SWAMI, HOW I LOVE YA: As longtime friends and eager would-be's celebrate the swearing-in of new Speaker of the House Jim Wright of Texas, one self-proclaimed old pal just might be guru non grata. Shri Chandra Swamiji Maharaj, reportedly a close adviser to an eclectic mix of big names including arms pusher Adnan Khashoggi, described the bushy-browed Wright as "my devotee" in an interview published in the Indian magazine On-looker last summer. "The most powerful man in the American parliament," he announced, "the only man Reagan has to listen to. I need not tell you how he reached such a position of power. He is such a follower of me that he will do anything for me." The diamond-laden swami claimed it was through his intervention with Wright that Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was invited to address a joint session of Congress in June 1985. Actually the idea for the invitation originated with the White House and the State Department. The swami may occasionally fall prey to exaggeration. Though he has met the Texan and has waited outside his office to greet him, the Speaker's spokesperson denies an East-West connection. "Wright's not a devotee," she says firmly. "He's a Methodist."
SKIN OF THEIR TEETH: Vincent Price's wife, actress Coral Browne, 73, had herself a septuagenarian giggle when she heard that her husband was going to be filming The Whales of August with such august performers as Ann Sothern, Bette Davis and Lillian Gish, who range in age from 78 to just shy of infinity. The movie is about four old friends in a New England town in 1950. "When I told Coral I was doing the film for Alive Productions," recalls Price, 73, "she looked at me and said, 'May I suggest they change the name to Just Barely?' "
SEA CHANGE: There will be times, no doubt, when freshman Iowa Congressman Fred Grandy will wish never to have heard the name Gopher. But maybe not yet. "It's a thrill for somebody like me to be asked for my opinion," the erstwhile Love Boat purser told the Washington Press Club at its annual Salute to Congress dinner. "In my old line of work, the only Ollie I knew worked with Kukla and Fran—in fact the only Ollie you know works with Kukla and Fran, too." Everyone knew, of course, that the new boy in town was talking about Iranscam's own Lieut. Col. Oliver North. But who was he suggesting were the Reagan Administration's Kukla and Fran? Grandy didn't pursue the matter; after all, he'd been in town only for a month. Observed Gopher modestly: "The House elevator operator still asks me, 'Speaker's lobby or Lido deck?' "
LOVE YOU, DAHLING, WHOEVER YOU ARE: At a Scottsdale, Ariz. tennis tournament benefiting a local charity, Hospice of the Valley, effusive Eva Gabor explained that it isn't her vaunted love of humanity that has led her to shower the world with endearments. Attempting vainly to remember the name of the award that she had received only a year ago for her work with the hospice, Gabor admitted cheerfully, "Oh, I don't remember anybody's name. Why do you think the 'dahling' thing started?"