Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Ladies' Home Journal presented its 5th annual "Women of the Year" awards Monday night but unlike ceremonies of the four previous years, this one went untelevised.
"The real story is how we've been discriminated against by television," said Journal editor Lenore Hershey. "Somehow the networks feel an awards TV show involving women is not prime-time fare."
As recently as a week ago, she said, there had been "a nibble" by a would-be sponsor pushing one network to accept the 90-minute effort by trying to line up the Journal's June cover star, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, as mistress of ceremonies.
"I think it's necessary to theatricalize the show but we'd have had a chance to be on TV, if she had accepted. You feel if in order to win, you have to lean over and popularize it, it's worth getting the message to women about women achievers."
As it was, nine women achievers (one of them, singer Marian Anderson, was represented by Maya Angelou, a 1976 winner) and their nine "presenters" starred without commercial or coast-to-coast fanfare in the intimacy of Ford's Theater before some 400 invited guests.
They included Liz Carpenter, women's rights advocate; League of Women Voters' President Ruth C. Clusen; journalist Elizabeth Drew; psychiatrist-author Elizabeth Kubler-Ross; "Reading is Fundamental" founder Margaret McNamara; Girl Scouts President Gloria Scott; Olypmic speed skating medalist Sheila Young and labor leader Addie L. Wyatt.
They received their awards from former First Lady Bird Johnson; HUD Secretary Patricia Harris; UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas; evangelist Ruhh Carter Stepleton; Linda Bird Johnson Robb; former U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug; Caron Carter, and Presidential Assistant Midge Costanza, respectively. Joan Mondale presented the Anderson award.
"What a lovely way to spend an evening, playing this theater with Mrs. Johnson," said Carpenter, former press secretary to Mrs. Johnson and one of several prominent women in the Johnson administration who figured in Monday night's presentations.
Betty Furness, LBJ's special assistant for consumer affairs, shared emcee honors with Metropolitan Opera star Roberta Peters. And independent television producer Joe Cates staged the show, as he had done previous ones.
If the awards lost out on television exposure Monday night, the 1976 presentations got the blame from Cates who claimed its ratings had been dragged "way down" by the network's positioning it after a documentary on Harry Truman.
"This is a monopoly, you're talking about. There are three networks only and they pick and choose. It's only ratings they care about," Cates said.