One of the reasons that legendary Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, the epitome of Establishment society, decided to marry Lucinda Franks, a journalist and radical hippie almost 30 years his junior, four decades ago was seeing her take on a society woman who made disparaging remarks about Jews at an evening party when the couple was dating.
“I was very proud of her,” Morgenthau, 95, recalled last Wednesday evening at a Jewish Week Forum held at The Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center and attended by more than 200 people. The program, moderated by former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, top and middle at right, featured Morgenthau and Franks, his wife of 40 years, who recently published a frank and lively memoir of their unlikely marriage: “Timeless: Love, Morgenthau and Me.”
“I felt I’d totally blown any chance” of marrying the DA known as “The Boss,” Franks noted, after making a scene at the party by loudly defending Israel and the Jewish people, though she is not Jewish. “But I looked at Bob and he was grinning, and he said, ‘That was your finest moment.’”
Why did Franks, a former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner, decide to write an intimate portrait of the couple’s life together, Rather asked.
She replied that her husband, whose father, Henry, was secretary of treasury under President Roosevelt, was known as “a brilliant prosecutor” — he served in his post from 1975 to 2009. But she wanted to write about relationships and offer “an intimate portrait of our marriage.” Which she certainly did.
And why now?
“Because I felt like it,” replied the feisty author. “You have to feel your subject and get that fizz.”
The book is written with flair, an eye for detail and a willingness to share even embarrassing episodes — particularly about the resistance Morgenthau, then a widower with five children, received from his family on announcing his intentions to marry Franks. She said the most important takeaway from her book is that “no matter how difficult relationships are, you stick by your partner, you don’t walk away.”