The Queen of Mean Goes Off-Screen

Sometimes when someone prominent dies -- someone who was not well loved while they were alive -- we are surprised to feel an unexpected sympathy, an empathy for the departed. This does not, however, seem to be the case for the Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley who died on Monday of old nastiness at the age of 87 and who everyone just seems relieved to see the back of.

OK: not everyone. Howard Rubenstein, the man the Guardian refers to as “the New York public affairs guru who represented Helmsley for 35 years,” publicly defended the woman who stood by him for so many years.

“Her death is a time to put aside some of the innuendo and the negative criticism of Leona and think of the many positive things that she did,” he said.

But it will take more than even Mr Rubenstein’s substantial publicity skills to prevent the obituary writers placing greed at least as prominently as philanthropy among the list of her essential qualities.

Even so, it’s kind of nice that Rubenstein isn't trashing the hand that fed him now that she's no longer around to hold out the steak.

Peter Slatin at Forbes has his own take on this:

That people say nice things about her makes a certain perverse sense. Few characters provoked more of a bitter laugh from New York real estate people as well as the public at large than the Queen of Mean (we prefer to think of her as the Queen of Green), best known for being wild about her Harry (and his billions), vicious to her hotel employees and evasive of her taxes, for which she was sent to prison (leading to her famous quote: "Only the little people pay taxes").

Except of course, that didn’t work out too well for her and brought a whole wave of ickiness to light. Ah, well: Rubenstein is right. Why not wish her well, now that she’s headed off for that big escrow in the sky?


Popular Posts