Rosalynn Carter and Lady Bird Johnson didn't make the final cut. Betty Ford did, but she couldn't make the celebration. And Cheryl Tiegs? Well she wasn't an official winner at Wednesday night's Women of Achievement awards ceremonies in the swank Hotel Pierre, but someone forgot to tell the photographers.
About 400 guests crowded into a black-tie reception in the hotel's Gold Room to help the Ladies' Home Journal honor 11 Women of the Decade and 10 Women of the Future. The Women of the Decade -- who included singers Marian Anderson and Beverly Sills, actresses Helen Hayes and Katharine Hepburn, and the late anthropolgist Margaret Mead -- were chosen by 10,000 readers of the magazine from 53 Women of the Year honored over the past five years. All received inscribed Baccarat crystal spheres and lots of peer congratulation.
Several of the winners pleaded prior engagements. Sills telephoned her regrets from Los Angeles. Barbara Jordan had to cancel at the last minute. Hepburn, the word went, was making a movie. That explains -- though not completely -- Cheryl Tiegs. Tiegs would accept for Hepburn.
"They got in touch with me and we discussed it -- I decided on Katharine Hepburn," said the towering blond model, wrapped in a glittery purple pantsuit, before snapping her head to the left to accommodate still another frenzied cry of "just one Cheryl."
Publicist Howard Greene acknowledged that several of the acceptors had been chosen by the magazine, not the honorees. "The magazine," Greene remarked with a hangdog smile, "tried to match as best it could."
Off in a part of the room not yet made dangerous by swinging camera equipment, financial writer Sylvia Porter, another sudden child of the '70s, seemed properly pleased. Porter, whose column reaches 40 million readers, agreed that some of the winners had probably "hit their peak" before the '70s. And her? Ever the economist, she traced a sharply rising curve in the air.
Over by the door, composer Elizabeth Swados stepped hesitantly into the room, looking as if she had taken a wrong turn somewhere in the East Village. Wearing a country-style dress and a red and purple kerchief over her long brown hair, she began to circle around the pockets of conversation.
Was she a woman of the decade or a woman of the future? Swados, unsure, grabbed a press kit to check, A woman of the future it turned out.
"I'm so glad that it's not all over," said the 27-year-old, now scoring and directing the movie version of her Broadway show, "Runaways."
Some guests declined to quibble about ages, decades, or missing names. Marlo Thomas, asked to second guess the choices, playfully muzzled her questioner with a deftly placed palm. What's a decade, after all, between friends. Or, as Ali McGraw opined while gradually matching Tiegs pose for pose, "I don't know about the ramifications. They're all admirable."
Elsewhere, political talk flickered amid the amenities. New York Gov. Hugh Carey, looking slim in a gray suit, explained to a well-wisher, "My manager keeps me geared up for anything." Barbara Walters, sweeping in late to dinner in a slinky red dress, told reporters that she resented press references to her as the shah's friend. "I've never had so much as a glass of water with him," she remarked. I've never dined with him socially, It makes as much sense as calling me Yassar Arafat's friend."
After dinner in the Grand Ballroom, the guests, among them Sens. Birch Bayh, (D-Ind.) Charles Percy (R-Ill.) and Larry Pressler, (R-S. Dak.) watched the miracle of television turn the ceremonies into a dignified rehersal -- the ceremonies were taped for a syndicated special. Marie Osmond sang "A Woman In Love," which sent more than a few eyes rolling. During one prolonged delay, the director, with an innocent air that only a seasoned TV pro could muster, politely asked the crowd, "Can we have 20 seconds of applause please?"
The crowd obliged, but the winners naturally got a warmer response. Especially the "Women of the Future." All but one of them -- they included presidential assistant Sarah Weddngton and Department of Labor official Alexis Herman -- showed up in person. Maureen McTeer, First Lady of Canada and recent law school graduate, decided not to jeopardize her future by celebrating it too soon. She stayed home to study for her bar exam.
The Women of the Decade were: Marian Anderson, Joan Ganz Cooney, Betty Ford, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Jordan, Elisabeth Kubler Ross, Sylvia Porter, Beverly Sills, Barbara Walters and Margaret Mead (posthumous award).
The Women of the Future were: Polly Baca-Barragan, Camron Cooper, Linda Parke Gallagher, Alexis M. Herman, Sherry Lansing, Maureen McTeer, Norma Paulus, Alice Peurala, Elizabeth Swados and Sarah Ragle Weddington.