Retired House speaker Tip O'Neill underwent prostate surgery yesterday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, just 12 days after doctors there removed a malignant rectal tumor. It was while the 74-year-old O'Neill was being examined at Sibley Memorial Hospital here two weeks ago for possible prostate surgery that the rectal tumor was discovered.

A hospital spokesman said about 90 percent of O'Neill's prostate was removed yesterday, and Dr. Jerome P. Richie, who performed the surgery, said, "The speaker is doing beautifully." An initial examination of prostate tissue showed it to be benign. Other tests will be performed this week to confirm that diagnosis. O'Neill is expected to be in the hospital another 10 days. The former speaker, who retired last year after 34 years in the House, was on a national tour promoting his political memoirs, titled "Man of the House," when he entered Sibley for treatment of his lingering prostate problem.

Out and About

Former first lady Betty Ford had expected to be home for Thanksgiving following coronary bypass surgery Nov. 20 at Eisenhower Memorial Hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif., but she wasn't released until yesterday. There were no complications following the six hours of heart surgery and an additional operation to prevent the narrowing of the carotid artery in the right side of her neck. She had a similar carotid procedure on the left side in July. A hospital spokesman said Ford's release was delayed because the doctors were being cautious. The 69-year-old Ford, who in previous years became a national role model through her public battles with breast cancer and her treatment for abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs, was admitted to the hospital Nov. 15 after experiencing chest pain ...

Actor Christopher ("Superman") Reeve was in Santiago, Chile, yesterday with a declaration of support from about 200 American actors, directors and writers for Chilean actors threatened with death for their opposition to the military government of President Augusto Pinochet. Reeve, who is a board member of Actors Equity, read the message of support at a special show in Santiago last night. It had been signed by such superstars of the entertainment world as directors Sidney Lumet and Mike Nichols, playwright Arthur Miller and actors Gene Hackman, Cher and Don Johnson. Additional letters of support for the Chilean actors have been sent by more than 100 British actors, including Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud and Glenda Jackson ...

Former Metropolitan Opera head Rudolf Bing and his wife yesterday flew from London to New York City, where the state supreme court has declared the 85-year-old Bing incapable of handling his estate and where proceedings have begun to annul the couple's marriage. Bing, who married the 48-year-old Carroll Douglass, 11 months ago, kissed her for the benefit of photographers at London's Heathrow Airport and said the couple hoped to get things sorted out in the United States. New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Blyn had ruled Bing "is afflicted with senile brain degeneration, or Alzheimer's disease" and said he was incapable of managing his $900,000 estate. He also appointed a conservator to protect the estate and barred Bing's wife from spending or incurring any debts in his name. He also gave the conservator permission to start proceedings to annul the Bing marriage ...