Twenty years ago Monday, Sen. Eugene McCarthy announced he would run for president on a platform opposing the festering war in Vietnam, and he quickly attracted to his cause thousands of student supporters in what became known as the "Children's Crusade." Their efforts had a powerful impact on the campaign, but in the end Vice President Hubert Humphrey became the Democratic Party standard-bearer, only to lose the election to Richard M. Nixon.

On the anniversary of his announcement, the 71-year-old McCarthy, retired from public life and living the life of a poet in rural Virginia, told the Minnesota Press Club in Minneapolis that the United States needs another peace crusade. "We need something comparable because militarism is still loose." He acknowledged it was difficult to get the attention of 1980s college students. Somewhat wistfully, he added, "You almost have to panic them, but they might move" ...

The California city of Yorba Linda is about to announce that the long-delayed Richard M. Nixon presidential library will be built there, in the city where he was born. It may also be the first such presidential archive to open without White House papers. During the Watergate investigations, more than 40 million pages of documents and 4,000 hours of tape recordings from Nixon's White House years were seized, and they remain stored in a warehouse in Alexandria, where archivists are editing out classified material. Nixon has fought the National Archives to prevent public release of selected parts of the materials, particularly those known as the Special White House Papers from the Watergate period.

The $25 million library will be built in two phases. One will store his papers up to the presidency and all his personal papers since he was forced from office in 1974. The second phase will accommodate the official presidential materials, if an agreement is reached between Nixon and the National Archives.

Out and About

Hospital Report: Night talker Larry King is listed in stable condition at New York Hospital, where he underwent heart bypass surgery yesterday. King's spokesman, attorney Bob Woolf, said "everything is fine and the doctors tell me he will be back to work in four to six weeks" ...

Sen. Robert Kasten and his wife Eva spent Thanksgiving Day in Columbia Hospital for Women. Just two days earlier, Eva gave birth to a girl named Nora Anita. The couple married last January ...

Erick Hawkins, one of the big names of modern American dance, is to receive the $25,000 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for his lifetime contribution to modern dance. Previous winners of the award have included Hawkins' former wife Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor and Alvin Ailey ...

In tears and flanked by her attorney and daughter, Joan Rivers announced yesterday in Los Angeles that she will file a $50 million libel suit against GQ magazine and the author of what she called "a vicious article" that quoted her as saying some vicious things about her late husband Edgar Rosenberg, both before and after his death by suicide. In demanding a total retraction she called the article "a total pack of evil, vicious, sick lies" ...

If rock groups can do it, apparently old rat-packers can, too. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. announced yesterday they will go on a 40-performance, 30-city North American tour next year, starting March 13 at the Oakland, Calif., Coliseum. They are also expected to perform here, and in New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta and St. Louis. Maybe they'll brighten up the act with laser lights and smoke machines. The groupies will certainly be of a different age ...