Earlier this month, the founder of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, launched a new channel in the US for the over-50s. In our opinion, Huff/Post 50 – not yet available on the British site – is fabulous, and at 61, Arianna is a trailblazer for the high50 generation. Here are the ten things we most love about her:
1. She loved the brainiac Bernard Levin. He was the greatest love of her life. They met when they were both panellists on the British TV show Face the Music in 1971. Arianna was 21. Levin was 42. They were together until 1980, when Arianna – who, unlike Levin, was desperate to have children – left him for New York.
2. Arianna (and her ex-husband) swing both ways. Arianna is the ex-wife of former US Republican Congressman Michael Huffington (she was born Arianna Stasinopoulos). After they divorced in 1997, they both made major changes: Michael came out as a homosexual. Arianna, who had until then been a committed Republican, came out as a Liberal. Proof, if ever you needed it, that life begins at 50. Or thereabouts.
3. She’s rich. On 7 February 2011, AOL announced its acquisition of The Huffington Post for $315 million. A serious ‘cash point moment’ for Arianna.
4. She’s controversial. Arianna both appeared in and wrote for the Emmy award-winning talk show Politically Incorrect. It was canned in 2002 after its anchorman Bill Maher supported on air the view that that the 9/11 terrorists did not act in a cowardly manner.
He said: “We have been the cowards. Lobbing Cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building. Say what you want about it. Not cowardly.” Nice writing, Arianna?
5. She’s a cartoon character. She is the voice of Arianna the Bear in the successful animated series The Cleveland Show. She has also appeared as a voice in Family Guy, and in the flesh in Roseanne. Before Arianna left the UK, she appeared on Call My Bluff, Any Questions and Pebble Mill at One. And, of course, Face the Music.
6. She’s green. Arianna heads The Detroit Project, a public interest group that lobbies the dinosaur American automobile industry to produce cars that can run on alternative fuels.
7. She’s political. In 2003, Arianna stood briefly against Arnold Schwarzenegger in the ‘recall election’ to replace the governor of California. Her election slogan was ‘The Hybrid versus the Hummer’ (because she drove a Prius and Arnie drove a gas-guzzling tank).
8. She can write. Arianna is author of 15 books, including The Female Woman, biographies of Maria Callas and Picasso, and Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe. Go girl, go!
9. She can multitask. (See all of the above.)
10. She cheats. In 1981, she was accused of plagiarism by one of Maria Callas’ rival biographers. The claims were settled out of court for a ‘low five-figure sum’. The HuffPo has been constantly criticised for recycling other people’s work.
But isn’t that what being ‘the Queen of Aggregation’ is all about? At high50, we think so. Unlike those jealous journalists who accuse Arianna of plagiarism, we’re thrilled that our own high50 has been the inspiration for HuffPo50. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
So welcome, Arianna, to high50. This is your official invitation to blog a column for us.
And whenever you’re in London next, we’d love to buy you lunch.