Strange license plates have been around awhile in California. Now, with the new fuel regulations, they seem even more odd. Which more or less is how the system works, except that plates with letters only are officially odd. Among the celebs buying their gas on even days: Johnny Carson, 360GUY (for "all-around guy"); Lawrence Welk, A1 AND A2; Rip Taylor, INSANE2 (though it's pending). Among the odd: Ernest Borgnine, BORG9; Alex Haley, KINTE; Dennis Weaver, GURUJI (an affectionate Hindu term for "teacher"); Tim Conway, 11 YEARS (the run of benefactor Carol Burnett's show); Burt Reynolds' pal Sally Field, BRSGRL(for "Burt's girl"); Dinah Shore—no longer Burt's girl—GRUNK, the name of her dog; and three that read backward, Redd Foxx's XXOF, Leslie Uggams' SMAGGU and Valerie Perrine's RATS. Reynolds won't reveal his current license, but he let a pal who bought his old Caddy keep the plate: EGO.
The Culver Mystique
At a party for her new book Senator, author Elizabeth Drew commiserated with Ted Kennedy about his having only a walk-on part in it. The book is about Iowa Sen. John Culver, a close friend of Kennedy's since they were freshmen at Harvard 28 years ago. "Too bad you're not getting any press coverage," deadpanned Drew to Ted. "Yep," agreed Kennedy. "Whatever I do, I'm doomed to be known as 'John Culver's friend.' "
Although he'll be riding the tiger in his new job as special ambassador to the Middle East, Robert Strauss relishes his involvement in high affairs of state with a prankster's delight. Lately, when Washington columnists like the Star's Jules Witcover or the Post's David Broder call his office, his faithful secretary tells them solemnly, "Ambassador Strauss does not take calls from cheap political writers," and hangs up. When the reporters call back—as they usually do within 30 outraged seconds—Strauss himself is on the line, laughing.
Avant-garde disco singer Grace Jones and artist boyfriend Jean-Paul Goude found themselves at the wrong end of a hustle in his Manhattan loft the other night. "I saw a tall man with a gun sneaking around the place," recalls Grace, "and locked myself in the bathroom. He broke through the door, took Jean-Paul and me into the kitchen and demanded money. I gave him what I had in my purse, but it wasn't enough. Then he recognized me and told me that he loved my records, but he still wouldn't go. Finally Jean-Paul offered him a thousand dollars in German marks"—and the intruder, after tying Goude to a bed and ripping out the phones, escaped. "He kept complaining that the German money was worthless," marvels Jones. "Little did he know."
•Laverne & Shirley is a success in Thailand, says executive producer Garry Marshall, but it took imagination on the part of the TV programmers to overcome what seemed at first an insuperable handicap. "Thais don't like women who are fresh," says Marshall, "so before Laverne & Shirley comes on, they run a blurb that says: 'These two women are from an insane asylum.' "
•Roger Moore says that feminism affected his latest James Bond film, Moonraker. "We don't set out to make Bond movies for women's libbers," 007 understates, "but, yes, there is a change in direction—the women in Moonraker are perpendicular instead of horizontal."
•How does Jimmy Carter like his bluefish? In the midst of a working weekend with 11 House members at Camp David, Jimmy divulged to the spouse of one of them his favorite down-home recipe for "a terrific snack": cut bluefish (or catfish) into strips, dip in Worcestershire or A. 1. sauce, roll in Bisquick batter and deep fry. But don't it make his bluefish brown?
•In Rome a highly placed—but still short of Highest—source says it's almost certain Pope John Paul II will visit the U.S. in September, in time to be among the first world leaders to address this year's U.N. General Assembly.