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FRIENDS : The Odd Couple

January 04, 1987

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

--Humphrey Bogart to Claude Rains in "Casablanca"

Groucho Marx and T. S. Eliot. The author of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" sent a letter to the host of "You Bet Your Life" in 1961, requesting his portrait. In turn, Groucho asked for Eliot's photograph and commented, "I had no idea you were so handsome. Why you haven't been offered the lead in some sexy movies I can only attribute to the stupidity of the casting directors." They finally met in London in 1964, which, according to Eliot, "greatly enhanced my credit in the neighborhood." Groucho spoke at Eliot's funeral the next year.

Marlon Brando and Wally Cox. Mr. Peepers and the Method Actor first met in elementary school and became close friends when Brando arrived in New York in the early '40s, looking for a roommate. Brando referred to Cox as "an old, fragile, beautifully embroidered Chinese ceremonial robe with a few Three-in-One oil spots on it." Cox called Brando "a creative philosopher, a very deep thinker, a liberating force for his friends."

Truman Capote and Joanne Carson. The late author often visited Los Angeles, though he called it "deathland." Whenever possible, he stayed with Johnny Carson's ex-wife Joanne, who called him "my protector and my best friend" and who remodeled a room for him at her Bel-Air home. He confided in her that he knew "Answered Prayers" would be his last book.

Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley. In 1970, the crooner offered to help President Nixon in his war against drugs, citing the unwholesome influence of the "anti-American" Jane Fonda and "longhairs" such as the Beatles. Apparently impressed by Presley's efforts, the President encouraged him to go into politics.

Ernest Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich. In 1945, Dietrich stayed with Mary and Ernest Hemingway at the Ritz in Paris. According to Mary Hemingway's memoirs, the actress would sit on the side of the bathtub serenading the novelist as he shaved. "Papa, you are the greatest man and the greatest artist!" she told him. She conjured up wild stories of her own imagined funeral, but Hemingway reassured her, "You're immortal, my Kraut!"

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