Lewis Lapham--Expert Witness
Lewis H. Lapham, the editor of Harper's Magazine, reached far back into the past on Wednesday, telling a British court about an encounter he says he saw in Elaine's restaurant in Manhattan in August 1969, between the filmmaker Roman Polanski and a Scandinavian model named Beatte Telle.Vanity Fair repeated the anecdote in a story about Elaine's, and Polanski is claiming libel because he was on his way to Sharon Tate's funeral at the time.
"He began to praise her beauty and speak to her, romance her," Mr. Lapham recounted, speaking of Mr. Polanski and Ms. Telle, strangers until that moment. "At one point he had his hand on her leg and he said to her: 'I can put you in the movies. I can make you the next Sharon Tate.'"
I was an intern at Harper's Magazine almost 10 years ago, and got to put in some time as Lewis' assistant, transcribing his columns, which he dictates, typing correspondence, and answering the phone. It was more fun than it sounds (Hey! I just asked Carl Bernstein to hold!). Anyway, Lewis was exceedingly gracious to me, took me out for drinks, and declined to offer me a job I applied for, a kindness for which I will forever be grateful.
So I'll just say this: He's not exactly an unimpeachable witness.