You’ve barely time to practice your curtsies before the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Kent on a fast and furious visit to Southern California on behalf of J. C. Penney’s “Best of Britain” promotion. Their Royal Highnesses arrive in town on J. C. Penney’s own aircraft and accompanied by company president David Miller on Oct. 16. (They will have already toured a J. C. Penney store in New York.)
The next day the duke, who is vice chairman of the British Overseas Trade Board, and the duchess cut the ribbon for the British exhibition at the Glendale Galleria Penney’s store. And then they’ll do a little run through the displays of fashion merchandise and housewares and some of the exhibits--Lord Lichfield’s photos of the Royal Family (the titled photographer who is a cousin of the queen’s will be in Los Angeles on Oct. 18), artifacts from the Queen Mary, an original Rowland Emett Fantasy Machine, English pub signs, coin and stamp collections, some of Cecil Beaton’s costumes from the movie “My Fair Lady” and Elizabethan costumes that once graced Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake and other notables of the period.
That evening the royal pair will be guests of honor at a private black-tie reception, dinner and fashion show hosted by Miller and British Consul General Donald F. Ballentyne at the County Museum of Art. Penney’s is the corporate sponsor for the showing in Los Angeles of the “Collection for a King: Old Master Paintings from the Dulwich Picture Gallery,” which opens at the museum on Oct. 6. During the cocktail hour the duke and duchess and the rest of the guests will have a chance to view the exhibition.
The British Consulate’s John Houlton and J. C. Penney’s Jeanne Leonard filled us in on the rest of the royal couple’s itinerary. The duke will address the British-American Chamber of Commerce and visit a high-tech company. She’ll visit with the patients in Cedar-Sinai’s hospice program. Together they’ll lunch at the Burbank Studios and drive to Orange County to inaugurate the Beacon Hill Project, the American subsidiary of Britain’s Taylor Woodrow Homes.
Don’t tell us British royalty doesn’t earn its keep.
Just so you’ll know how to make small talk with their Royal Highnesses if you should meet them, he’s the son of the dashing Duke of Kent who died in an airplane crash in 1942 and the elegant Princess Marina of Greece. That makes him first cousin to both Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. He was educated at Eton and Le Rosay in Switzerland and at Sandhurst. He’s keen on sports, is well-traveled, holds a pilot’s license, loves opera and at Sandhurst won the Sir James Moncrieff Grierson prize for foreign languages.
The duke married the former Helen Worsley, only daughter of Sir William and Lady Worsley, in 1961 and they have three children, the Earl of St. Andrews, Lady Helen Windsor and Lord Nicholas Windsor. The duchess is chancellor of the University of Leeds, president of the Royal Northern College of Music, and patron of many schools, a pianoforte competition and charities that raise money for cancer, the aged, arthritis and rheumatism.
J. C. Penney’s seems to have a good hold on British royalty. In November when they are in Washington, the Duke of Kent’s cousin Prince Charles and Princess Diana will also stop in at a Penney’s store in the neighborhood.
A retrospective of the late Rudi Gernreich’s two decades of fashions and drawings, the first show of the fall exhibition season at Otis/Parsons School of Design, opens tonight with a gala reception. “Rudi Gernreich: A Tribute” has Joan Agajanian Quinn as guest curator and will be on view through Oct. 19. Photographer William Claxton’s film “Basic Black,” featuring his wife, Peggy Moffit, Gernreich’s favorite model, will be shown continuously during the exhibition.
A lot of Gernreich fans, designers, just plain folks and the exhibition’s sponsors Guy Greengard, Fred Hayman, Betty and Jerry Decter, Oreste Pucciani and Jacques Faure are expected at tonight’s preview.
Merv Griffin, the genial television show host, is also chairman of Merv Griffin Enterprises. And it’s that Merv, the enterprising entrepreneur, who’ll receive the “Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year” award from USC’s School of Business Administration on Oct. 16 at Town & Gown. Griffin is being honored, says Dr. Richard H. Buskirk, director of the USC California Entrepreneur Program, “in recognition for his outstanding contributions to television during his 30-year career in the medium and for the development of one of the most successful organizations in the entertainment industry.”
