Lawford’s ex splits hairs over JFK auction

GOOD MORNING: While Princess Diana’s necklace was up for auction Thursday night at N.Y.’s Guernsey’s, an item was yanked from an auction scheduled for Saturday in L.A. The item — a framed strand of President Kennedy’s hair. The provenance said it was obtained from Kennedy’s barber (in BevHills), Harry Gelbart, “after giving him (JFK) a haircut at Peter Lawford’s beach house in July 1963 in Santa Monica.” Patricia Lawford-Stewart (wed to Lawford 1977-1984) claimed the president was not in town that month and she says, “With the help of the Kennedy Library and the Secret Service, I had the item pulled from the auction.” I checked and indeed it was pulled from the auction and sent back to the consignor. I related all of the above to Larry Gelbart whose late father was indeed Harry Gelbart, a well-known BevHills barber. Larry’s comment about Pat Lawford’s words and actions, “Bullshit!” It was Larry who had written the letter accompanying the JFK hair when sold “on behalf of my father” to an archivist. In the letter accompanying the JFK hair, he wrote, “I (Harry) have attended to clients from every walk of life — I would say that of them all, it was cutting the hair of John F. Kennedy that has given me the most pleasure, certainly the most personal and professional pride. I was first introduced to him when he was Sen. John Kennedy by another of my clients, the actor Peter Lawford, JFK’s then brother-in-law. I would bring my bag of tools to Lawford’s residence to attend to the grooming of senator and then, President Kennedy in these private relaxed surroundings. On one occasion on a Sunday afternoon in July of 1963, after giving the president a haircut at Lawford’s beach house in Santa Monica, Lawford’s manager suggested that I collect the hair that I had cut to save as a momento. Who would have dreamt that in a few short months the head upon which President Kennedy’s hair grew in such abundance would be so cruelly destroyed.” So Larry Gelbart’s comment to Patricia Lawford’s act is: “She’s splitting hairs.” My comment, “Pat, this was the unkindest cut of all!”

IT WAS THE LONGEST RED CARPET on which I’d ever m.c’d a preem — this one welcomed the “Anna and the King” first-nighters Wednesday at Mann’s Chinese. And costars Jodie Foster, Chow Yun-Fat and Bai Ling proved to be the most gracious, lengthily lingering at my microphone and cameras — which were transmitting the doings globally on 20th’s web site. Fans in the stands — as well as the lengthy line of press — were entertained by 98 Thai dancers, singers, musicians of the Thai Community Arts and Cultural Center — some wearing the elaborate costumes from the pic, imported from the Malaysia location … And yes, there were also seven elephants — but from nearby Perris. By the way, director Andy Tennant told me the elephants in the pic were also total professionals! He saved his highest praise, of course for Foster and Yun Fat (don’t call him “Chow”) and Bai Ling (as Tuptim). Ironically, Yun Fat appeared Yul Brynner-ish — with his head shaved from his most recent role in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” for Ang Lee filmed in Beijing. And Bai Ling, whose head was shaved for her final sequence in “Anna,” arrived with the beginnings of her once- waist-length tresses. Jodie Foster said she was so enamored of the location — despite its 120-degree heat, she would return again — “The people are so generous and friendly.” But Foster’s plate is full for the future, starting with her directing chores on “Flora Plum” and her starring role as Leni Riefenstahl, who filmed the Nazi propaganda docu, “Triumph of the Will.” She has met with the 90-year-old Riefenstahl, but Foster is making her movie her way, you can be sure … Yun-Fat, who has 70 films, mostly action, to his credit, has established his leading man status in “Anna” — with his inimitable smile … While “Anna and the King” bows Friday in theaters everywhere, there’ll by a screening Saturday on the lot for “Friends of Fox” — they’re the neighbors who live near the studio and who have supported its growth. One of the invitees is Col. Barney Oldfield, celebrating his 90th birthday that day. He’s Daily Variety and weekly Variety‘s oldest living correspondent, even having written after parachuting into Germany in WWII.

BARBRA STREISAND INVITED FAMILY and close friends to the first dress rehearsal of her New Year’s Eve and Day show at the MGM Grand Gardens. The rehearsal show, Wednesday night, was held at the new, huge Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach. And she received repeated standing ovations from the group, which included husband Jim Brolin, his son Josh and fiancee Minnie Driver, Barbra’s mother, Diana Kind, sister Rosalind Kind, aunts Muriel and Sylvia, her longtime manager Marty Erlichman and wife Miko, celebs including the Gregory Pecks, Aaron Spellings, Pierce Brosnan and fiancee Keely Shay Smith, Alan Bergman (Marilyn recuping from knee surgery), Penny and Garry Marshall, Jeff and Deborah Wald and Lesley Ann Warren. The show was described to me (by one of these guests) as “masterful — different from anything you’ve seen (or heard) her do before — hysterically funny — more like a B’way show.” It also will include giant screen segs in Vegas.

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