Excerpt: 'Losing Mum & Pup'

Pat Buckley moved easily amidst notables from the worlds of politics, literature, the arts, philanthropy, fashion, and society. Her friends included Henry and Nancy Kissinger, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Jerome Zipkin, Betsy Bloomingdale, Nan Kempner, Clare Boothe Luce, Bill Blass, Tammany leader Carmine DeSapio, Abe Rosenthal and Shirley Lord, Mrs. Gary "Rocky" Cooper, David Niven, John Kenneth Galbraith, Sir Harry Evans and Tina Brown, (British director) Peter Glenville, Princess Grace of Monaco, Don Juan de Borbon (father of the present King of Spain), publisher John Fairchild, Richard Avedon, Dominick Dunne, Bob Colacello, Sir Alistair Horne, Aileen Mehle, Richard and Shirley Clurman, John and Drue Heinz, Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera, Tom Wolfe, Taki and Alexandra Theadoracopulos, Clay Felker, Ahmet and Mica Ertegun, C.Z. Guest, Kenneth J. Lane, Valentino, Halston, Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, David Halberstam, Vladimir Nabokov, Roger Moore, Truman Capote, Rosalyn Tureck, Alicia de Larrocha, James Clavell, King Constantine of Greece, Malcolm Forbes Sr., Brooke Astor, Anne Slater, Mortimer's owner Glen Birnbaum, among others.

Rereading this now, I'm amused by that "among others." Who could I possibly have left out of this bold-face cornucopia?

She was known for her exacting taste in everything from clothes to decorating and food. She maintained a notably slender figure—Women's Wear Daily often referred to her as the "chic and stunning Mrs. Buckley"—and to her "belle poitrine." She was an early booster of—and walking advertisement for—American designers, particularly Bill Blass. A regular on the Best Dressed List, she was inducted into its Hall of Fame in the 1990s. She favored costume jewelry made by her gin rummy pal Kenneth J. Lane. In his memoir, Mr. Blass noted that he and Mrs. Buckley would occasionally play hooky from their hectic schedules in order to see as many movies as they could back-to-back in one day, "an operation that required near-military planning."

Despite her elegant figure, Mrs. Buckley was a famous foodie (a term she herself would never have used). Unable to boil a three-minute egg at the time she married, she dutifully took cooking classes with James Beard. In the 1970s, she became a champion of Glorious Food, the now famous catering firm started by Sean Driscoll. She refined her skills as a giver of fancy benefit dinners for up to 1,000 people by improvising "Pat's Pot Pie," a chicken pot pie that eliminated the time-consuming need for serving vegetables and sauces separately. It was an innovation hailed by her famously impatient husband.

Over the years, Mrs. Buckley acted as a kind of den mother to the conservative movement, giving dinners to the editors of her husband's magazine, National Review, every other Monday, starting in the mid-1960s. At her husband's 80th birthday celebration in 2005 at the Pierre Hotel in New York, her son, Christopher, noted in a toast that "No one ever left my mother's house less than well and truly stuffed."

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