Food You Can Drink: Celebrity Sunday Matinee: The Faye Dunaway Cocktail

In my next life I want to come back as an actor in a remake of "Mommie Dearest." Or "The Towering Inferno." Or "Barfly."

That's me and Faye. We were supposed to be flying to the 36th annual TIFF but our flight got delayed and she suggested stopping at the airport bar to wait it out.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, I was unable to find a food recipe attributed to Faye Dunaway. I suppose by the time she shot to fame in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) no faithful reader of Redbook was really expecting an exciting new recipe for tuna casserole or cheese puffs from this gal. But she did get a drink named after her, which I’ll explain later. Hell, I’ll explain it right here, before I forget. It was created by a gentleman named Jonathan Humphrey, who was the bar manager of the Drake Hotel, during the 36th annual Toronto International Film Festival. It was inspired by Faye’s character in Chinatown. This raises more questions than it answers, because Chinatown came out in 1974 and the 36th annual TIFF was in 2011, and nothing about Chinatown was being honored, not the movie, not Faye, not co-star Jack Nicholson, not Roman Polanski its director nor Bob Evans its producer…oh well, I guess like Stonehenge we will only have to speculate as to why this came into being.

So, despite @bryanlsplinter ’s contention that nothing good has ever come out of Florida I can assure you all that something did: Faye Dunaway herself, in 1941. Dad was a career NCO in the Army and she was born at Bascom. Her first big hit was the aforementioned Bonnie and Clyde. Co-star Warren Beatty didn’t think she could pull it off but director Arthur Penn did and thus movie magic was made. She followed this up with The Thomas Crown Affair, the excellent one, the original from 1968, not that crappy remake, and once again the co-star (Steve McQueen) didn’t want her but the director, Norman Jewison, did. She and McQueen ended up becoming best buddies.

She was incredibly prolific. Also in 1968 she made the little remembered Vittorio Sica’s A Place for Lovers, but it must have been memorable for Faye because she shacked up with her co-star, Marcello Mastroianni, for two years. Mastroianni again. When did that man ever find time to hold down a job. There were some flops, she started to attract that “box office poison” and “difficult actress” reputation that is the fate of every true great diva (Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are great examples, and we’ll get to them) but then she made Chinatown. Oh my God, Chinatown. I am verklempt. That same year, 1974, she played Paul Newman’s fiancée in The Towering Inferno which, while no Poseidon Adventure, is hands-down far superior to overhyped trash like Citizen Kane and The Godfather.

So there she is, it’s 1974, and she decides to finally marry. To whom? Peter Wolf, of The J. Geils Band. HOW? WHY? Where did they ever meet? Like the Faye Dunaway Cocktail and Stonehenge this too is a mystery. (That only lasted until 1979, and if I’m remembering my pop music history correctly it was around 1979 that the J. Geils Band started charting in a serious way so maybe this was all for the best?)

More success. Three Days of the Condor. Voyage of the Damned. The eminently meme-able Network. Faye is riding high. 

For some reason both she and Bette Davis did a 1976 made-for-TV movie together called The Disappearance of Aimee. Add this to the Stonehenge/cocktail/J. Geils list. It was a clash of the Titans and the loathing was mutual. Bette decided to chat with Johnny Carson on an episode of The Tonight Show in 1988 about her experience working with Faye Dunaway. 

The Eyes of Laura Mars, which features this absolutely amazing song:

I should amend my Do Not Resuscitate order to say, “DNR if he doesn’t respond to ‘Let’s All Chant.’ But try that first.”

Yeah, where was I. Oh, so in 1981 Faye very famously depicted Joan Crawford in the screen adaptation of Christina Crawford’s bestseller Mommie Dearest. I think I speak for many (gay male) Americans when I reveal that I ran out to buy the book (I was in high school) and my high school boyfriend and I paid good money to see the movie in a theater three times. That’s not what was intended, though. It was supposed to be far more serious, a sort-of psychodrama and what I guess we’d now call “processing” an abusive childhood with a very flawed mother who nonetheless…oh, etc. etc. No one was more surprised by its reception than Dunaway herself, who I guess thought she was doing, I don’t know, a remake of Mildred Pierce, and in Faye’s interpretation Joan was the complicated heroine and Christina the ungrateful little hellspawn? The critics absolutely adored it, even Pauline Kael, but Dunaway was embittered by the experience and the popular reaction and refused to talk about the movie publicly.

Undaunted, because she is a true diva, she did TV work and played the lead villain in 1984’s Supergirl, which I’ve never seen and I have to rectify that. Then, in 1987, she played opposite Mickey Rourke in another one of the greatest movies ever made, Barfly. It’s based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Charles Bukowski, who wrote the screenplay. I want to thank @hannibal for pointing out that last Monday, March 6th, was Dude Day, and that prompted me to finally get off my ass to write this Celebrity FYCE. I remember vividly where I was when I saw Barfly. I didn’t go with Better Half, he was living with a barfly and didn’t want to see what the future held in store, I went with friends. We got a little tipsy beforehand and smuggled in some alcohol to enjoy while we watched. Theaters used to be a lot looser about smuggling, so that wasn’t a problem. We sat in the back and furtively mixed in our smuggled rum (I felt like Joseph P. Kennedy) with the outrageously overpriced Jumbo Coca-Colas from the concession stand and had a great time. The only thing is I can’t remember if we went to dinner afterward. Or how I got home. THEN I was visiting a friend in LA, again sans the Better Half, and he invited me to a friend’s birthday party being held at the Barfly bar itself. It was in a very seedy part of town, probably gentrified beyond recognition at this point, and what a marvelous time I had.

Enough of this, let’s call last call on the career of Faye Dunaway at 1987, shall we? But before we go, let’s have one for the road and read about Dunaway’s attempt to hang on to one of those most precious gifts, right behind good health, a rent-stabilized Manhattan apartment:

(The story is actually much more involved but that’s enough.)



1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 1/4 ounces fresh mango juice
3/4 ounces lime juice
1/2 ounces agave syrup
3 jalapeño wheels (two in the shaker, one for garnish, seeds removed if desired)
2 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters


To make the Faye, simply muddle the ingredients listed here in a cocktail shaker, shake vigorously and strain into a classic coupette. Garnish with the remaining jalapeño slice and prepare for your close-up.



  1. Hello, everyone, I am back. I am now going to write my layperson’s petition to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints on behalf of Better Half, who spent a solid 72 hours with his Crawley in-laws, and did so without complaint! It helps a lot that he really likes them and they really like him, but I’m not sure he got in two complete sentences in a row during the entire time. So much Crawley business to discuss. So much to catch up on and rehash. The Faithful Hound is now near catatonia because he met a few canine cousins for the first time and in the wilds of suburbia they have things called “back yards” and “fences.” A complete success all around.

  2. Those Bette Davis clips are incredible. I assume that was a non-Faye Dunaway drink in her glass, and the way she waved around the cigarette with Larry King was something you won’t see anymore. For the best, but still.

    • I cannot vouch for it since I’ve never attempted it. I may try it this coming weekend. I haven’t taken the cocktail shaker out for a spin in a while. The wine bill, though…

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