Tony Bennett Celebrates Presidential Portraitist at New York’s Exclusive Players Club

Tony Bennett and Tom Wolfe paid tribute to their friend Everett Raymond Kinstler.

SusSusan Benedetto, Everett Raymond Kinstler, and Tony Bennett. Photo: Jill Lotenberg, courtesy of The Players Club, New York.

Members of the Players, a private social club, gathered on Tuesday night to pay tribute to the portrait painter Everett Raymond Kinstler, for one of the venue’s signature Pipe Nights.

The Players was founded by Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth in 1888 as a social club for stage actors. As technology expanded beyond the scope of the stage, the club extended its membership criteria to include people from film and television, as well as the related fields of music, publishing, visual arts, and selected patrons. Notable members past and present have included Mark Twain, Gregory Peck, Kevin Spacey, Tony Bennett, Liza Minnelli, Roger Moore, and Jimmy Fallon.

The Pipe Night—one of the club’s longest-running traditions—is an event where members salute the work and achievements of their fellow members.

Kinstler, the evening’s guest of honor, sat perched on a stool by the entrance, where he personally greeted and shared jokes with everybody who passed through the doors. The 90-year-old artist was warmly received by his fellow members, who stood in line to embrace and congratulate him on his special night.

Everett Raymond Kinstler (R). Photo by Jill Lotenberg, courtesy of The Players Club, New York.

Everett Raymond Kinstler (R). Photo by Jill Lotenberg, courtesy of The Players Club, New York.

Heads turned when legendary singer and fellow painter Tony Bennett, a longtime member, made his entrance accompanied by his wife Susan. Speaking to artnet News, Bennett said that he valued the creative enclave afforded by the Players Club. “I’ve been a member for about 20 years,” he said. “I’m a fan of anywhere that there are a lot of artists, because it’s a place to kick around ideas and thrive off of the creativity of each other.”

One of his generation’s most renowned portraitists, Kinstler’s body of work includes comics, movie posters, and official portraits of former US presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. The artist’s paintings depicting members past and present in his trademark illustrative, figurative style adorn much of the clubhouse’s wall space.

Tom Wolfe. Photo: Jill Lotenberg, courtesy of The Players Club, New York.

Tom Wolfe. Photo by Jill Lotenberg, courtesy of The Players Club, New York.

Revealing the secret to his youthful verve and energy, the nonagenarian told artnet News to “always be polite.” He paused to take a sip of his gin and tonic, then added, “I learned two things in life: always say please and always say thank you!”


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