Montecito resident Corinna Gordon leaves legacy of caring, kindness and wit
Friends remember Corinna Gordon for her ladylike elegance, her impeccable sense of fashion, her spirit of generosity, her kind heart.
As well as her wicked sense of humor.
There’s no doubt that people will continue to smile as they talk about her.
The popular Montecito interior designer and jewely artist— who was born in England and near Scotland and was friends with late Montecito celebrities Kirk and Anne Douglas — leaves a legacy of fond memories. Surrounded by her family at her home, she died Sunday after a long struggle with breast cancer.
“She was such an extraordinary person,” friend Tammy Hughes told the News-Press Tuesday.
Ms. Hughes, who lives in Montecito, elaborated further.
“She was such an extraordinary party girl, but she was also a really deep person who wanted to understand how people worked,” Ms. Hughes said. “She was really amazing.
“And she had an absolutely filthy dirty joke train of emails that she would send around,” Ms. Hughes continued. “All of us would clamor to open them. It was always good for a laugh.
“She had the most wicked sense of humor,” Ms. Hughes said. “You know how the Brits can make an absolutely filthy joke sound elevated? That’s what she did. When it’s told in a British accent, it doesn’t sound quite as filthy.”
Another Montecito friend, Kirsten Cavendish Weston-Smith, said Mrs. Gordon was hilarious.
“She was probably one of the funniest people anyone of us really knew. She had this wicked sense of humor,” Ms. Weston-Smith told the News-Press Tuesday.
“Every single morning, you would wake up to a joke from Corinna,” she said.
Ms. Weston-Smith, who’s also from Britain, attended the same boarding school as Mrs. Gordon in England. Mrs. Gordon moved to Montecito in the 1980s, and when Ms. Weston-Smith later relocated there in 1989, Mrs. Gordon made certain she felt welcome.
“The first thing she did was to have a party to introduce me,” Ms. Weston-Smith said. “She was somebody so gracious that she wanted to include you and make sure you were part of whatever community she had, to introduce you, to make you feel welcome and loved.
“She was a very special person,” Ms. Weston-Smith said. “She always cared about other people first.”
Ms. Hughes noted Mrs. Gordon found ways to help local nonprofits varying from the Breast Cancer Resource Center to Lotusland, the Dream Foundation and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Ms. Hughes said Mrs. Gordon didn’t have as much money as major philanthropists. “But she was an artist. She was a jewelry maker. She would often donate these extraordinary jewelry pieces to her favorite fundraisers.
“She was 100% inspiration to other women,” Ms. Hughes said.
Ms. Weston-Smith said Mrs. Gordon was “incredibly talented” in art and design.
She did interior design work for Kirk and Anne Douglas’ home in Bel Air.
“She was one of these people who could reinvent herself all the time,” Ms. Weston-Smith said.
When her husband Larry Gordon traveled around the world during his photography career, Mrs. Gordon accompanied him and decided to embark on a new career that was more practical for travels than interior design. She became a jewelry designer.
“Not only that, but she did it well,” Ms. Weston-Smith said. “Everything she did, she did well.
‘She had an extraordinary sense of style,” Ms. Weston-Smith said. “You would never see Corinna badly dressed. She was always impeccably dressed and put together.
“She was a great beauty,” Ms. Weston-Smith said.
Ms. Weston-Smith said Mrs. Gordon had such a presence that you sensed her walking into a room.
“She was very ladylike, very feminine, yet she had this hilarious, naughty sense of humor that was not feminine, not in the least bit,” Ms. Weston-Smith said. “Yet she was a lady in every sense.
“I knew Corinna well, but she had much closer friends than me in the community,” Ms. Weston-Smith said.
Mrs. Gordon’s friends included everyone from Santa Ynez movie star and singer Olivia Newton-John, whom she considered a “true angel on Earth,” to Barbra Streisand.
“She was very close to the Douglasses,” Ms. Weston-Smith said about Kirk and Anne Douglas. “The Douglasses were like family to her. She was incredible to them, and they were incredible to her.”
Another friend, TV and movie star Jane Seymour, visited Mrs. Gordon’s home in Montecito in May, along with a dozen or so other people, during a celebration of Mrs. Gordon’s life. Ms. Seymour was among those who spoke in honor of Mrs. Gordon.
Ms. Weston-Smith said Mrs. Gordon, as always, looked her best at the celebration. “Despite how ill she was, she looked fantastic.”
Ms. Hughes, who last saw Mrs. Gordon in June before traveling to Florida, said Mrs. Gordon maintained her signature look during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She was a real English lady who dressed up every morning,” Ms. Hughes said. “You would go over, and her makeup was done, her hair was done.
“More importantly, as a friend, she was one of those people who really cared,” Ms. Hughes said. “She wanted to help people. She wanted to know who you were.
“When I was in my early 20s, we saw each other at a fundraiser,” Ms. Hughes said. “I said,‘Let’s have dinner or have lunch.’ She pulled me aside at an early age with sage wisdom. She said, ‘We’ll never get together for lunch and dinner unless we schedule it. We have to put something on the calendar.’
“She was full of joy and wit and character and sass.”