Byline: Aileen Mehle
Kathleen Turner has been set to star at England’s Chichester Theatre this summer in Somerset Maugham’s “Our Betters,” to be directed by Michael Rudman, the Oxford-educated, Dallas-born American who has been a big success in the British theatah. You all remember Michael. He directed Dustin Hoffman in the Broadway production of “Death of a Salesman” and married and divorced the cunning British actress Felicity Kendall — not particularly in that order. Later in the summer at Chichester, Rudman will also direct “The Admirable Crichton,” starring Ian McShane. “The Admirable Crichton” was of course written by J.M. Barrie of the “Peter Pan” Barries — but you knew that.
“The Secret Woman: A Life of Peggy Ashcroft,” by Garry O’Connor, due to hit the stands next month, is already causing a big commotion. The late Dame Peggy, hailed by many as the greatest Shakespearean actress of her time, is portrayed as promiscuous to the point of nymphomania, with a list of her alleged lovers, including Paul Robeson, J.B. Priestley, Harold Pinter and a cast of, well, a lot of fellows. And here Dame Peggy always looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth — remember her in “The Jewel in the Crown”? I guess they’re the ones you have to watch.
The term “Renaissance man” may be tossed about a bit indiscriminately and perhaps undeservedly from time to time, but when you toss it in the direction of James Wolfensohn, it sticks. It had better. Jim just received the first David Rockefeller Award at the Museum of Modern Art’s big corporate luncheon which was chockablock with bigwigs the other afternoon, all lauding the charismatic man, who also happens to be the president of the World Bank, chairman emeritus of Carnegie Hall and of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a board member of the Metropolitan Opera Association for 15 years. Besides all that, Jim is the chairman of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, a member of the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group, a former chairman of the finance committee of Howard Hughes Medical Institute and of the Rockefeller Foundation, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary officer in the Order of Australia (he was born in Australia), a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur of the Republic of France and a Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Germany. Oh, and then in 1995, he was awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth. It’s enough to make one stagger and swoon, but, rather than going through all that, a simple “Oh, my God” should suffice.
At the luncheon, which raised more than a million dollars for MoMA’s coffers, David Rockefeller spoke glowingly of Jim and said that he, David, was thrilled and delighted that he, Jim, was receiving this first award bearing his, David’s name. Jim then spoke glowingly of David and announced he, too, was thrilled and delighted to be receiving the award bearing David’s name. Ronald Lauder, the chairman of MoMA, also spoke glowingly of Jim, followed by Agnes Gund, the president of MoMA, who heaped more laurels on his head. It was Accolade City.
Mrs. Henry (Marie-Josee) Kravis and Jerry Speyer were chairmen of the event, and you could see the fine hand of Mrs. Ronald (Jo Carole) Lauder in the arrangements — including the Glorious Food menu with curried chicken vol-au-vent and blood orange givree, s’il vous plait.
To name but a few of the power lunchers: New York’s First Lady Libby Pataki, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Gustavo Cisneros of Venezuela, Happy Rockefeller, Kitty Carlisle Hart in a snappy coral suit, Gretchen and Eugene Grisanti of International Flavors & Fragrances, Richard Parsons of Time Warner, Earle Mack, Donald Marron, John Russell, the art savant, Dan Rather, John Richardson, Rose Styron, Paul Volcker, Richard Oldenburg, Carroll Petrie, Mary and Laurance Rockefeller, Harriette and Noel Levine, the Ronald Lauders’ good-looking daughter, Aerin Zinterhofer and, last but never least, Mrs. James (Elaine) Wolfensohn and the Wolfensohns’ two daughters, Sara and Naomi.
Speaking of Agnes Gund, Lord Douro, heir to the Duke of Wellington, will present that lovely lady with the 1997 Montblanc de la Culturet Award at a champagne reception at MoMA tomorrow. Aggie Gund, MoMa’s president, remember, will receive a generous slice of the $150,000 awarded each year to 10 international winners. She will keep the limited edition Gold Pen and give away the cash to Studio in A School, which she founded and which has provided over $25 million in art education to the NYC school system. Expected at the reception for Aggie are the likes of Beverly Sills, Michael Ovitz, Tony Randall, Jacques D’Amboise, Schuyler Chapin and Christopher Forbes, whose darling daughter Charlotte, a Princeton student, is just engaged. But more of that on Friday.
A galaxy of New York’s most glittering etoiles will be breaking out the ballgowns — the Return of the Ballgown is way overdue — and visiting the vaults for their shiniest treasures come March 21. That is, if they are on the receiving end of Cartier’s impressive invitation to the preview gala celebrating the upcoming retrospective exhibition of Cartier’s Art Deco masterworks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s also the famed jeweler’s 150th anniversary, so you could call it a double whammy. Cartier’s big three, Alain-Dominique Perrin from Paris and Simon Critchell and Ralph Destino of Les Etats Unis, weren’t there when Cartier opened in 1847 — more’s the pity — but they will all be there on the big night when you can wish them a happy anniversary, Glorious Food will feed you and Robert Isabell will flower you. And don’t forget the bijoux, my little cabbages!
The Art Dealers Association of America’s preview of their art show at the Seventh Regiment Armory opened with great eclat. Henry Street Settlement was the beneficiary, and among those doing a good deed for charity in a sometimes not-so-charitable world were such as Pilar Crespi with Steve Robert, Carolyne Roehm with her nice, new friend Carter Brown, Julia and David Koch, Carly Simon, Elizabeth de Cuevas, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis, Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder, Gloria and Frank Schiff, Duane Hampton, Bill Blass, Leonard Lauder and others too showy to mention.
Come May, Sotheby’s will sell 18,000 bottles of wine from the cellars of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, expected to fetch more than $3 million. “If Bacchus had a cellar, this would be it,” said an admiring vintage maven at Sotheby’s, of course.