03/30/1981 at 01:00 AM EST
It was a close shave for unstoppable orator Bella Abzug at an ERA rally in San Francisco. Sharing the podium with Ed Asner and excommunicated Mormon feminist Sonia Johnson, Abzug made an impassioned appeal for broader-based rights legislation. "We need laws that protect everyone," she boomed, "men and women, straights and gays, regardless of sexual perversion—uh, persuasion." Fortunately, folks in the city by the bay are very mellow.
Before those televised press conferences, President Reagan fields trial questions from 10 aides for a few hours (Nixon boned up a couple of days). Indeed, the former actor has a foolproof way to keep his sparring partners awake, reveals one. He makes a point of saying "things he knows he is not supposed to say, just to get a rise out of the staff"—suggesting, for instance, indecorous ways of pursuing a hard line with the Soviets. "He plays a caricature of himself," says the aide, "and everybody in the room cracks up."
Four by Wyeth
Eva Marie Saint's daughter Laurette, 22, is moving from their home, and wishes she could take along a prized possession, a quartet of little drawings by Andrew Wyeth that Mom also loves. "When Laurette was a little girl," says the actress, "we were visiting Wyeth one day, and she asked him—as children do—'Will you draw me a picture?' " Wyeth complied with four little sketches of Laurette, his dog, his horse and his father stoking a fire. "I just couldn't ask him to sign them," says Saint. "It would have been too gauche." Now Laurette wants them, but Mom, who has them framed and hanging in her home, says she'd rather will the sketches to her.
How did normally conservative Jayne Meadows suddenly get a Rolls at 54? When husband Steve Allen surprised her with a little red Audi, reveals Jayne, she turned and "just left the driver standing there, without saying a word." Later she explained her odd behavior to Steve and son Bill. "Never in my life had I the chance to choose a car. I said, 'I'd think you might consider letting me choose my next car myself. Maybe I'd want a Mercedes or a Rolls.' A couple of days later I came out and there was this brand-new silver Rolls. I felt like an idiot—absolutely guilt-ridden." Ready for a solo spin, she couldn't find the ignition. "The dashboard looks like something in an airplane cockpit," she complained, "so I called the people at Rolls-Royce and they sent a man over to teach me how to drive it."
For the Want of a Nail
Concertizing in Washington, D.C., guitarist Andrés Segovia, 88, had to omit one number, a digitally acrobatic tarantella, because he'd broken a nail a week before the show. For the show-must-go-on virtuoso, the deletion was a last resort. Insiders said they'd seen the maestro trying to repair the nail with Krazy Glue backstage. "I always use the glue," he confided. "It usually works well."
•Britain's Prince Andrew, 21, gave his training mates at the Culdrose Royal Naval Air Station quite a surprise when they heard that two of his landscapes would go on exhibit at the station in the spring. "We never knew he painted," said a midshipman. "We all thought he just liked girls and fast cars."
•As a writer, Alex Haley tends to be thorough but pokey. Work doesn't even seem to be going well, he says, until the fifth or sixth draft. Right now his agent is nudging him about My Search for Roots, due two years ago. "I've never been too good about deadlines," understates Haley. "I turned in Roots eight years late."
•She lends her name to the annual Colgate-Dinah Shore Golf Tournament, and every year, including this one, Dinah competes in the pro-am. Why does she love golf? "It gives me a chance to explore the unknown and blaze new trails," she enthuses at 64. Huh? "By that I mean I've found places on most golf courses they didn't know they had."