Billy Baldwin, who before his death in 1983 was known by the cognoscenti as the dean of American decorators, recorded his fascinating life, and had it set down by his friend and collaborator, author Michael Gardine.
If you would enjoy reading the life of a man of accomplishment embellished with tales of the great and near great of this century who were more than his friends, then you will enjoy reading "Billy Baldwin." If, however, you are looking for advice on furniture placement, color schemes or a personal design philosophy, then you would be best advised to read another book.
In Billy Baldwin's own manner of speaking, a style which Gardine found "extremely easy to imitate and reproduce," the Great American decorator regales us with a marvelously readable story told in the first person. A most likable raconteur, Baldwin holds forth on matters of taste, fashion, friendship and the celebration that comes from living a rich full life.
Baldwin was born in Baltimore, Md., the first child of well-to-do parents whom he remembers as being young and attractive. Though he disliked his father and loathed his little sister, Baldwin remembers the beauty and gracious style of his mother with fondness, as well as her interest in interior decoration, clothes and her son. Baldwin recounts his attempts at working for his father and his eventual choice of the profession for which he was better suited. There is a brief chapter dedicated to his meeting and employment by Ruby Ross Wood, Baldwin's mentor, protector and sponsor.