Jottings From a Palm Beach Notebook


Snippets from the Palm Beach notebooks: “Smashing,” said Prince Charles. He was referring to the dazzling emerald-and-diamond necklace Helen Boehm, his dancing partner, wore to the United World College International Gala at the Breakers. Mrs. Boehm’s rings, an emerald and a diamond one, also caught the princely eye. Princess Diana’s three strand choker of smallish pearls was more in keeping with British understatement. The princess’ dancing pumps were mid-heel and silver.

That ball was a real fashion parade. Designer and former beauty queen Pat Kerr, who is married to British tycoon John Tigrett, wore one of her own black-and-gold lace dresses. Also dressed by Kerr that night were Mrs. Armand Hammer in gold, and Aileen Mehle (she’s Suzy, the social columnist) in beige. Mrs. Gregory Peck wore a full skirted storm gray satin gown with a Renaissance flair by Guy Laroche. Maria Hummer, a Los Angeles lawyer, wore an evening suit with one lapel in the form of a jewelled wedge of watermelon. Mrs. Morton Phillips’ chiffon was trimmed in turquoise beads; Della Koenig’s black Givenchy ruffles were outlined in rhinestones; Nabila Kashoggi, daughter of Adnan, wore ruby and diamond drop earrings and a diamond necklace with her sequinned sheath and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney wore flowers in her hair and on the shoulders of her bouffant gown.

Houston oil man Robert Mosbacher and his wife Georgette flew in for the gala, changed clothes in a suite at the Breakers and after the ball went right back home. “We’ll sleep on the plane and it’s only a two hour flight,” Georgette said. “It’s the only way I can get my husband to come to these things, if I promise him he can be in his office at 9 a.m.”


Before the arrival of the royal couple at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club in Wellington, a harried Brit wearing a very Palm Beach flowered dress complained that she’d been misdirected (she was in the sponsor’s tent when she belonged in the club members’ tent next door), she’d lost her husband and, “It’s bloody hot out there.” And to add insult to injury, members had to “pay $85 even if you have a box” to watch the exhibition match and to lunch somewhere in the vicinity of the royals. Prince Charles and Princess Diana were in the Players Club, a nicely panelled place with sporting photos and a good British air, where they lined up for the reception and lunched upstairs with Dr. and Mrs. Armand Hammer, club owner and polo player William Ylvisaker and his wife Janey (he’s president of Chicago’s Gould Inc.) and members of the two polo teams who were competing that afternoon--Allan Scherer who is also a club vice president, Memo Gracida who is a 10 goal player, Ruben Gracida, Kenneth McLean, Geoffrey Kent and Peter Brant--and their wives. After the match the Princess of Wales invited the players back for drinks at the apartment on the club grounds which was a gift to the prince when he first played polo there in 1980. This year he scored a goal and was on the winning team. That year he collapsed from the heat.

Everyone agreed that the dinner dance at the Norton Gallery in West Palm Beach for the opening of the exhibition of the Hammer Collection had been a swinging affair even if the hosts (Dr. and Mrs. Hammer) and the princely pair were missing. (The foursome were dining at Washington’s National Gallery that night.)

Eva Gabor and Merv Griffin were also missed. She had a sore throat and he kept her company in the house he owns at the club. Next day Eva was up and bubbling. Cary Grant phoned in sick from Los Angeles. He had a sore throat, too.

Sherry Lansing, the producer, called the Norton affair “great fun . . . we disco-ed a lot.” Rosemary Tomich, a member of the boards of United World College and Occidental, called it “a wonderful party.” The guest list included Angelenos Sandy and Sheldon Ausman, the Guilford Glazers, Ray Watt and Joyce Hunter, Mickey and Heidi Kantor, Della Koenig, Arthur and Miriam Groman. Plus other members of Hammer’s Occidental Petroleum board--Ray Irani and his wife, Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore and Mrs. Gore, attorney Louis Nizer and Mrs. Nizer, the Robert L. Petersons, the Paul Hebners. Also supporters of the gallery--board president Mrs. Miles Fitterman and her husband; gallery director Richard Madigan, Pat and Horace Schmidlapp, Celia Lipton Farris (who’s resuming her singing career). And some very fascinating people--Mr. and Mrs. Ted Turner, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Linton (he’s president of Drexel Burnham Lambert), Sir Ian Gourlay and Lady Gourlay (he’s director of United World College International, London), the Ambassador from Oman, Ali Salim Bader Al Hinai, Dallas industrialist H. Ross Perot and his family, Lebanese businessman Hasib Sabbagh with his daughter Sana and Zena Arslan, World War I French flying ace Paul-Louis Weiller with Georgiana Boothby, the National Gallery’s J. Carter Brown and his wife Pamela and the Duchess Eliane de Montesquiou.

The Social Scramble: It was 50 years ago that Pan American’s China Clipper made its first flight to the Pacific. How time flies. Fifty years later the China Clipper, now a 747, will celebrate its birthday with a flight starting from San Francisco on Nov. 22 and touching down at all those old familiar places--Honolulu, Wake and Midway islands, Guam and Manila. On board will be a host of celebrities like Pan Am chairman Ed Acker and his wife Sandy and their new friend John Travolta who’s wild about flying ships; Cornelius (Sonny) Whitney who made the inaugural flight in his role as then-Pan Am chairman, and his wife Marylou; author James Michener, who won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for his “Tales of the South Pacific,” and the heads of Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and Airbus. Nancy Holmes, the New York socialite/writer, will be on only for the first hop to Honolulu. Then she backtracks to Phoenix to spend the Thanksgiving weekend with friends. Waiting for the China Clipper in Manila will be a welcoming committee headed by Carlos Romulo, the Filipino diplomat, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and president of the 4th United Nations General Assembly.

Next Friday is an important day in the life of William McKelvey, president of The Upstairs Gallery. That’s when he celebrates the opening of his latest gallery, on Rodeo Drive right next door to Cartier, with some special events. At 3:30 p.m. Tony Bennett, the super singer and super artist, will be there to introduce his first original lithograph, “South of France.” The edition is limited to 342 signed and numbered prints. And in the evening, McKelvey hosts a reception for Leonardo Nierman and a viewing of more than 40 of the Mexican artist’s new acrylics, water colors and sculpture. Last year he donated 192 pieces of framed art to the sale. And he’s also using his persuasive charms on the artists carried by The Upstairs Gallery to do their bit for the Mercado. Nierman has donated an oil for the 1986 Mercado (June 6-8) and Tony Bennett will autograph one of his lithographs for the Music Center Plaza sale.