The Ball Is in Prince Rainier's Court

Tennis ace Wendell Niles Jr. is scoring big these days. Just a little while ago he was executive producer for the first-ever tennis tournament at the White House. And he says First Lady Nancy Reagan has already sent him a "wonderful thank-you note."

Now Wendell and his tennis-playing pal John Forsythe (on hiatus from "Dynasty") are in Monte Carlo setting up for the Jovan-Gulfstream World Pro Celebrity Tennis Championship in Monaco, which gets under way Friday and ends Tuesday. Prince Albert is definitely going to play, and his father, Prince Rainier, may also join the competition. Rainier has played in five of the tournaments (they were started in 1974 by the late Princess Grace and Niles) and has come out on top twice.

This year the tournament will be dedicated to Bill Cosby, who was the winner in the first tournament in Monaco and will benefit the Princess Grace Foundation for the Arts. And this year a nice list of celebrities is joining Forsythe on the courts--Cliff Robertson and Dina Merrill, R. J. Wagner and Jill St. John, Dudley Moore (Niles, refusing to rate Moore's game, prefers to call him "the greatest referee"), George Hamilton, Wayne Rogers, Erik Estrada, Linda Evans, Roger Moore, Sherry Lansing, Bernie Kopell, Veronica Hamel and Morgan Fairchild.

Once the Monaco tournament is over, Niles flies to London where they're setting up a tennis court in the middle of Royal Albert Hall. Formidable! That's exactly where our intrepid friend will supervise the Prince Philip Tournament, a benefit for Cerebral Palsy on June 21. Among the players will be Charlton Heston (a winner with Bob Duvall at last year's tournament in Monaco) who is appearing on the London stage in "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial." Very much on this scene will be Sir Richard Attenborough, the British director who is head of the Cerebral Palsy drive.

It's a well-earned honor. Judith K. Hofer began working at the May Stores as a stock girl when she was 15 and today she's president and CEO of the May Corp.'s largest division, the May Co., California. Today she'll be applauded and toasted at a luncheon hosted at the Century Plaza by the Medical Center Aides for the City of Hope, who will designate her as their Woman of the Year. The added attraction will be a May Co.-California Mart Fashion Office staged fashion show previewing the "Best of Fall 1985."

Moving around: The Beverly Hilton is planning a major re-do of its public rooms. And Lou Cataffo, who has done some super work at Houston's Remington and L.A.'s Bel Air hotels, has already decided how he'd like those rooms to look.

Bates Hinds has moved his Flower Pavilion into bigger, posher and prettier quarters in Encino. The move, says Bates, has been a smashing success.

And come September Bob Tedor and Jon Wagner of Studio City Florist are opening a satellite shop in the Los Angeles Hilton Hotel.

Partying Around in the Nation's Capital: Robert J. Thompson hosts a cocktail party Wednesday at the Vista Hotel for Pat Devine, who has joined the Thompson organization (public relations, lobbying, consulting) as a vice president. Among those who'll be there to wish her well will be Pat's former boss at the Interior Department, William P. Clark and his wife, Joan; Secretary of Energy John Harrington; Mrs. Michael Deaver; the Vista's general manager Alex Braune; AT&T;'s Lina Ellis and some of Pat's former colleagues at the White House--Barbara Hayward, personal assistant to the President's chief of staff Donald Regan; Kathy Osborne, personal secretary to the President; Elaine Crispin, personal assistant to Mrs. Reagan, and Jane Erkenbeck, assistant to the First Lady's chief of staff James Rosebush.

And then there's the party (a roast, actually) for J. Steven Rhodes on Wednesday at Loew's L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, where the guest list will be marvelously varied. Rhodes, former special assistant to Vice President George Bush for domestic policy, has moved to New York and joined Smith Barney as a vice president. Arriving to give Rhodes a verbal nudge and a nice pat on the back--the vice president; Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese; Lyn Nofziger of Citizens for the Republic; Steven's best friend, Quentin Smith, chairman of the board of the Denver Group; Dick Carver, assistant secretary, financial management / U.S. Air Force and the "Today" show's Bryant Gumbel.

The Social Scramble: Good news from Mr. and Mrs. Mike Stern (he's president of Regal Rents)--the birth of their first child June 6. It's a girl and she's been named Rachael Lauren.

The ladies, some of them hatted, were adding plenty of dash to the Bistro Garden scene Friday afternoon. Mrs. John I. Moore, who is getting about town (after she broke her hip in a fall) in a long white limo, was inside. So were Patsy Klein with Gloria Gunzburg and Betty Deutsch (she's off to Norway and the South of France); Jayne and Henry Berger; Arthur Spitzer; Frances Skipsey, Midge Clark, Dee Cramer and Mary Jones; and welcoming Ingrid Ohrbach Ryan Ingram back to town, a group that included Patti Skouras, Pat Crowley, Andra May Stein and Luanne Wells; Lon Harmon, who never took his hat off; Alfredo de la Vega; former Beverly Hills Mayor Annabelle Heiferman in a crisp and cool-looking white suit. Choosing umbrella tables out in the patio: superagent Sue Mengers; Erlenne Perkins (wearing a fetching straw hat) with Caroline Singleton and Natalie Robinson; Luis Estevez, the designer, with Katy Sweet; Norma and Eileen Kreiss, who'll be away (in Miami, Washington, New York, Italy and France) for two months. A few days earlier the lunch bunch had included attorney Sidney Korshak sharing his corner table with the Dodger's Tommy Lasorda; Kitty LeRoy celebrating her birthday with husband Mervyn, daughter and son-in-law Rita and Dr. Herbert Roedling and the Roedlings' two daughters.

Keeping the night scene lively at Jimmy's--Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert with Teddy and David Orgell and Mario Machado; Zena (wearing a Chloe dress that belongs in a museum's collection) and Rusty Hoffman; Mary Carol and Mickey Rudin with Chase and Ralph Mishkin, who were off to Europe in a day or two; Hal and Cynthia Gershman celebrating Marjorie Walker's birthday; Sam and Nancy Bretzfield with young Sam Jr. (he started his meal with snails); Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Freeman with the Ernie Auerbachs.

Ambassador to Belgium Geoffrey Swaebe and his wife, Mary, were dining at London's Dorchester Hotel (it's now owned by the Sultan of Bahrain) with Juli and Herbert Hutner. The two couples left the next day for Brussels.

Madame Sylvia Wu and Mrs. Charles Snodgrass were the ring leaders for a rollicking Peking duck dinner party in the V.I.P. Room of Wu's Garden. Joining in on the fun were Jane and Bob Kramer (they brought the Andrade-McKee centerpieces), Sachi and Larry Irwin, Consul General from Senegal Joseph Bolker and his wife Victoria, Emma Bartlett who drove in from Palm Springs, Nat Dumont, Sue and Marty Harwick, Mary Anita Loos with Jay Allen, Bantam Books veep Charles Bloch, Wanda and Bill Holzhauser, Chuck Snodgrass, Marie and Steve Tramz, Helen Chaplin, Jacques Camus, who drove up from Laguna for the party, and Philip Salet, who's off to the Orient on a holiday.

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