Tell-all authoress Jacqueline Susann's 1966 infamous novel "Valley of the Dolls" sent tongues wagging around the world, as readers eagerly tried to guess the famous names who inspired her book characters.
Before her early death from cancer in 1974 at age 56, her out-spoken, brassy New York personality made her a favorite guest on TV talk shows, from Johnny Carson's couch on "The Tonight Show" to afternoon chats with Merv Griffin, Virginia Graham and Mike Douglas. But there was always one topic she refused to discuss. Just like her devoted husband, Irving Mansfield, a producer for "The Arthur Godfrey Show," Susann wouldn't talk about the couple's only child, their son Guy, who was born with autism. By age 4, they had Guy committed to an institution in Arizona. Susann told her famous friends, like Ethel Merman, Joan Crawford, Joe E. Lewis, Eddie Cantor and Carol Landis, that Guy was asthmatic, and so she had opted to place him in an exclusive private boarding school in Arizona, because of "the healthier climate."
Mansfield outlived his famous wife by 14 years, before his death at age 80 in 1988. The couple's son Guy, now 67, remains institutionalized.
Autism is a topic that receives far too little discussion. On Thursday, it will be a topic on the lips of many, and with good reason, for a good cause to raise money for research, awareness and education at the 2013 Art for Autism event.
"This is an exciting first time event with an important purpose to let others know the numbers of people with autism has risen dramatically," said Linda Eisenhauer, Art for Autism Committee Member.
The inaugural Art for Autism event described by Eisenhauer is from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Cedar Lake. It will feature local and nationally known artists who have autism or Aspergers syndrome. Their art will be available for purchase through both live and silent auctions. Hors d'oeuvres and wine will be served along with the option of a cash bar. Tickets are $45 and are available by calling the center at (219) 662-1311, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm told the event's celebrity auctioneer will be State Representative Rick Neimeyer.
MAAP Services for Autism & Aspergers Syndrome is the host organization for this week's event. With an office in Crown Point, the group helps families of individuals within the autism spectrum and the professionals who work with them with their website aspergersyndrome.org, distributing written information, providing referrals, conferences and forums to share autism knowledge. The head of the organization is Susan J. Moreno, CEO and founder, who has written several books and spoken internationally. This organization provides services for both Lake and Porter Counties and is a fully accredited non-profit organization.