By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts

The Doctor Is Out and Heading West

Elizabeth Morgan, the Washington plastic surgeon who spent two years in prison for defying court orders in an infamous 1980s custody battle, is once again following her only child to exotic lands.

Last time it was New Zealand, where Morgan hid her daughter from ex-husband Eric Foretich. This time it's Los Angeles, where the now 23-year-old Ellen Morgan (nee Hilary Foretich) is trying to start an acting career.

"She is alone and we have no family there," Morgan wrote in a recent letter to patients announcing plans to leave her Chevy Chase practice in February. "She has been asking me to move to Los Angeles. I have spent months considering this. I love my patients but my daughter must come first."

The custody fight that Morgan and Foretich, an oral surgeon, waged over their infant daughter after their 1982 divorce went nuclear in 1985 when Morgan charged her ex with sexually abusing the child. Foretich denied it, and the courts granted him visitation rights after finding no evidence of abuse. In 1987 the child vanished, and Morgan went to jail rather than tell authorities where her daughter was. She was released in 1989 by a bill pushed by sympathetic lawmakers and joined her daughter and parents in New Zealand.

The family returned here in 1997, thanks to yet another act of Congress -- later ruled unconstitutional -- that freed them from court oversight. Morgan opened a new practice and her daughter attended American University. She never drifted far from the headlines: In 2002 she testified in the case of Elsa Newman, a Bethesda lawyer accused of conspiring to kill her ex-husband after seeking Morgan's advice in her own custody battle.

Reached at her home, Morgan would not elaborate on her moving plans, citing her daughter's privacy: "I really appreciate your interest, but at the moment I don't feel like I can talk about it."

So no word on whether she'll open a practice in Los Angeles, where there's a lot of competition for her brand of medicine -- but, hey, a lot of demand, too.

The Marines Turn 230, and 60

Big day for leathernecks! The Marines are celebrating their 230th birthday today, with a Marine for the first time ever serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and four stamps depicting legendary Marine heroes make their debut.

Gen. Peter Pace was guest of honor at last night's dinner hosted by Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem Sabah and his wife, Rima, to celebrate Pace's Joint Chiefs swearing-in six weeks ago and his 60th birthday last Saturday. Among those present to honor Pace, whose 38 years in the corps garnered a chestful of medals from tours in Vietnam, Somalia, Thailand, South Korea and Japan, were Karl Rove, intelligence czar John Negroponte, Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, Cabinet secretaries Michael Chertoff and Carlos Gutierrez, Sen. John Warner, Rep. John Dingell, Mayor Tony Williams, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, White House social secretary Lea Berman and Pace's predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier in the day.

"I don't feel 60," said the birthday boy, who doesn't look a day over 26, "but then I don't know what 60 feels like!"

Big year, huh? "It's a big year for the country."

It's a big night, too -- at least a memorable one -- when a sexy Arab dancer can make Karl Rove turn as red as her veil.

The other birthday treat? The Marines lobbied the Postal Service for hero stamps for years, and after the list was narrowed to four "distinguished Marines," postage honoring Lewis "Chesty" Puller, John "Manila John" Basilone, Daniel Daly and John Lejeune will be sold across the nation, but only post offices in the District and Camp Pendleton in California will have "first day of issue" postmarks.

Oops Among the Oars

Much tittering at the Head of the Occoquan crew regatta last weekend at Sandy Run Regional Park: The American University team fleet included the boat Benjamin Ladner -- with the former president's name partially covered in red tape. The eight-man shell was christened two years ago, before Ladner's name was covered in, uh, mud.


Expecting: Basketball star Kobe Bryant and wife Vanessa are expecting their second child in May. Bryant's wife stuck by the Los Angeles Lakers guard after a Colorado woman accused him of sexual assault and he publicly apologized for infidelity. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charge; Bryant settled his accuser's civil suit in March. That's a lot for one marriage to handle, but Bryant surprised his wife with a $50,000 recommitment ceremony earlier this year -- about $3,950,000 cheaper than the eight-carat purple diamond ring she received at the height of the scandal.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

* TV's Dr. Phil dining at the Capital Grille the night of his Kennedy Center lecture Monday. Our tipster says he appeared to have a bodyguard following him at every step, even to the men's room, but perhaps the good doctor just has a really devoted publicist.