Byline: Aileen Mehle

The ladies of Chicago — make that the Ladies of Chicago, because they’re awfully important — think our very own C.Z. Guest is a dream. So they have invited dreamy C.Z. to be the guest of honor at a tea and reception on the 15th of May at the Lakeview home of Mrs. William Wood-Prince, than whom, in Chicago, there is no whomer. She’s pretty hot in Newport, too.
C.Z. will also be the featured speaker at a spring luncheon at The Casino to benefit the Hope B. McCormick Costume Center at the Chicago Historical Society, where she will lecture on fashion, style, designers and men and women of fashion she has known, including Jackie Onassis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Barbara Hutton, Doris Duke, Brenda Frazier — the all-time debutante’s debutante — and the late, great American fashion designer Mainbocher, whose clothes she wore with such flair for years. (Maybe she still has a few Mains in her closet. They are never to be thrown out.) She will answer questions from the audience after the lecture. Caveat: She is not to be stumped.
The luncheon is being described as “La Fete du Chapeau,” which simply means everyone wear hats, you hear? By then, Chicago should be sunny, so maybe a sweet little straw will be just the ticket. Oh, and let me add that the Hope B. McCormick Costume Center comprises a collection of 55,000 historical rarities, including designs by Worth, Vionnet and Schiaparelli and, listen to this, the cloak Mary Todd Lincoln wore the night her husband was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington. Which brings to mind the very old joke, “Aside from that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” But don’t mention that in Chicago, you hear?

Speaking of that sort of thing, “Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her” is the title of Glenn Close’s new flick, and probably what the audience will be thinking when they look at Glenn on Friday at London’s National Theatre. Close will be in close contact with her fans as she discusses her life and work and answers questions. In the movie, she plays a caring physician looking for love — one hopes in all the right places. Well, as a doctor she should know all the right places to look, shouldn’t she?

Tom Cruise, up for an Oscar for his performance in “Magnolia,” will put his producer’s hat on his long, scraggly “Magnolia” hair — get a haircut, Tom — long enough to handle Spanish/Chilean director Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Others.” Tom’s wife, the beauteous Nicole Kidman, will star as an unstable mother during World War II who believes she and her children are under attack from some supernatural “others.” (Surely not Stanley Kubrick, kids — kids?)

You should know that Burt Bacharach is doing the music for the Academy Awards, which should help to give that sometimes weird outing a lot of class. It was Burt’s friendship for Richard Zanuck, who is producing the show, that persuaded him to do it. To say nothing of the exposure and all that jazz.

Agnes Gund, the president of the Museum of Modern Art, and Mary Lea Bandy, its chief curator of film and video, gave a book signing and reception to celebrate the publication of Maria Janis’s book about her father, one of the most famous film actors who ever lived and one of the sexiest men. It’s called “Gary Cooper Off Camera,” and it’s a loving tribute. Maria’s mother, Veronica Cooper Converse, also a vivid personality and a beauty with a killer sense of humor, recently died in New York of heart failure, thankfully in her sleep, at the age of 87. Known as Rocky to the glamorous world she inhabited for so many years, she was a splendid hostess and an avid sportswoman. After Gary Cooper died, Rocky married the renowned New York plastic surgeon Dr. John Converse, who died in 1981. They lived in New York and Southampton, where they were a tremendous asset to the social pack. But it was during the hectic Hollywood days that Rocky and Coop were the legendary couple. Try and find that in the town of tinsel today.

The stars shone on Fifth Avenue as friends of the American Theatre Wing joined Tiffany for the opening night of the new show of table settings designed by such superstar setters of tables as Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Bernadette Peters, Sam Waterston, and Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. Bernadette chose to set up a gorgeous dressing room for a champagne salute to Isabelle Stevenson, who will be honored at the Theatre Wing’s April 10 gala. Just moments before the party began, Bern and Is were spotted in the “dressing room” getting ready for their entrances. Is was reading the “Annie Get Your Gun” score while Bern put the finishing touches on her makeup. Shouldn’t that have been the other way around? Anyhow, they were soon joined by the evening’s other honored guests, Douglas Leeds, Sondra Gilman Gonzalez-Falla and Martin Segal and ATW’s Roy Somlyo and Tiffany’s president, Michael Kowalski. I’d love to tell you what the lovely ladies all wore, but I’ll tell you right now — I haven’t a clue.

The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s annual Awards for Excellence will be presented on May 15 at the Rainbow Room to John S. Reed, chairman and ceo of Citigroup, who will be honored for corporate leadership; Dr. Richard A. Rifkind, for 17 years the chairman of the Sloan Institute, who will receive the Society’s award for medicine, and to Betty and Virgil Sherrill, who will be lauded with the award for philanthropy. Virgil is the vice chairman of the Center’s Board of Managers and Overseers, and Betty has been an active supporter of the Center since 1956, when she became a member of the Society. The chairmen of the evening are Mrs. Joseph A. (Hilary) Califano, Mrs. Derek L. (Nicole) Limbocker and Dr. Paul A. (Paul) Marks. Kudos to all of them, people who really count in this city.

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