July 01, 1974 12:00 PM

Applause

After a smash one-year run, Debbie Reynolds, 42, turned over the lead in the Broadway rehash of Irene to a longtime friend aching for a comeback, Jane Powell, 45. But lately, Jane has been miffed at her old MGM teething partner. Seems that when she is back in town, Debbie has a way of waltzing into the theater (once even slathering on her greasepaint first) and bounding onstage—just as the applause swells at curtain-call time.

Poor Little Rich Boy

When called to account for the Sybaritic accouterments of the 16-year-old “Perfect Master” Maharaj Ji—the Maseratis, cabin cruisers, jet-flying lessons and $400,000 home—a spokesman offered the following: “The Perfect Master’s life-style is in keeping with this era of science and technology. The world is rich so he must live rich. The rich are the real sufferers and the poor’s sufferings are often exaggerated. The guru receiving presents from his devotees is no more different than Christ, the poor son of a carpenter, receiving the three wise men’s offerings of frankincense, gold and myrrh.”

Blazing Hackles

When Henry Ford II recently left his second wife Cristina (née Vettore) behind by the sea at Fregene during a visit to her native Italy, the Roman scandal sheets which move faster than Benito’s trains instantly declared the marriage finito. “Ridiculous,” retorted Cristina. She was beached for sunning not sundering. “Henry,” she explained, “likes me better with a tan.”

Pulling Strings

His recent unexpected honorary degree from Harvard was only the latest surprise for Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich since he left the Soviet Union. He had long been forbidden to travel outside his homeland for having sheltered dissident, and now exiled, author Alexander Solzhenitsyn. How did the ban end? Seems that last April during his four-hour meeting in Moscow with Communist party leader Leonid Brezhnev, Senator Ted Kennedy sprung a personal request from the pianist in the family. “You can do something for my wife,” he said in an off-hand way. “Let Rostropovich travel to the West.” Which helps explain how he wound up this month at Ted’s alma mater.

Company Loves Misery

With every other cultural heavy weighing in on Watergate, the only wonder was that media messiah Marshall McLuhan waited so long. He warmed up with a few predictable lines like “Nixon is a 19th-century person caught up in 20th-century technology—he’s hardworking, goal-oriented and earnest, but under electronic conditions what is desperately needed is playfulness and flexibility…Nixon is the Horatio Alger success story carried out, but carried out in the wrong century.” Concluded McLuhan: “Watergate is background sound—it’s Muzak—to the rest of the world. Nothing is more euphoric than the miseries of other people.”

Check Bobby Fischer

Grandmaster and aging (31) enfant terrible of chess has gotten so cantankerous that even his own lawyer is taking him to court—to be released from representing such an “uncooperative” client. Meantime, Fischer has submitted to Dr. Max Euwe, president of the International Chess Federation, an ultimatum setting down the conditions under which he would defend his world chess title. The list included a green-and-yellow board (easy on the eyes), brown-and-yellow chessmen and, of course, exclusion of the public from the matches. Though the list of Fischer’s demands ran 60 pages, Dr. Euwe sighed helplessly, “I think that we are going to have to accept 95 percent of them.”

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