By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
It has come to my attention that we saw milestone birthdays this year for some exceptional women — and I would like to celebrate them today for their decades of accomplishments and myriad talents. The three, who all had birthdays in August, remind us that age is what you make of it, and with time comes more knowledge and gifts to share with the world.
A true master of style, Martha Stewart, who turned 80 on Aug. 3, continues to educate us about food, homemaking, entertaining and style, just as she has done for decades. I have been lucky enough to work with her. She once even catered chili for one of my son’s parent/teacher school dinners.
Is there anything Martha can’t do? She’s a master at flower gardening, cooking, crafting, party planning, decorating — well, the list goes on and on.
So many professionals had entertained us for generations. And one of my favorites is Barbara Eden, who is creating her own special magic at 90. Her birthday was Aug. 23.
Barbara, who left a lasting mark on television as the star of “I Dream of Jeannie,” these days produces books to keep the young at heart happy. Her latest, released this year, is titled “Barbara and the Djinn.” In Palm Beach, ask for a copy at Classic Bookshop or The Palm Beach Book Store next time you are looking for a read for a young person in your life.
Full disclosure: I’m proud to say Barbara and her husband, Jon Eicholtz, are godparents to one of my sons, and I so enjoy their company. They live in California, as one might expect, but they enjoy a wandering life together — Barbara having appeared in nightclubs and supper clubs and through personal appearances at events; and Jon, having constructed hotels and resorts across the nation. They are always going and doing. But that’s what keeps us young, right?
For generations, advertising agencies have concentrated on marketing the essence of youth, whether selling perfume, makeup, home furnishings or even appliances. How long it took to even see a gray-haired model in a television ad.
So how rare it is to find a 100-year-old selling costume jewelry on a shopping channel. That exception, of course, is Palm Beach’s own Iris Apfel, who continues to make headlines as a marketer of fashion to the younger set — but her pieces look marvelous on women of any age.
I have known Iris, who hit the century mark on Aug. 29, for such a long time. She and her late husband, Carl, operated the fabric house Old World Weavers for many years, supplying luxury fabrics to tastemakers young and old.
And here’s the lesson: Many a young tastemaker is destined to become an older tastemaker, just as long as he or she keeps up with the times. Iris certainly has done that. If anything, one’s style can become more refined and polished with age. In Iris’ case, she has never lost her sense of style — or of fun.
Time may march along, but the young at heart keep creating — and their secret is that they know there is still so much to learn. To Martha, Barbara and Iris, I send a “thank you” for the gifts they have shared with us, and the gifts yet to come.
The younger generations are always looking for a little guidance. These three women — and countless others — understand that sharing their special spark can ignite a lifetime of creativity, whatever form it may take. A toast to them all!