Rudy Vallee's name appeared here recently in a supporting role. The star of that column was Barnee Breeskin.
Barnee had been an obscure violinist in the Shoreham Hotel's band when Rudy and his Connecticut Yankees were the headline act that opened the Blue Room 50 years ago.
But now Barnee had become the headliner because he was being brought back to entertain at a New Year's Eve party in the Blue Room.
When Judy Carlile saw Vallee's name here, she sent me a note that asked, "Did you know that Rudy Vallee and the Spencer Smith Orchestra will appear at the Sheraton Motor Inn in Fredericksburg Va., on Saturday, Jan. 19, 1980?"
No, I didn't know. In fact, I didn't know that the Vagabond Lover was still wandering about the country playing one-night stands anywhere .
In Who's Who, Hubert Prior (Rudy) Vallee lists his birth date as July 28, 1901, which make him at least 78 years old. (Show biz people sometimes fudge a little.)
After more than 50 years as a highly paid headliner, I'm sure he has earned so much money that he couldn't see over the top of the pile even if he stood on tiptoe. It is certainly not economic necessity that keeps him working.
When I asked Barnee to explain it, he said, "Heck, Bill, when you're a musician, you just gotta make music. Everything else is in second place." I guess that explains it. POSTSCRIPT
In telling about Vallee's late arrival at the Shoreham 50 years ago, I said it was feared that Vallee's plane had been lost in a storm.
Fred M. Coughlin of Rockville remembers the night well. As a lad of 19, he was in the Blue Room on its opening night.
Fred says Vallee's plane was never in danger because the Connecticut Yankees waited out the storm in a hangar at the old Newark Airport and didn't take off until the danger had passed.
He adds, "I have fond memories of Barnee. He was a grand MC who'd respect the request of a youngster as well as that of a senator. The Blue Room wasn't the same after Mr. Breeskin's departure." PLEASE CLIP AND SAVE
Scores of people have been asking The Washington Post how they can help the family left behind by Raymond Williams.
Raymond was the Good Samaritan who was struck by an auto when he stopped to help a woman he found lying in the street. A few days later, Williams' injuries proved fatal.
William's had been a school custodian. He was admired and loved for his gentle, cheerful demeanor, and for his feeling of kinship to all mankind -- the urge to be helpful that, alas, led to his death.
If you, too, would like to extend financial help to his widow and her six children, you will be interested to know that Edward Green, principal of the school at which Williams worked, has set up a formal fund for that purpose. Contributions can be addressed to: The Raymond Williams Fund, c/o Jackson Road Elementary School, 900 Jackson Rd., Silver Spring, Md. 20904. Principal Green says the ZIP number previously published in a news story was not correct. If you plan to contribute at some future date, please save a clipping of this column to remind you that the correct ZIP number is 20904. GOLD'S LAW STRIKES AGAIN
On Nov. 27, Dsitrict Liner Julian Freret took exception to a news story that referred to the grizzly events at Jonestown. I agreed that we should have used grisly , which means "horrible" or "ghastly."
Sy Fishbein, a grizzled senior editor at the National Geographic, notes that Merriam-Webster III accepts grizzly in either meaning -- "grayish" or "inspiring horro." However, when Webster III was criticized for such permissiveness, its editors said they had not attempted to serve as arbiters of good usage. They were merely reporters of how the language was being used at press time.
An Alexandria woman also commented on that column. Circling my reference (in another item) to "a garbage disposal unit," she needled: "Disposal is a registered trademark. The word you are looking for is 'disposer.' Gold's Law should include a clause that says, 'Any column that comments on usage is bound to include an error.'"
It does. The warning also extends to letters about proper usage. Disposal is a good English word. Disposall is the registered trademark. LATE NEWS NOTE
W.M.O'C. writes: "A friend said to me today, 'Well, I see the shah finally found a foreign country that's willing to let him in.'
"When I asked in surprise, 'Which one?' he replied blandly, 'Texas.'"