New York and Palm Beach lost a beloved and uniquely colorful character when Danny Marentette succumbed to a long illness early in December.
A great great grandson of James E. Scripps, who founded the Detroit News, he grew up in Grosse Pointe, came to Gotham to complete his education and was a loyal member of St. Anthony’s Hall. In due course Danny made his way to the East Side in a succession of handsome apartments, the last one of which was on 56th Street, just a block away from his favorite hangout, P.J. Clarke’s, where for many years he served as a food consultant to the Lavezzo family. Neither the precise job description nor compensation was ever very clear in this capacity, but he was frequently seen tinkering around in the miniscule kitchen there and had ample access to free meals.
Danny had been struck down by childhood polio (a classmate remembers the day his entire school prayed for his recovery) but, despite a lingering limp, he gallantly shot, fished, and played touch football on Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson’s Saratoga lawns, plus decades of doubles squash. He was a great and always impeccably turned out patron of the Turf as well. The last time I saw him he was still riding his bicycle near his friend Rhetta’s townhouse on Sutton Square.
“Blithe spirit,” his obituary read in the Detroit paper, “bon vivant, chef extraordinaire, loyal friend. Dapper, witty, charming, a consummate gentleman. His career was making his friends laugh and feeding them great meals.”
Indeed, Danny was a figure cut from a gentler age. His Grosse Pointe contemporary Sandy Lewis once said to me, “Once upon a time there were something called debutante parties,” and this page shows images of some of them, most memorably when the Supremes played at Christy Wilson’s coming out party in Grosse Pointe in 1965 and built a bridge to the greater Detroit community. Danny Marentette was Christy’s escort that night and dear friend ever after.
May his memory be a blessing.