Al Kamen
Al Kamen
In the Loop

Catching up with Fawn Hall

Ron Edmonds/Associated Press - Fawn Hall, former secretary to ousted National Security Council Lt. Col. Oliver North, speaks to reporters outside her lawyer’s office in Washington in 1987.

In the Loop is starting a new feature, “Catching Up With . . . ” The idea is to find out where somewhat notorious former newsmakers are, what they’re doing and, if possible, their reflections on how they’re faring these days. We’re kicking it off with Fawn Hall, the document-shredding secretary at the heart of the Iran-contra affair.

It’s almost 25 years to the day since Hall became the first “celebrity” to walk among the journalists, officials and other assorted Washington types usually gathered at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. (This year’s event is April 28).

Al Kamen

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. He began his reporting career at the Rocky Mountain News and joined The Post in 1980. He has covered local and federal courts, the Supreme Court and the State Department. Follow him on Twitter.

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Then, she turned heads — the secretary to Oliver North had been thrust into the paparazzi crosshairs in the weeks before the black-tie dinner when the story emerged that she had helped her boss cover up evidence (hiding some papers in her dress) of the arms-for-hostages deal.

And her appearance on the arm of Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Kelly (who died in 2003 while covering the Iraq war) helped spawn, for better or worse, the all-out star-ogling that marks today’s dinners.

So, what ever became of Hall?

Turns out she’s living the quiet life in West Hollywood. She works at Book Soup, the beloved Sunset Strip institution, and generally keeps a low profile (she didn’t return our calls). Her husband, Danny Sugerman, former manager and biographer of the Doors, died in 2005 of lung cancer.

Though she’s steered clear of politics, she did give $250 to GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman last year.

Hall’s Washington chapter wasn’t the end of her tumult: After moving to Los Angeles to model, she married Sugerman in 1993. Her new husband, a recovering drug addict, admitted in a 1995 interview that soon after their “fairy-tale” wedding he introduced her to crack. She quickly became addicted, and after a 1994 overdose, she went into rehab.

The couple owned a Hollywood Hills home, where neighbors included Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. Sugarman listed the house for sale in 2007 for nearly $2.5 million.

If you’re wondering how other erstwhile headline-makers are doing these days, please send us your suggestions. E-mail us at intheloop@washpost.com, leave a comment on the blog (washingtonpost.com/intheloop) or tweet us (@InTheLoopWP).

No friend of Congress

The House passed a bill Wednesday creating a commemorative coin honoring Mark Twain. Lawmakers had lauded the author of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” as one of the great American voices and recounted the sage’s many witticisms.

Twain, we can imagine, would be . . . oh, what’s the word? Appalled, perhaps? But hardly surprised. He held a poisonous disdain for Congress in particular and politics in general.

As politicians praise him, it’s worth remembering what Twain had to say about them:

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

“Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a congressman can.”

“An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.”

“There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

“All Congresses and parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.”

Dick Clark, star taxpayer

If there was anything that the late “American Bandstand” host Dick Clark loved more than something with a good beat that you could dance to, it was paying taxes.

At least, that’s according to Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) who paid tribute on the House floor to his friend, who died Wednesday at the age of 82. Dreier praised Clark for his contributions, including racially integrating his popular live dance-and-music show. And he particularly praised Clark’s willingness to kick in for Uncle Sam.

“He was a proud taxpayer,” Dreier said. “He regularly said, ‘Everyone should pay their fair share of taxes.’ ”

The California Republican said he had the chance to thank Clark for paying up. “I said I appreciated that because he knew it was paying my salary.”

Steaks — and intrigue?

Spotted back in town: Former Bush II and Obama defense secretary Robert Gates, now chancellor of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, having lunch Wednesday afternoon at BLT Steak with former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage.

The two have been at or pretty near the center of U.S. foreign policy decision-making for the past three decades. In the Reagan and Bush I years, Armitage was an assistant secretary of defense and a senior envoy. He was deputy secretary of state in the Bush II. years.

Gates was a deputy CIA director for Reagan and CIA director for Bush I.

So when these two get together, you want to know what’s going on. Alas, our source, at the next table no less, says it was noisy and he couldn’t make out what they were saying. (He has been taken off retainer.)

Maybe talking old times, maybe hatching . . .

With Emily Heil

 
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