July 13, 2011


In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” the Prince of Denmark remarks that, to him, the world seems “weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable” (Act 1, ii). Stale and flat are remarkably docile words coming from a young man who doubts his mother’s virtue and is set upon proving his uncle has murdered his father. But it is true there are days when life seems to be lived as though one was walking waist high through a mud hole.

(Yahoo Images)

Janet de Cordova experienced many such days. She was the wife of Johnny Carson’s long time TV producer (Vanity Fair, March 2011). Throughout her marriage, Janet de Cordova sought and lived what she described as a “caviar life.”  She wined and dined with the A-list people of Hollywood. Her home was a large mansion in Beverly Hills with built-in closets crammed with designer fashions. But material possessions never seemed to satisfy and created a desire to own more.  In their search for happiness, the pair squandered their fortune and when the husband died, his wife, destitute and without children, accepted the offer of her long time maid to live in Mexico. Till that moment, Janet de Cordova hadn’t recognized the bond that had grown over the years between the two women.  Once settled in her maid’s home, she discovered a family she’d never had. They were kind and loving to her though she was bereft of money and influence. At last, she was happy. Before she died she wrote to a friend, “Joanna, for the first time in my life, I have a family.”  

The story of Janet de Cordova is one to remember when the world seems flat and unprofitable. She lived the bulk of her life believing she needed caviar and champagne. In the end she grew wiser. What we think we want may not always be the case. That niggling malaise that sometimes strikes us could be a signal for us to keep looking.