One Hollywood presentation the public is not likely to see was screened last month at a private party given by singer Helen Reddy and her husband, promoter Jeff Wald, to honor Tom Hayden's 40th birthday. In the kind of tribute usually reserved for martyred presidents, Reddy and Wald presented a slide show that chronicled Hayden's life as a political activist. In addition, a hired actor protrayed Hayden as Hayden himself and 100 friends watched.
The party's guest list included Hayden's wife, Jane Fonda, as well as Bobby Seale, David Dellinger, Alan Alda, Susan St. James, Boz Scaggs, and Dennis Kucinich (for whom Wald and Reddy raised $70,000 during his unsuccessful bid for reelection as mayor of Cleveland). The working press was not invited, but, as a surprise, Hayden's high school sweetheart was.
The gala had an Irish motif, complete with midgets hired to serve as leprechauns. Reddy sang "Happy Birthday," and the biographical slide show was preceded by a specially made short film on the protest movements of the '60s. It was a scene that Hayden supporters such as Reddy and Wald -- prominent fund raisers for liberal Democrats -- would undoubtedly like to repeat someday in Washington if their man makes it to the Senate or the White House.
Despite the hoopla, Hayden is hardly the darling of former colleagues with whom he helped form the Students for a Democratic Society and with whom he later stood as a defendant during the "Chicago Eight" trial.
Abbie Hoffman has branded Hayden (our Richard Nixon." A former Ramparts magazine editor once said Hayden had "all the charisma of a iguana." And when Hayden and Fonda returned from their 33-city tour this summer after preaching the ills of nuclear power, a political writer for The New Republic labeled Hayden a superficial politician streamlined for television and financed by the profits of his wife's movies.
Whether Hayden, a supporter of Jerry Brown, can use his political action group called the Campaign for Economic Democracy as a base for a Senate seat in 1982 remains to be seen. But the Wald-Reddy party shows Hayden can count on major contributions from some show business people who would like to see their man in Washington.