Opening Day at the Races With Liz and Michael

Times Staff Writer

The opening of Hollywood Park on Wednesday brought out all the potential winners, including this year’s really fun couple--the devastatingly slim and pretty Elizabeth Taylor and her buddy, pretty and slim Michael Jackson. The yellow and black dress La Liz was wearing gave clear evidence that she is once again a knockout--and the best advertisement for the beauty book she is currently writing. In great spirits, Taylor followed the advice of her attorney, Neil Papiano, to bet combinations with Carole Bayer Sager and Marcia Diamond--and even kiddingly bopped Jackson on the head with her program for some laughing remark. It was a big day for that table, which included songwriter-cum-horseman Burt Bacharach, whose horse Piper John won the last race.

Opening days seem intent on proving that L.A. is really just one small town. TV maven Aaron Spelling was there with his wife, Candy, in dazzling daytime diamonds and a string of winning $2 tickets. Track habitues like Cary and Barbara Grant (he’s a board member) and Chairman Emeritus Vernon O. Underwood with wife Adrienne were busy handicapping. While Dominic Frontiere studied the racing forms, Rams’ owner Georgia Frontiere was busy with one of the waffle-and-hot fudge sundaes that were a hit of the day. (They’ll be hosting tonight’s Twenties party for the designer, Erte, who’s been toasted all week long.)

A few tables away, sports businessman Don and Luciana Klosterman were busy hosting a large party--he’d been busy earlier this month with the various Kennedy candidates in and out of town. TV-movie czar Chuck Fries waved a handful of tickets at the love-of-his-life, Ava Dexter Ostern. He’d cashed in his winners, he announced, and “I bought all these tickets and I got $9.50 change.” (Despite a winning streak, they left early since they had to catch the taping of his new pilot for CBS, “Sisters,” starring Sally Kellerman.)


Political types--like Los Angeles City Councilmen John Ferraro and Richard Alatorre, and Barbara Y. Johnson, who’s directing Atty. Gen. John van de Kamp’s re-election effort--were not having a winning day. Too bad, Margaret Ferraro pointed out, that they hadn’t followed her picks of earlier that day, and showed off her marked-up newspaper to prove her point.

Walkie-talkie in hand, Hollywood Park Chair and CEO Marje Everett was in and out of the Director’s Room all day, as was VP Howard Koch. Making their way to the betting windows were Helen Wolford (with her husband Richard), Lloyd and Dorothy Bridges, and Betty and Roy Anderson.

SWEET BENEFIT--The effusive Roz Wyman was, naturally, effusive. The sold-out crowd for the benefit premiere of Alan Alda’s “Sweet Liberty” loved the movie, and only a small number had dropped off along the way from the screening to the supper at the Beverly Wilshire. A Revolutionary-garbed fife-and-drum corps greeted the guests and Alda posed first with his photographer-wife, Arlene, and then his co-stars--Michelle Pfeiffer, Lise Hilboldt and Lois Chiles. “Look at those legs,” publicist Bobby Zarem shouted and Alda (known for strong feelings about equal rights for women) obligingly held up his trousered leg. “I’ve always loved the Revolutionary War period, but what I know about is modern nuances,” Alda said, explaining the genesis of the film--which he wrote, produced and starred in--about a Pulitzer Prize-winning historical account getting turned into a movie. The audience--including Marilyn and Alan Bergman, rancher-social activist Rosemary Tomich, producer Sidney and Marion Beckerman, Shakira Caine, Jimmy and Gloria Stewart, Lynne Wasserman, columnist Army Archerd with wife Selma, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner (he’ll play Eliot Ness in Paramount’s “The Untouchables”), Alan Carr, Jacqueline Bisset and her steady Alexander Godunov--did just what any audience is supposed to do at a comedy. They laughed and laughed. The good-time residue combined with the Revolutionary-War menu conceived by Wyman (salmon, corn muffins, ice cream) to keep the party going past midnight. Alda told the audience what a good time it was making the film--and the party, thanks to underwriting from Universal Studios, benefited the Music Center’s Center Theatre Group. So what could be better?

ON THE ROAD--Second Lady Barbara Bush was in and out of town Wednesday--showing off her great wit, her strong commitment to volunteerism and what looked like a very slimmed-down figure. At the benefit luncheon for the Wilshire-West Auxiliary of the Salvation Army, Mrs. Bush was introduced by her Washington buddy, Jean Smith, wife of former Atty. Gen. William French Smith. In fact, Smith broke up the audience when she said that “there is a phrase used in Washington to describe wives of men in important places. It is ‘wife of.’ ” Mrs. Bush first commended the Salvation Army for its fine work, then used some examples from her current mail to explain what her job was all about. One letter asked her if all she did was “play tennis, do needlepoint and eat bon-bons.” Yes, she explained, she did play tennis--once a week, if she was in D.C., and it took eight years for her to complete her needlepoint rug. As for the bon-bons--at that point, Mrs. Bush stepped out from behind the podium and did a model’s turn on the stage. The audience went wild. Jo Haldeman chaired the event, and she turned out a crowd that included Margaret Brock and Doris Fields Heller.