“Bette Davis had very talented hands,” recalled Lois Wright, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. A student of palmistry and tarot cards, Wright gave readings to the many celebrities who frequented the Hamptons.
“I remember reading Frank Sinatra’s palm but there wasn’t anything there that made an impression on me. He had a normal palm. I really only remember the ones that stand out,” she said. Spending many of her summers in East Hampton, Wright read palms at the Sea Spray on the Dunes in East Hampton, Gurney’s in Montauk, and The Old Post House in Southampton.
When summer would end, Wright would return with her family to live in a hotel in New York City. “We stayed at Gramercy Park and I went back to school. I also lived in Freeport and Garden City. But Mother loved the city so we would always go back to it.”
Soon after the Hurricane of 1938, the Wright family came to East Hampton, living in the farmhouse that is now the Springs Library. But “the house had no heat,” explained Wright, so they would still return to New York City to live in a hotel for the winter.
When speaking of her parents, Wright remembers her mother, Kathryn, with a smile. “Mother was musically inclined. She had a talent that allowed her to play instruments without formal lessons and compose her own music and songs, which she loved to play.”
William, Wright’s father, was a concert pianist. “He didn’t allow anyone to play the piano when he was home,” said Wright. “I think he was a little jealous. She didn’t have to study like he did to play well. She was a composer without any formal training. She would try it on the piano when she was writing a song. She just had an ear for music.”
Living With The Edies
When Wright’s mother passed away in 1975, she went to live with her mother’s close friend, Edith Bouvier Beale, and her daughter. The aunt of the former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Beale lived in the famed Grey Gardens.
Wright had visited there often and vividly recalled her arrival at the Beale home. “I knew what to bring. I brought a green canvas cot, a flashlight, some cooking pots, a few hats, and a strong heavy stick. I knew I might need it to scare off some raccoons and I needed the pots because the Beales didn’t use the kitchen, only a hot plate in the bedroom.” For 13 months, Wright lived with “Big Edie and Little Edie.”
“I was given the ‘eye room’ and I filled it with my paintings. I like to paint faces. Some are people I know but some are just from my imagination,” she stated. Wright still has her easel set up in her East Hampton home for when she is inspired to paint.
In addition to painting, Wright is the author of My Life at Grey Gardens, a book she wrote to capture the details of life with the Beales. Few knew that Wright actually lived in the squalor of Grey Gardens and the film which was released in 1976 chose to minimize Wright’s role in the lives of Big Edie and Little Edie as well as her presence at Grey Gardens, she said. Her book holds a place in the Library of Congress.
30 years on LTV
A local celebrity, Wright still produces the longest-running TV show on LTV. Thirty years and still going, Wright’s talk show entertains audiences with her guests and Wright’s own witticism. Her close friend, Joyce Whitby, is always on hand to assist and help further some of the ideas Wright has for her shows.
Setting the stage in the 1870s in the Old West, Wright brought her “Pete’s Old West Grey Horse Saloon” to life, explaining to audiences that there was a special stagecoach which acted as a time machine bringing the talk show’s guests back in time. Dressed in cowboy hats and western gear, Whitby aided in the fantasy by playing a pig farmer named Patsy McKenna. “It’s all great fun!” said Wright.
Those who know Wright describe her as “a very special lady.” Aaron Robinson, a friend and her “online representative for her Facebook page,” is one of those who have known Wright for many years. “I’ve been very lucky to have Lois in my life. We’ve been avid letter writers (a lost art) throughout our friendship.”
A musician, Robinson has lent his talents to Wright’s LTV show as a guest on numerous occasions but also in the composition of the show’s score, “Ragtime Piano.” According to Robinson, as a recent guest on Wright’s show, “I brought my wife and son, who is six years old. She read his palm on the air. It was very special for me, since I’ve known Lois long before his birth and long before I was married.”
The Robinson family also attended Wright’s 90th birthday party. “Fans from all over the world sent her messages,” Robinson revealed. “She was wished a happy and healthy 90th by nearly 2000 fans! My son drew a picture of Grey Gardens for her and Lois showed him where the ‘Eye Room’ was where she slept while staying with the Beales in the mid-1970s.”