Byline: Aileen Mehle
Now that the word is out in Hollywood that Michelle Pfeiffer will definitely not play Marlene Dietrich in the movie adapted from the book written by the sultry star’s daughter Maria Riva (Louis Malle is doing the script), the hunt is on for an actress who has the looks and talent to play the part. She should have beautiful feet and legs a la Dietrich, because if United Artists is smart they’ll fill the flick with lots of shots of those beautiful gams, crossed and uncrossed. Back to the convent, Sharon Stone.
For her 60th birthday, Sophia Loren received a splendid emerald ring from her husband Carlo Ponti. Heaven knows she deserves it. When you think of the men she could have married.
A sad Princess Diana, complete with semi-stiff upper lip and red-rimmed eyes, showed up Monday at the London lunch for Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter at Vogue House given by Nicholas Coleridge, Conde Nast’s man in England. Quite naturally, all the men present, most of them famous in the British media, stood up when Diana entered the room. She may be their target for daily slings and arrows, but she is still to be respected. One of the gentlemen present, no particular fan of the Princess of Wales, recalled when Lady Fermoy, Diana’s grandmother, warned the Royal Family at the time Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s engagement was announced that a match between them would be disastrous, citing Diana’s unstable family. And if granny wouldn’t know, who would? Nothing cloudy about her crystal ball.
Among the Vogue House group were such as Jeffrey Archer, David English, Mark Hastings, Michael Green, Jonathan Newhouse, Melvin Bragg, Stephen Frye, Henry Porter and Rosa Monckton. The flies were fighting for room on the wall.
Some lawyers think that if and when Charles and Diana divorce, her settlement would need to be at least 15 million pounds (something like $22 million) to assure that her style in the future would correspond to the style to which Charles entitled her in the past. On Dec. 9, they will have been officially separated for two years, when a quickie divorce would be possible.
If there is no peace for the Royals, there is also very little peace for Royal in-laws, even ex-Royal in-laws. Just opening in New Zealand is the case being brought by one Heather Tonkin, alleging her daughter, Felicity, was the result of an affair she had back in 1985 with Princess Anne’s then-husband, Capt. Mark Phillips. Phillips is not only denying paternity — cross his heart and hope to die — but offering to undergo DNA testing to prove his innocence.
Another Royal ex, Lord Snowdon, the renowned photographer once married to Princess Margaret, is doing a major layout for Conde Nast on “Rob Roy” stars Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange. Snowdon was to do a romantic shoot of the two outdoors, but rainy weather put a stop to that. So a series of pictures were taken indoors and are said to be ever so sensual. Kilts by candlelight?
Benedetta Craveri, the fascinating woman and intellectual whose literary portrait of the scandalous woman who shocked French society in the decades before the French Revolution, “Madame du Deffand and Her World,” won Italy’s Comisso and Viareggio prizes and Prix du Meiller Livre Etranger in France, has come to New York to celebrate its publication by David R. Godine, the Boston publisher. Translated from Italian and French into English by Teresa Waugh, the book is a marvelous read with a busy libertine heroine, a confidante of the French high and mighty of the time, who indulged in orgies, debauchery, infidelity and “approached love and sex with a frankness centuries ahead of her time.” She was also keenly intelligent, witty and spirited, and though she may have been a headache she never was a bore, although she herself suffered vainly the old ennui and kept looking for trouble — and finding it, of course.
Benedetta is married to Benoit d’Aboville, formerly the Consul General of France in New York, wildly popular here from almost the minute he got off the plane, now his country’s ambassador in Prague, where he and Benedetta are posted in a beautiful castle. Among those celebrating Benedetta and her book in New York have been Victoria and Samuel I. Newhouse, who gave her a reception at their United Nations Plaza apartment, and Jayne Wrightsman and Annette and Oscar de la Renta who asked friends in for drinks at the Wrightsman Fifth Avenue flat. (Benoit arrived from Prague as the party was in progress. Perfect timing again, Mr. Ambassador).
Just a few of the fine friends who milled about the Wrightsman reception rooms were the French Ambassador to the U.S., Jacques Andreani and his vivacious wife, Donatella; the Italian Ambassador to the U.S., Boris Biancheri and his wife, Flavia; Cecile and Ezra Zilkha; Rosamond Bernier and John Russell; Nancy and Henry Kissinger; Nancy and Frank Richardson; Earl McGrath; Susan Gutfreund; Marit and Sydney Gruson; Nin Ryan; John Richardson; Susan and Carter Burden; Charles Ryskamp; Brooke Astor; Liz and Tassos Fondaras; Evangeline Bruce; Grace Dudley; Robert Silvers; Robert Hughes; Jane Hitchcock; Alexandra and Arthur Schlesinger and dozens of others just like them. Brava, Benedetta.
On England’s sports landscape, the current two-year-old the Brits are keeping an eye on is a 100 percent American-bred colt called Green Perfume, owned by the Earl and Countess of Sondes. Green Perfume has been winning or placing in some of Europe’s most important races, but what really tickles the Sondeses and their partner, Sir George Meyrick, is that the frisky creature was bought by their noted trainer Paul Cole at Keeneland for a mere $35,000. Bred by Kentucky’s Governor Brereton Jones, the colt has already won over $200,000 in the past few months.
A little horsey historical note: Henry Sondes is the nephew of the Earl of Derby, after whose family the English Derby, the Kentucky Derby and any other Derby you care to mention is named. And if you’re wondering how Green Perfume got his name — even if you’re not — it’s what some Texans call money. Cute.
You all remember George F. Kennan. One of the most distinguished of American elder statesmen — he’s a vigorous 90 — Kennan formulated the doctrine of containment and kept saying nyet, nyet, nyet when the U.S. became overly sentimental toward our Russian ally. Of course he was right all along and on Monday the National Committee on American Foreign Policy will honor him at a luncheon at the Waldorf. Henry Kissinger and Arthur Schlesinger will present him with his award.
Though his previous postings have collapsed around him (Kennan was once our ambassador to the former U.S.S.R. and the former Yugoslavia), that hasn’t cramped his unique style. He still writes frequently but lectures less. He is expected to drop pearls of wisdom at the luncheon which Joanne Toor Cummings and Francis Kellogg will chair.