"Hollywood Meets Washington," the press releases said, but it was no contest. At tonight's Democratic National Committee black-tie dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria, none of the congressional representatives (there were at least five on hand) or senators (there were nine) or even former vice president Walter Mondale drew as many flashbulbs as Woody Allen and Mia Farrow.
The draw for Farrow and Allen was the evening's honorees, Arthur Krim -- the 76-year-old chairman of Orion Pictures and adviser to every Democratic president since John F. Kennedy -- and his wife Mathilde, a research biologist and cochairman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. "A very self-effacing couple," DNC Chairman Paul G. Kirk Jr. called them. "We had to do some fairly fancy persuading to allow us to do this."
The draw for the nearly 600 others was Farrow and Allen, who arrived early in matching tuxedos, hers adorned with a red bow tie and spats. They took the brunt of the photo barrage (along with Caroline Kennedy, her fiance Edwin Schlossberg and her brother John F. Kennedy Jr.), since Warren Beatty came late and Mikhail Baryshnikov didn't show.
Krim said he'd been avoiding scenes like this "for 25 years. But I was persuaded it was important for us to have a strong committee for the Senate and congressional elections in 1986 and the presidential election in 1988." The evening, one of a series of DNC regional fundraisers, yielded "well in excess of half a million dollars," Kirk said.
"We need the money," Mondale said, pausing to greet Mayor Ed Koch. "We never have as much as the Republicans, so events like this give us a little muscle."
Democratic Party rebirth was a common theme among the evening's speakers. But Sen. Edward Kennedy, Kirk and other party leaders declined to comment substantively on the U.S. bombing in Libya pending further information. "All Americans would stand with the commander in chief at this moment," Kennedy said.
Walter and Joan Mondale presented the Krims with a silver-framed photograph of John Kennedy visiting the Krims' East Side town house in 1962, as Mondale himself did during the 1984 New York primary. "I was both broke and behind, and I needed a friend," Mondale said, recalling his eventual New York victory. "I should have stayed there, Arthur. We'd all be doing something else tonight."
The presence of the presidential candidate, his family, his staff, the Secret Service and the police helped reduce crime in the Krims' neighborhood by 50 percent, Mondale quipped. As for the resulting phone bills, "I'm told that Cliff Robertson will be starring in the next 12 movies made by Orion Pictures."
Kennedy, not to be outdone, said he and his Senate colleagues also had a gift for the Krims: "We're going to give them a Democratic victory in the Senate in 1986 and a Democratic victory in 1988, and Arthur and Mathilde are going to be the first ones to dance at the inaugural ball."