It was an apolitical event—if there is such a thing—that drew Rosalynn Carter to Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum. She was being honored for her work in mental health by the art patron and his wife, Jennifer Jones. But the attention of some of the 200 Hollywood illuminati strayed when Cheryl Ladd, recently split from husband David, turned up with their old family friend and her new boyfriend, singer-songwriter Brian Russell (left). With host Simon hovering, Mrs. Carter greeted the pair and table partner Charles Grodin. None of them minded the photographic juxtaposition, but curiously—whether out of shyness or support for another candidate—one star present seemed to keep her distance from the First Lady: Barbra Streisand.
It was kind of a summit meeting, for Dustin Hoffman at least, when he bumped into Elliott Gould at a party at the Bistro in L.A. The bash, which was hosted by Bob Evans, was to toast a new history., The Shattered Silents: How the Talkies Came to Stay, by London critic Alexander Walker. In keeping with the title, the two actors whiled away some of the night yakking, possibly commiserating about the hardships—now that Hoffman is getting divorced—of being back on the bachelor circuit.
Fred Astaire—a flatfoot! Indeed, the dapper danceman donned blue top hat and black tie to play a New York cop in his Dec. 23 NBC special, The Man in the Santa Claus Suit. It's a Christmas fantasy in which he portrays five characters in as many interrelated vignettes. That frankfurter Fred's relishing is not lunch but a prop, and a vestige of an even more incongruous character he taped in a previous scene—a hot dog vendor.
Ali battles the bulge
Though trounced by critics for his acting in the NBC movie Freedom Road, Muhammad Ali is unfazed. He claims he has been offered a $5 million advance by an Arab-backed group to make a feature film—"and nobody's gotten that kind of money, not Brando or McQueen or any of those people." Also unlike Brando, Ali seems determined to shed some of his paunch. Now working out daily at an L.A. gym, he's down to 250 with a way to go. But don't believe the speculation that he's training for yet another comeback in the ring. Sure, says Ali, winging out some more big numbers, he got a $40 million offer to fight in South Africa. Concedes the Greatest at 37: "It just ain't worth it."
Bernstein bares all
The air in Manhattan's steamy Xenon disco was hotter than Firebird, so ever-ebullient conductor Leonard Bernstein shed first his leather jacket, then his shirt. That left the maestro—who'd just finished a guest run with the Vienna Philharmonic and is taking a year off to compose—in nothing above the waist but suspenders. It also left one bystander agape with suspense about what Lenny might do for an encore.
Kristy turns 17
Kristy McNichol's 17th birthday was two months earlier, but the budding daughter of ABC's Family had to wait for a break in her heavy schedule to cut a cake. The party—a black-tie affair for 200 thrown by producer Anthony Bowen at the Bel Air manse of Jerry Lewis—was worth waiting for, though, what with guests like Lou Ferrigno, Sally Struthers and Henry Fonda. Kristy had specified that no one was to bring presents, but broke her own rule by arriving in one—a handsome black BMW that had been sent that day by Mom.