As the star of the Blondie movies of the late 1930s and 1940s, Penny Singleton was the dingbat of her generation. But later she became a honcho in the American Guild of Variety Artists, a splinter vaudeville union which now represents circus and ice-show performers. Last December she was elected executive president of AGVA in a victory so close that a rival faction challenged 43 disputed votes in court. Last month, when Penny was in Milwaukee starring in No, No, Nanette (opposite Arthur Lake, who had been her Dagwood), the dissidents took over the AGVA Hollywood office with a plumbers-like posse and a locksmith. A rump referendum was called, and Penny and most of her regional representatives were ousted. Singleton, who claimed to be the only female heading an AFL-CIO union, resolved to take back control. The insurgents, she said, are "all old, no longer active in show business and looking for a livelihood. They are male chauvinists who hate the idea of a woman running a union."
A British researcher doing genealogical digging in the U.S. has been dining out on a discovery: it is reported in Vol. I of English Convicts in America (1617-1775), Polyanthos Press, New Orleans, a scholarly new tome compiled by Peter Wilson Coldham, that one Richard Nixon of St. Mary Whitechapel was ordered exiled to America on May 8, 1736. His crime? "Breaking and entering."
An Eye for an Eye
Twin mysteries are currently titillating readers of rag-trade tattler Women's Wear Daily. Why is Aristotle Onassis' right eyelid drooping in recent pictures, and what lady's face keeps popping up beside him (and other men) with features airbrushed to oblivion, over the captious caption, "an unidentified woman"? Onassis' eye problem, according to an intimate, is due to medicine he takes for a heart condition, and will clear in due time. As for his faceless companion, she's none other than the Baroness Guy de Rothschild, who has a way of appearing in obligatory pictures. She remains obliterated because she has threatened to sue Women's Wear for calling her "the undisputed regent of what is otherwise a meritocracy of chutzpah."
In 1970 British journalist Frederick Forsyth, 35, wrote The Day of the Jackal in 30 days flat. It was his first novel and was rejected by four publishers before being accepted by a fifth, with the stipulation that Forsyth write two more. He agreed, but made a deal with himself that if all three books hit the jackpot—as he saw Jackal was about to—he would then retire. The second, The Odessa File, also climbed the best-seller list and is now being filmed. Now the last, The Dogs of War, seems headed in the same direction (it was one of the books Nancy Kissinger took with her while she was hospitalized with ulcers). A secluded millionaire, Forsyth now lives in Spain and says he will stick to his game plan. His typewriter has gone silent.
The hottest ticket in Washington—I Do! I Do! with Rock Hudson and Carol Burnett is at least available through scalpers—is next week's Supreme Court hearing on the United States v. Richard M. Nixon. With only 300 seats available for the historic tapes case, Judge John Sirica, whose ruling is at issue, called personally for a seat for his clerk—and was politely rebuffed.
Lee Bouvier Radziwill, 41, has pursued a variety of muses since her marriage to Prince Stanislas Radziwill began to wobble. Panned in a Chicago stage production of The Philadelphia Story, Lee next tried a TV rehash of Laura with mixed notices. She then started to write her memoirs with a tepid opening chapter in the Ladies' Home Journal. Now she is back to TV, having taped a pilot interview with economist John Kenneth Galbraith for CBS-owned stations. While she waits for it to be aired, Lee perhaps should recall the advice given her publicly by a magazine some years ago: "Girls who have everything are not supposed to do anything."