Byline: Aileen Mehle

Danielle Steel, whose novels sell in the millions, does not forget her social calendar for a minute. She particularly knows what she’ll be doing on May 20, 2000. That night the glamorous Steel will host The Star Ball at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco to benefit the Nick Traina Foundation, named for her son, and founded last year. Nick’s manic depression eventually cost him his life, and the foundation’s aim is to support research of this heartbreaking illness. Danielle has already gathered friends, a variegated lot, to serve on her honorary committee. Among them are Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, Sophia Loren, Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, Bette Midler, Rosie O’Donnell, Jaclyn Smith, Harry Hamlin, Henry Winkler, Jackie Collins, Oscar de la Renta, Rosalynn Carter, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, Brian Boitano, Ann and Gordon Getty and George Hamilton. George Hamilton? Of course, George Hamilton.
If we stretched it a bit, we could call Danielle and George an item. What is a fact is that they have been seeing each other and get along famously. Danielle and her latest husband — he’s her fifth — multimillionaire Tom Perkins, have split after a short marriage. When Tom, an avid sailor, christened his third sailboat in England earlier this month, Danielle was not among those present. She knew then, and so did Tom, that there was no hope and the next thing on the agenda was a divorce. So enter charming George, though his part in the picture may only be a walk-on.
He and Danielle were together at Denise Hale’s teeny-tiny dinner at San Francisco’s newest hot restaurant, Farallon. And just to add spice to the mixture, also there was Danielle’s fourth ex-husband, John Traina, the jewelry designer and collector. (During their marriage, he and Danielle had five children together.) It was all terminally civilized — Denise made it clear that she is not one to take sides — and such a good time was had by all. Don Johnson arrived with his six-months-pregnant bride, the former Kelley Phleger, who has not gained one ounce of fat, more or less the talk of the dinner. David Niven Jr. was Denise’s date and he escorted her to the opening of the San Francisco Opera the following night, but not to read anything into it. The dinner started with Dom Perignon and finished with Chateau d’Yquem. Both Denise and Danielle were dripping in diamonds. Why are we not surprised?
Let us all return to more on the Farallon fiesta at another time. But just now, the talk of San Francisco is the arrival, hand in hand, of Ann and Gordon Getty at the opening of the San Francisco Symphony. There were some who buzzed that this long marriage would not remain intact after the news broke in the San Jose Mercury in August that billionaire Gordon had a second family in his life, a mistress and three daughters. It was not that the Gettys’ close friends had not known about this arrangement for years — it was a well-kept secret — but to a vast circle, the news came as an amazement. At the Symphony, Ann was wearing her new JAR pin and earrings. Simply beautiful. But it was the hand-holding that caused ripples through the crowd. There will be no marital fireworks here — and you can bet whatever you have on that.

Harrison Ford, who will soon appear with Kristin Scott Thomas in the romance-drenched drama “Random Hearts,” is said to be “determined” to film the fourth installment of the “Indiana Jones” series. What a pity that we’ll all have to wait until 2002, when the cameras start to grind it out. Of course every movie star worth her salt is a-hankering to play Ford’s sweetie: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gina Gershon and hot Angelina Jolie, whose pouty lips rival those of the supermodel Esther Canadas. You can see Esther’s luscious lips coming before the rest of her enters a room. As for Angelina, she’s soon due in “Girl, Interrupted” starring Winona Ryder, whose lips are more, well — conventional.

Transcontinental entertaining is something of a habit with Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, the author and decorator who is also the daughter of the Duke of Marlborough and Winston Churchill’s great-niece. Henrietta was entertained in England over a weekend at an Oxfordshire country house by her fellow decorator Eric Lysdahl and Gina de Franco, the New York radio talk show entertainment reporter. Now that Lady Henrietta’s seventh book, “Classic Entertaining,” is scheduled to be launched next month, there’s an intimate New York dinner being planned for her at San Domenico with white truffles to burn and maybe the lovely Carolina Herrera as a guest. Also invited are Ricky and Ralph Lauren, Michael Bloomberg, John Mack Carter and John Curran of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who will be receiving hand-written invitations in Milady’s finest penmanship. It’s the only way, really.

The Argentine billionairess, Ambassador Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, is the honorary chairman of the American Associates of London’s Royal Academy Trust’s gala dinner-dance at the Rainbow Room on Nov. 8. The co-chairmen are Frances Hayward, David Tang and the eminent John C. Whitehead. You do remember that previous guests of honor at this dinner have been the Duke of Devonshire, the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and HRH Princess Alexandra. There will be a royal honored this year too, but I can’t tell you yet who it is. You can always guess. It’s easy.