The Lovely Mrs. Stetson

August 26, 2009, by Connie Stetson


She nods, she smiles, and you really think she’s listening. Meet Connie Stetson, celebrity wife.

Towards the end of September, my husband Lee and I are off to New York City to celebrate his participation as John Muir in Ken Burns’ new documentary series on PBS, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. We are thrilled of course, to hobnob in the Big Apple with celebs, attend galas and attend as honorees, a huge concert in Central Park to kick off this amazing documentary. I simply cannot wait to get all dressed up, wear pretty shoes, put some makeup on my puss and transform myself into “the lovely Mrs. Stetson.”

My single most important function of this task, (that I’ve now performed hundreds of times) it seems, is to stand near my actor husband, smile, nod, beam, shake hands and occasionally mutter niceties like, “Yes, how interesting” or “Lovely evening, isn’t it?” For all occasions I’ve learned that the phrases, “How about that?” and “Isn’t that something”, can be inserted anywhere—even when you are concertedly not listening.

I have smiled and nodded in nearly every state in the Union and in Japan, Britain and Scotland. A few years back Lee ran for local office and for a little while I got a taste of what it would be like to be a political wife, smiling and nodding at fundraisers in people’s homes. YIKES! One nice lady actually said, “Why Connie, I had no idea that Lee’s wife would be so, so, ummm…” “Interesting?” I said hopefully. “No,” she replied, “so glamorous”. Oh, I could not wait to get home to tell Cathy. We still laugh over that little irony.

I have actually sat as the lovely Mrs. Stetson at a black tie affair at The Ahwahnee Hotel, next to Ed Meese. ED MEESE! Remember him??? Eeeeeuuuwwwww!!!!!! My friend Keri Smith, whose husband was in the Foreign Service, declares that she’s been the lovely Mrs. Smith in five different languages. In smiling and nodding, she reigns supreme.

Every time I see on TV yet another of those lying, cheating, hypocritical male politicians confessing in tears of their affairs, my heart simply breaks for the lovely Mrs. Republican, Mrs. Democrat, Mrs. Good Christian married to a closet case, standing stoically at her husbands side, smiling and nodding. I must say, I was very impressed with the lovely Mrs. Sanford for refusing to stand by her lying, cheating husband’s side insisting that she will pray to reconcile their marriage. Instead, she kicked his sorry ass out of the house. Good on her.

Happily, Lee is no longer in politics and my smiling and nodding commitments are now, by choice only. And on this occasion, to celebrate my husband’s accomplishments as an actor, a writer and a scholar, is an honor and one of the perks of being the lovely Mrs. Stetson.

Hey all—be sure to check out Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, airing on your local PBS station around September the 27th. Check your local listings. Go Lee!!!

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15 Responses to “The Lovely Mrs. Stetson”

  1. mellimel Says:

    ooooo boy. Do I know this…The lovely Mrs…syndrome (except of course in most States I cannot legally be a Mrs anything).
    But anyway…I always feel for the partner of the notable, famous one having lived it. I don’t think its fun at all. But New York, well that’s a perk I might put up with right now.

  2. Cathy Says:

    This post reminds me of my days as a Hollywood publicist, when I would go out of my way to engage with the celebrity spouse, woman or man. I was always puzzled at how people could be so blind to the fact that there was another person standing right next to the celebrity at hand (never mind the paparazzi, they would trample the date or spouse, without even looking back).

    Oh lovely, glamor-puss, I have been witness to your talents as celebrity spouse, and you are good. You don’t fade into the shadows like some, you are a bright light, a solid being alongside, and not behind, your man. Those of us who know you and the lovely MR. Stetson, know you are a power couple, yes couple, because, although you are being rather humble here, you Connie, are a celebrity in your own right and in your own light. Go Stetsons!

  3. Conz Says:

    Oh Wow, Cathikins! Thanks for the good words. As Christie would say, “I’m feeling quite chuffed”….

  4. dearpru Says:

    I, too, am a fan of Jennifer Sanford (“the lovely Mrs.”) who promptly moved herself out of the governor’s mansion upon learning that her husband considers himself the equal of King David from the Old Testament. The fact he had an affair with a hot tamale from south of the border is incidental compared to his delusional public ramblings about being “chosen” and all that other C Street fake Christian rot.

  5. beezersmom Says:

    My son is crazy about Queen Elizabeth II. Because of his obsession, we just finished watching 12 hours of BBC programming about what the Queen does with all her millions and all of her time. (I mean, besides buying strangely gargantuan hats and being bold enough to wear them in public.)

    When attending events (in her mammoth millinery) and acting as “The Lovely Queen,” she murmurs, much as you do, at the various guests and ordinary folks who are overwhelmed to be in her Majesty’s presence.

    In addition to reciting many of the above standard utterances you mention, she manages to make people think she cares deeply about them by asking, “Was it as you expected?”

    Works every time. The people come away dazed that the Queen of England, an icon, actually cares about their opinion.

  6. amelia Says:

    hey lovely! please save a tape of it for me b/c we don’t have t.v. i can’t wait to see you, i mean, it!

  7. Debra Stokes Says:

    Nicely penned, Mrs. Stetson. I’ve spent 34 years as the lovely Mrs. Stokes. It requires training to do it well, but the rewards are worth it. You get to see alot going on!!! thanks for sharing. I’ll look for the PBS broadcast.

  8. kerry smith Says:

    One question: will you be wearing your cape and fine tiara?? (Gary’s reaction: “Ed Meese????”) xxoo Kerry

  9. Conz Says:

    Hey all–Keri is referring to a terrific quote she sent me not too long ago, “I believe that given a cape and a fine tiara, I could rule the world”. Does anyone know who said that? It’s too too true of us all.

    The Lovely Mrs. Stetson

  10. Carine Says:

    I’ve always told friends that if my husband ever decided to enter politics, I’d immediately divorce him. You are a brave woman, and I’m sure you do Mrs. Stetson brilliantly!

  11. Linda Myers Says:

    Connie: Thanks again for making me laugh and share your post with a friend. Being able to hear your thoughts on any topic is always a treat!

  12. Annice Says:

    Very revealing perspective. Looking forward to the documentary since I live in Western North Carolina and cherish the mountains.

  13. Lori Oliver-Tierney Says:

    I personally have always thought of Lee as Mr. Connie Stetson. I will of course watch the documentary to see who he is in his “other life.” You, my friend, sparkle- even in smalltown Mariposa. You will shine in D.C. in your own rite.YOu are and will always be an amazing woman.

  14. Kat Baccus Says:

    Hey Connie!
    I just contacted Lee on Facebook couldn’t find you…it’s funny, when I saw your hubby on the Ken Burn’s film, I said to myself “Oh, I want to connect with Connie again!” I’m a gonna snail mail something to you via the address for John Muir Live. Love ya, girlfriend. I wish folks had spent some time getting to know you. They would be pleased that Mr. Stetson has such a vibrant, funny, smart mate! Just remember…”We’re white girls we don’t take no crap when we’re rollin’ out our white rap!” :D

  15. Says:

    See beneath for distinct styles and finishes.

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