Barry Paris

Barry is an award-winning biographer, film historian, Russian translator and contributor to The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Among his books are Audrey Hepburn and Song of Haiti, the story of Dr. Larry and Gwen Mellon and their Albert Schweitzer Hospital.

Too strong for fantasy

Marcia Davenport and Shirley Temple Black had one, and only one, common interest: Czechoslovakia. Their dynamic paths crossed once, and only once, there. But that was at the end of the story. In the beginning… Everyone knows Shirley, who recently passed away at 83. Hollywood’s most beloved child star later metamorphosed into a skilled diplomat …

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Song of Shadyside

The word “trendy” has been surgically attached to the word  “Shadyside” since days of yore—far more yore than you think. That most elegant and affluent neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s East End is home to what Andy Warhol dubbed the Beautiful People, and the upscale shops that cater to their needs. In search of a certain high-end luxury item? You can find …

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Song of Mount Washington

The first Native Americans to spot the first white men approaching their halcyon Green Triangle did so from the same basic observation deck—give or take a few hundred yards—where native ’Burghers admire their Golden Triangle today. By moonlight, those Indian sentries had a perfect view of all telltale torches and flickering campfires at the confluence …

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Song of Slippery Rock

This “Song” even has lyrics—of a sort—in the form of Jack M. MacDonald’s How Slippery Rock Got Its Name, written for the town’s 1975 sesquicentennial: Settler: Gosh all hemlock!What do I see? A redskin pointin’ his gun at me? Indian: That’s right, Pale Face… since I’m discovered, don’t move a step. I’ve got you covered. Settler: …

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Song of Washington, Pa.

The mother of all Washingtons occupies the federal District of Columbia, yet smaller ones abound. The Father of His Country sired no children but, by way of surrogate progeny, he begat towns bearing his surname in no fewer than 27 states. Only one of those little Washingtons was seriously naughty enough to provoke George himself …

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Song of Sewickley

Would you be shocked to learn that Sewickley — the patriotic, upper-crust town just downriver of Pittsburgh — holds an annual American flag-burning in broad daylight on public property? No need for outrage or a constitutional amendment. Turns out, it’s the perfectly respectful flag retirement ceremony, in which tattered Old Glories are given a solemn …

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Song of Greensburg

A thousand feet up the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the beautiful Laurel Highlands lies the city of Greensburg, an hour southeast of downtown Pittsburgh. A major business and cultural center, its 16,000 population doubles during work hours, giving it one of highest daytime-growth rates in the country.   You, like Ed McMahon, did …

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Song of Canonsburg

The bustling borough of Canonsburg, 20 miles due south of Pittsburgh, was incorporated Feb. 22, 1802, on what Mother always called George Birthington’s Washday. Yes, it was a bit disrespectful. But so was Mother. And so, for that matter, was George. The Father of Our Country spent a lot of time in those parts during …

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Song of Lawrenceville

As a child growing up in Pittsburgh in the ’50s, I thought that Lawrenceville was named for our mayor and that the soldier statue at Butler and 34th Street was David L. Lawrence as a young man. Umm, wrong. The immortal soldier who guards “Larryville” from his circular pedestal at Doughboy Square is a World …

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Song of Weirton

We talk about living in the Tri-State Area, figuratively. The “we” in Weirton live in it literally. My waitress at Mario’s Italian Restaurant on Main Street is a fine example: She’s wearing a black-and-gold, No. 7 Roethlisberger jersey as she serves up the boss’s home-and-handmade spaghetti, while a poster behind her proudly announces Dean Martin …

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Song of Kittanning

The tranquil beauty of the Allegheny River at its idyllic venue in Kittanning conceals restless ghosts and a violent history. Safe to say, the 18th-century Native Americans who lived there never imagined it couldn’t be defended from a few hundred white invaders, or that the fate of two great Old World empires across an ocean …

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Song of Squirrel Hill

“Jews are just like everybody else, only more so,” Wyoming Benjamin Paris* liked to say. He was an authority on the subject of chutzpah, and the star of his Hill District basketball team — a team with no uniforms or name. In 1919, the year of his bar mitzvah, he hopped a streetcar from Downtown to …

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Song of the South Side Slopes

If you went any higher, you’d need a harp. Yard Way on Pittsburgh’s South Side Slopes is only about half a dozen blocks long, one would say. One would say that if it were in another city. In Pittsburgh, one would be more apt to say it’s half a dozen blocks high, considering the breathtaking …

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