"He was just a big, lovable jock," recalls Mrs. Phyllis Phillips, the thrice-married Reno housewife who is dining out on the fact that she might now be Mrs. Gerald Ford had not fate and her Powers modeling career interfered. They met, as she tells it, while Ford was at Yale Law School and she was at nearby Connecticut College. Phyllis still vividly remembers those weekends the next five years when they snuck off to Vail, Colo. to ski, etc. "We did the same things kids do today," she says. "Except we lied to our parents more. We never talked politics; we had better things to do." But as for missing her shot at redecorating the White House, Phyllis has no regrets. "It seems to me Jerry's had a pretty dull life. I think I was the most excitement he ever had," she adds without even mentioning Ford's wife, Betty, also an ex-model. "My friends say I talk too much about Jerry now," concludes the winner of the understatement-of-the-month award. "I guess if I had been First Lady, Martha Mitchell would seem as quiet as a churchmouse."
Most everywhere else in these dying days of monarchy, kings and queens at least are royal sports. But not behind the walls of the Belgian palace where King Baudouin, 44, who once wanted to be a Trappist monk, and his beautiful Queen Fabiola, 46, are deeply religious homebodies who have in recent months adopted a decidedly ascetic life-style—eating sparsely and spending hours in their private chapel. The queen is frequently closeted with her spiritual advisor; the king participated in a penitential barefoot procession. And, except for heads of state, guests of the palace these days are most often monks and priests, prompting one alarmed visitor to exclaim, "It isn't a palace anymore. It's a convent."
The fact that his ex-spouse Elizabeth Taylor is photographed everywhere hand-in-hand with Henry Wynberg, her latest gentleman-in-waiting, notwithstanding, Richard Burton stoutly maintains from his London hotel: "We are flesh of one flesh, bone of one bone. It is a temporary aberration. You know, I don't know why we got divorced because it's going on exactly the same as before." According to Burton, he has rearranged his schedule in order to be in Leningrad where Liz will be shooting her next film and in time for the two of them to reunite for the Christmas and New Year's holiday.
Like a dutiful class secretary, one former Nixon aide makes a point of keeping up with the old Summer of '72 crowd. Dwight Chapin, once Nixon's appointments secretary, lost his job with United Air Lines after he was found guilty of perjury. But while appealing a 10-to-30-month jail sentence he is on the payroll of Chicago insurance mogul W. Clement Stone. John Ehrlichman, Nixon's No. 2 honcho, is reportedly $350,000 in debt and sinking deeper by the week. But ex-Attorney General John Mitchell is apparently more chipper than intimates expected. "Not much more can happen to you," he recently cracked, "after you lose your reputation and your wife."
He is on 24-hour call to such private patrons as Lauren Bacall, Liza Minnelli, Debbie Reynolds and the Bishop of Southwark, but British astrologer Frederic Davies is now risking his reputation (and accuracy average: 80%) publicly by daring to call the big one. Only trouble is that heavyweight champion George Foreman and ex-champ challenger Muhammad Ali are both Capricorns. But noting that Foreman's Mars is in Aquarius (suggesting leg problems) and his Saturn is in Virgo(there goes George's solar plexus), Davies has fearlessly cast a chart on white linen, which has already been sewn inside the lining of the winner's robe. That, says Davies, is Ali. And if the fight starts precisely on time the evening of Sept. 24 (actually 3 a.m. Sept. 25 in Kinshasa, Zaire), Ali, by Davies' chart, will finish off Foreman in round six.