Travels with Charlie

by Editorial

Fawcett guided Joanne and her barrel into the war zone, where he was training the mujahideen freedom fighters – shoeless boys and weaponless men defending their villages against air strikes. Joanne interviewed them for Courage is Our Weapon, the documentary they filmed; he got pal Orson Welles, to narrate, and they set off to tell the world.

Congressman Charlie Wilson, (played by Tom Hanks, in the film) was a slim, handsome Texan, seven feet tall in his cowboy boots, widely known around Washington as a “hard-drinking, skirt-chaser,” which flamboyant Charlie never denied. He barely knew Joanne then, though she was later his fiancée.

A longtime anti-communist, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan made her an activist. Seeking Washington support, she urged Wilson to come to Houston, see their film and meet the legendary Fawcett, who has been the subject of 18 books. Stirred by Fawcett’s account, Wilson pledged his Congressional committee clout to quietly find anti-aircraft weapons for the Afghans. The most surreal covert operation in US history was launched.

At a fascinating dinner here four years ago, Isaaq Sharyar, the former ambassador of Afghanistan, honored his friend Charlie Fawcett with a dinner for 100. (Among the guests were Wilson and another longtime Fawcett friend, the late Garnett Stackelberg, who knew him and his wife April in London, where the North-Carolina-born Fawcett now lives.)

Charlie Wilson spoke of Fawcett’s amazing life: in Rome, where he made movies– acting in or directing over 100 in 23 countries, and nicknamed ”the king of the Via Veneto” by Warren Beatty; in Paris, where he wrestled to pay his art school tuition. Mild-mannered, he isn’t swashbuckling, yet he volunteered for the Lincoln Brigade, fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the elected government against Franco; he flew for the RAF over London when it was pounded in WWII; enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, and aided humanitarian efforts in the Congo and Hungary. In Marseilles, he joined Quaker Varian Fry in a dangerous Schindler’s list operation, saving Jews from the gas chambers. “To get them out, I married eleven young girls,” he says “but never had a honeymoon.”

Charlie Wilson summed it up “You can go anywhere in the world…wherever people are in danger… and you are likely to hear the name of Charlie Fawcett .”


Easy to spot Timothy and P.J. Trudeau; he’s in trimmest suit, she’s the one in top-to-toe Chanel, even to the sunglasses. This sartorially secure pair ran an especially warm gala to benefit the National Rehabilitation Hospital, with the Bulgarian ambassador, Elena Poptodorova in a star turn. She caught everyone’s eyes with her handsome newly-clipped pale blonde locks, a change from her signature mass of red curls, and she moved hearts when she spoke of the hospital’s dedicated work… It was a Totah-ly terrific party for 350 socialites and politicians at Annie and Sami Totah’s Potomac home. Their walls are lined with plaques honoring Annie, who always has some cause up her satin sleeve…Two more standout holiday parties were hosted:by Brenda and Jacques de Suze in Potomac, then Issa and George Ludlow’s buffet-and-billiards, Nicole D’Amecourt was champ.

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