with her friend Genelle Guzman-McMillan when the building collapsed. Almost 27 hours later, McMillan became the last person pulled alive from the wreckage.
Gonzalez was not so lucky.
Last month, my boyfriend asked, gently and without judgment, if I’d like to get rid of the suitcase, or at least the contents that give it so much physical and emotional weight.
We’ll be in Lower Manhattan on Sunday, and maybe, he suggested, we could leave a few items in tribute at the new 9/11 Memorial, the one inscribed with 2,983 names.
I didn’t know what to say. He finally spoke: “You’re not ready to let it go.”
I guess I’m not, and I’m not sure why. I experienced 9/11 at such a remove that it’s wrong to say I “experienced” it at all. I wasn’t in the center of the apocalypse; I was an observer on its outskirts, and after six long days, I returned to the comforting routines of home.
But it seems heartless to discard the fliers or the photos or the note pads, or even say goodbye to those worn-out sandals.
Now, as I handle the shoes, lyrics from a favorite song by the folk trio The Be Good Tanyas come to mind:
You pass through places
And places pass through you
But you carry ’em with you
On the soles of your travellin’ shoes.
The suitcase is where I carry ’em with me — those memories of places I hope we never pass through again.
Steve Morris and Joe Whitehead, the two men who reunited earlier this week at the El Cid bar 40 years after making a vow to do so, have been flabbergasted by the attention they received after the Palm Beach Post exclusively told their story.
Now, as Morris says, their 15 minutes of fame is about to stretch out to 18-20 minutes.
Tonight, Steve Hartman of CBS, who does the “On The Road” segments pioneered by Charles Kuralt, will feature their story on the CBS Evening News (6:30 p.m., Channel 12). Morris says they will also be on CBS Sunday Morning. Hartman and a crew were down here this week to interview Morris and Whitehead.
In 1989, pop culture seemed to reign from the shores of Daytona Beach. College students flooded the coastal town and MTV took notice, bringing a previously unseen form of debauchery and excitement to the television screens of millions of Americans at home.
Most people growing up in the 1980s and early 1990s remember what Spring Break meant from what MTV was sending to their television screens — the bikinis, the drinking, the balcony jumping — but it was unclear through the telecasts what impact this was having on the city of Daytona Beach.