Meet Anthony Fauci, 1991 Romance Novel Hero

Doctor was 'a little embarrassed' that Sally Quinn based hero of 'Happy Endings' on him
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2020 6:21 AM CDT
Fauci Inspired 'Sexy' Hero of 1991 Romance Novel
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives to speak about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 22.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Anthony Fauci is literally the stuff romance novels are made of. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was the inspiration for the erotic hero in Sally Quinn’s 1991 novel Happy Endings, in which widowed First Lady Sadie Grey falls for a sandy-haired NIH scientist named Michael Lanzer, who has just discovered a therapy for AIDS. Quinn had been seated next to Fauci, who was then battling the spread of AIDS, at a Washington dinner party as she sought inspiration for the sequel to 1986's Regrets Only, per the Washingtonian. "Usually those dinners, you make polite conversation, and that's it. But we had this intense conversation, personal conversation. I thought, 'Wow, this guy is amazing,'" Quinn tells the outlet. "I just fell in love with him."

She decided Grey should "fall in love with this doctor who does this amazing work, and doesn't get a lot of publicity," somebody "really brilliant, and compassionate, and kind, and decent, and honest …and sexy." The novel finds Grey musing over Lanzer's "low, melodious, sexy, almost hypnotic" voice. Upon being dragged to a White House event, Lanzer complains about becoming a "PR man," but he supports the administration even as "an incapacitated president leaves the nation feeling 'rudderless'" and "a senior official spews reckless claims about HIV," per the Washingtonian. Quinn says Fauci has known about the inspiration for some time. "He just thought it was funny," she says. "I think he was a little embarrassed." The allure continues, per the Hill, which describes a petition to have Fauci, 79, named "sexiest man alive." (Read more Anthony Fauci stories.)

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