So guess who else went to dinner at Dan Quayle's house Sunday night -- who else, that is, besides South African President F.W. de Klerk and his wife, Marike.

De Klerk, the first South African head of state welcomed here since the imposition of apartheid in 1948, is the latest foreign official to have dinner at the Vice President's House with a group of invited guests whose names are kept secret on orders from the White House.

According to other sources, however, the guests included Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Clarence Thomas, former defense and energy secretary James R. Schlesinger, former arms control director Kenneth L. Adelman, Undersecretary of State Robert M. Kimmitt, South African Ambassador Piet G.J. Koornhof, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa William L. Swing and South African Foreign Minister Roelof F. "Pik" Botha. In addition, there were guests from the corporate world, including Washington Post Publisher Donald E. Graham.

A spokewoman for Wilder said yesterday, "The governor found it an interesting evening and felt that since he had an opportunity to be with Mr. {Nelson} Mandela, when the opportunity was extended to meet with Mr. de Klerk he ought to do that as well."

Quayle and de Klerk exchanged what one guest described as "cordial" toasts during the dinner, Quayle's shorter than de Klerk's. Photographers and one television crew were permitted to cover de Klerk's arrival, considered a routine shot, but were asked to leave immediately afterward.

A spokeswoman in Marilyn Quayle's office said yesterday that because the dinner was "private" no guest list was available. "Private" does not mean the Quayles paid for the dinner out of their own pocket, however. Taxpayers will pick up the bill.

"It is private in the sense that it's not an official dinner in the way the White House has official dinners," said Denise Balzano, Mrs. Quayle's press secretary. "It's the general policy. The tradition started prior to our being here. That's the way they've been established."

George and Barbara Bush established the "tradition" when Bush was vice president and proved to be so accomplished at keeping the media at a distance that Dan and Marilyn Quayle have been continuing the practice.

Before the dinner got underway Sunday night, the Quayles privately entertained a large group of Republican contributors in a tent set up on the lawn. Nearby, the Quayles are building a 30-by-30-foot putting green for use by the golf-loving vice president. It is being installed in the vicinity of a children's swing near the front door of the residence, the same location where a former naval chief of operations once had his putting green.

Yesterday, Quayle's office confirmed that the vice president's friends -- not taxpayers -- took up a collection to pay for the green. Blair House, the guest house where the president's foreign visitors -- including the de Klerk party -- are very pampered official guests, was the scene of a diplomatic first last week: Chief of Protocol Joseph V. Reed Jr.'s reception for more than 120 chiefs of foreign mission.

Most of the chiefs were there -- except for the ambassadors of Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia -- along with four former U.S. chiefs of protocol -- James Symington, Lloyd Hand, Tyler Abell and Selwa Roosevelt -- Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Agriculture Secretary Clayton K. Yeutter, CIA Director William H. Webster, FBI Director William S. Sessions and a host of other Bush administration VIPs.

Reed's Blair House luncheons for small groups of ambassadors have become hot-ticket items among diplomats posted here. Now, by bringing everybody together for one big party at Blair House, Reed may have taken the heat off of globe-trotting Secretary of State James Baker III, at least for this social season opener. He spent 12 years researching and writing about them, but Carl Sferrazza Anthony was an experienced First Lady watcher long before that. He became hooked on the American presidency at the age of 9 when the nightly news was filled with stories linked to past, present and future presidents. That's about the time that Jacqueline Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis, Lyndon Johnson announced he wouldn't run again, Robert Kennedy was shot, Richard Nixon was elected and Dwight Eisenhower died.

All of 31 now, Anthony becomes the country's youngest published authority on the subject of presidents' other halves with the release this week of "First Ladies, the Saga of the Presidents' Wives and Their Power, 1789-1961," the first of his two-volume work published by William Morrow & Co. Volume 2, covering Jackie Kennedy through Barbara Bush, comes out next spring, updating Anthony's examination of the power these wives have wielded as well as the ties binding them into America's most exclusive "sorority."

Throughout his research, Anthony says, he was struck by the way they turned up in each other's lives. He says the 200-year connection between Martha Washington and Barbara Bush began with Martha's friend Dolley Madison, who knew Julia Tyler, who knew Julia Grant, who knew Frances Cleveland, who knew Edith Wilson, who knew Eleanor Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson and Pat Nixon -- all of whom Barbara Bush either has met or knows.

Morrow is hosting a publication party for Anthony and about 350 invited guests Thursday night at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Co-host is Dorene Whitney, who chairs the Friends of the First Ladies, the nonprofit fund-raising group working to restore the museum's popular First Ladies exhibit, which is scheduled to reopen in 1992. Catering the party, working from White House recipes, will be Eric Michael of Occasions Caterers, for whom Anthony waited tables and tended bar when he was working his way through George Washington University.