Merv Griffin, the television host, had a birthday over the weekend and Eva Gabor, the actress and youngest Gabor sister, made quite an occasion of it. Eva says she's very grateful to have a friend like Merv. "If it hadn't been for Merv," she's said more than once, "when I had my walking nervous breakdown at the time of my divorce (from businessman Frank Jameson), I wouldn't have made it."
Merv and Eva are both passionate about tennis and so are quite a few of those friends who were sitting around Eva's tennis court in comfortable tennis gear. The exhibition match staged on Eva's Holmby Hills mini-estate by Lonnie Kuile, Jimmy Connors' trainer, was warmly received. You might even add "vociferously." And then came more champagne and silver balloons with pithy Griffin-style sayings and finally dinner. At one point Merv shouted, "Quit your laughing, that's Dom Perignon you're dribbling on the tablecloth."
The guest list represented a super mix. Starting off with Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and her actress daughter Catherine Oxenberg of "Dynasty" who was with Merv's son, Tony Griffin. Later when it was time for toasts, Tony said his father is not only a good talker, but a better listener. Also among the revelers were former Atty. Gen. and Mrs. William French Smith; Betsy Bloomingdale with her good pal, New Yorker Jerry Zipkin; Merv's business partner Murray Schwartz; Marvin and Barbara Davis; Nancy Dickerson who flew in from Washington for the party; Armand and Harriet Deutsch; Sidney Sheldon; Sherry Lansing; Suzanne Pleshette and husband Tom Gallagher (Suzanne and Eva were recently in Washington shooting their new CBS mini-movie "Bridges to Cross," which airs in the fall); Sidney and Joanna Poitier; Eva's sister Zsa Zsa Gabor; Frank Sinatra's daughter Tina; Bob and Lynn Murphy.
Backtracking: MGM's Frank Rothman and Judge Marianna Pfaelzer stopped at Greg and Niki Bautzer's table and 'fessed up. Rothman and the judge--who were with the Bautzers when they tied the knot in a plane over Marbella, Spain--said they'll be married Aug. 17 in Northern California at the Sterling Vineyard. Later, movie gossipist Rona Barrett introduced her ex, Bill Trowbridge, while they waited for their car. But Rona wasn't saying whether they've reconciled. Both look happy, if that's any indication. Art maven Marcia Weisman pointed to sculptor Robert Graham and said, "He bought a table for tonight and invited all his artist friends. Isn't that cute!" And as she strolled by, Democratic Party power house Roz Wyman informed us she's a new executive vice president for the Center Theatre Group.
All of this was happening the night the American Jewish Committee presented Henry C. Rogers, chairman of Rogers & Cowan, with its Social Concern Award at a dinner-dance at the Century Plaza. "We're here because we're mensches ," joshed master of ceremonies Carl Reiner who said it was his first time with a "scripted introduction." And then turning serious he added, about the honoree, "and because he nourishes your day." Henry's son, Ron Rogers made the kind of introduction that would please any father. And Henry's wife, Roz (wearing blue lace and pearls), daughter Marcia Medavoy and grandchildren Melissa and Michael all beamed. Rogers' partner Warren Cowan who arrived with ex-wife Barbara Rush (she left early to catch a flight to Canada where she's repeating her one-woman show) also looked pleased.
More Henry boosters in the room--California's Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp and his wife, Andrea; Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy; producer Bud Yorkin and his wife; Joseph and Dr. Ruth Sinay; new grandparents Barry and Carol Kaye; Sheldon Andelson; Mrs. Jack Wrather; agent Kurt Frings with Austin Taylor; Armand and Harriet Deutsch; Rococo's Bob and Marilyn Ehrman; travel writer Myra Waldo with husband Bob Schwartz; the Fred Waingrows; Jackie Applebaum with Jerry Zeitman; Walter and Pat Mirisch; Deputy Mayor Tom Houston; Assemblyman and Mrs. Gray Davis; Councilman and Mrs. John Ferraro; dinner co-chairs Harry J. Guberman and Ellie Goodman; Dr. and Mrs. Neil C. Sandberg (he's director for the American Jewish Committee's Western Region), and Bruce Ramer, who gave an overview of the work of the AJC.
Before trekking off together to Europe, Linda Evans dined at Morton's with Richard Cohen (they're a steady duo). And same place, same night--Richard Dreyfuss was with Michele Lee; Jennifer Beals was with pals Irene Cara and Joan Hyler; Burt Bacharach was with his wife, the budding novelist, Carole Bayer Sager; 20th Century Fox's Barry Diller was with a few fellas; Johnny Carson was with John McMahon, president of Carson Productions, and Australian actor Mel Gibson was with his wife.