Jurate Kazickas once stumped the panel on "To Tell The Truth."
She won $500 for being a 5-foot, 11-inch stunning blond who no one thought was the co-author of the hot-selling Liberated Woman's Calendar. Instead, the panelists guessed that a short feisty woman in pantsuit better fit the image of a feminist writer. In this case, they were wrong.
Around Washington, people generally mistake the 35-year-old Lithuanian-born Associated Press reporter for Nancy Kissinger, a mix-up that sometimes has its benefits. Kazickas, for example, once crashed a party for Henry Kissinger at Nelson Rockefeller's Pocantico Hills estate because of her resemblance to the guest of honor's wife.
"I just floated around being graceful," recalls Kazickas, who, ironically, has no luck getting an interview from Nancy Kissinger despite repeated requests. The two women did meet once, and Nancy Kisinger was as diplomatic as her husband: "Everybody tells me I look like you," she said to Kazickas.
This fall marks the ninth edition of The Woman's Calendar (the word "liberated" was dropped from the title two years ago) that Kazickas has collaborated on with New York ABC-TV correspondent Lynn Sherr. Two reporters hoard news items about women during the year, then meet to combine their material so that each day in the calendar has a tidbit. May 17, 1830, for example, was the day Sarah Gibson Humphreys was born, the "first woman in U.S. voted to the board of directors of a public road by the officers and stockholders." Sandwiched in the pages of September 1979, however, is a profile of ex-White House aide Midge Costanza. The calendar was printed before Coatanza quit Washington.
Kazickas arrived here two years ago to cover the First Lady for AP. The daughter of a New York businessman, she graduated from Trinity College here, then taught in Kenya at a Catholic school. She wanted to be a poet, but the prospect of starving steered her toward a job as a researcher for Look magazine. (A serious Catholic, she once wanted to become a Carmelite nun, a strict order where praying in isolation is a lifetime pursuit.) Then in 1967 she won $500 on the TV show "Password" and bought a one-way ticket to Vietnam where she sold photographs to a variety of American publications.
In 1969 she became part of a new Associated Press reporting team in New York, loosely referred to as the "mod squad." The six reporters roamed the country in search of trends; Kazickas wrote about communes, hippies and the New Left. After three months in the Middle East during the 1973 war, Kazickas quit, only to begin writing for the AP again as a free-lancer when the American Bicentennial Expedition scaled Mt. Everest. Reporting from a base camp, she handed her copy to a runner who scampered 130 miles to Katmandu to file her stories.
Like other Washingtyon reporters who work for wire services or out-of-town newspapers, her byline is not as well known in the town in which she works as it might be in Kansas City. But beacuse of her looks ("it's hard to hide," she says) and her beat - society - she is better known than some. She often is assigned to evening parties, which sometimes pays off: several months ago she wrote the story of Hamilton Jordan receiving a plateful of chocolate mousse in the face at a Georgetown soiree.
Kazicka says she won't date people she might cover. "The social scene," she says a bit unenthusiastically, "is . . . interesting. People are always working; it's always politics. That's why I like to go out with stock brokers occasionally. Right now I'm searching for a macrame beltmaker."