Inside the Mind of Bobby Zarem


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A Savannah native, Bobby Zarem spent more than four decades in the cutthroat entertainment capitals of New York and Hollywood before returning to his family home in Ardsley Park.   Some of his many clients were Dustin Hoffman, John Travolta, Cher, Sylvester Stallone, Sophia Loren, Robert De niro and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Now nearing his 81st birthday, Zarem sat down with South magazine’s William C. Wertz for a rambling conversation about his long career, his involvement with “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and why he’s happy to be home.

On growing up and his fascination with celebrities...

I was four, maybe five, and I would sit and fantasize about what I wanted to do. Neighbors would tell me they would see me running to the mailbox to get pictures from the stars I had written to. I sit here now, and I realize that everything I fantasized about became real. I found myself in the middle of a world that was fantastic to me.

 

On his personality...

I was always shy and sensitive. I followed Richard Widmark down 5th Avenue for three blocks one day, desperate to say something to him, but not knowing what to say, so I didn’t say anything.  A couple of years later we were both at a dinner.  We both got there early, and I told him the story.  He said, “Bobby, you’re a liar. You can’t be a press agent and be sensitive and shy.”

On being thanked by Donald Trump...

He called me in August or September of 1978.  It was six months after I launched the “I Love New York” campaign. I walked in and he said, “Bobby, every cent I’ve ever made is because of you.” I didn’t think much of it. I thought he was just talking. But I realized that over the six-month period, real estate in New York had tripled. Literally tripled. It may have been his first fortune independent of his father. I believe that may have been the case.

 

On earning the name “Superflack”...

It was after a party I put on for Stevie Wonder.  It was a soul food supper at Delmonico’s.  Bobby De Niro was there. Lauren Bacall, lots of people.  Stevie didn’t show up. Mick Jagger was standing at the elevator with Judy Klemesrud, the New York Times reporter.  They were getting ready to leave. The elevator door opened and Stevie Wonder came in.  He hadn’t realized it was a party for celebrities. I yelled my head off at him. That’s when Judy gave me the name “Superflack,” and later Newsweek picked it up.

 

On where he eats now after being a regular at Elaine’s in NYC...

Several places. The Vault. Cotton & Rye. Circa (1875) is good. The Grey. I’ve been to the Vault 70 times.

On what Savannah means to him...

Savannah is all about class and character. I’ll tell you a story.  When I was 11 or 12, I was a batboy for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  It was the first season out of spring training in which Jackie Robinson appeared.  They were supposed to play in Jacksonville the day before, but they arrive in Jacksonville, and the sheriff tells them the electricity is out and they can’t play.  The manager says, “But it’s 1 p.m., and it’s 80 degrees.  We don’t need electricity.  But the sheriff says they can’t play.  So they get back on the bus, and the next day they played here. When Jackie Robinson got up to bat, maybe eight people booed.  But the entire rest of the stadium stood up and shouted, “Bravo.” And I knew then the difference between Savannah and other southeastern cities.

To read more, subscribe now or pick up the October/November issue of South magazine.  

 

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Scenes of the South

10th Annual DineSouth Celebration

The 10th annual DineSouth celebration presented by Virginia College in Savannah was one of the best events of the year. Guests gathered at Savannah Station on Oct. 12 to sample food, network, and listen to live music. String lights hung over the long, winding red carpet, which led to an area where visitors were greeted by a photo booth, drinks and live music. Cranford Hollow played all their hits on stage while patrons relaxed on bales of hay provided by Hunter Cattle Company.

Lowcountry Annie Oakleys Charity Clay Tournament

The third annual Annie Oakley's Charity Clay Tournament and After Party took place on September 29. The event benefited the Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children's Hospital in Savannah. The day began at 11:30 a.m. with the driven bird flurry contest. Later that afternoon, the shotgun start kicked off the 100-shot tournament. The after party that evening was open to non-shooters alike, where cocktails, drinks and hors d'oeuvres from Cotton & Rye were served.

Johnathon Scott Barrett Book Signing

Locally renowned Savannah author, Johnathon Scott Barrett, signed books and stood for photo opportunities with many guests at the Gingerbread House on September 26. Food and drinks were served while guests wandered around and picked up copies of Cook and Tell: Recipes and Stories from Southern Kitchens edited by Johnathon Scott Barrett.

John Davis Florist Grand Re-Opening

John Davis Florist finally moved back into the new shop and everyone celebrated with food, drinks and live music on September 28 at the new location at 2430 Abercorn St. Guests also be celebrated the 30th anniversary of John Davis Florist! The day consisted of fun, sips, nibbles and flowers while the shop displayed Savannah's only Flower Bar.

Dancing with the Stars Benefitting CASA

The 10th Annual "Dancing with Savannah Stars" was held on September 28 at Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Many from all over the community turned up to watch the beautiful performances and support Savannah Chatham County CASA.

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Men, women, and pets alike gathered Sunday, September 24 for the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. The DGR brings over 70,000 well-dressed gentlefolk in over 600 cities together on stunning motorcycles. The ride is to support men's health across 95 countries. The goal for 2017 was to raise awareness and $5 million for prostate cancer and men's mental health on behalf of charity partner the Movember Foundation.

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Guests arrived at the 1540 Room grand opening at The Desoto in style. They were greeted with champagne at the door and listened to live music as they walked around greeting others and admired the art. The night was a huge success. Each guest had a wooden token that they could use to vote for their favorite food out of the several samples that were available.

Craft Brew Fest 2017

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