It's enough to make a college admissions officer weep with joy: not one, not two, not three, but four -- yes, four -- celebrity offspring checking into the ivied dorms of Brown University.
Gloss, glitz and glamor are nothing new to Brown, from which the sons of John Kennedy, Walter Mondale and King Hussein have graduated. But this celebrity yield is truly breathtaking -- the stuff of which "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" episodes are made.
Yesterday was a day to be savored. It was registration day for Amy Carter, Laura Zaccaro, Cosima von Bu low and Vanessa Vadim.
Daughters of the famous, all of them: begat by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Geraldine Ferraro and John Zaccaro, Claus and Sunny von Bu low, and Jane Fonda and French director Roger Vadim. Princeton has Brooke Shields and Yale has Jennifer Beals, but Brown has the Democrats. In fact, there was a brief Mondale/Ferraro reunion yesterday afternoon when Bill Mondale, Brown class of '85, helped Zaccaro make the campus rounds.
Meanwhile, Rosalynn Carter accompanied Amy to registration, while Jane Fonda sat in daughter Vanessa's room reading The New York Times. As of late afternoon, Cosima von Bu low had not arrived. At least one curious student was waiting outside her room, hoping to catch a glimpse of her.
Many have asked university spokesman Robert Reichley why Brown has attracted such big names. "The obvious reason is that this is a good school," he said. "There are 13,500 others who apply to this place and are equally enthusiastic." When Jane Fonda noticed that overcrowding had forced some students into temporary lounges she remarked, "It's getting to be a hotter and hotter campus."
Students cite the lack of curriculum requirements, a lively dose of political activism and a laid-back campus environment as Brown's chief attributes, but the famous daughters were less clear on why they picked Brown.
"I don't know," said a reticent Amy Carter, who had just begun unpacking. She mentioned the curriculum, but did not elaborate.
Vadim also cited curricular freedom. "I'll do as much as I can until I find something that interests me," she said.
And Zaccaro: "A: the flexible curriculum. I really have no idea what I want to do. I do know I can't be the doctor in the family. I'm more of a humanities student."
Her second reason, she said, was the diversity of Brown's student body: "I came from a small girls' high school and I wanted to change."
Reichley also said the four women will receive no special attention. But that did not stop Brown's dean of residential life Arthur Gallagher from carrying a few of Carter's belongings to her room.
Gallagher said he often helps freshmen move into dorms, but that people don't notice unless it's a celebrity. "I like to think we treat all freshmen like VIPs," he said.
In addition to Gallagher, two Secret Service agents also followed the Carters. The two men, clad in gray suits, will return with Rosalynn Carter to Georgia.
By midafternoon, Amy already had tacked up her David Bowie poster and was at work on other wall hangings.
Carter, who was arrested at the South African embassy in Washington last spring, said today she might get involved in apartheid protests at Brown but remained noncommittal on most questions.
"She seems really shy," said her head counselor, Jeff Gardner.
Amy Carter may be hard to ignore at Brown, but Vanessa Vadim has a considerably lower profile. In fact, she reported that one of her freshman hall-mates had come into her room and said, "You know Jane Fonda's daughter is going to be living here?"
"No kidding," Vadim responded.
The freshmen will have an easy time before classes start. The Orientation Week Committee has planned a beach trip to Newport, a tropical dance party, a semiformal and academic presentations for the next few days. Classes start Tuesday.
All four students are listed in the student phone directory. In last year's edition, Prince Faisal Hussein's Jordan address is sandwiched between those of students from Scarsdale, N.Y., and Lexington, Mass.
Hussein's listing said: "Royal Palace, Amman."