Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine
Around Town with Donna Shor

Forbes Magazine has "out-ed" them again, those elite members of the magazine's “400 Richest Americans List." It's fun to read, especially as several live in this area.

Consider the brothers Mitchell and Steven Rales, who started their Danaher Corporation in 1982, naming it after a Montana fishing stream. They now have $1.3 billion apiece, and they have given shareholders a 29% annual return for the last decade ... Inventor David R. Huber, ($8.2 billion) founder of Ciena in 1992, left with $200 million five years later, the Corvis Corporation ... MicroStrategy founder and CEO Michael Saylor lost more than $6 billion in one day in March when his stock plummeted after a somewhat controversial revenue re-evaluation, but he still has $1.2 billion to play with... Stephen Case, of America Online, began as a Pizza Hut manager, but now deals in another kind of dough - a fortune of $1.5 billion ... Richard Adams, of Fairfax-based Uunet Technologies and Cello Technologies has recently filed for bankruptcy protection, but his personal fortune is listed at a cool $1 billion ... Rajendra Singh, who sometimes waterskis to his Alexandria office, grew up in India without telephones, but telecom investments have brought him $1 billion ... David Oros of Owings Mills, Md. has amassed $1 billion from Aether Systems ... Richard Marriott and John Willard Marriott, Jr. have $1.2 billion and $975 million, respectively .. and from AES, the world's largest global power company, Roger Sant of Middleburg and Georgetown, and Dennis Bakke have raked in $2 billion apiece ... Two local family fortunes are the Grahams of the Washington Post at $2.7 billion, and the Baltimore Blaustein’s through Amoco at $1.2 billion ... As for the ladies in the charmed "Forbes 400 Richest" list, there are only 46 of them, and only seven are self-made. Two of the energetic seven are Oprah Winfrey, with $800 million, and Martha Stewart with a cool $1 billion, larger than the gross domestic product of Mauritania.

The Washington Area Chapter of Childhelp kicked off the 2000-2001
year with the announcement of new officers and a luncheon for new members
at Maggiano's, Tyson's Corner, Va. Some 40 area Childhelp members from Northern
Va., Maryland, and the District of Columbia gathered to hear plans for the year.

Fabulous food was the cry at Bill Tiefel 's Kalorama residence one recent evening, and why not?-the dishes were the creations of Peppe , the talented chef who has taken charge of the Cobalt Room of the new Ritz-Carlton complex . Bill is chairman of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and his co-host for the party, James McBride , is the hotel's general manager.

The evening introduced the latest pin created by jewelry designer Ann Hand , based on the Ritz Carlton logo of a crowned lion's impressive head.

Among the stellar crowd were Lisa and Christopher Jeffries . He is founder and president of Millennium Partners, the entity developing the hotel and connected luxury residences at 22nd and M Street (the most expensive real estate in the city, and more than half of the condominiums are sold already.)

Seen among the throng: J.W. Marriott Jr. , Ann's husband Lloyd Hand and daughter Susan, Marlene Malek , TV's Chris Wallace with his wife Loraine and mother Kappy Leonard, Mandy Ourisman alone (Mary was in Sydney for the Olympics,) Gerda McGrath , and Joe and Alma Gildenhorn.

And last, but certainly the most important guest in the room to Bill Tiefel: Norma Kline . Just a day or two before this was written, their engagement was announced at the home of Mel and Suellen Estrin.

Maria Defago & Catherine Thompson
The Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary held
their 51st Annual Fashion Show Luncheon
Benefit featuring fashions by Rizik's. Proceeds
from the luncheon will benefit the Christmas
Toyland Program, which purchases toys for over
10,000 families each year.

Barbara Harrison

Lt. Col., Bryndis Schram & Lt. Col. Laverne Kraubson

A Sleuth In Truth: Readers of Diana McLellan (long-famed as Washington's "Ear") know that she really ferrets out the facts, but what she has accomplished in her new book) The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood is of another order. Though the topics are incendiary, don't confuse this with a supermarket tabloid.

The Girls goes much farther than its theme in uncovering truths concealed in a myriad of myths about the intimate relationships shared by Hollywood women such as Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo . Diana spent five years of exhaustive research in long-secret FBI files, film libraries, archives, inter-views and reading between the lines of hundreds of private letters.

"Everybody involved lied," she says, but some of the lies were self-explanatory; when they seemed pointless, she clug in, suspecting a hidden secret. What she found was far removed from what is still being written and believed about many of Hollywood's famous.

