Washington is a beautiful place, thanks in no small part to Lady Bird Johnson, who made the brightening up of this city a special cause. On the Virginia side of the river, there is a small park named in her honor, and another sort of thank-you to the former first lady is in the works. Lady Bird turns 75 on Dec. 22, and plans are underway to honor her here not too long after that with three days of receptions, dinners and ceremonies. And since bleak, cold December was judged not a time to celebrate properly the "Legacy of Lady Bird," the organizers chose late April, "when Washington is glorious."

Among the highlights of the tentative schedule are a reading on the House floor by Speaker Jim Wright of a joint congressional resolution honoring Lady Bird, and presentation of a Congressional Medal by the President Reagan Among numerous social events planned are a dinner in the Capitol's Statuary Hall, a luncheon with the Washington business community, a tea at the new Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle, a buffet at the Hirshhorn Museum and a Texas Society reception at the Botanic Garden followed by a concert on the Capitol grounds at which Willie Nelson has been invited to perform. All the former presidents and first ladies have been invited, and Gerald and Betty Ford already have said they will attend.

Out and About

It was 25 years ago today that a 30-year-old Edward Kennedy became the new senator from Massachusetts amid some grumbling that the family was building a dynasty. Tonight in Boston, his children -- Kara, 27, Ted Jr., 26, and Patrick, 20 -- are hosting a gala dinner in Boston's Westin Hotel celebrating those Senate years with testimonials from former speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, Rep. Silvio Conte and Martin Luther King III. The legendary diva Leontyne Price will sing, and a short documentary film celebrating Kennedy's Senate achievements will be shown. The letter of invitation to the dinner, signed by his children, says "the dinner will highlight service rather than politics, and the important role that government can play in people's lives" ...

Jean Harris, the convicted killer of Scarsdale Diet doctor Herman Tarnower, will not be able to keep any money from her recently published autobiography, "Stranger in Two Worlds." The former Madeira School headmistress must return the $45,000 advance she received from her publisher, Macmillan, to the New York State crime victims fund, the state Crime Victims Compensation Board ruled Wednesday. The decision was based on New York's "Son of Sam" law, which prevents criminals from profiting from their crimes. Harris is serving a 15-years-to-life term for the murder of Tarnower, her lover of 14 years. Her publisher refused to say how much she had received in royalties from the book ...

Royal Watch: Sarah, the Duchess of York, the friendly favorite of the royal watchers, will be in New York in January for the U.S. premiere of the smash London musical "The Phantom of the Opera." The New York opening will be Jan. 21, and guests who pay $1,000 for a ticket will have the added attraction of dining with Fergie before the show. Funds raised that evening will go the the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and two British charities, the Royal College of Music and the Sick Children's Trust. "Phantom" is sold out for months, and tickets are virtually unobtainable. The $1,000-a-ticket price for the benefit opening is probably not too far from what the scalpers are asking ...