Life is a Cabaret

A movie star's intimate Houston lunch with Lynn Wyatt ends with a Shakespeare ode to love

Movie star's intimate Houston lunch with Lynn Wyatt ends with love ode

Lynn Wyatt and Michael York at luncheon at Wyatt home
Michael York and Lynn Wyatt. Photo by Clifford Pugh
Michael York, Pat York and Gary Tinterow at Museum of Fine Arts Houston
With scenes from the filming of Cabaret in the background, Gary Tinterow, center, interviews Michael York, right, and Pat York, left. Photo by Anna Veselova
Pat York, Marian Luntz and Michael York at Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Pat York, from left, Marian Luntz and Michael York. Photo by Anna Veselova
Lynn Wyatt and Michael York at luncheon at Wyatt home
Michael York, Pat York and Gary Tinterow at Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Pat York, Marian Luntz and Michael York at Museum of Fine Arts Houston

When Lynn Wyatt learned her good friends, actor Michael York and his wife, Pat, were headed to Houston for a screening of the remastered classic, Cabaret, she gathered friends for an intimate luncheon at her River Oaks home, which she modestly refers to as her "teepee" since it is smaller than her former mansion on River Oaks Boulevard.

Guests, including Museum of Fine Arts, Houston director Gary Tinterow, MFAH curator of film and video Marian Luntz, Patty Hubbard, Franci Crane, Judy Nyquist, Wendy Wattriss and Fred Baldwin, Carl Palazzolo and Vance Muse, sat at two round tables in the dining room, where wait staff served pumpkin soup, avocado with poached egg and salmon (a refreshing favorite that Wyatt often served at her home in the south of France) and a dessert of apple tart topped with vanilla yogurt and whipped cream.  

Tinterow related a number of the scenes in the film to paintings by Otto Dix and Hans Beckmann of 1930s-era Berlin while images of the artwork played on the screen.

Amid a wide-ranging conversation, Crane told York about the upcoming Houston Cinema Arts Festival honoring director James Ivory. The actor, whose eclectic acting career has ranged from Romeo and Juliet to the Austin Powers movies, recalled starring in the 1969 Merchant Ivory film The Guru.

In recent years, York has battled amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder caused by the abnormal production of insoluble proteins that clump together in different parts of the body. He has undergone a stem-cell transplant to fight the disease and was in great spirits and strong voice as he honored Wyatt by reciting William Shakespeare’s most famous ode to love, “Sonnet No. 116," without notes.

Wyatt, who had just returned from a quick trip to New York to offer condolences to Annette de la Renta, the widow of famed fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, was visibly touched by York's kind gesture. "I've got goosebumps," she said. "I wish I would have had that taped. I would play it every morning."

On Monday night, a sold-out crowd at the MFAH Brown Auditorium watched the 1972 Oscar-winning film and gave the Yorks a standing ovation. In a conversation with Tinterow that preceded the movie, Michael and Pat York offered up stories from the set of the movie and told how the cast, including Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, became close and have remained friends.

Tinterow related a number of the scenes in the film to paintings by Otto Dix and Hans Beckmann of 1930s-era Berlin while images of the artwork played on the screen. While the conversation continued, stills taken on the set by Pat York — a portrait of Michael York with Minnelli, Marisa Berenson waiting for a scene to start shooting, director Bob Fosse and York sitting on the lawn of a palace estate — flashed on the large screen, along with images from the film.

Michael York also spoke about how special it was to work with Fosse. At the end of a day of filming, the director invited the actors to see the rushes and discuss them, offer their feedback, he said.