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October 15, 2013

Scene and Heard: Harrison Ford and Jerry Brown

Photo Credit: Casey Curry

Editors' Notes

Jerry Brown and Harrison Ford

Photo Credit: Casey Curry

Editors' Notes

Harrison Ford and Anjelica Huston

Photo Credit: Casey Curry

Editors' Notes

Jerry Brown

Photo Credit: Casey Curry

Harrison Ford took the stage in the Crystal Ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Monday, October 14, to present Pen Center USA’s lifetime achievement award to writer Joan Didion at the organization’s 23rd annual Literary Awards Festival. Ford said he was sad that the Sacramento-born writer couldn’t be present for the ceremony. “I hadn’t expected to say very much—a man of few words that I am—but since she’s not here, I want to tell you all how much her friendship has meant to me over the last 40 years that I’ve known her. When I first came out here, Joan and John had not yet arrived. But soon I was introduced to them… They had a beautiful crumbling mansion on Fountain Avenue.” Ford noted that Didion and her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, were the most sophisticated people he knew and said he was invited to their dinner parties and later became their carpenter, “and happily so.” He worked on their house in Malibu, noting that he was “The first thing they saw in the morning and the last thing they saw in the evening, before cocktails.”

Governor Jerry Brown was tapped to deliver the news that Didion wouldn’t be present for the evening awards ceremony. As guests including Oliver Stone, Mark Boal, Chris Hedges, Kathryn Bigelow, and Laura Dern took their seats, Brown explained his connection to Didion. “Like Joan, my forebearers came to the vineyards in Sacramento.” He fondly recalled her essay, “Many Mansions,” in her seminal 1979 book, The White Album, about the governor’s mansion. “The Reagans said it was a fire trap and moved to the suburbs after a couple of days… Joan said it was her most favorite house in the world. I’m trying to get my wife to move in there.”

Another friend of Didion, actress Anjelica Huston, delivered an acceptance speech written by the New York-based writer:  “I find myself inordinately flattered and deeply pleased to have been named to receive this award,” Houston read. “I used to say that I did not want to be named, that I did not believe in awards, but that was before I was given one or two of them. Now that a few have come my way, I do want them. And I thank you for the gift of them.”

By Elizabeth Varnell

Pictured: Governor Jerry Brown & Harrison Ford

Photo by Casey Curry

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