The word from London has it that a TV drama on the life and loves of fly-lady Amy Johnson has already hit turbulence, even before takeoff. A busybody relative of the late lady aviator is threatening to file a formal complaint that the story dwells too much on Johnson’s string of lovers rather than on the record flights that made her Queen of the Skies in the Thirties. Emma Thompson’s been talked of to play the passionate pilot when and if the film is set to fly. But then Emma’s been talked of to play everything but Marlene Dietrich when they make the movie of Marlene’s daughter Maria Riva’s book on mutter. They’re hoping Louis Malle will direct and that John Guare, especially hot after “Six Degrees of Separation” will do the screenplay.
The Latin American journalist Isabel Allende, who wrote the bestseller on which the film, “The House of the Spirits” is based (the movie starring Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Vanessa Redgrave and Wynona Ryder has had mixed reviews), was so disenchanted with certain Hollywood suits that the film almost didn’t get made. “When the book was first published,” says she, “I had several offers to do the movie, but I was so horrified by the people. Everything they said sounded so flamboyant and artificial. No one seemed to have a grasp on reality. So I told my agent I wanted no more contact with directors or producers and that I didn’t want to make the movie.”
Then along came Bille August, the Ingmar Bergman protege, and Allende changed her tune. “After seeing Bille’s movie, ‘Pelle the Conqueror,’ and discussing “The House of the Spirits” with him, within half an hour I knew he was the one.” And watching the picture being made was a moving experience for Allende. “Not only did it bring back memories,” she says, “but now when I think of my grandmother, I don’t think of my real one — I always think of Meryl Streep, who plays her in the movie. It’s a wonderful feeling.” Meryl must feel pretty good about it too, because she’s had the best reviews of anyone concerned.
Camilla Sparv, the beautiful blonde ex-wife both of movie producer Robert Evans and vacuum cleaner heir Herbert (Bunker) Hoover 3rd (she has two sons by Hoover), will marry Santa Fe real estate developer Fred Kolbert in a three-day celebration in Las Vegas over the Memorial Day weekend. You all remember Camilla, a former model. She now lives in Miami Beach, but when she had a fling in the flicks her most successful movie was “Downhill Racer,” with Robert Redford. Joan Muss Linclau is giving a party for Camilla and her friends at Joan’s new Florida apartment in Bal Harbour and then they’ll all fly to Vegas for the fun. Yes, and then they’ll all fly right out again.
Liza Minnelli will be the big entertainer at the Presbyterian Hospital Gala on April 28 at the Waldorf. The chairmen, Mrs. Arthur (Pat) Ryan, the wife of the president of Chase Manhattan, and Dr. Phoebe Speck, will greet more than 1,400 guests at the ball, which is expected to raise more than $2 million for the new $4 million Clinical Cancer Center — with the help of Chase Manhattan and the Marriott Corp., of course. Expected are such as the Howard Clarks (junior and senior versions), Toni and Chuck Peebler, lots of Milsteins (the family donated the multi-million dollar Milstein Pavilion), Jessie and Rand Araskog and Daily and Gordon Pattee. Oh, and Donna Shalala, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, will be there to top things off.
The American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet, 200 strong, gathered on the St. Regis Roof to honor American dance legend Jerome Robbins, whose ballets have been in the repertoire of the Paris Opera for the past 20 years, and who is treated like a roi there, just as he is treated like a king here for his gifts as a world-renowned choreographer. The chairmen of the evening were Anne Bass, Helene David-Weill, Marina de Brantes — vice chairman of the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet, who came from Paris for the dinner dance — and Mica Ertegun. And a very special guest was Jean-Paul Cluzel, the director of the Paris National Opera.
Anne Bass was there with her friend of the heart, the artist Julian Lethbridge, and everywhere you looked you saw Anna Wintour in a silver slip; Dr. David Shaffer; Blaine Trump in a beautiful black Lacroix; Robert Trump, who was so kind to his two dinner partners when they needed him; Laura McCloy; Ahmet Ertegun, the record tycoon, on crutches, one of his first outings since his hip accident; Prince Pierre d’Arenberg; Paul Wilmot; Nan Kempner; Duane and Mark Hampton; Liz and Tassos Fondaras; Prince and Princess Michael of Greece; Barbara de Kwiatkowski; Lee Radziwill Ross; Deeda Blair; Khalil Rizk; Baroness Bernard (Didi) d’Anglejan of Paris; Chessy Rayner, and about 175 others more or less like them.
With spring here at last, can the blossoming of ladies’ luncheons be far behind? What a silly question. So hear this: Robin Chandler (Mrs. Angier Biddle) Duke is already planning her acceptance speech on May 12 at the Spirit of Achievement luncheon when the blonde dynamo is honored by the Women’s Division of Albert Einstein College of Medicine for her tireless achievements at home and abroad. It all happens in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria, and Robin will share the stage with such luminaries as best-selling author Mary Higgins Clark, television star Katie Couric, Lauren Hutton and super prosecutor Linda Fairstein, all women to reckon with — if you think you have the stuff to take them on.
What do Hillary Rodham Clinton, Beverly Sills, Pat Buckley, the late Mamie Eisenhower, Barbara Davis and Nancy Reagan have in common? Well, “The Bag Lady from Budapest,” of course, also known as Judith Leiber. These women and many others are all collectors of the beautiful jeweled bags Leiber creates in faux metals and jewels as well as in the real stuff. Obsession comes in many shapes and sizes, and so do the 55 dazzling Leiber bags to be sold at Sotheby’s Arcade Jewelry sale on April 12. Also on sale will be 200 lots of jewelry from the bankruptcy estate of Mary Teresa Ramirez Rodrigues of Houston, also know as “The Toad Queen” because of her affinity for jeweled toads and frogs of every kind, particularly the kind David Webb creates. You all remember Mary Teresa. Hobnobbing in Texas society and promoting deals, she swindled the social credulous out of $30 million before they called the cops.
The publication of Barbaralee Diamonstein’s 18th book, “Inside the Art World,” has brought on what could be called a plethora of activity. The author has moderated a panel discussion at the New York Historical Society sponsored by the Alliance for the Arts; has been the guest of honor at a gallery opening hosted by Leo Castelli, displaying the photos she herself took for her new book; was feted by David Levy of Washington’s Corcoran Gallery at a reception at his home; was the first woman honored with the Pratt Institute’s Founder’s Day Award, and, on Sunday, will be welcomed by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles where she will moderate a panel discussion and — oh yes, sign books. She takes vitamins. Or, as the old saying goes, maybe vitamins take her.
(Next week read all about Princess Yasmin Aga Khan and her Nov. 3 Rita Hayworth Gala at Tavern on the Green, and how her friend, Diandra Douglas, will help her transform a big tent into a wild Spanish scene based on Rita Hayworth’s classic movie, “The Loves of Carmen.” Caramba!