Paul Kovi, co-owner of New York’s Four Seasons, and a charming Hungarian, checked the wine list and ordered the champagne. And then, rather diffidently, and only when questioned, talked about his new cook book “Paul Kovi’s Transylvanian Cuisine.” (With partner Tom Margittai he also co-authored “The Four Seasons Cook Book.”) The new book mixes recipes with touches of history and background on the cultures that have influenced Transylvanian cooking--Hungarian, Romanian, Saxon-German, Armenian and Jewish.
The occasion was Sunday brunch at the Hotel Bel-Air where Kovi was enjoying what he called “California cuisine” with Eva Pusta, another charming Hungarian who is with East/West Network in New York; Wally Cedar, who calls Kovi “my mentor”; Margaret Stevens, editor of The Executive Magazine; Mel Weber, who owns the Lew Ritter men’s shop, and Mary Homi, who pulled the brunch together.
The next evening Kovi--and his cook book--was the guest of honor at a reception at the Westwood Marquis where old and new friends stopped by to say hello. Fred Hayman, Brenda Vaccaro, Valerie and Erwin Sobel, Erica and Bob Brunson, John DeLorean, the Beverly Hilton’s Charles Bolla, the Regency Club’s Bonnie Kyle and Curtis Dewitz, who has bought the Palm Bay Club, were all there.
Aida Grey Behrend celebrated her birthday with her husband Doug, the attorney. First they went on a shopping spree and then he took her to dinner at Le St. Germain. The next day Caroline Ahmanson hosted a birthday luncheon in her art-filled apartment for Aida and invited Bee Lavery, the mayor’s chief of protocol; Barbara Trister, the public relations savant; Suzy Kalter who has just turned in her second book (it’s on beauty) to her publisher; producer Lillian Gallo; Broadway vice president Lee Hogan Cass; Margo Leonetti O’Connell to join in the “Happy Birthdays” when the St. Honore cake was brought out.
During lunch Aida talked about reviving the small and choice offshoot of the Fashion Group, the Inner Circle. And sure enough a few days later the beauty expert was hosting a little Inner Circle luncheon for charter members at the Bistro. Additions to the membership, agendas, visiting speakers (all of them experts in their fields of fashion, beauty and the good life) were all discussed by Van Venneri, Eleanore Phillips Colt, Joyce MacRae (she was off to Europe the next day), Margo O’Connell, WWD’s Maureen Sajbel, Kreiss Imports’ Eileen Kreiss. The group will meet monthly upstairs at the Bistro.
The Social Scramble: Gale Hayman, in New York on business, is being personally guided by Glenn Bernbaum, owner of the popular Mortimer’s, on a tour of the city’s better eating places. The other night they were at Lutece accompanied by Kenneth Jay Lane and Countess Consuelo Crespi.
Joanne Carson (Mrs. Johnny Carson number two) is hosting the first of what will be an annual celebration on the late Truman Capote’s birthday, end of the month. Her gathering, Capote’s dear friend says, will be “very relaxed, very easy, just the way Truman would have wanted it.” Only people “who were close to Truman are being invited and everyone’s being asked to bring a plant.” Among those likely to show up are Capote’s New York editor at Random House, Joe Fox; Gary Clark, who is writing Capote’s biography, producer Lester Persky, author Christopher Isherwood, artist Don Bachardy, Freddie and Corinna Fields.
Vidal and Jeanette Sassoon are moving from Malibu, where they leased Burgess Meredith’s place, to a new home they recently bought in Beverly Hills. They’ll hardly have time to settle in before they travel up to Seattle and Portland with the U.S. Gymnastics team and then on to the Orient for a Sassoon hair products promotion advanced by George Shaw. Shaw’s just back in town with his children from a holiday in Eliat, Israel, where the kids became water sports champs.
The Union Jack flew over Maj and Larry Hagman’s New Mexico territorial style home in the Malibu Colony Sunday afternoon in honor of their guest of honor and “dear friend” Zandra Rhodes, the London designer. A few nights earlier more Union Jacks fluttered over the table at Chasen’s where Contessa Cohn was entertaining Zandra. Hail Britannia.