They lived in a gentler time journalistically. If reporters today learned Dietrich and Garbo were lovers (they were) and frequently shared their loves with each other and with members of their feminine circle, and learned of the power their group wielded in Hollywood, it would be shrieked in a moment. In that bygone era, their romances were private, though there were always those who knew-usually part of the circle-and others who surmised.

Succeeding years of supposedly credible biographies, based on false assumptions, have perpetuated the lies. It was by accident Diana discovered several of the biggest ones, some of whose consequences led up to the House unAmerican Activities Committee "witch hunts."

As one example, it is often written that Garbo and Dietrich had never met until Orson Welles introduced them several years into their careers. Both divas repeated the lie for years, and did in fact in Hollywood always keep their distance. But Diana, while routinely viewing old Garbo movies, sat bolt upright in the Library of Congress screening room when she suddenly realized that the woman into whose arms Garbo swooned in The Joyless Street, a pre-Hollywood Garbo film made in Germany, was indeed La Dietrich, yet her name was nowhere in the credits. And they both always said they had never met before Welles' introduction.

Diana called the film curator in for her opinion. They ran and reran the reel. Diana had studied too many old photos not to recognize the pre-Hollywood Dietrich, with wild black hair, black shadow-smeared eyelids, and dark cupid's bow lipstick. The clinchers were a characteristic Dietrich way of brushing back her hair, which the shadow on the screen before her was now doing, and the oddly-shaped Dietrich hands-later retouched in Hollywood stills-of very short fingers and long meaty palms. Undeniable.

But why their lie? The answer went far to explain Garbo's "I vant to be alone" legend.

Other lies led to the unearthing of an earlier Dietrich husband before the acknowledged "official husband" Rudi Sieber V. Diana found him, tucked away in the voluminous FBI dossiers on Dietrich that had not been destroyed in an earlier purge. Otto Katz, later known as Rudolph Breda, along with at least a dozen other aliases, was a super-active communist, possibly also a Nazi agent, and possibly a murderer (or agent of murder). It is almost unbelievable the marriage was kept hidden so successfully.

Katz was a man so magnetic he was feted on two continents . The idealistic anti-Nazi character of Victor Lazlo, husband of Bergman in Casablanca, was modeled on him. Through Katz, Dietrich and others secretly funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the communist cause, and it was through him she seems to have received a share of the Romanov emeralds.

Scores of celebrities are discussed in these pages. One of the most amusing is the flamboyant actress Tallulah Bankhead, daughter of the senator from Alabama, who could always persuade her pal J.Edgar Hoover if a friend needed help--and also could always be counted on to shout the last thing anyone should utter in public at the top of her voice.

The book party brought out social and literary Washington: Lucky Roosevelt; Robert Merry, who publishes the Congressional Quarterly, Vesna and Larry Leamer (he's working on a book on the Kennedy men as a follow-up to his book on the Kennedy women); Myra McPherson; Jayne Ikard; the Kennedy Center's Ann Stock; Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shaiala; Helen Thomas; Frank Mankiewicz; Charles Peters, the Washington Monthly editor; Sen. John Warner; Diana's husband, historian Richard McLellan; author Pauline Innis; Tandy Dickerson; Pamela Armstrong; and Countess Ulla Wachtmeister. It was at a Wachtmeister family castle in Sweden that Garbo stayed while she pondered the role she was about to play in Queen Christina.

Russian royalty were there in force, Prince and Princess Oblensky, and Prince and Princess Chavchavadze. Also two couples that George magazine recently photographed as prominent young social leaders in Washington, David and Janet Bruce, and Brad and Denise Alexander, along with Kevin Chaffee, who was also featured. Lynda Webster was back from trout-fishing in Montana where she and husband Bill and John and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor were guests of the Ray Brophys.

The Phillips Collection held its annual dinner to formally thank
its corporate supporters. Corporate members were invited to a preview
of the "Degas to Matisse" exhibition.

Vicki Sant, Mark Ein, George Vrandenburg & Jay Gates

Echoes Of Hillwood: At the reopening of this magnificent house museum with its matchless treasures, guests were touched by the sight of the gowns and hats hanging in the bedroom closet. "It's as if Marjorie Merriweather Post has just walked out the door," said Allison LaLande who added that she had recently attended a dance in Newport at "Rosecliff" (the estate where The Great Gatsby was filmed,) and that Hillwood was the only house in Washington that could rival the famed "cottages" of Newport, as the great homes there are called in reverse snobisme.

