The creative genius of American writer, Stan Lee, who was born in 1922, brought us 'Spider Man', 'X-Men' and 'The Hulk'. They climbed tall buildings and fought the bad guys, but had normal worries too, about love, acceptance and family. Readers loved them and Marvel Comics, with Lee at the helm, went on to become hugely successful. In 2010 the Stan Lee Foundation was founded to focus on literacy, education and the arts. On January 4, 2011 Lee received the 2428th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
We got a little apartment in New York on 94th Street and… between 5th and Madison Avenue. It was gorgeous. It was a walk-up in a brownstone, and the bathroom… it had a terrace which was lovely, and the bathroom was the biggest room in the house. It had a skylight, and we used to say we ought to entertain in the bathroom with the skylight, it was so dramatic. The living room was tiny, the bedroom was even smaller, but it was our pad. And then we met our first celebrities. Downstairs there was an antique shop on Madison Avenue — was it Lexington? it was Madison Avenue – and in those days men wore hats, and one of the biggest hat companies was called Adam Hats. And there was a television commercial where two people — a man and a woman — sang a song, and the woman would sing, ‘I go for a man who wears an Adam hat. I go for a man who wears an Adam hat’. And everybody in America knew that… it was the biggest commercial. I go for a man who wears an Adam hat. The people who did the commercial were called Lanny and Ginger Gray, and they owned the little antique store that was right on our block, and we got to know them. And we were so impressed, they were our first celebrity friends.
Anyway, we stayed there for a year or two, and then we got pregnant… Joan got pregnant and we decided we ought to move somewhere to a house to have the baby, and we moved to Long Island. And Joan needed… she was little reluctant. She said, ‘But Stan, we know everybody here. I know the cleaning woman, and I know the drug store, and I know the… we're friends with so many people’. And I said, ’Honey, someone like you makes friends wherever you go’. And we moved to Long Island and sure enough, she never said that again because she, she's the greatest. I mean, she's the most popular female I've ever known. Beautiful as she is, women like her as much as men which is unusual, because when we lived in the suburbs when we moved to Long Island, all the men, all the other husbands, would always gather around her at parties. And you'd think the women would be annoyed or jealous but they all knew her, and they knew that they didn't have to worry about her. She's an incredible woman. Anyway, so we moved there. We got a little house in Woodmere and little Joan was… we're so vain. We decided to name our daughter Joan, and if we had had a son we'd have called him Stan. In fact, we did have another baby – a girl – we couldn't call her Stan so we called her Jan, but unfortunately she died a few hours after she was born and Joan couldn't have any other kids, which was awful because we spoiled… we spoiled Joan rotten. But after a while we called her JC because my daughter's name — our daughter's name— was Joan C Lee, the C standing for Celia which was my mother's name. And Joanie was Joan B Lee, her middle name, her original… her… what do you call it? The name her parents had? Her maiden name was Boocock so she was Joan Boocock Lee. It's taken me a long time to say that without blushing, but apparently it's a very nice name in England. And so we had a daughter, Joan C Lee, and we lived there… then we moved to another house. We always bought the cheapest house in the best neighborhood because to me, the important thing is living in the right place, and we bought this house that had been like, a gardener's cottage for a big estate in a place called Hewlett Harbor. It had two acres and… oh God, it was gorgeous, and we could just barely afford it. All the other houses were mansions. And we made… we stayed there for about 25 years. Joan grew up. We had a million dogs... I… we love dogs, and I… This is a funny thing too. We had Shepherds, and we had Dobermen — I never know if you say Dobermen or Dobermans — but we had more than one Doberman and we had Boxers, I think we had… we had Rottweilers — big dogs. At one time we had two Shepherds, a white one and a black one, and I used to – one was Simba and one was Blackie – and I used to walk them on a short leash, and I held both leashes in one hand, and I'd walk them like that down the street. And oh, I felt so macho, controlling those two killer dogs. They weren't killer dogs at all. I mean Blackie, I'll never forget when Joanie… little Joan, was six… was three years old, she… I was looking out of the window once and she was playing on the lawn. It was a huge lawn and there was a road behind there, and hedges. She was walking toward the road and she started to go through the hedges. And I started to run out to stop her but Blackie, who had been there, saw her first and this German Shepherd that had never been trained, ran after Joanie, grabbed her skirt and gently pulled her back and wouldn't let her go on the road. Oh man, did that dog win my heart. You know, I never forgot that. But at any rate, we always had these big dogs. Now we live in Los Angeles on a place that's about a half an acre — very little land — and we have nothing but little dogs, thanks to my wife who has now… we have a Yorkie, we have a few Chihuahuas, we have a little stupid cat… little things. And they have names like Winkydink, and… me, who used to own Blackie and Simba. Now I have to say, here Winkydink, here Eloise… I mean, it's very, very embarrassing.
Leo Bear is a Hollywood-based features writer. Her background is in news and features writing. Leo spent five years on the entertainment newsdesk at BBC Worldwide before going freelance and moving out to Los Angeles. She specialises in writing lifestyle features, celebrity interviews, health stories and travel features for publications including Eve Magazine, OK! Magazine, Total Film, TV Hits and Conde Nast Gourmet Travel Guide.
New York, Adam hats, Long Island, Woodmere, Hewlett Harbor, Los Angeles, Lanny Gray, Ginger Gray