Interior Designer. Eccentric when it came to his own look and a charismatic personality who loved to create what people had never thought was possible. What the New York Times called a "fixture of society in Paris and New York" all began as a "daydream." Born to Jean (Rosen) and Jacob Besser, parents of modest means, Robert Dennis Besser, as he was named at birth, developed an early interest in his body and health. His mother, an insurance salesman, with a strong early interest in natural foods and healthy eating, seeded what would for her son be a lifelong dedication to fresh vegetable juice and exercise. When he was just fifteen he met Edgar de Evia who was the research assistant to Dr. Guy Beckley Stearns and would go on to become the noted photographer. He became a testing subject for this medical research and when his parents and younger brother moved to Florida he stayed in New York City living with de Evia and his mother Miirrha Alhambra. He would often say that he saw his first lampshade in this home, as he grew up with a bare bulb being adequate. When de Evia became established in photography, as his business and life partner, he was also part of an elegant and glamorous lifestyle. Andy Warhol, a dinner guest at the Rhinelander Mansion several times in the nineteen fifties, did a painting of him. Meeting the mother of Monty Clift at Sunny Health Bar would lead to a lasting friendship with "Aunt Sunny" and "Uncle Bill" who would have dinner in the de Evia home. Melvin Sokolsky would later describe meeting him at the gym and said "I discovered that Edgar was paid $4000 for a Jell-O ad, and the idea of escaping from my tenement dwelling became an incredible dream and inspiration." This partnership would flourish for almost two decades from the Rhinelander mansion at 867 Madison Avenue in New York City to "Quiet Corner" on Hill Road in Greenwich, Connecticut, the home of Clyde Fitch. It was on this base that he and the late Vincent Fourcade, grandson to the French banking family, and named an Archetectural Digest "Legend," built their new business. From 1960 the firm of Denning & Fourcade would become known for colorful extravagance and over the top opulence. Clients beginning with the Ogden Phipps family; Henry Kravis, whose home, and their decorating, was parodied in the 1990 movie "Bonfire of the Vanities" with Tom Hanks; Jayne and Charles Wrightsman; Henry Kissinger; Oscar de la Renta and Jean Vanderbilt, to name only a few, began to roll in. Soon they were established and known for creating an established and 'old money' atmosphere anywhere. For thirty years they were courted on both sides of the Atlantic. He kept the fragrance Sous Le Vent in his automobiles to remind him of Lillian Bostwick Phipps who always wore the scent. He 'reinvented' himself to use his own word, after Fourcade's death from AIDS in 1992 Taking a lighter approach with more emphasis on effect and comfort than signed pieces of furniture, he used to laugh at how he would coach his early clients with decorating their children and grandchildren's homes. He was listed in the AD100, top hundred decorators by Architectural Digest for a number of years and his jobs appeared not only in their pages, but those of every major magazine with home interiors. During the last decade of his life he tired of Paris, giving up his home there and was content in the familiar surroundings of his home and offices in the Lombardy Hotel in New York City. Continuing to go to the gym every day of the week he would insist that his personal trainers push his limits. His abs, he would brag, were tighter in his seventies than they had ever been. He and Edgar de Evia would continue to use a private language with made-up words, much as Ben Affleck and brother Gerry, and were constant dinner companions until the latter's death at 92 in 2003. A self made man, from his early change of name, to a nose job before he was twenty, he never hesitated to change with the knife what exercise alone could not accomplish. From the bare light bulb which was sufficient in his childhood, he would become the lord of lighting and atmosphere for the wealthy with fringe on every lampshade. His impact will live on in private homes and his rooms that are today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He died in his apartment in New York City. (bio by: D C McJonathan-Swarm)
Burial: Cremated, Other.
Maintained by: Find A Grave Originally Created by: D C McJonathan-Swarm Record added: Aug 26, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11618755