There are rumors of heavenly bodies gliding all over our town this weekend. Most of them were true.
And even for usually celebrity-saturated, blase Washington, the presence Saturday of two Angels (as in Charlie's) and one Superman caused more than a few necks to crane for a glimpse.
Jaclyn Smith, Christopher Reeve and Farrah Fawcett all three both blessed and cursed with the burgen of beauty, did their best to fend off the hordes, as Smith was spotted Saturday climbing the steps of the Corcoran Gallery, Reeve drinking grapefruit juice at a coffee shop downtown and Fawcett sightseeing around Georgetown with her parents.
And while all three despise the term "sex symbol," they cannot deny that the very sight of them in the flesh seems to bring out a reaction in some people that registers at least 8.3 on the Richter scale.
But as Jaclyn Smith, who is in town for the filming of a TV movie about Jackie Kennedy, said with a firm look on her aloof but fragily beautiful face, "But I'm not aware of having a sexual image, and I don't feel like a sexual symbol."
The National Enquirer has already dubbed Christopher Reeve "The Reluctant Sex Symbol." What more can you say?
Superman flew into town for six hours Saturday and spent one hour of it sipping grapefruit juice at a coffee shop with his back turned to the world.
(If you're wondering it he's into health food and all that stuff, one clue might be that he ate a handful of mints both entering and leaving the restaurant.)
If you saw Reeve on the street, you might think he was a Secret Service agent. His eyes are constantly darting all around, hoping to avoid confrontation with anyone who might recognize him. "I've got to keep moving or I'll attract a crowd," says Reeve, not seeming to notice that, except for one little boy who nabbed him, the street virtually empty. You hurry alongside, trying to keep up as he strides across the street to the coffee shop, secretly hoping someone you know will see you.
Our hero's face cringes with pain when you bring up the hated label of "sex symbol." "I am not a sex symbol, and I pay less than no attention to that," says Reeve, rearranging his 6-foot-4-inch frame in his chair and looking quite perturbed, his eyes flashing in a very cute kind of way. "I find that whole thing the silliest thing going."
Is Superman sexy? "I have heard that his combination of power and innocence is attractive to some people," admits Reeve. He tries to deny that he had anything to do with creating a sexy man of steel. "I have tried to emphasize the gentleman, the pacifist in him rather than the violent, muscle-man image," he says. "That's what I'm more confortable with personally and what I think is more contemporary."
And when you pursue the topic by asking whom he considers "sexy," Reeve refuses to answer and insists that the subject be switched back to his favorite project -- the May 31 benefit for the Special Olympics at the Uptown Theater where "Superman II" will be shown for the first time in this country. It's the Special Olympics that has triggered his whirlwind tour of Washington in the hope of selling more tickets to the premiere.
Reve, 28, is wearing the preppie uniform of khakis, blue button-down shirt and navy blazer and looks much leaner and more angular than you'd expect. The fleshier look Reeve took on as Superman was accomplished by gaining 30 pounds that he has now shed.
Reeve is no slouch in the credentials department, having attended Princeton Day School and majored in English at Cornell. He still plays the piano every day and reads the books of John McPhee and Russian author Yurasov, whose name he is glad to spell. He also admits that he's recently found that bowling can be fun.
He shakes his wavy hair with a boyish pout when you ask if he's afraid of being typecast as Superman. "I just can't believe that I keep being asked question," he says, flashing his eyes in a steely blue glare. "Typecasting is when you can't get a job. I've already done three plays. I've played parts from a psychotic killer to a Chicago reporter. Today you can't be a star without being an actor. This is not the era of Tab Hunter." c
Jaclyn Smith can barely walk in her narrow '60s dress. Her hair is covered by a teased and sprayed bouffant wig and a pillbox hat. An "Angelic" Jackie Kennedy?
Smith, who seemed to be a "Charlie's Angel" in spite of herself, is in town for four days shooting the ABC-TV movie "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy" to be shown this September. It's a docu-drama that producer Lou Rudolph is calling "a romantic comedy" and an "affectionate portrait" about the childhood, courtship and White House years of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
You wouldn't say that Smith resembles the former first Lady (in fact she seems somehow shorter and smaller), but with the right clothes, makeup and accessories and, more important, the right carriage and mannerisms, she's believable.
And between coaching from her voice instructor, who is turning her soft Houston nuances into a more Jackie-esque Vassar-Long Island lockjaw, and applications of more hair spray, Smith is quick to point out that this angel has come down to earth.
"It's time for me not to be an "Angel" anymore, and I hope the image won't stay with me as an actress," says Smith, as she totters on spike heels down the steps of the National Gallery, clutching her muff after finishing the very first one-minute segment of film. "But I'm not aware of having a sexual image, and I don't feel like a sex symbol.
"I didn't feel exploited on the show," she says as she enters her wardrobe trailer parked on the Mall to take her to another costume change for the Corcoran Gallery sequence. "And if you notice, I didn't run around in a bikini unless I was at a pool, on the beach or in Hawaii."
As we wait for her to emerge from her trailer again, a messenger arrives carrying a People's Drug Store bag with two more badly needed cans of hair spray. Smith is not used to wearing wigs and is finding the bouffant uncomfortable.
