Ella’s fella, Basie
Ella’s turn was in 1976, but she showed up again last month when the honoree was Count (William) Basie, 73. The event was the annual awards dinner for the National Association for Sickle Cell Disease, and Basie was being cited for his humanitarian works. Fitzgerald, 59 (right), joined with singer-actress Diahann Carroll, 43, to give the Count his plaque and a kiss. Then, unexpectedly, Ella stepped up to perform with Basie’s band, scatting an impromptu salute to the night, the cause and her old friend Basie’s good works.
Incredibly, it was only Rose Kennedy’s second honorary degree—a doctorate of humane letters from Georgetown University for her work on behalf of the mentally retarded. Sen. Edward Kennedy delivered a flowery invocation, hailing his mother as “the rose of all roses…the Rose of old Boston,” and the lady beamed modestly. But when Ted referred to a vow his mother made years ago to stop working hard after age 85, Rose, an active 87, cupped her hands to stage-whisper, “I made a mistake.”
The Swedish princess
With all appropriate pomp, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, 31, and his German-born commoner wife, Queen Silvia, 33, witnessed the baptism of their first offspring, born July 15, Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Desiree, in the 18th-century chapel of the royal palace. In a break with tradition, Victoria was serenaded with a Duke Ellington number, Is God a Three-Letter Word for Love?, before demonstrating her own vocal accomplishments: a royal tantrum when awakened by the baptismal waters. Papa broke into a wide grin, and ultimately Victoria (above) managed a wan smile.
Look Ma, Justis
Back in 1957 saxophonist Bill Justis’ big hit was Raunchy, but since the ’60s he has been earning his keep as an arranger (for such stars as Kris Kristofferson). Gathered along with other ’50s golden greats like Jimmy Bowen and Carl (Blue Suede Shoes) Perkins for a fundraiser at Nashville’s Possum Holler Club, Justis, now 50, decided to spoof the musical insouciance of his era. He raised sax to lips, stuffed hands in pockets and played another fave he composed, Look Ma, No Hands. The results? “Strange, but fun,” says Justis.
Few art critics would argue that famed pop painter Robert Rauschenberg, 51, is all thumbs. Yet there he was at a recent Manhattan art gallery opening (of photographs by his 26-year-old son Chris), brandishing a bandaged thumb he broke when he tripped and fell while trying to break up a fight between two friends’ children. Painful as it was, the thumb has become a handy prop. It seems Rauschenberg is heading a national campaign to obtain medical assistance for needy artists. “There are lots of organizations to provide artists with materials,” he told one group, “but not with Band-Aids.” Clearly he had a perfect point in hand.
There was hardly room for even one more when Bette Midler (right) threw a bash in her dressing trailer at L.A.’s Roxy Theater after taping a TV show, Rolling Stones: The Tenth Anniversary. Then who should squeeze in but actor Bud Cort, along with pals Peter Bogdanovich, the director, and his honey, actress Cybill Shepherd (left). Once Hollywood’s most visible young couple, they have all but disappeared into the Bel Air mansion they share. Cybill, who also keeps a pad in Marina del Rey, has just finished a new film, Silver Bears, but Bogdanovich, still smarting from his third flop, Nickelodeon, refuses to be rushed. “I’m tired,” he says, “and I want a rest.”