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What Really Happened When Warren Met Katharine

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Monday, September 29, 2008

In her Pulitzer-winning 1997 memoir, "Personal History," the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham described Warren Buffett as a great friend, teacher and mentor who helped her gain the confidence to steer a major corporation.

But for years, her friends suspected that something more was going on -- and now, apparently, the story can be told. A massive new authorized biography of Buffett, based on extensive interviews with the billionaire investor, details their long-running affair.

In "The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life," set for release today (a copy was viewed by our colleague Marie Arana last night), author Alice Schroeder describes a friendship that began in 1973 after Buffett bought a big chunk of Post stock. He was in his mid-40s and married at the time; she was in her late 50s and widowed. As they spent more time together on business, Buffett began keeping a set of clothes at Graham's Washington home. He visited her mansion on Martha's Vineyard, and "on a lark" they took a trip to Niagara Falls. They also played a lot of bridge.

"She called him constantly about the smallest details of her life," Schroeder writes, and while Graham gained financial acumen from Buffett, she tried to return the favor by improving his dreadful fashion sense, taking him to meet the designer Halston. Graham evidently made no attempt to conceal the relationship; she was seen tossing Buffett her house key at charity benefits.

The book states that the affair played a role in Susie Buffett 's decision to leave her husband in 1977 -- she even sent Graham a letter giving them permission to continue a relationship. But then Buffett became romantically involved with Astrid Menks (whom he wed after his estranged wife's death in 2004); the book describes an awkward 1978 dinner in Omaha with Buffett, his two girlfriends and Post columnist Meg Greenfield. By 1987, Graham and Buffett's "mutual obsession had cooled," Schroeder writes. But they remained close friends until Graham's death in 2001.

At CBC Gala, Political Leanings

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is nonpartisan, get it? Nonpartisan! Yet some of the celebs at the annual gala Saturday just couldn't help but get infected by Obamamania. Host Holly Robinson Peete gushed about Obama, and made no apologies for it. "I know who I'm voting for," she said to laughter.

Then again, partisan lines weren't the only ones getting crossed this weekend. A CBC bash sponsored by Verizon on Friday packed Love nightclub with executive types in cocktail wear grooving to the sounds of LL Cool J. When the rapper segued into his '96 hit "Doin' It," he invited the ladies to join him onstage -- and got swarmed by female fans, some getting so up-close-and-personal the superstar practically blushed.

"I'm nice, but I'm not that nice," he said. "I thought this was a corporate event!"

Henry and Jenna Bush Hager

Just because we haven't seen them much lately -- here's Jenna Bush Hager and new husband Henry planting a dogwood tree in a little ceremony at the White House Saturday. What's she up to these days, you ask? Teaching at a charter school in Baltimore, where they live.

A Double Dose of Reality: From Bear Stearns to 'Amazing Race'

For months, Potomac native Sarah Leshner begged her boss: Please could she take off a month for a shot at reality TV fame? The answer came back no: The company needed her for the big spring conference -- and it didn't want that kind of publicity.

Turned out her company had bigger things to worry about . . . because it was Bear Stearns. When the investment bank collapsed in March, Leshner found herself jobless but suddenly free to take that offer to compete on "The Amazing Race." The Churchill High grad, 31, and boyfriend Terence Gerchberg were among 11 teams vying for $1 million in the new season that debuted last night. (Dad Alan Leshner is a leading D.C. policy wonk: chief exec of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.)

"I feel like I lived through a horrible tragedy," Leshner said of her colleagues who are uprooted or unemployed. But it worked out for her: After seeing so much poverty via the show's round-the-world chase, she abandoned Wall Street for a job in microfinance. "It just feels so much better," she said.

LOVE, ETC.

ยท Wed: Scarlett Johansson, 23, to fellow actor Ryan Reynolds, 31, her reps confirm. The Hollywood heartbreakers (she canoodled with Josh Hartnett, Jared Leto, Justin Timberlake, etc.; he was engaged to Alanis Morissette) tied the knot Saturday at a resort outside of Vancouver, Us Weekly reports.

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