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Beau Geste

Tired of misguided missives to her touring fiancé—”I tried sending him wires and express mail, but I kept missing him”—actress Susan (Outlaw Blues) Saint James finally found a way to reach elusive rocker Stephen Stills. “I sent my houseman, dressed in a French Foreign Legionnaire’s uniform [Stills collects costumes], with a letter that I’d sealed in wax,” explains Saint James. “When Stephen came into the hotel in Detroit, there he was, waiting for him.” An appreciative Stills proffered food and lodging, but the loyal courier elected to stay just long enough to catch Stephen’s show before hying back to Saint James’ L.A. oasis.

Beyond Detente

At a Milwaukee fund raiser, President Carter waxed eloquent on the subject of peace in the wake of the Begin-Sadat agreement. “It is a gratifying experience indeed to work very closely with two men of wide ethnic background differences, different religions, who have to live and work in close proximity to one another, sometimes divided by strife and differences in the past, and to see them come together in the spirit of harmony and cooperation,” said Carter. “As a matter of fact,” he added, deadpan, “Zbigniew Brzezinski and Cy Vance have been friends ever since Monday [when the Middle East treaty was signed], and I am very grateful for it.”

Unreal Estate

Brushfires, mud slides and earthquakes, yes, but L.A. property never seems afflicted by falling prices. For example? Well, Sonny and Cher’s Holmby Hills home, which she parted with a year ago for $1.8 million, just passed to “an unidentified European” for $4.2 million. Muhammad Ali recently bought a 20-room mansion in the old-money Fremont Place area (nouveau riche neighbors include Mick Jagger, Lou Rawls and Karen Black) for $850,000, while Lily Tomlin snapped up W. C. Fields’ old Hollywood hacienda for just under a half million. But worry not, real estate is still available—like the late Conrad Hilton’s eight-acre landscaped digs in Bel Air. Asking price: $15 million. With furniture.


The “new” disco wave doesn’t wash with Fred Astaire. “I was dancing like that years ago, you know,” pshaws Astaire, 79. “Disco is jitterbug. It’s not new. It’s a combination of all the free-form dances—the kind where you don’t have to work out a routine or, indeed, even find yourself a partner.” Astaire is similarly underwhelmed by disco demigod John Travolta. “What he did in those movie dance scenes was very attractive,” allows Astaire. “But basically, he’s not a dancer.”

All Uphill

An unfunny thing happened to Olympic champion skier (1968) Jean-Claude Killy on his way downhill after watching the world pro races in Sun Valley: a violent collision on the slopes with another spectator, Chanse Rhode, 15, of Bellevue, Idaho. The Frenchman suffered a broken shoulder, the American a broken leg. Ever the gallant Gaul, Killy presented Rhode with a copy of his recent book, Situation Skiing, before leaving the hospital. “But,” Lamented Rhode, “he couldn’t autograph it because of his broken shoulder.”


•Beverly Wilshire Hotel owner Hernando Courtwright says he’s turning a blind eye to one guest who told him she swipes a towel every time she checks out. After all, he figures, even Barbara Walters can’t resist a towel niftily decorated with her monogram.

•Silent-screen heroine Lillian Gish, 80ish, was quite talky when a photographer tried to snap her picture from an unflattering angle during a Chicago party. “Take me from slightly above eye level,” commanded the star of 1915’s The Birth of a Nation (and featured player in Robert Altman’s more recent A Wedding). “If God had meant us to be looked at from below, he would have put eyes in our bellybuttons.”