Barbra Streisand is aware of her superbitch image in some quarters, but apparently has learned to live with it. "Bitch is a terribly mean and sexist word," she laments. "I don't deserve it." She amplifies: "Men can become involved in producing, directing and writing and everyone calls them talented. But a woman who does the same is called power-hungry. Women are expected to stay on the sidelines and keep their mouths shut and get along with everyone at all costs." Then she adds, unnecessarily: "Well, I'm not like that."
Ten years ago, when Mickey Rooney's future was all behind him, Hollywood agent Ruth Webb, a 50ish former Broadway singer herself, gave him a whirl. "He was down in the dumps then," an associate recalls, "but Ruth had faith in him and brought him to where he is today"—probably the biggest draw on Broadway. Now Mickey found a way to say thank you in a full-page "Happy Birthday" ad in Variety that cost him $1,200. His greetings to Ruth—and a stab at the agents who spurned him—read: "You took me when no one else wanted me and made me a star. I will always, for all my life, try to shine as brightly as I can for you."
Missing the Mark
Walter Matthau, apparently steaming from some of his Little Miss Marker notices, suddenly turned critic himself at the party for the movie's Manhattan premiere and began sounding off about TV newscasters. "No one ever criticizes them," he snapped. "Have you ever noticed how many news commentators are incompetent? Most have voice defects—lisps, or something else just as awful—and most of them have the wrong rhythm to their speech." Only two seats away from him sat Barbara Walters, whose own slurred linguals have been widely mimicked, and an aghast guest asked him how he could make such a remark in her presence. Said Matthau, straightfaced: "I've never noticed anything wrong with her or her speech."
Peter Sellers has a theory as to what went wrong with two of his first three marriages, which also may explain the volatility of his fourth: Often, he says, "it doesn't work out if you marry an actress." But his actress wives have more in common than their profession: Anne Hayes was 21 when she became his first wife in 1951; Britt Ekland was 21 in 1964; socialite Miranda Quarry was 23 in 1970, and current spouse Lynne Frederick was 22 in 1977. Reflecting on this, Sellers, now 54, sounds as though his last name should be Pan: "I seem to marry young people," he muses. "I never grew up, you see. I'm still the same idiot I was at 18 or 20."
Did Dan Rather beat out Roger Mudd in the Cronkite succession sweepstakes, or was it really just the maneuvering skills of Dan's agent, Richard Liebner? That was the conjecture reported in Broadcasting magazine, the bible of the TV-radio industry. Adding fuel to the supposition was Mudd's sudden dumping of his agent, Bill Cooper. Another talent agent stood up for Cooper, calling the Broadcasting item "baloney. Bill is a very nice guy and they parted amicably. There is no question of anyone outmaneuvering anybody." Of course, the spokesman in question was Ralph Mann of International Creative Management, who replaced Cooper as Mudd's rep to negotiate Roger's possible revenge with ABC or NBC.
On the Streets Where They Live
Alan Jay Lerner is in love again. The 61-year-old lyricist's loverly is the star of the current London reincarnation of his My Fair Lady, Liz Robertson, 25. Both say they enjoy being together, but they maintain separate apartments. "Liz is a very wonderful girl," lyricizes Lerner, "and I'm very happy to have her." But he adds that they're not getting married in the morning—or in the foreseeable future. And well he might. Lerner—who once reportedly quipped "The female sex has no bigger fan than I and I have the alimony bills to prove it"—is still married to wife No. 7.
Cloak and Dragger
White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan has been asking friends if they can identify the mustachioed, middle-aged man with tinted glasses whose picture he carries. Most can't. It is Jordan himself, in the disguise he has worn on several trips to Europe to meet Iranian officials. But one friend's reaction must have rocked Jordan, who is hardly ashamed of his macho rep. The friend told Ham he looked like a "gay disc jockey."