"There’s the Great Man": Befriending George Plimpton

A story I heard over and over about George was that he’d been very nervous before his first wedding—to Freddy Espy, who was even more beautiful than Lauren Hutton, the model who made her acting debut playing Freddy in the movie of Paper Lion. George’s friend Thomas Guinzburg tried to calm him by praising Freddy and suggesting that whatever else George was thinking, he should realize that after he was married he would never be lonely again. The punch line was George’s response: “But I’ve never been lonely in my life!”

I believed that story, but I also believe that as he got older George was bothered by the transience of the people he knew and loved, and there is no deeper definition of loneliness than that, even as the party swirls around you. When famous friends die, do you miss them more? That was a question I wondered about. George said no, but you were reminded more often that they were gone. - TM

Read the excerpt in the Paris Review Daily.