If he hadn't been elected president, one wonders if Ronald Reagan would have played so large a role in so many movie-star autobiographies. Actress Patricia Neal has prominently featured the president in her as-yet-untitled book due out in the spring. Neal made her first movie, "John Loves Mary," with Reagan in 1948, and the two spent quite a bit of time together filming in London. He was, she writes, reluctantly being divorced from Jane Wyman, and Neal was having an affair with Gary Cooper, with whom she made her second film that year, "The Fountainhead."

Because they were filming in food-rationed, postwar London, Reagan had steaks flown in from the 21 Club in New York to eat at the Savoy Hotel, where the film crew was housed. Neal said one night Reagan called the kitchen for his steaks and was told they were all gone. He knew better: Someone was stealing his steaks. But, Neal writes, it was "typical of the man" to say that since meat was still being rationed, he didn't mind sharing his with others.

Next month, Neal will present the first Patricia Neal Awards for courage and tenacity in overcoming unexpected physical disability. They will be presented at a dinner at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel to Reagan press secretary James Brady, entertainer Barbara Mandrell and John and Susan Bonanni of IBM. Neal's spokesman, Barry Landau, said the film star is committed to the rehabilitation work she sponsors "but sometimes is tired of being known as a stroke victim who was once an actor. She is an actress who once had a stroke."

Out and About

Until last year, British subjects living abroad weren't able to vote in elections back home. Now they can, and just like Americans abroad, they have political organizations wherever they live. That's why Lord Havers, the Lord Chancellor of Britain, showed up Monday night at a fundraiser for the group Conservatives Abroad in a downtown Washington law office. The event was apparently historic for being the first such fundraiser in the United States. Washington attorney and British citizen Valerie Pease, who hosted the reception, said Lord Havers met with Attorney General Edwin Meese before the gathering. Pease pointed out that high court judges in Britain needn't endure the kind of confirmation process that Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork is undergoing. The Lord Chancellor appoints all judges. He is also speaker of the House of Lords and a member of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet. There seems to be little concern in Britain about separating branches of government ...Secretary of State George Shultz, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and other officials boarded a 65-foot pleasure craft last night for a Potomac cruise to Mount Vernon. According to the State Department, the diplomats dined on catered hamburgers, fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans and ice cream sundaes ...

Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, who died three weeks ago at 75, was among four people named winners yesterday of the $100,000 Defender of Jerusalem Award. According to a spokesman for the Jabotinsky Foundation, which began the awards five years ago to recognize those "who stand up in defense of the rights of Jewish people," the trustees will establish a scholarship in Rustin's memory with his share of the award. Rustin was nominated for the award by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan ...

Hospital Report: The great tenor saxophonist Stan Getz is to undergo major surgery Friday at the Stanford Medical Center to remove a growth from his chest ... And White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker entered Georgetown University Hospital yesterday suffering from diverticulitis ...

Quick with some topical humor on the papal visit, Bob Hope observed that the pope "knew he was in Beverly Hills when he requested holy water and was asked if he wanted a twist of lime" ...