Can we talk? Elizabeth Taylor and her one-time comic critic Joan Rivers held their Summit over dinner Sunday night and became, one close observer said, "new best friends."
Their buddy, artist-designer Michaele Vollbracht, put together the intimate, closed-to-the-press soiree at Spago featuring the supposed first-time meeting of the women. The event raised $60,000 for the Intercouncil of Abused and Neglected Children.
Rivers looked glamorous--in $1.2 million in diamonds and sapphires borrowed from Harry Winston, her blond hair pulled back with a diamond bow, her teeny figure in a black velvet Oscar de la Renta, and a great deal of cleavage. "This is called 'Thank you, Lily of France,' " she explained. "Everything is pushed up from the knees."
Liz Taylor looked like Liz Taylor--beautiful and elegant in a simple black-and-silver pantsuit, wearing a "heavy"(upwards of 20-carat) emerald-cut diamond ring and a pave diamond heart necklace--a gift, an associate confirmed, from the late Richard Burton.
There were no speeches, but Taylor and Rivers--accompanied by Larry Hagman--went table to table among the 120 guests. Each diner had paid $500 for the chance to see these two together and to be able to say, "Hey, guess who I talked to last night." Rivers chatted and bubbled; Taylor mostly just smiled.
Taylor did hug Peter Kairis of Harry Winston jewelers and asked "So why didn't you bring me a present?" Earlier, he'd come by the table shared by Taylor, Rivers' husband Edgar Rosenberg, Taylor's date, record producer Richard Perry, Wallis Annenberg and author Scott Berg. Taylor had questioned Kairis at length about Rivers' borrowed gems--color, weight. She was "very excited," he said.
At the table, Annenberg said the two women had "really hit it off. They're like new best friends. And why not? They're both very bright. Both warm and gracious."
Vollbracht said that "Elizabeth Taylor is everybody's best friend now. People love Elizabeth . . . Joan, who has done her barbs on Elizabeth, truly adores her like everybody else." Reports that the women had met for lunch earlier in the week could not be confirmed--but they had spoken on the phone several times before the meeting.
Yvonne DeCarlo was on hand --"a great fan of Elizabeth's," a friend confided. Zsa Zsa Gabor said her diamond-and-sapphire necklace was from Van Cleef & Arpels--"But I like Harry Winston just as much," she said, and flashed a giant ring that was a Winston creation. "Always Harry for the big stones, darling."
Hagman's $1,000 Bills
The party--underwritten by Vollbracht and by Spago--filled the trendy restaurant with rich and famous, many of them wearing Vollbracht's colorful and graphic couture creations. Maj Hagman, owns several, but was wearing her mother-in-law's jacket. Hagman was carrying small, "formal" saddlebags, and kept giving out $1,000 bills with his face on them from "The United States of Texas." Lobster Ravoli was one of the courses, and actor Robert Blake told Barbara Eden--who had turned down the goose liver appetizer--"I hope you don't like this either, because there is not very much of it."
Shera Danese (Falk) wore a purple dress and a purple wig. Writer Jerzy Kosinski arrived unexpectedly and joined Interscope Communications' Ted Fields and his fiancee Barbara Stephenson.
The ceiling was crowded with thousands of balloons by party designers' Christmas Fantasy--and people were directed to one of the dozen or so tables by the color of balloons floating overhead. Security was heavy--between the actresses and the jewelry on Rivers. "You can drop a 20-carat diamond on the floor--and no one will touch it," Kairis said.
Although both the women posed briefly for cameras outside Spago, news photographers were barred inside. A hired photographer shot Taylor and Rivers, together and with Vollbracht. Rivers' publicist said that photos had to be "reviewed" by him before being released. "I have made the request only because a lot of media outlets are going to be looking for a photo in which one or the other looks unflattering--and I am not going to let that happen," Richard Grant said. He supervised the shooting, cautioning Rivers, in a solo, "Remember, soft fingers." Grant also turned down the request from an ICAN board member to have the charity's photographer take some pictures.
No surprise, but Rivers was funny. One waiter stared long and hard at her gem-covered chest--"Take a good look. It's gone tomorrow," she said.
Vollbracht, at Neiman-Marcus here this week to promote the publication of his diary, "Nothing Sacred," said that he'd been in business for 20 years and "all right, I've been lucky. Let me start giving back." Vollbracht explained that he was an abused child, and that Rivers has been a long-time supporter of ICAN. He asked her first, then went to Taylor, whom he "dressed" during her days as the wife of Sen. John Warner (R-Va.)
"Liz didn't do it for me," Vollbracht said. "She did it for the children."
The low-key event drifted to a close with the arrival of busboys bearing armfuls of furs. Rivers was jokingly asked if Rosenberg was buying her the jewels. "Yes. Yes. Carole (Bayer Sager) gets one earring. Wallis (Annenberg) gets one earring. Liz gets the ring. But I get the necklace," Rivers said.
Her husband simply said that he would murder the person who asked the question and then Joan and Edgar, one of Hollywood's happiest couples, went home.