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A Man of Wealth and Taste

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The pre-written hagiographies of Kissinger were amazing. As people online noted, the main guy who wrote Kissinger’s Times obituary has been dead for a decade, so these were like a blast from the past. My favorite version of this was the Post piece about Kissinger’s dating life. And let’s face it, Americans of the 70s really really really wanted to hang with Henry Kissinger. Now, if I had to read this shit, so do you.

Henry Kissinger was about to get lucky with Zsa Zsa Gabor. And it was due, in part, to Richard M. Nixon’s setting them up. Seriously.

The diplomat and the Hungarian American socialite were an unlikely couple, but they had hit it off after sitting next to each other during a state dinner at the White House, with the actress raving about Kissinger’s big brain. Kissinger drove her home after dinner in Beverly Hills in 1970 and asked whether he could come inside for a drink, “with Henry showing signs of making an amorous approach to me,” Gabor recalled in “One Lifetime Is Not Enough,” her 1991 autobiography.

But as Kissinger was about to lean in for a kiss, his beeper went off. It was the president. The same man who had set them up was now blocking his national security adviser from getting to first base.

“Henry, come back immediately. I need you,”Gabor later recalled the president saying to Kissinger.

Nixon killed the vibes, and Kissinger scrambled to drop off Gabor and peeled out of her driveway toward San Clemente, Calif., the home of the president’s “Western White House,” The Washington Post reported years later.

At a time when Kissinger was shaping foreign policy for years, he was also seeing stunning starlets of the era. He even befriended Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, who gifted Kissinger a subscription to the magazine after he learned the diplomat showed up to a party carrying an envelope of classified information and told everybody it was his copy of Playboy. (In reality, it was Nixon’s 1969 “silent majority” speech.)

While some questioned the validity of Kissinger as a sophisticated sex symbol, he publicly embraced the persona. The New York Post described himas “the swinging bachelor of the Nixon administration” until he met his second wife, Nancy Maginnes, whom he married in 1974. Before marriage, Kissinger acknowledged he liked the attention that went with being “Washington’s greatest swinger,”meaning a serial dater in 1970s parlance.

“That’s no compliment,” he said of the title in a Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) profile in 1971. “That’s faint praise.”

He confirmed his dating appetite to Time magazine in 1972: “I go out with actresses because I’m not very apt to marry one.”

So, how did Kissinger the playboy — short, plump and graying with a deep voice and German accent — become a thing? Well, The Post is perhaps responsible for bringing to light Kissinger’s social life, which mostly consisted of dinner parties, soirees and brunches. At a 1969 cocktail party at the home of D.C. gadfly Barbara Howar, Kissinger, who was in his first year as national security adviser under Nixon, was nursing a drink when he was approached by The Post’s Sally Quinn.

It’s a wonder everyone hates the Beltway Blob.

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