A recent poll by the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press found that only 50% of Americans correctly named Boris Yeltsin as Russia's president.
That was better than the 13% who knew that Boutros Boutros-Ghali is the United Nations secretary general and the 40% who knew that the Palestinians are the people with whom Israel reached a peace accord.
So who are Americans familiar with?
According to a new Gallup Poll, 69% of adults age 18 to 49 can successfully identify television producer Aaron Spelling.
Spelling's work includes such current hit shows as "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place" as well as such older shows as "Charlie's Angels" and "The Love Boat."
One of the more colorful characters in the ongoing saga of beleaguered studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is Giovanni DiStefano, a former Beverly Hills resident and associate of former MGM owner Giancarlo Parretti.
DiStefano got a batch of ink in late 1992 when he proclaimed he was buying the studio with colorful financier Bernard Cornfeld. The studio laughed off DiStefano's bid.
An update on DiStefano was published last week in the Sunday Star Times in New Zealand, where DiStefano remains a notorious figure, having been banned there after an alleged investment scam.
DiStefano is now a Serbian businessman, the newspaper said, heading a multimillion housing housing project. Among the bizarre revelations in the story is that DiStefano's passport "bears the home address of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic."
The President and the King
The death last month of former President Richard Nixon has sparked a renewed interest in his Administration, as evidenced by the attention given diaries of his late chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman.
Now comes what undoubtedly is the most unusual Nixon nostalgia book: "The Day Elvis Met Nixon."
The $18.95 book, for sale at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, is an account of the half-hour 1970 meeting between Nixon and Elvis written by Egil (Bud) Krogh, former Nixon deputy counsel and meeting eyewitness.
The book reveals that Krogh first learned Elvis wanted to meet Nixon with "Elvis handing a letter requesting to see the President to a startled guard at the Northwest Gate of the White House."
Krogh says Nixon and Elvis rummaged through a drawer looking at such presidential souvenirs as golf balls, cuff links and pins. The book also pictures an honorary badge Nixon presented Elvis making him a special assistant in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, something historians have noted as ironic given revelations about Presley's drug habits that emerged after he died.
Also included is what undoubtedly are some of the last words penned by Nixon. On the back of the cover is a statement from Nixon dated eight days before he died congratulating Krogh on the book, saying it "shatters many of the myths that have spread" about the meeting.