Partner Hal Faulkner
Hangover House, 31172 Ceanothus Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, Stati Uniti
New York Botanical Gardens, 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458
Charles Wolfsohn (December 15, 1912 - March 3, 2007) was a penthouse garden designer. He did the flower landscaping for the Hangover House, designed by William Alexander Levy for his friends, the travel writer Richard Halliburton and his partner Paul Mooney.
Levy was the sometime lover of Mooney, with whom he kept in close touch. "Nothing is as welcome as a note from you," Mooney wrote. William Alexander dropped Levy from his last name to hide his Jewish identity. A few years before his trip to the Soviet Union, Halliburton had met Alexander during a performance of Salome, which he attended with a group of gay men. Alexander was Mooney's invited guest and joined Halliburton, bodybuilder Leopold de Sola, and another man, Wolfsohn. After the performance, the group returned to the Barbizon Hotel. "Mooney was the older man and the younger Bill fell madly in love with him and they were nearly inseparable," recalled Michael E. Blankenship, a friend of Alexander.
Before he met Paul Mooney, Alexander's best friend was Charles "Charlie" Wolfsohn. Three years younger than Bill, Charlie was more sophisticated than he. A lawyer's son, born in Harlem, Wolfsohn, drawn early on to the world of theater and art, regularly participated in art skits (including a performance as Rembrandt) at the New York Metropolitan Musuem of Art under the keen direction of audio-visual pioneer and author Anna Curtis Chandler. While still in his teens, he became a protégé of art dealer Sidney Osbourne, the "black sheep son of the Duke of Leeds." He already had, by seventeen, several romances, and one with Richard Halliburton remains a possibility. In time, Wolfsohn became a landscape gardener for the New York Botanical Gardens, and a penthouse garden designer of some note. In the early 1930s, with Alexander, he helped dealer-owners, mostly women, install various art exhibits. Cecilia Beaux was one of the artists exhibited, Bill later recalled, as was Florine Stettheimer.
Many of these galleries were located near the Algonquin. Paul and Bill were fast friends, and with Bill often went Charlie. Bill didn't drive a car, and relied on Paul to drive him places. Paul, fascinated by car culture, was a most capable driver, if at times a reckless one, and a proficient mechanic. When Paul wasn't available, Bill hitchhiked or took the train to wherever it was he wanted to go. Bill liked to learn about things—one of his few A's at NYU was in Ancient Civilizations, which he liked because it took him to other worlds. Remarkably, he had gotten a B from Wolfe, who was not known to dispense high grades. Still, Bill didn't like to read as did Paul. He liked stories, but preferred to hear their highlights told to him. As had Charlie, Paul let Bill know what he was reading; he also shared with him his musical tastes. Especially enjoyable to Paul were the live radio broadcasts that aired from the Metropolitan. He especially liked maestro Arturo Toscanini and Wagnerian soprano Kirsten Flagstad. Sundays, he always made it a point to listen to popular announcer Milton T. Cross lecture on classical music. Bill admired Charlie but soon he idolized Paul, who was so plainly unlike the many people whom he so strongly disliked. These included people who shared their dreams, who did romantic grappling in public places, who called their home some cute name, who hummed along to great music, and who put gnomes, storks, ducks, deer on their lawns. He particularly detested people who kicked the back of his theater seat, which Paul impishly might do just to tease a smile from his often too serious and peevish friend.
During the Depression it was not unusual for families to take in boarders, and for a time Paul lived at Alexander's parents' 672 Eastern Parkway home in Brooklyn's uppercrust Flatbush district. Within walking distance was Prospect Park, where stood Frederick MacMonnies' famed equestrian statue of General Slocum, hero of the Battle of Bull Run; nearby was his equally imposing statue "The Horse Tamer." By this time, Paul had made at least one trip to faraway California and had met famous people about whom more will soon be unfolded. Paul's stories of the rich and famous in far-off California, in whose lives he now insinuated himself, thrilled and amused Alexander's parents and siblings.
Wolfsohn died at 94 in Fort Lauderdale, FL, survived by his partner, Hal Faulkner.
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