New contender for the world’s thinnest book might be The Wit and Humor of Jerry Ford, or so contended some old Washington press hands on a PBS-TV roundtable. But Charles Corddry of the Baltimore Sun demurred. “Jerry Ford told me the funniest joke I ever heard,” Corddry insisted. “He said it was untrue that Ronald Reagan dyes his hair—he’s just prematurely orange.”
When in Manhattan and in search of where to outfox other celebrity hounds, the place to go, before it is discovered, is an East Side bistro called The Lair. Among the diners: Henry Fonda, Martha Mitchell, George Plimpton, Barbara Walters, Jane Powell, Hal Prince, Alfred Vanderbilt and, in bygone days, Robert Redford and Nancy Maginnes Kissinger. But best reserve in advance: Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and his wife, Alexandra, were recently turned away, because there was no room at the in-spot.
Woman-about-Washington Barbara Howar one-upped her onetime lover, author Willie Morris, when her semi-pro autobiography Laughing All the Way outsold his nonfiction novel about her entitled The Last of the Southern Girls. Barbara jettisoned Willie, but she’s back at the typewriter and on the beach on Long Island with another writer, Herb Sargent, whose specialty is TV comedy specials (for the likes of Lily Tomlin and Anne Bancroft) and one of whose former girl, er woman, friends was Gloria Steinem. Barbara and Herb are in residence at her comfy cottage in Bridgehampton, but who can say who will write the last laugh?
Though he won his Nobel Peace Prize in foreign affairs, no mediation job—including domestic relations—is too small for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Seems that when his Paramount Pictures pal Robert Evans was losing his wife, Ali MacGraw, to Steve McQueen, Kissinger offered his good offices to negotiate a reconciliation. “But I said no,” Evans now reveals. “It’s easier dealing with countries than emotions.” Apparently the distinction is one the Secretary sometimes overlooks. When he took his bride, Nancy, to Acapulco after their wedding, Kissinger invited Evans to come on down. Again his magnanimity was refused. “Henry,” Bob gently reminded, “you’re forgetting—it’s your honeymoon.”
Irish actor Peter O’Toole and British critic Kenneth Tynan are gentleman pranksters and brawlers, though, for Tynan, in a literary way. When he discovered that Peter was shooting a scene from Otto Preminger’s new film about terrorism, Rosebud, in a friend’s Paris flat, Tynan left behind a phony note accusing O’Toole of being “a renegade Irishman and a traitor” to the IRA and warning that there was a bomb on the set. When Peter discovered the source of the hoax, he and a couple of members of the mostly Irish crew who were not amused beset his former buddy. Reports Tynan: “I was well and truly beaten up and even kicked in the groin.”
Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson, 56, the reigning prima donna of Wagnerian opera, is as famous for her high-jinks as her high C’s—for example, she says she once claimed ex-Met general manager Rudolf Bing as a dependent on her income tax. But Miss Nilsson was feeling considerably less sporting recently when she discovered that tickets to her sole New York concert appearance this season are available only to subscribers to an all-or-nothing Great Performers series. Threatening to cancel, Birgit boomed: “I don’t need Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti to sell tickets to my concert!”