It’s never as easy as it seems. Take Penelope Ann Miller, for instance, who plays society stunner Margo Lane in the 1930s-style thriller, “The Shadow.” Because she wasn’t even born until decades afterwards, Penelope Ann had no idea what it was like to play a stand-up role, something the movie stars of that era took for granted. “The period costumes I wear,” says the seductive blonde, “are very glamorous, velvet, satin, jewels, the works. But once I had the clothes on, I couldn’t sit down. I had to stand and lean on something all day long so I wouldn’t crease my gowns. And I had to get touch-ups all the time with my nails, red lips and long eyelashes.” Oh, the pain.

Actually, most of those dresses were just simply too tight to sit in, never mind the creases. The cinema divas of the Thirties used to lean against ironing boards when they took five. They had faces then, sure, but that doesn’t mean their public would let them get away with wrinkles on their bottoms.

It’s hard to believe the reports in British film circles that director Ken Russell, a sort of veteran enfant terrible of films, is planning a $20 million epic about the British warrior queen Boadicea — and that he would like Fergie, also known as the Duchess of York, to play the part. She’s got the heft, but can she emote — other than acting like a ninny? According to history, after she’d sacked some surrounding counties, Boadicea, so beat she could hardly lean against an ironing board, took poison. Forget about your happy ending. Maybe she just got tired of spelling her name for people.

Reports from the Greek islands have craftsmen in Corfu gearing up for the soon-to-be European summit. Their biggest job was constructing a special, seven-foot-long, extra-strong bed so that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl can sleep in comfort. Nowhere on the entire island could a suitable bed be found for the six-foot, six-inch-plus European chief who also tips the scales at more than 300 pounds. There are those in the opposition who always felt that Herr Kohl’s problems stemmed from sleeping in a short bed too long.

The Stanley Rumboughs Jr. of Greenwich had twin girls last week. He is Dina Merrill’s son and a fine photographer who couldn’t be prouder of his new double exposures.

The showstopper at Princess Firyal of Jordan’s dinner party in London the night before the big Livanos/Vardinoyannis wedding was Mrs. Gilbert (Janet) de Botton, wife of the international investment banker. La belle Janet showed up in a gorgeous multicolored harem pantsuit, densely embroidered and jeweled, and the dear girl was waving a fan. The whole thing cost a mere $540 (352 pounds), and she looked marvelous.

It turns out Janet bought the ensemble at Christie’s London auction of the dazzling wardrobe of Texas oil heiress Mrs. Heard de Osborne, whose magnificent collection of haute couture by Balenciaga, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent spanned four decades. Claudia Heard de Osborne lived in Madrid after she married one of the country’s leading sherry merchants. That’s when and where she developed her mad crush on Balenciaga and where she bought the cream of his crops from the 1950s to 1968. After the great Spanish designer closed up shop, Mrs. Heard de Osborne turned to Givenchy and Saint Laurent. She not only bought gems from their collections, but matching accessories as well, including 20 hats. Her last acquisition was a black satin cocktail suit by Christian Lacroix in 1987, which she was never to wear, as she died very soon afterward. Her daughter’s confirmation dress made by Balenciaga in 1958 is now in the Metropolitan Museum. As for Janet de Botton, she had popped into the Christie’s auction to buy some linens and popped out looking like a movie star.

Speaking of glamour, Alice Mason put on her red and green print Oscar de la Renta caftan and Regine Traulsen put on her royal blue and gold caftan made in Morocco just for her, and the two of them gave a Moroccan dinner party over the 4th of July weekend at “Casablanca,” Regine’s oceanfront house on Meadow Lane in Southampton. The casa is blanca all right — all white marble and staggering views. It looks rather like a fabulous yacht that isn’t going anywhere.


Aside from a little bit of fog and the odd (very odd) mosquito, and in spite of Donna Hammond’s spilling a bit of pink ice cream on the trousers of Jean-Bernard de Merimee, France’s ambassador to the United Nations, and then trying to rub it out with her napkin (the ambassador showed grace under pressure), everything was Morocco-perfect, from pastilla to couscous. Everyone was there, 80 strong, in some sort of Moroccan attire — Linda and Arthur Carter, Angier Biddle Duke, Maureen and Marshall Cogan, Nina Griscom Baker and Dr. Daniel Baker, Chessy Rayner, Cornelia and Marty Bregman, Liz and Tassos Fondaras, Francesco Galesi, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, Allison and Leonard Stern, Jane and Peter Marino, Susan and John Weitz, Mona Ackerman, Hillie and David Mahoney, Paul Hallingby with Jo Davis, the Moroccan Ambassador to the United Nations Ahmed Snoussi, Ginny and Billy Saloman, Catherine and Fred Adler, Jamie Hammond, Robert Metzger, Maurice Sonnenberg, William Diamond of the Giuliani administration and more, more, more. That beautiful little white thing tucked under Alice’s arm was her dog Fluffy, who is so tiny a mosquito might have made off with her if it weren’t for the insect repellent. (More about Southampton weekend parties on Friday.)

Rhinos on Rodeo Drive? Not quite. But there will be zebras, chimps and snakes when Tiffany & Co. in Beverly Hills puts on its “Jewels of Africa” exhibit on July 12 during the finals of the World Cup. Ali MacGraw is chairman of the evening, which benefits the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary in Tanzania and supports international efforts to keep the black rhinoceros from completely disappearing from East Africa due to encroaching civilization and poaching. (Rhino horn has long been reputed to have aphrodisiacal properties but, so far, no testimonials.) Models in Tiffany gems mined in Africa will be dressed by Paris-based Cameroonian designer Ly Dumas and World Best music will play for dancing along tony Rodeo Drive. There will also be an exhibit of Peter Beard’s powerful photographs of disappearing African wildlife, and the special committee includes such as Jacqueline Bissett, Naomi Campbell, Herb Ritts, Lord Anthony Rufus-Isaacs, Sylvester Stallone, Christy Turlington, Richard Gere and Anjelica Huston.


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