Over a recent breakfast at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, Gloria Steinem is awash in pale, neutral colors. She wears a flowy white blouse, no makeup but for sheer, nude lipstick, and soft blond highlights still frame her face, as do her trademark aviator sunglasses. The neutral canvas catapults one accessory front and center: Steinem’s words, which are unwavering and polished as ever. “I’m old, but the movement is young,” says Steinem, 77. “Every social justice movement has to last at least 100 years or it doesn’t really get absorbed into society. We’re only 30 or 40 years into this!” As the face of the women’s movement for more than four decades, Steinem has embodied myriad iconic roles — all of them powerful, if sometimes polarizing: the pioneering journalism “It” girl of the early ‘60s who went undercover as a Playboy bunny for an expose, the spirited feminist revolutionary, the glamorous celebrity activist, the visionary editor who founded Ms. magazine. All of those “Glorias” come alive in the HBO documentary, “Gloria: In Her Own Words,” which airs Monday. The one-hour show, directed by Peter Kunhardt, is a survey of sorts of the women’s movement as told through Steinem’s own life and career. As such, all the expected moments are there: Steinem leading marches and speaking at protests; her aforementioned 1963 stint as a Playboy bunny; her string of high-profile boyfriends, Mike Nichols and Mort Zuckerman among them; the scrappy, early offices of Ms.; the 1969 New York abortion hearing at which Steinem decided to become an activist. Steinem’s story is pieced together from thousands of old photographs, hundreds of hours of archival video footage and audio recordings, and one new interview.
Names in the news, Aug. 15
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