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FEATURE

A Letter to Two Wives





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In the 1949 film, “A Letter to Three Wives,” three women receive letters from an unseen character telling them that she, their friend, Addie Ross, had run off with one of their husbands. Since the Joseph Mankiewicz film dropped two of the “Five Wives” of the original story on which it was based, I feel free to drop one wife more for the purposes of this post. The letter I write below is to Michelle Obama, and to Cindy Hensley McCain, and I’m not the kind of guy to run off with either of your husbands. No Addie Ross me. But one of you will discover what it is to be deeply disappointed and sadly surprised this year, when your beloved spouse loses the big one and disappoints your hopes for him, and yourself. Both of you are strong defenders of your husbands, while being women of accomplishment. But only one of you has come under attack of the main stream press, and that says something about America today that’s worth exploring.

Dear Cindy and Michelle. If you don’t mind we’ll start with you Cindy, after all, you are accustomed to having pride of place at any gathering. Cindy, it is hard for me to find fault with a woman who devoted her early years to treatment of children with severe disabilities, one who founded the American Voluntary Medical team to provide MASH style care to disaster areas, and personally participated in fifty five of their missions, without a blonde hair, or a remark out of place. You are Mother Theresa in an Armani suit. You are undoubtedly kind and deeply charitable. And real lucky. For eight years you have been the chair of your late father’s beer business Hensley &Co, earning for yourself some four hundred thousand dollars a year. Your good works go on and on from Operation Smile to CARE to an organization that removes land mines in Cambodia. And you have learned to smile your way through some abusive language that your salt of the earth husband has aimed at you...

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Contributing writer, Sherman Yellen, screenwriter, playwright, and lyricist,
has won two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award, first for his drama John Adams, Lawyer in the PBS series The Adams Chronicles, and later for An Early Frost, a groundbreaking drama about AIDS in America. His Beauty and the Beast was nominated for an Emmy and won the Christopher Award. Yellen was nominated for a Tony Award for his book for the Broadway musical, The Rothschilds. Yellen's other plays include Strangers, December Fools and Josephine Tonight! Sherman Yellen received a lifetime achievement award in Arts and Letters from Bard College.
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