There on the lawn of the vice president's house, somewhere in the crowd behind the movie stars, George Bush and actor Christopher Reeve -- better known as Superman -- was Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), autographing "Superman II'' programs for a couple of children.
"Ted! How are you -- Superman!" said former Florida congressman Paul Rogers, grinning and grasping Kennedy's hand.
A little Hollywood, a good cause and a little political spark -- all brought to you by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who (along with a cast of hundreds) organized a day-long extravaganza that included brunch at her house, the premiere of "Superman II'' at the Uptown theater and supper on the lawn of the vice president's house -- all for the benefit of the International Special Olympics, of which Shriver is president.
But before Ted Kennedy even appeared, she threw the opening political witticism. Standing before the audience in the Uptown, as she introduced Special Olympics athlete Loretta Claibourne, who recently ran the Boston Marathon, Shriver declared, "I promise you, when my brother gets to the White House, any of you can come and meet her."
Claibourne got a standing ovation.
"Did she say that?" Kennedy asked later, laughing. "She's really something."
He picked up the ball later when he was introduced to the crowd of about 1,000 and said, "I was elected president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation [sponsor of Special Olympics] because my family thought I ought to be president of something." The crowd roared.
"I agree with George and Barbara Bush," he continued, as the couple listened from the same platform. "This is the second loveliest place to live in Washington."
It was indeed one of the more interesting configurations of guests Washington has hosted in a while. The vice president told people to make themselves at home. "We missed the movie," he said, making his way through the crowd."We just got into town."
Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, and Terence Stamp -- all in the movie -- wandered around, shaking hands and signing autographs. "I didn't stay for the movie," Hackman said later. "I just made an appearance and left." Well-wishers told him the movie would do great. "Well, I hope it does well. It doesn't do any of us any good if it doesn't," he said.
Earlier in the afternoon, the movie got a lot of applause and generally good reviews in the lobby. The stars leaving the premiere got a lot of applause, too, from the crowd on the sidewalk. Soccer star Pele was so mobbled by autograph seekers that two policemen had to escort him to a waiting car.
"Someone asked me how I got so evil," said Sarah Douglas, one of the black-clad villains of the movie. "Well, aside from acting," she said, chuckling, "they got me up early in the morning, put a short wig on over my hair, and put white makeup and black lipstick on. It takes two hours, and after all that, you feel evil."
At the Shrivers' brunch Reeve noted, "You can't really ask an actor if he likes his own work. If you say yes, you sound conceited. If you say no, you sound insecure. But I think that audiences will like it . . ."
"Superman" and "Superman Ii'' are totally different styles of film-making, said Reeve.
And so it was with the parties that went along with them. Two and a half years ago it was black-tie cocktails at the Kennedy Center, and the scene of the evening was President Carter sharing his box with rival Ted Kennedy, presidential hopeful, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Yesterday the brunch was outdoors in the soft, squishy grass of Eunice and Sargent Shriver's massive sloping back yard, and there was Reeve, a little more seasoned looking, in rolled up shirt-sleeves, khakis and blue blazer, the humidity making a little curl in his hair. Eunice Shriver was in white pants and Sargent Shriver was in a tan linen suit. ("Dad, where'd you get that suit?" asked Bobby Shriver.)
But, as Reeve was saying, the new film is still true to the character of Superman, and so the party for the sequel had much the same cast of characters -- with some political adjustments: The role of chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee was played by Sen Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.). s
Thurmond was spotted introducing Hackman to all of the young Thurmonds.
Reeve was there with his girlfriend, Gae Exton, with whom he lives in New York, and an addition to their personal cast -- son Matthew, 17 months old, flaxen-haired and blue-eyed, who wore his name tag on the back of his shirt. He does not plan to be Superman when he grows up.
"No, he's going to be a lawyer," said Exton (in a minidress with a ruffle at the hem), holding Matthew.
"He can be his daddy's lawyer," said a friend.
"I tell you, with them all taking percentages now," added Exton soberly, "lawyers, agents . . ."
Many of yesterday's guests -- including former Olympic skier Billy Kidd and New York Jets football player Johnny Lam Jones -- are involved in the Special Olympics. Others there included participants and officials of the program, and there was a sports demonstration at the vice president's.
The result of the preponderance of movie people: There were 20 limousines parked on 49th Street leading into the Shrivers' property.
"I'm great at this," said actress Susan St. James, national chairwoman of community affairs for Special Olympics, as she scanned the crowd, "looking for my favorite movie stars."
One restored political star was Arthur Burns, nominated by President Reagan to be ambassador to West Germany. Not excited about it, Burns said. "No, I stay cool."
"Arthur," said his friend Sargent Shriver, pulling him over to body-builder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, "there is a man here who is an Austrian, if not a full-fledged German, whom I want you to meet."
Schwarzenegger attended the first premiere as the date of Maria Shriver. Just back from Spain, in town to promote a book, he was there yesterday with Shriver.
"You're tan," said Leah Pedas, beaming at Schwarzenegger's golden face. Her husband is one of the owners of the Uptown theater, where the movie screening was held.
"From the sun in Spain," he said. "I've been there six months working on a movie."
"I'm so glad you're in something good," she said. "I loved 'Pumping Iron.' "
Most of the actors seemed game for handling the attention and the humidity. "This will be the biggest movie of the year," predicted actor Jack O'Halloran, who plays a villain in the movie. He waved, as another villain -- Terence Stamp -- walked by. "So we've got to do this. Personally," O'Halloran added with a smile, "I'd rather be home in California sipping a lemonade."