Nixon’s Nephew’s Caper
The Nixon most under the shadow of Robert Vesco is his factotum, Donald, the President’s personable 27-year-old nephew. Sharing the Costa Rica exile of his boss and facing a possible subpoena if he returns home, young Donald recently got married inside the Vesco compound. But stealthily, a few days later, Donald drove the Pan American Highway through Mexico and sneaked over the border to Newport Beach, Calif., to bring his bride, Helene Lipsky, 23, of Wantagh, L.I., to see his folks. The couple then retraced the same route, remarkably without incident. Upon their return, however, they found their modest suburban home outside San José had been thoroughly burglarized.
“It is not enough that I should succeed—others should fail!” Broadway producer David Merrick once said that to old associate and London impresario David Pelham before splitting with him. Merrick has since branched out into film-producing. His latest effort, The Great Gats-by, prompted Pelham to walk out midway in the London premiere, saying, “It’s a crashing bore!” So he and Jeanne Gilbert, who happens to be Merrick’s former wife, got the bully idea to wire Merrick, “It is not enough that you should fail—others should succeed!” Merrick’s retort: “I have not seen this man [Pelham] for 10 years. He was never a partner of mine. He was an office boy.”
For the first time since the assassination of her husband, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis has promised to attend a Democratic fund-raising benefit. What will lure her on May 15 into this first such Washington appearance in 11 years and into the company of her least favorite breed, politicians, is the honoree—her beloved friend, elder statesman Averell Harriman, 82. It was “The Gov” —as he is called by intimates—who moved out of his art-filled Georgetown house to give Jacqueline and her children lodging immediately after the assassination.
Fourteen distinguished guests were recently seated around the silver-laden table at J. Paul Getty’s palatial English country castle, Sutton Place. The food was “horribly bland” one of them recalled. For dessert, while everyone was served stewed rhubarb, a delectable, individual portion of ice cream smothered in strawberries was placed at the head of the table. “Why do we all have to eat rhubarb while you gorge on ice cream?” a blunt-spoken dowager asked her host. “The garden’s full of rhubarb,” Getty cooed amiably. “I hate the stuff, and someone has to eat it.”
Harry Rigby, Broadway’s great recycler—he resuscitated Ruby Keeler in No, No, Nanette, Debbie Reynolds in Irene and Alice Faye in Good News—now wants to bring back George Gershwin’s 1930 musical Girl Crazy. This time Rigby is not angling after the original star Ginger Rogers, but rather the second lead, then a 21-year-old ingenue named Ethel Merman who stopped the show singing I’ve Got Rhythm. Merman is now 65.
Tallulah Bankhead called everyone “dahling” except for Somerset Maugham, who was “that little bastard” for not letting her play the original Sadie Thompson in Rain. Her pronouncements, rows and love affairs made copy for four decades. She “adored” Harry Truman, “loathed” Ike. Lillian Hellman thought that she was “vulgar,” and Noel Coward said she was “a pet—spelled with an S between the E and the T.” It was the stuff of several books published after her death in 1969. And now, true to character, fighting has broken out over a possible movie biography. Filmtree Productions announced it had bought Kieran Tunney’s flaccid Tallulah—Darling of the Gods! and hired him to write the script. Broadway producer Cheryl Crawford countered that she was about to adapt Tallulah’s autobiography. Filmtree said that it owned the rights to that book, too. The last word for now came from the late actress’ only surviving sister, Eugenia, who observed: “Tallulah was always up for grabs. How she would have reveled in all this!”