GOOD TOP O’ THE MORNING: Fade out to March 15, 1966, when I last saw HRH the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in L.A. The occasion was a star-studded Variety Clubs Intl. fundraiser and the prince’s presence at the BevHilton helped raise $200,000 for the charity — a helluva lotta dough for that time. Earlier that day, I had the honor of m.c’ing a barbecue on the (then back lot) at 20th Century Fox, where I introduced literally every star in the Hollywood heavens to Prince Philip as we ambled around checker-clothed picnic tables. And later continued on to visit Jerry Lewis on the set of his “Way … Way Out” film. To finale the day: After dinner at the Hilton, Prince Philip was treated to a home-cooked Chinese supper by Danny Kaye at his home. Fade in to March 15, 2000. The prince again visited L.A., this time staying in the Presidential Suite of the Pink Palace (the Beverly Hills Hotel). He stopped here en route to Australia to meet up with the Queen, for a black-tie dinner in his honor — and to present to Nancy Reagan the Leadership Award from the Congressional Award Foundation. It was for her efforts as First Lady in the fight against youth drug abuse in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. Congressional Award, established in 1979, was modeled after the Duke of Edinburgh Award in England, which he established in ’56. Earlier Wednesday, Prince Philip had visited L.A.’s Westchester High School, enrolled in the Congressional Award Program … Lod and Carole Cook were benefactors of the evening at the BevHills Hotel where general manager Alberto del Hoyo, chef Suki and the hotel’s staff put on a regal dinner … Tom Campbell, chairman of the Congressional Award, intro’d the Prince who recalled a visit at the Reagans’ ranch during torrential rains in 1983. Telling about the award, he reminded that the youth program is in 60 countries with 4 million young people involved. He said Nancy’s “Just say no!” motto “became more than a phrase” around the world. She looked lovely in a Chinese red, Bill Blass gown as she accepted the award which, she said, will be placed in “my husband’s library.” Many of the Reagans’ friends were on hand, former “kitchen cabineters” including the Charles Wicks, Ardie Deutsches, Marion Jorgenson, Erlenne Sprague, Betsy Bloomingdale, William Wilson, plus other friends including the John Gavins (Constance Towers) and the A.C. Lyles. The BevHills Hotel is readying for the Oscar onslaught as guests are already arriving from around the world. The Miramax Oscar party will again be held in the Polo Lounges. And Microsoft is main sponsor of the Norby Walters-produced “Night of 100 Stars” again in the Crystal Ballroom benefiting the Film Foundation … “Good Morning America” will be telecasting live from the BevHills Hotel’s lobby starting at 4 ayem (!) on the morning after the awards.
THERE’LL BE FOUR Sammy Davis Jr.’s in the B’way-bound “Sammy,” which Quincy Jones and Leslie Bricusse continue to write in Acapulco. Davis will be portrayed at ages 4, 8, 12 and 25. Open castings will be held for the “dream role(s).” Quincy tells me Savion Glover and Stomp will choreograph the show. Jones takes a break from writing, comes to L.A. to record a big band album, “This One’s For Basie.” It’ll go back to Jones’ beginnings, at age 13 with Basie … Rick Rockwell, alumnus of “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire,” was SRO at the Improv in Tempe, Ariz. (he works on a percentage of the door). He’s also booked for Improv dates in Miami; Addison, Texas; Brea; Cleveland and D.C. However, Harrah’s nixed him as the attraction for their main room … Michael Viner surprise birthday-partied wife Deborah (Raffin) at Reata; he told her the two of ’em were going to a Chinese restaurant, then sashayed her into the Rodeo eatery where pals were western-garbed … At Reign in BevHills, “3rd Rock From the Sun” celebrated the engagement of cast member Simbi Khali (she plays Nina, John’s secretary) to “ER” cast member Cress Williams (his character married Gloria Ruben on this show). They met while doing the BET movie “Masquerade.” On hand were cast members including John Lithgow as well as producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner … Eddie Kritzer, exec consultant for “Kids Say the Darnedest Things,” and Dr. Rosa Colonna are engaged to wed this fall.
DEBBIE ALLEN ISN’T DOING the Oscars this year, but here’s where she’s at: the Kennedy Center, working on “Dreams,” another dance-driven piece. She selected 45 D.C. area children (ages 7-10) for this Kennedy Center commission (runs April 7-16). Allen asked pal Mariah Carey for an OK to use a few of her songs for the production, her third for the Kennedy Center for young people … On St. Patrick’s eve (Thursday night), Roma Downey was on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage (free performance series) reading Irish author Seamus Heaney’s “The Cure at Troy,” part of the prelude to the Kennedy Center’s Irish Festival (May 13-28) … Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day today in L.A.: Carroll O’Connor, receiving his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and toasted at the Four Seasons by longtime pals … Tony Bennett stars at the T.J. Martell Foundation’s 25th anni gala May 18 at the N.Y. Hilton … David Lynch (“The Straight Story”) receives the Beatrice Wood Award March 21 at past winner James Cameron’s office … There will be a memorial service honoring costume designer Miles White at 3 p.m. Monday at Gotham’s York Theater.