She comes out again, this time in red with Jackie's trademark matching pillbox. "I felt a tremendous overreaction to the whole thing. We were the first show of its kind and I wouldn't have done it if it was just three Barbie dolls or three girls in bathing suits," she argues.
"No, I've never met Mrs. Onassis," says Smith in her best breathless version of The Jackie Voice, adding that she thinks the former first lady has a rather "refined sexual appeal and a real sense of herself." It's also the way people around her view Smith. "She's a real lady," says her costumer, who is carrying Smith's Chanel handbag, gloves and umbrella to hand to her on the set.
As you walk alongside her, you wonder how much of that cool-as-a-cucumber, poised and proper exterior is Jaclyn Smith and how much is the Jackie she's portraying. On the set, the director calls her Jackie. Which one does he mean?
How can a former "Charlie's Angel" leap from leather jumpsuits to kid gloves? "All that TV stuff was not really a part of me," she says. "I come from a good family background."
It wasn't hard to spot Farrah Fawcett at the American Cancer Society Ball Saturday night at the Washington Hilton.
While the other 600 ladies were smothering everyone in sight in billowing skirts and balloon sleeves, Fawcett was knocking their husbands dead in above-the-knee moire taffeta Valentino culottes with high heels, sheer black hose big drop earrings and a totally ruffled purple Bill Blass top.
Fawcett, who was a special guest at the annual ball, also brought along Mom and Dad Fawcett (James and Pauline) from Houston, but left beau Ryan O'Neal at home. She shook 1,200 hands in the receiving line and posed for 105 photos with patrons who gave $2,500 each to the society. "We had several names to choose from for a celebrity guest for this ball," said Sylvan Gershowitz, chairman of the standing committee. "But we knew she photographed so well and people love to have their photos taken with a beautiful person."
"She's very attractive," said Father Gilbert Hartke of Catholic University, after clasping Fawcett's hand in the receiving line. "And more girlish than I thought. But any girl that goes out on a Saturday night with her parents can't be all bad."
When her official duties were finished, the glamorous Farrah Fawcett tried to eat fettucine at her table while signing autographs and fending off photographers.
"Here's one of the perils of fame," said Fawcett, trying to gracefully twirl the fettucine on her fork. "Trying to eat pasta with 300 people looking on."
Fawcett, who doesn't drink or smoke, is sporting a new hairdo, which she calls a kind of "punk" look. It's cut in short layers in the front. w"For so long I had all that hair around my face," she says. "I wanted a more narrow look." But never fear, the long mane and fluffy curls remain in the back. She doesn't feel all that hair is that important to her appeal. "I would definitely cut my hair if a role required it, but I do prefer it long."
Does she think of herself as a sex symbol? "Strangely enough, I know my appeal isn't all sexual," says Fawcett. "I don't have the same kind of following as Loni Anderson or Suzanne Somers or, say, five other blonds who have done posters. I think people feel differently about me.
"I don't feel exploited sexually because of my looks. But I do feel I was exploited with all that unauthorized merchandise that came out with me on it and all those unauthorized cover stories. That was not fair."
She doesn't mind being reminded of her "Charlie's Angels" days. "I don't get upset when people associate me with the show. I owe a lot to it. Although now I've moved on to something else."
When you ask Fawcett, 33, what she would like to be doing 10 years from now, she seems to really ponder the question as she tousles the punk part of her new hairdo. "I'd like to have a family. It would be nice to be active in some sort of business, but I don't know if I want it to be acting. I'd like to be happy," she adds.
Fawcett, who doesn't have even the hint of a crow's foot on her tanned face, says she would probably be afraid to have a facelift if the time came. "I'm not against them, and I would encourage someone to do it if it made them feel better," she says, asking her secretary to throw over her pale purple lip gloss. "A lot is expected of my looks all the time. People are constantly saying, 'Oh, you look larger.' 'Oh, you look shorter.' Oh, you're thinner than I expected.' Just the fact that they expect something physically of you is a pressure." (An informal poll taken after the receiving line had most people saying that she was much more petite than they thought she was, but really much more attractive in person than on screen.)
Why does she think her appeal is so strong? "I really don't know," she says, as her father stops by and asks the reporter whether she is "being nice" to his daughter. Says Farrah, "It's incredible, but people are really into everything I do. I just can't go anywhere where I'm not hounded. I don't know what it is, but I hope I can keep doing whatever it is I do to deserve it. Maybe it's because I'm such a contradiction. People only see me on the screen, but after they meet me, they see what I'm really about."
At this point, the military high school students in uniform who have been assigned to control the eager crowds around their celebrity guest say they can't keep the autograph hounds back any longer. End of interview.
Her mother, who must know what her daughter is about by now, says that Farrah didn't have many dates as she grew up and that she spent most of her time talking on the phone. "She was very popular with the boys, but not with the girls in school," says Pauline Fawcett. "The boys would say to the girls, 'Gee, I'd love to date Farrah.' So the girls said, 'I don't like Farrah.' So she really stayed home a lot."
As mother always said, looks aren't everything.