Nine months out of the White House, Ronald and Nancy Reagan were back to holding court earlier this month—this time for some 300 guests at the First Annual Nancy Reagan Tennis Tournament in Los Angeles. It was the former President’s first public appearance since undergoing surgery last month for the removal of fluid on the brain, the result of a horseback-riding accident months before. Though freshly shorn, Reagan showed he was firmly in command in matters of pate. Arriving with Nancy midway through the pro-celebrity matches, Reagan briefly doffed his white baseball cap, revealing a brush cut to make a leatherneck proud. It may not have been the same as Lyndon Johnson showing off his scar after gall bladder surgery, but it was almost as revealing; only Reagan’s barber knows for sure, but the new growth was dark brown, just slightly tinged with gray. “How’s this look?” Reagan asked, running his hand over his bristly crown. “I feel great!”
Held at the tony, flower-bedecked Riviera Country Club, the tennis tourney raised $450,000 for the Nancy Reagan Foundation, which fights alcohol and drug abuse. Sitting in the stands, the Reagans chatted and posed for pictures with local members of Just Say No, a program sponsored by the foundation—all of the youngsters sporting green T-shirts emblazoned with Nancy’s now-famous dictum.
Although the “Reagan Kids” were billed as competitors in the matches, only Maureen showed up—she to cheer on her husband, Dennis Revell, who teamed with ex-San Diego Charger and deposed Wheel of Fortune host Rolf Benirschke to beat Kirk (Growing Pains) Cameron and Reagan’s former Secretary of Energy, John Herrington. (The Reagans’ younger daughter, Patti Davis, was busy promoting her new novel on Central America and the CIA, Deadfall.) Dick Van Patten and wife Patty rooted for their son, Vince, who gave up the pro tennis circuit to become a full-time actor. He and Britisher John Lloyd, the former Mr. Chris Evert, lost a tough match against top-rated doubles team Rick Leach and Jim Pugh. There were also a few comic volleys from celebs on the sidelines, including Rich Little, Arte Johnson, Sally Struthers and Phyllis Oilier, who had the laugh line of the afternoon. “Tennis is like marrying for money,” she quipped. “Love means nothing.”