It's in the Bag

Hey, Winona Ryder might be interested in this: The ex-wife of the late Washington sports tycoon Jack Kent Cooke was arrested and charged with theft June 15, accused of trying to steal a purse from Neiman Marcus in Coral Gables, Fla. Gossip columnist Joan Fleischman of the Miami Herald broke the story yesterday.

According to the police report, Suzanne Elizabeth Cooke plucked a $1,475 Chanel handbag from the rack and placed it in one of the shopping bags she was carrying. Cooke was filmed by security cameras and stopped at the store's door.

The Post's Catharine Skipp reports that Cooke, 49, was sent to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami. She was released the following day on bond.

A phone call to Cooke yesterday was not returned; she told the Herald, "No comment."

A pregnant Suzanne Martin married Jack Kent Cooke, then owner of the Washington Redskins, in July 1987. He was 74 and she was 31. The two separated within weeks -- she said later that she had reneged on her promise to have an abortion -- and daughter Jacqueline was born in 1988. When Jack died in 1997, Jacqueline was left a $5 million trust fund, but her mother was left nothing.

Cooke is scheduled to appear in court July 6, presumably wearing merchandise she has purchased.

History Under Lock and Key

Need a faulty door lock? The jimmied brass lock that once "protected" Watergate's infamous Suite 600, the offices that housed the Democratic National Committee during the scandalous 1972 break-in, is up for auction.

Jenny Lynch, a spokeswoman for the online auction site, told The Post yesterday she stumbled across the anonymous seller's item while scrolling through the Web site: "I thought, 'Wow, this is really fascinating.' "

The lock was picked by Virgilio Gonzalez, a Cuban freedom fighter who'd been hired by Richard Nixon's reelection campaign. It was replaced by locksmith James Rednowers, who eventually passed it on to Jim Herrald, a Watergate superintendent. The item again changed hands and will be up for auction until June 30.

Lynch said she can't estimate how much the lock will go for, but speculates it will be "a lot of money." The fixture and its keys were put up for auction Tuesday. As of yesterday there were no takers. For now, it seems those in search of a lock are content to spend $15 at the local hardware store instead.

End Notes

* After a whirlwind tour through Europe (public kisses in Italy! Engagement in Paris! Water-in-the-face in London!) Tom Cruise landed in Manhattan yesterday to promote "War of the Worlds" with fiancee Katie Holmes in tow. At a news conference, no one brought up his recent giddy, in-love, couch-bouncing behavior, but he was happy to do it himself, reports The Post's Jennifer Frey. Discussing his reaction when he first read the movie script, he grinned and added: "I can be quite an excitable person, I don't know if you know that about me." The room broke up. "I tell you, I was jumping on the couch." Then he cackled.

* It'll be hard to lick this: An attempt to erect the world's largest popsicle went sour Tuesday when a 25-foot-tall, 17.5-ton treat of frozen Snapple thawed faster than expected, flooding Manhattan's Union Square. Firefighters closed streets and used hoses to wash away the kiwi-strawberry-flavored liquid. The colossal snack was erected by Snapple to promote its new line of frozen goodies. Snapple official Lauren Radcliffe said it was unlikely the company would try for the record (21 feet, Holland, 1997) again.

* Washington power couple William Haseltine and Gale Hayman are calling it quits after 14 years of marriage, reports The Post's Roxanne Roberts. Biotech multimillionaire Haseltine will remain in Washington, and Giorgio co-founder Hayman will be based in New York.

-- Compiled by Korin Miller

from staff and wire reports

Suzanne Cooke in her mug shot, taken last week.Snapple's attempt to set a record with this giant ice pop went down the (storm) drain.