Frank Sinatra and Robert Redford couldn't make it. Gregory Peck did, and listened earnestly to the English version of Mikhail Gorbachev's remarks through his headset. Hot item Ted Turner and Jane Fonda showed up -- but National Gallery of Art Director J. Carter Brown was out of the country. His office tried to regret for 10 days -- but not a soul answered the phone at the Soviet Embassy.

It was billed as a luncheon for "American intellectuals." But by the look of the guest list, the Soviet president and his wife, Raisa, have a rather broad definition of the term.

In fact, when Gorbachev looked around the room yesterday during his long, off-the-cuff remarks, the people he singled out came from the world of culture rather than academia: Fonda, Peck, pianist Van Cliburn and science fiction writer Ray Bradbury.

He touted Cliburn for furthering artistic understanding between the United States and the Soviet Union. And then rambled on, "Gregory Peck, Jane Fonda and others that bring us together ... Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, who write science fiction. ... All my favorite writers are here, and what's published in the Soviet Union, I was able to read. So we have known each other for quite some time."

In the sparkling Gold Room of the Soviet Embassy, Gorbachev stressed the theme of unity. "He seemed extremely serene and at peace with himself," said former secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

"The two major nations are in a critical stage of civilization -- and we have to be together," Gorbachev pleaded. "It is not that simple. People ask us, 'Is America going to cheat us?' We don't know. 'Will American practicality derail {progress} for decades?' ... We open our souls. We are ready."

Among the guests straining to hear the translation were Jesse Jackson; California televangelist the Rev. Robert Schuller; Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of Ike (and her Soviet husband, physicist Roald Sagdeev); Democratic fund-raiser Pamela Harriman; actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; former senator Eugene McCarthy; and artist Robert Rauschenberg. While tickled to meet Gorbachev, Rauschenberg was less than taken with the chicken Kiev and caviar menu.

"You know, they advertise those things like beluga caviar, but by the time you get a little splash of it on a biscuit with some cheese, you forget you had it," said the petulant artist afterward from his hotel.

John Kenneth Galbraith said later that he was impressed with Gorbachev's comments about economic reform. "He said that certain people say that a slow move to capitalism is like being a little bit pregnant," said the economist. "But then, he pointed out that pregnancy takes nine months."

Schuller said he had a conversation with Gorbachev in which the leader thanked him for a sympathetic videotaped message. Gorbachev told Schuller he found the tape "comforting." They also talked about Schuller's plans to broadcast his religious programs in Moscow.

Staff assistant Dana Thomas contributed to this report.