Who's Been Sitting in My Chair? Asked Papa Bear Carter. It Was Only Goldilocks Maclaine

Work, not play, is the opiate of Jimmy Carter’s White House, and this President’s Washington will never rival Versailles. But recently the Carter clan unbent a little in honor of actress-cum-activist Shirley MacLaine, who jumped aboard the Carter bandwagon early enough to stake a claim on the First Family’s affections. The occasion was the opening of MacLaine’s new film, The Turning Point. It was the most festive weekend since the Inaugural.

Though MacLaine’s co-star Anne Bancroft was rehearsing Golda on Broadway, a mix of showbiz and political types got things rolling at the Maryland manse of real estate developer Nathan Landow. Jeff and Annette Carter nibbled shish kebab. White House media maven Gerald Rafshoon, pollster Pat Caddell and at-liberty Bella Abzug applauded the card tricks of Jimmy Grippo, an 86-year-old magician who flew in from Vegas.

Next evening MacLaine and her parents (who live in nearby suburban Virginia) turned up at the Kennedy Center premiere with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. Said the President with a squeeze: “Shirley’s just one of the family.”

High point of the weekend was a visit to the White House under the stewardship of Carter aide Midge Co-stanza. Shirley insisted on visiting her old friend’s office: “I want to see how messy it is.” (Pretty messy, it turned out.) “This,” quipped Costanza, “is where Jimmy lusts after me, which he doesn’t often.” Presidential adviser Hamilton Jordan stopped by to say hello, as did Carter’s son Chip, on a weekend visit with his wife, Caron, from Georgia. “My parents wanted to see the baby,” he explained.

Midge led the group into the Oval Office, where Shirley, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and Turning Point ingenue Leslie Browne took turns sitting behind the President’s desk. Bella would have none of such posturings. “I,” she declared with a hungry grin, “will get there on my own.”

Related Articles