Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tom Brokaw is unbelievable: he's on "The View" and trying to make like he was a working-class kid from the midwest in the 1950s. Oh, really? If so, why is his cousin Pan Brokaw? (Pan Brokaw was the daughter of Frances Seymour and her first husband, George Brokaw, the millionaire who owned the Morgan Guarantee Trust Company; after George Brokaw died, Frances Seymour Brokaw would marry Henry Fonda, and have two more children, Lady Jayne, who would change her name to Jane, and Peter; the information on the family connection to Tom Brokaw comes from Peter Fonda, from his autobiography "Don't Tell Dad". Pan's real name is Frances, but she's always referred to by her nickname Pan.)

That reminds me of the moment when Barry Ellsworth explained that his mother (Sally Bingham) told him and his brothers how they were middle-class. Todd and i thought this was very funny: If Barry Ellsworth was middle-class, what were the rest of us?

Why are people so deluded or plain ignorant when it comes to class issues in America? Robert De Niro and Al Pacino may be two actors with Italian surnames, but they are not the same class. When De Niro did "Meet the Parents", a lot of critics commented that, though De Niro's performance was funny, he just wasn't believable as a WASP... when (in fact) that's exactly what De Niro is. His mother was Virginia Admiral, a WASP whose family was part of the original listing of the 400.

And when it comes to the movies, people get absolutely delusional. Yes, now big stars negotiate contracts to get the most out of the deals. When Elizabeth Taylor, and then Marlon Brando, and then Audrey Hepburn made $1 million plus for a single picture in the 1960s, it's just escalated from there.

But in the studio contract days, the salaries stars would make would come to an average of about $200,000 a year. And that's it.

So when people write about Frances Brokaw Fonda that she amassed a fortune from her control of her husband's finances, are these people crazy? When Frances Fonda died, she left a fortune of about $60 million, to be divided evenly between her three children (Pan, Jane, and Peter) with Pan as executor (not her husband Henry). The $60 million came from the Morgan Guarantee Trust Company and other investments that Frances Fonda had made, but it did not come from the money that Henry Fonda was making on contract to 20th Century Fox.

As the saying goes, do the math!


Blogger OKonheim said...

very interesting

3:09 PM

Blogger An Aesthete's Lament said...

I have found nowhere that Pan Brokaw is Tom Brokaw's cousin or that he is related to the once-wealthy New York Brokaws. If that is the case, it must be distantly. Tom Brokaw's father was Anthony Orville Brokaw, a construction worker for the Army Corps of Engineers. Perhaps you can clear this up. If he is indeed a cousin of Pan Brokaw's, it surely doesn't mean he comes from money by any means—George Brokaw's money would certainly have gone to his children, not any other relations, however distant. I bear the surname of a rich clan to whom I am related but I'm certainly not rich and neither were my parents or grandparents.

8:05 PM


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