Carly Simon Found Out Warren Beatty Was Cheating on Her From Her Therapist
She'd go on to write a verse of "You're So Vain" about the womanizing movie star.
While most pop music is fleeting, some songs are built to last for generations. Case in point:
"You're So Vain," by Carly Simon, celebrated the 50th anniversary of its November 1972 release just last year and has recently trended on TikTok. With that coy hit, the famed singer-songwriter became the foremother of today's confessional pop songs that the likes of Taylor Swift thrive on. But long before fans were parsing Swift's lyrics for clues as to which celebrity boyfriend she was writing about, Simon had already perfected that art.
Fans have been debating for years which man Simon dated who would be so vain as to think that that song was about him. Theories range from Mick Jagger to David Bowie to James Taylor to Cat Stevens. In 2015, the star revealed the song wasn't about one man, but three, and that part of it was inspired by her affair with actor Warren Beatty. Beatty was a famous womanizer at the time, and Simon learned in a pretty painful way that he had been sleeping with other women when they were together. The now-79-year-old wrote in her memoir that she found out that Beatty had cheated from her own therapist. Ouch. Read on for more.
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Carly Simon's solo career started after a run-in with Sean Connery.
Before going solo in 1970, Carly performed with her sister, Lucy Simon, as The Simon Sisters, mostly singing children's songs. As the daughters of one-half of the founding team behind Simon and Schuster, the two used their connections to tour. But their duo act all came crashing down, according to Carly's 2015 autobiography, Boys in the Trees, when they met actor Sean Connery, at the height of his James Bond fame in 1965, on a boat. She writes (via The Hollywood Reporter) that he proposed a threesome, but the sisters turned him down. Carly was shocked when Lucy decided to meet up with the movie star by herself the next night, leaving Carly alone in their room. She signed a solo artist agreement when they returned to their home city of New York.
Warren Beatty had quite the reputation as a playboy.
Beatty's acting career first took off in 1960 with The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis, and leveraged his fame in his romantic life. The many loves of Warren Beatty include (but are not limited to) Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda, Joan Collins (pictured with him above), and Madonna. Cher, who was all of 16 when their paths crossed, told Vanity Fair in 1990, "Warren has probably been with everybody I know, and unfortunately, I am one of them." Whether or not the actor has slept with nearly 13,000 women (a charge he denies) isn't the point, though. What matters is that one of them was Carly Simon.
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Simon called Beatty a "glorious specimen of man."
In her autobiography, Simon recounts the first time Beatty decided to visit her backstage after a concert, sometime in the early 1970s. "He got very close to me, looked into my face, and looked down at my breasts," she writes. "He said: 'Can I see you?'" The singer was stunned by his audacity and sex appeal. "What a glorious specimen of man," she remembers in her book, according to The New York Post. "He put them all to shame, if looks and charm were what you were after. He homed in like a tracking dog." Despite how quickly she fell under his spell, Simon knew it wouldn't last.
She had an illuminating conversation with her therapist.
Simon recounts in her book that one evening, about a month into their relationship, Beatty called her from Los Angeles to say he was flying into New York and "had to see her" before heading to an early morning shoot. She said (via The New York Daily News) that when the actor arrived not long after midnight, they "made love like in a movie" until he left again before sunrise. The "Nobody Does It Better" singer went out later that same morning for her regularly scheduled therapy appointment.
When her therapist asked Simon why she looked so tired, she began gushing about Beatty, their sex life, and how he had been with her all night. And he didn't have the response she was expecting. "Under the circumstances, I can't withhold this," the therapist told her, "[But] you are not the first patient of the day who spent the night with Warren Beatty last night." Whether or not Simon learned from her doctor who the other person was, she doesn't name them in her memoir. All she says is that when she confronted Beatty about it, he laughed so hard at the irony that she forgave him.
The second verse of "You're So Vain" is about Beatty.
By 1972, Simon had moved on from Beatty and was engaged to marry James Taylor, who would be her husband from 1972 to 1983. (Her autobiography notes that Beatty disapproved and pushed her to break it off.) She also released "You're So Vain," an instant sensation in an era when celebrity love lives were not usually the subject of pop songs. Beatty apparently assumed the whole song was about him, proving Simon correct. However, he was only partly right—each verse was about a different man Simon had been with. Beatty was only the subject of the second verse, with the lyrics, "You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive/Well you said that we made such a pretty pair and that you would never leave/But you gave away the things you loved/And one of them was me."