The gala opening was chaired by Hillwood trustee Penne Percy Korth aided by Mrs. Post's granddaughter, Ellen MacNeille Charles, who is president of the Hillwood board of trustees. Mrs. Charles and approximately 30 other family members succeeded in creating the atmosphere of bygone times, even to the array of glassware and stunning appointments of the long banquet table set befitting an empress. This sight moved one guest to remark to Mrs. Post's daughter, actress Dina Merrill, that her mother had not only donated a magnificent banquet cloth to the Women's National Democratic Club, but that she had gone into the kitchen to admonish the housekeeper in detail on the best way to care for it.

“Mother," said Dina Merrill of her multi-millionairess mom, "would have made a marvelous housekeeper."

Emily & Katherine Dirks with their uncle Kevin Mattews
Alia Marra

On Sunday, September 10, over 60 children adopted
from Kazakhstan and their families gathered for a festive
reunion, sponsored and hosted by the Frank Foundation
Child Assistance International, a non-profit organization
whose mission is to provide hope and healing to children
in need throughout the world. The celebration was dubbed
"A Kazakh Toj" (pronounced toy and meaning "jubilee" in Kazakh).

The Washington area has just received some important cultural cash--but there's a catch to it. The Washington Performing Arts Society announced in early October the grant of $1.1 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. One hundred-thousand dollars is outright support, but WAS must hustle to match the remaining $1 million by December 15 in order to receive the Duke money. It's a "Survivor" sort of challenge. Board members, and other major donors, as well as the rest of NWAS fans, have begun to empty their wallets, to keep the extra $ 1 million on the island ... Big bruhaha a-brewing: Brunette Judith Terra, widow of multimillionaire Daniel Terra and a popular figure on the Washington scene, is as focused as she is attractive. Right now she is intent on moving Chicago's Terra Museum and the Terra Foundation to Washington, D.C. This is going to be a struggle. In an opening salvo, two board members, Dean Buntrock and Ron Gidwitz have filed a civil complaint with the court to block the action. The Tetras had a long relationship with the Corcoran, and their American art collection would be compatible there, but the board has instructed the staff to also approach not only Washington's National Gallery, but the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago as well. It would be a magnificent addition to Washington; but it may be up to the courts to decide.

The Washington Animal Rescue League held a cocktail
reception in early October at Hermes in Fairfax Square
to honor the Benefit Committee of the Rescue Me Benefit
2000 Gala which was held in late October at the Ritz Carleton Hotel.

Board President of the Washington Animal Rescue League
David Brown with a model carrying a homeless puppy

Co-Chair Robin Weiss
& Daughter Courtney Carrol

Mary Jane Thistlethwaite
& Sydney Mc Niff Ferguson

Goings-On: When the State Department building was dedicated to former President Harry Truman recently with a formal dinner and ceremony, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said "No leader did more than Harry Truman in his time to shape America's fundamental global rule in our time." President Clinton spoke at the unveiling, and General Donald Dawsen and George Elsey, the only two of Trumans aides still livin 9 also spoke. It was Donald, along with Ambassador Phillip Kaiser who advanced the idea of naming the building in President Truman's honor, and worked to get unanimous approval from Congress ... Our colleague Susanna Luddy tells us Chef Geoff's restaurant on New Mexico Avenue next to Sutton Place Gourmet is a new fave spot for celebrity seekers star-gazing—or ogling—if the recognized face is also young and beautiful. Stand back, guys, if NBC's White House Correspondent is the object of your attention, she's already spoken for-by Chef Geoff himself. He opened the place in June along with four CIA henchmen (CIA? Yes, the other one which is the Culinary Institute of America.) Executive Chef Brandon Child and the others are CIA grads, and the style is American Bistro: Tuna Sashimi with Wonton Crackers, Seared Halibut in a Chardonnay Thyme Garlic Broth, and Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding are all gastronomic star turns. As for Washington stars, any day here you may spot Janet Reno, Alan Greenspan, Lloyd and Ann Hand or Jack Valenti.

Cooperation Foundation inaugurated the presentation of Alexander Bourganov's sculpture of Alexander Pushkin, the Shakespeare of Russia, as a gift from the city and people of Moscow to the citizens of Washington.

That evening the Ambassador and Mrs. Ushakov held a reception at the Russian Embassy residence honoring the inauguration and the official visit of the Moscow Government delegation.

The Willard Hotel hosted an afternoon tea
to salute the Women's Committee of the Washington
Ballet, its new diplomatic committee members,
and new officers.

Septime Webre (W.B. Artistic Director)
& Kay Kendall (W.B. Board Chairperson)

Nancy Mains & Diane McCombs
(outgoing President & Vice President of
Women's Committee, Washington Ballet)

Mrs. Geza Jesenszky (of Hungary)
& Anna Maria Via (Vice President of Women's

Is there an item you think "Around Town" should know about? Send e-mall to: DonnaShor@aol.com.


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