GOOD MORNING and stand back a few respectable paces. I just spent a most enjoyable day chatting, individually, with royalty: Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Dame Julie Andrews. They had not yet exchanged congrats — I gave Elizabeth’s phone number to Julie — but the joy they expressed for one another was equally exuberant. Elizabeth received official word from Queen Elizabeth of her honor on the eve of Taylor’s departure to dine with President and Hillary Clinton New Year’s Eve at the White House. It was the first time she’d met the Clintons. However Elizabeth reminded she had been at the White House previously, dating back to the tenancy of Harry Truman. Taylor said her ailing back wasn’t going to stop her from going to the White House or from appearing on the show at the Lincoln Memorial. As for her back, which she said was broken twice: “My back is not my best friend but I’m having a ball and life is good.” She plans to go to London for the investiture, whenever it takes place. With her tresses now switched from white to their better-known dark hue, she says, “I am feeling great and full of energy and I’m optimistic (about a complete recovery).” I was curious about her citizenship. She was born in England and she told me of the complications of her nationality, particularly in travels and passports. “When I was 18, I was married to Nicky Hilton,” she reminded, “and I traveled on an American passport as ‘the bearer’s wife.'” But, “When I married Richard (you know who), we spent all our time in Europe so I chose to become British. But the American government said it didn’t just happen automatically: You have to choose. I said it didn’t seem fair. I said I love both countries.” When asked to sign an oath “to abjure all allegiance and loyalties to the U.S.,” she refused. “I love both America and England with all my heart. So it took all the time I was making ‘Cleopatra’ to fight with Congress. And I won” the right to travel as a Brit. But, she says, she’s never been able to vote in the U.S.
JULIE ANDREWS HAS ALWAYS retained her British citizenship — and of course, her British passport, she said. Andrews, too, was thrilled with receiving word of becoming a Commander of the British Empire. “It is a lovely honor and when I got word it knocked the breath out of me. I am really honored. It is a great thrill.” She too plans to be on hand at the investiture by the Queen in the Royal Palace. Julie has performed for the Royal Family — the first time when she was 10, for the Queen Mother at London’s Stage Door Canteen at the close of WWII. She then gave a Royal Command Performance at 13 and sang with headliner Danny Kaye, who was one of the few Americans honored by British Royalty. And of course, Julie performed in “My Fair Lady” several times for the Royals. Which brings us, of course, to the question of the condition of Andrews’ voice. Speaking to us, she sounded — like Julie Andrews. Her voice permits her to act (sans singing) as she had in last year’s TV’er, “One Special Night,” with Jim Garner plus a bigscreen outing in “Relative Values,” to be released this spring. Andrews will cameo this month, as herself, in “Unconditional Love” starring Kathy Bates for director P.J. Hogan. As for singing: It is “still very much a problem.” (She filed suit in N.Y. vs. the surgeon who operated on her throat). What’s the prognosis? She said she’s constantly practicing. Meanwhile, she is busy writing children’s books, the latest, “Little Bo” will be followed by “Little Bo Goes to France.” She’s also teaming with daughter Emma Hamilton on another children’s book. And Julie has agreed to write her biography and signed with Hyperion.
ADD SHOWBIZ ROYALTY: Liza Minnelli, in N.Y., was still euphoric from the Jan. 2 closing performance of her show, “Minnelli on Minnelli” at the Palace, when she received a seven-minute ovation. The show will not move to another N.Y. theater but Liza said will take the show on tour, the first stand to be SanFran in March. “I want to play it all over the world. I love this show and the people love the movies (in it) as well.” She will be busy in the next two months editing the album, “Minnelli on Minnelli at the Palace” (Angel) produced by Phil Ramone … Jack Haley Jr., who produced the film clips for (former wife) Liza’s Palace show, will undergo gall bladder surgery at week’s end … We are assured that Harvey Weinstein will be OK, though skedded to remain hospitalized a “couple of weeks” to eradicate a “bacterial infection” … Danny Sarnoff, grandson of NBC founder David Sarnoff and eldest son of Tom Sarnoff, is now CEO of GameBoy.com, of which he was previously a partner. The firm is an internet gaming site which uses “world class” profiling software to target players for advertisers. With just a bingo game as the draw and limited promotion spending, the site drew 59 million page impressions in the month of November … Torrie Rosenzweig, daughter of Barney R., is the producer of “Smoke and Mirrors: A History of Denial” (by the tobacco industry), one of the 12 semifinalists in the Academy’s feature docu category … “One Day In September,” another of the chosen 12 feature docus, received this tribute from Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Elie Wiesel, after he saw it in a private screening in N.Y.: “Arthur Cohn’s chilling new film is a masterpiece of its genre. It brings back memories of pain, frustration and profound outrage.”