The Peacock and the Press Agent: NBC's Richard Valeriani Weds Superflack Kathie Berlin
05/05/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT
They met at a celebrity promo, courted via the Eastern shuttle, managed two divorces, and got married while Marvin Hamlisch played Wagner. It was, in short, love American style, Atlantic Coast chapter, circa 1980.
The bride, Kathie Jane Berlin, 36, is senior vice-president of Rogers & Cowan, the high-voltage public relations firm. Many of her clients—Ali MacGraw, Bruce Jenner, Phyllis George, Allan Carr and Hamlisch—attended the wedding last week at the Greene Street Café in Manhattan's artsy, loftsy SoHo district. The groom, Richard Valeriani, 47, is NBC's State Department correspondent, and a quorum of his political and broadcasting chums turned up: State Department spokesman Hodding Carter, Today's Tom Brokaw and ABC's Pat Collins.
New York Supreme Court Justice Hortense Gabel officiated, pinch-hitting for Judge John Sirica, who does not have a New York license. (Why a civil ceremony? Valeriani explained: "The rabbi and the priest couldn't find a church called Our Lady of Eternal Guilt.") A member of the wedding with a speaking part was Kathie's daughter by her first marriage to an Israeli diamond cutter. Kimberly, 8, got a ring like Mommy and was asked if she would love, honor and obey her mother and new stepfather. "Obey?" she blurted. "Okay." The response got a laugh and applause. Phil Donahue and longtime inamorata Mario Thomas were the official witnesses. When they left, Mario whispered to Phil: "I just told Kathie, 'I'm leaving before you throw me the bouquet.' "
The 132 guests from the worlds of showbiz, politics and the media mixed like gin and vermouth. Phyllis George, an imminent mother, toasted the bride with a glass of milk. After dinner Hamlisch played a medley of his own tunes. When he asked for requests, Mario yelled, "Play Tits and Ass [from A Chorus Line]," but he demurred.
The $200 devil's food wedding cake depicted the bride and groom telephoning each other—a reference to their three-year commuter romance. They first met in Washington in 1975 at a party given by motion picture czar Jack Valenti to promote Gina Lollobrigida's photography book, Italia Mia. Gina, then 48, dismissed Valeriani, who was 42, as "too old." Berlin felt otherwise. Love blossomed. Last year Dick asked Kathie to marry him. He will continue to live in the capital, she in Manhattan. Weekends will be intense. Says Kathie: "I figure some Sunday one of us will say, 'I'm tired of going back to Washington,' or 'I'm tired of going back to New York,' and that'll be the time we decide who makes what move."