Byline: Aileen Mehle

On top of the wonderful news that Caroline B. Kennedy will be the honorary chairwoman of American Ballet Theater’s spring gala on May 1 at the Metropolitan Opera House, comes the also wonderful news that Mrs. Paul (Bunny) Mellon has agreed to co-chair the evening along with Blaine Trump and this columnist. American Ballet Theater was one of Caroline’s mother Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ great loves (she was a trustee for 25 years), and Bunny Mellon was Jackie’s greatest friend. The company is thrilled that Caroline, who has asked that her maiden name be used on the program, has consented to be the board’s honorary chair (as her mother before her) for the 1995 season.
Here is Caroline’s letter, which will appear in the gala’s program: “One of my mother’s favorite times of the year was spring in New York when ballet came to town. She would let my brother and me stay up late and take us to each year’s new production. The world of classical dance — its princes, sorcerers, cruel spells and true love — was very real to my mother, and we all lived in that magnificent world every time we went to the ballet.” Like mother, like daughter.

Meanwhile, another Caroline — this one of Monaco — celebrated her 38th birthday last month, and you will be thrilled to hear that her love of several years, the French actor, Vincent Lindon, gave her a cashmere sweater and scarf. Get the pesticide. Of course, as Vincent’s movie career has hotted up, his affair with Caroline has cooled down, though they are still very good friends. As for Caroline’s daddy — Prince Rainier took up the slack by presenting her with a $32,000 ring from Bulgari, the way to a woman’s heart.

Ralph Fiennes opens in “Hamlet” in London on Monday night, and to go or not to go is not the question. Everybody’s going, flying in from all over to catch the opening night of the fine actor’s portrayal of the Danish prince. There are those who say Fiennes is doing Hamlet because he didn’t become the big star in pictures he was expected to after “Schindler’s List” and “Quiz Show.” When their careers don’t take off, Brits are notorious for running back to the prestige that appearing on the London stage brings. But don’t believe that about Ralph. He has three offers at $8 million a picture sitting right in front of his very nose. To accept or not to accept, that is the question.
Among the stars trying to get over to London for the opening is Demi Moore. Only the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune may keep her away. She and Ralph have become great friends.

Julia Roberts, hanging out in Savannah where she’s been making a movie, is said to have been negotiating with the Kehoe Inn, where she had been staying. Julia wanted to take over the entire 10-room place for friends and people working on the movie. The problem was they couldn’t agree on a price. Julia wanted to pay a lot less than the inn could get renting each room separately. No go. So Julia moved herself across the street to the Mulberry Inn. A girl has her pride. So does the Kehoe. Besides, anybody’s money is as good as a movie star’s.

The ever-tanned and gorgeous George Hamilton, who has a new TV movie of the week, “Vanished,” coming up in April on NBC, gave a birthday blow-out for Vanna White of all those game shows the other night at his lavish Art Deco condominium high up in the Los Angeles sky. While a pianist played gems from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, George entertained such variegated notables as Al Pacino, who spent most of the night sitting quietly in a corner; the pop diva Diahann Carroll, who remarked to George that he is browner than she is; Roger Moore, with the woman of his present dreams Christina Tholstrup; best-selling Jackie Collins with her current boyfriend Frank Calganini; Liza Minnelli, fine after that hip surgery but still on a cane; California House Speaker Willie Brown; the British tycoon Lord White with pretty Lady White; producer George Schlatter and his wife Jolene, and Tony Curtis with a buxom blonde. As the night progressed, Liza and Diahann sang around the piano joined by George, who did his hysterical impersonation of Julio Iglesias serenading the ladies with “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.” Everyone laughed like anything, but Julio doesn’t have to worry.

Galen and Hilary Weston’s big party at Windsor, Florida, their home-away-from-home, was a magnet for 250 of the international set. Windsor, near Vero Beach, is the sporty yet languorous resort of luxurious family houses, polo fields, golf, tennis, stables, riding trails, beaches, a croquet court and even a billiard table for those who would rather do it inside than out.
The reason for the party was the opening of the Windsor Beach Club, a gathering spot complete with jalousies and verandas, a lofty two-story structure designed by the noted architect Jacquelin Robertson. Naomi Leff designed the huge airy interiors and the sweeping double staircase. At the buffet, everyone gathered about the piece de resistance, an ice-sculpture seahorse towering over the caviar and lobster. (The international set is hard to please).
In the crowd: The Hon. Peter and Mrs. Ward and their son Jeremy, the recently knighted Sir Neil and Lady Shaw (they are building at Windsor), Count and Countess Nicholas Szapary, Ned Ryan, known as London’s First Bachelor, who flew on to stay with Sally and David Metcalfe in Barbados and then on to Princess Margaret in Mustique and various famous horse breeders and racing people from Canada. Hilary Weston wore tunic evening pajamas of navy and white pinstripe silk faille with a web of tiny straps holding it to her topaz-tanned torso. La!

Adorable Marin Hopper, the daughter of Brooke Hayward Duchin and Dennis Hopper, is the new special projects editor at Vogue, and you can’t let that happen without doing something about it. So mommy Brooke, stepdaddy Peter Duchin, and friend-of-the-family Gene Hovis, who has known pretty-pretty Marin since she was a child, gave a party to celebrate her new job at the Duchins’ downtown loft. Gene, one of the world’s great down-home cooks, prepared the feast and among those inhaling chicken potpie, stuffed cabbage, mashed potatoes, the ham what really am, and chocolate cake were Adele Chatfield-Taylor and John Guare, Bill Blass, Alice Mason, Chessy Rayner, Reinaldo Herrera and his lovely young daughter Carolina Herrera Jr., Anna Wintour in a little lime sequin top with her husband Dr. David Shaffer, Anne Slater, Kitty D’Alessio, the dazzling actress Sarah Jessica Parker, Bobby Short, Glenn Bernbaum, Joe Ciccio, Trumbull Barton, and a score of others just like them, all wishing Marin the best of everything.

Inadvertently, the name of Leon Hess of the Amerada Hess Hesses and the New York Jets Hesses was left out of this column’s report on Alice Mason’s latest party. Leon not only sat at Alice’s table, but he and Walter Cronkite held the group in thrall. Leon, who has a dry, wry sense of humor, can tell stories with the best of them — and did.