Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Tuesday night the spectre of Dr. Rosalind Yaslow hung rather heavily over the annual presentation of the Ladies Home Journal "Women of the Year" awards at L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. Yaslow, the 1977 Nobel prize-winner in medicine, was chosen as one of this year's 10 Journal winners, only to turn the award down in a letter that appeared this week in The New York Times.
"I think she better get her nose out of a test tube," fumed Liz Carpenter when chatting about the first woman to nix the award in its six-year history. "If she were out there working for women, she'd see that any applause given any achiever helps when it comes time to vote for the ERA."
Lenore Hershey, Ladies Home Journal editor, clearly wasn't happy about Yaslows snub.
"When she called me," said Hershey, "she said that she lived in a real world - real is her word - and that she felt awards given only to women, not people, were outdated.Well, when 51.3 percent of the Nobel Prize winners are women, I will agree that the 'Women of the Year' awards are old-fashioned. And don't forget . . . she won her Nobel Prize as part of a man/woman team."
The annual affair, beginning with cocktails and followed by dinner, drew 175 expected guests as well as one surprise visitor: former secretary of state Henry Kissinger. On his way to a meeting of the executive board of the Trilateral Commission, Kissinger got lost and wandered into the cocktail reception, where he was immediately surrounded by - among others - ABC's Barbara Walters. "I'm just looking for my own party," said Kissinger, who nonetheless accepted a glass of champagne.
"Henry, I'm going to call Nancy tomorrow and tell her we don't know why, but you showed up," chided Walters.
"Well, I'm here to get the award for Person of the Year. It's not fair you know, just to have a woman of the year," retorted Kissinger, who later said he knew nothing about Yaslow's actions.
Former Olympic skier Suzy Chaffee turned a few heads herself when she arrived wearing a body-clinging, white jersey gown, and accompanied by stockbroker Jim Dawson, a "sort-of" boyfriend.
Asked about the effect on her of publicity that linked her name with Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D-Mass.), Chaffee said, "Actually, it's been great. All of a sudden people listen more to what I have to say - about women's sports issues, that is.
"And after all," she added, "all we did was ski together. And it was the first time we had even done that. But Ted doesn't exactly have a conservative reputation, so it got blown out of proportion."
First Lady Rosalynn Carter, one of the 10 winners, arrived just before the awards ceremony, emceed by walters.
During the awards presentation, presidential assistant Midge Costanza drew a laugh when in a reference to Yaslow she jibed: "When we start electing and appointing mediocre women . . . then and only then will we have achieved total equality with men."
The other winners present to accept Tuesday night's awards included New York City Council President Carole Bellamy; singer Natalie Cole; actress Cicely Tyson; Roberta Karmel, the first woman member of the Securities and Exchange Commission; conductor Margaret Hillis; and Secretary of Commerce Juanita Kreps.
Actress Anne Bancroft and tennis champion Chris Evert, also winners, were unable to attend. Carter was introduced by former first lady lady Bird Johnson.