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Cannes Delegation Pays Return Visit to Beverly Hills : Stallone Plays the Gallant Greeter When a Sister City Comes Calling

November 20, 1986|MATHIS CHAZANOV | Times Staff Writer

Actor Sylvester Stallone, who missed the Cannes Film Festival at a time of heightened fear of terrorism earlier this year, kissed the hand of the mayor of the French resort town Tuesday night and said he hopes to attend the film fete in 1987.

"I'm on my way," Stallone said with a laugh after he was told that Mayor Anne-Marie Dupuy had expressed the wish to take him back to Cannes with her as a souvenir of her visit to Beverly Hills. The two cities inaugurated a sister-city relationship this year.

Stallone, famous for tough-guy roles, responded sarcastically when asked why he did not attend the Cannes festival in May.

"Because I was scared out of my pants--is that what you want me to say?"

He added that he did not go because he was finishing work on a film.

Reports at the time said it was not clear that Stallone ever intended to be in Cannes, but his absence raised eyebrows because his Rambo character--a vengeance-minded Vietnam veteran--had come to symbolize American armed might in the eyes of many.

"A lot of it was blown out of proportion," Stallone said at a reception honoring the visiting French mayor. "It was very conspicuous at the time because of the Libyan situation. Then again, it makes good copy."

The film festival opened shortly after U. S. planes raided Libya in response to the fatal bombing of a West Berlin disco frequented by American military personnel.

The increased tension contributed to a sharp drop in the number of American tourists in Europe, but Beverly Hills Mayor Charlotte Spadaro went ahead with plans to attend the Cannes Film Festival, which opened May 8.

"When I went to Cannes they said I was braver than Rambo," Spadaro said Tuesday evening. Stallone did not appear to be offended.

"You've got a nice city here. I think I'll stay a while," he told Spadaro.

Dupuy's return visit was part of a sister-city relationship that the French mayor had been pushing since her election in 1983.

Using the French word jumelage , which means pairing, she said both towns were linked by their prominence in the entertainment world.

"The advantages of jumelage are that we keep close links between the two cities," she said. "The main connection is motion pictures, but there are also cultural exchanges, student exchanges and mutual visits."

Dupuy, who is serving a six-year term, is also a member of the European Parliament, a veteran of the Resistance against Germany in World War II and a former aide to the late French President Georges Pompidou.

Her proposal failed to win the support of earlier Beverly Hills city councils, but Dupuy credited its eventual approval to Nat Wachsberger, a producer who lives six months of the year in Beverly Hills and the rest in France, along with others who now lead the Beverly Hills/Cannes Sister City Committee.

Wachsberger said he had blithely assured Dupuy that sister cityhood would be no problem, only to find that the idea had been going nowhere for years. "We tried and we tried and push, push, push," he said.

Upon taking office as mayor in April, Spadaro made it her first order of business to win the council's approval for the sister-city relationship and for her trip to Cannes, which she paid for herself.

Coming shortly after France refused to allow U.S. warplanes to fly over its territory en route to Tripoli, her request triggered a controversy that lasted for weeks.

But all five members of the City Council, one of the least harmonious in recent years, according to veteran observers, were present at a welcoming lunch for Dupuy.

"They were happy as clams," said Arthur M. Kassel, president of the Beverly Hills/Cannes Sister City Committee. "So you see, the sister city committee has already done something good for Beverly Hills. It has brought the City Council together in a friendly spirit for the first time."

Kassel, who does not live in the city, operates the Beverly Hills Gun Club, a shooting range that is closer to Santa Monica than it is to the enclave of the rich and famous whose name it bears.

His wife, Tichi Wilkerson Kassel, who serves as chairman of the committee, is editor and publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, an entertainment industry newspaper.

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