The Kennedy Awards Show Must Go On, So Rosalynn Subs for a Distracted Jimmy
Celebrities were wall-to-wall. Mickey Rooney strolled in with lovelies on both arms—Jan, his eighth wife, and Ann Miller, his umpteenth (and current) stage partner. Gene Kelly was there, exclaiming that Martha Graham was "to modern dance what Queen Victoria was to the royal houses of Europe. A drop of her blood is everywhere." Meanwhile actresses Jean and Maureen Stapleton were introducing each other as sisters (they aren't). Loretta Lynn, Charles Percy, Liz Taylor, Leonard Bernstein, Lillian Gish, Howard Baker, Meryl Streep—the natural resources just kept flooding forth from the grand foyer.
The night was long, eight hours in all, including the Kennedy Center Honors show, which will air on CBS December 29. But the guests were fortified with steak tartare, crab claws and finger sandwiches. Cloris Leach-man gulped down several. "I was a good girl for the first 45 minutes," she protested. Only fruit juice and wine were served, but spirits were high—indeed patriotic. Even Elizabeth Ashley sensed it. "A nation in rage and pain," she noted, "honors its artists—and that moves me."