The Shooter Wore Mink: Society Headmistress Kills Scarsdale Diet Doctor: Remembering Jean Harris And Herman

The Headmistress and the Diet Doctor

Mrs. Harris with Annette Bening, Phillip Kingsley HBO 2005 (VIDEO):

Jean Harris, 89,  died yesterday at an assisted living facility in Conn. The posh private school headmistress with a swanky pedigree became a feminist icon and the subject of forensic speculation (and two movies)  after shooting her lover, Westchester  diet doctor Herman Tarnower in a jealous rage. She claimed to have planned  suicide, not murder, and Gov. Cuomo’s dad Mario commuted her sentence in 1992.

jean_harris ImageProcessor images-1 220px-Scarsdale_diet Scarsdale Diet Doctor 1980-0331-cover-250

From NY Magazine, 1980… “And add to Agatha Christie pinches of Cheever and John O’Hara. Consider the venues: Shaker Heights, Cleveland; Grosse Point, Michigan; Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia; a smart girls’ schools in Virginia; and Westchester County. Was ever a crime of passion more fashionably suburban than this?”…NY Magazine, 1980


During the co-op blitz of the 1980’s, one bedroom apts. were offered to insiders (tenants in residence) for about $40,000 in postwar white brick buildings. Market value was about $80.000 even then.

herman-tarnower-2Cover notes: 1980 was also the year that NYC landlords starting rocking the town with co-op conversions or,  as NY mag put it, The Co-Oping Blitz: A 16 Page Survival Guide. It’s hard to fathom now, but not every rent regulated insider wanted to buy their apartment. The average discounted price for a  “luxury” White Brick Building  one bedroom then was $40,000 ( market value $80,000), so landlords had to give substantial price incentives (and often financing)  to successfully convert.

It was also the year that Richard Gere’s American Gigolo style put Giorgio Armani on America’s fashion radar. Yes, we’ve all gotten older but Gere is still gorgeous. Can’t Dr_Tarnower_scarsdalesay the same about the good doctor. Oy! But gotta ask…who’s Gere’s plastic surgeon? Thirty three years after Gigolo, Gere is still  a major hunk and dressing Italian. This time it’s Brioni.


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