At a private dinner party in California, Henry Kissinger admitted that he wasn't aware of the Ayatollah Khomeini until shortly before the holy man seized power in Iran last February. When the former Secretary of State began rummaging through old files, he found not only an explanation for his lack of information—on a long list of potential "Threats to the Shah," Khomeini's name was near the bottom—but, given the current turn of events, a startling irony. When the ayatollah sought asylum in France, the U.S. helped persuade that country to give him sanctuary.
To promote a marketing experiment—a computerized Christmas gift registry similar to the traditional bridal registry—a Minneapolis department store, Dayton's, asked celebrities what they wanted under the tree and punched their answers into a computer. Now, by tapping a few buttons, curious shoppers can find out that Cheryl Tiegs would like "a Frederick Church oil painting"; Arte Johnson, "porcelain cows for my collection"; Phyllis Diller, "a 25-carat blue-white diamond"; Gloria Vanderbilt, "a Victorian nightgown and a box of Godiva chocolates"; Lucie Arnaz, "safe alternatives to nuclear power"; and professional wrestler Vern Gagne, "to put a bear hug on Farrah Fawcett."
Now that Jimmy Carter has vetoed expensive oil portraits for his Cabinet—and, by implication, all top staffers—they have been calling in photographers instead. Ansel Adams, the dean of American lensmen, enjoyed shooting Walter Mondale. "You're a wonderful subject," he told the Veep during an hour-and-a-half sitting and recalled that Conrad Hilton had used an understudy because he wouldn't give Adams more than five minutes. "My office is good for this kind of work," the Vice-President smiled. "I stand where I'm told."
Elton John seems to be growing ever more frank about—and comfortable with—his homosexuality. "I realize that it's not everyone's cup of tea and I try not to dwell on the subject too much," says Elton, "but that's the way I am and it's no good hiding it." He suggests that "it was far easier for me to come out than for others. I had a lot of letters from people who think they are gay but live in small communities where it's very hard to say so. I rarely write back to anyone, but I wrote back to every one of them and said, 'If you ever get down in the dumps, write again.' They go through a hell of a lot of pain." Elton notes that he received much-needed emotional support from his mother. After his first homosexual encounter, "She was the first person I phoned and told. She was understanding and still is. That made it easier for me."
When Pope John Paul II was visiting the States, Suzy Chaffee, whose mother is Polish, wanted to present him with a gift—a pair of rollerskates. Suzy asked Zbigniew Brzezinski to get the skates to the Pontiff; Zbig said he couldn't promise anything, but sure would like a pair himself. So Suzy sent him a set of wheels—plus two elbow pads thoughtfully imprinted: "These Will Help Cushion the Arms Race."
•Although Walter Matthau's next flick, Thanks Dad, is about a father-son relationship, he says he won't use his influence to land the junior role for his own boy, Charlie, 16. "It's up to the producer and director," says Matthau. "I've been called a despot and a crackpot, but I don't want to be called a nepot."
•From the day he co-founded the SDS, Tom Hayden has hardly championed Establishment figures. But Hayden finally met a hero he was willing to acknowledge. After a Donahue taping in Chicago, he bumped into Bozo the Clown, who had been working in a nearby studio. Hayden was delighted to have the Boze pose with him for a picture. "It's for our kids," grinned the would-be reshaper of society.
•Superagent Jay Bernstein and client Suzanne Somers have discovered how to succeed in business while being clipped: Since both get their hair cut at Vidal Sassoon's in Beverly Hills, they synchronize appointments and talk shop. The rap of the locks?