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Whatever Happened to...Jon Peters? (It's a Possibly Hair-Raising Story!)

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"I DID AFFIRM TO MY READERS...that I was the happiest man I had ever met and I can profoundly reaffirm it at the age of ninety-one," said the great Arthur Rubinstein.

Hmmm...I am not quite as happy as Mr. Rubinstein but getting close.

•UNUSUAL SIGHTING in Hollywood last week!

Who, was that unkempt , bearded guy who dropped into the legendary Wolfgang's on Rodeo Drive, sitting with an Asian playmate? Well, I haven't heard or read anything about this unusual "celebrity" lately. But he was once the co-head of Sony Pictures, until his partner Peter Guber fired him. He became famous as a hairdresser in his family's Rodeo Drive salon and met Barbra Streisand, while doing her hair for the movie For Pete's Sake. After that he romanced his way to the top as her lover and co-producer of her remake of A Star Is Born. He remained a controversial prominent Hollywood producer for 30 years. I do mean Jon Peters. (Jon's prowess was such that the famously controlling Barbara appeared to have put herself entirely in his hands, personally and professionally. Hollywood was agog. The biggest star in the world jumping through hoops for her sexy hairdresser!)

Jon was powerful, along with Guber, for a number of years, noted for his fearsome behavior. If you would care to read some La La Land history, look up the 1976 New West magazine piece -- "My Battles With Barbra and Jon" -- by the furious A Star... director Frank Pierson or read the 1996 book by Kim Masters and Nancy Griffin titled Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood.

(You can call up Dana Kennedy's amazing review of this revealing book, which appeared in Entertainment Weekly.)

Anyway, having been hardly heard from since buying and co-founding the Superman franchise, Peters had Wolfgang's agog with his unusual appearance, "We didn't know where he had gone or what he was doing...too bad he doesn't seem to like being himself now...he sure doesn't dress up anymore or see a barber occasionally..." went the remarks.

Peters was once such a ladies man that he was often said to have inspired the randy character played so brilliantly by Warren Beatty in the hit movie Shampoo. But Warren made the character "lovable" and that wasn't too much like Jon Peters.

•ON FEBRUARY 5th in Manhattan, amFAR holds its annual fundraising gala at Cipriani Wall Street. This year the honorees include Vanessa Redgrave, her daughter Joely Richardson and photographer Peter Lindbergh. The event is chaired by the likes of Woody Allen...Alan Cumming...Laura Linney...Aileen Getty...Chelsea Clinton..Kenneth Cole...Kim Cattrall...Liam Neeson...Harry Belafonte.

Special performances by Jane Krakowski, Nile Rodgers & Chic and the incredible Grace Jones. This is an expensive night out but go to www.amfar.org if you want to do a very good deed in a naughty world!

•THE FAMED Theater Hall of Fame, where actors, directors, choreographers, producers sometimes end up with their names inscribed for all time on the wall at the Gershwin, is an honored tradition and I have seldom missed it. This year the honorees were Ellen Burstyn, Lorraine Hansberry, David Hays, Cherry Jones, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Lynne Meadow, George C. Wolfe, and Jerry Zaks. But their names were missing -- not from the Wall, but from The New York Times, the newspaper of record. And it was all my fault. Their Patrick Healy wouldn't run an item about this important theater event because

I had written of it in my column and Playbill had also reported it.

Wow! Playbill plus Liz, formidable!

The event run by Terry Hodge Taylor suffered a few other setbacks. One of the buses transporting guests in the cold to the Friars Club party after, went west instead of east, causing big stars to be late. Unheard of. Playwright John Guare, one of the brilliant and nicest persons in theater, pronounced it "a splendid party" in spite of this drawback. He gave Peter Zimroth, the husband of Estelle Parsons credit for correcting the driver's mistake. Guare added, "It was a truly jolly show biz evening."

The Hall of Fame was always partially backed by the late Celia Lipton Farris, the famed Peter Pan of London. She left the Hall a lot of money, but two years after her death her foundation ceased to fund it. That would have made the generous Celia very unhappy. But times change.

What doesn't change are the stories and anecdotes out of the Hall. When The Hall honored producer Robert Whitehead 20 years ago, Elaine Stritch was a part of the
show. She came up to Terry and handed him a bill for hair and makeup. "I know I will never see that paid!" Terry took out his checkbook and made out a check on the spot. Later, Miss Stritch was presented in five concert events by this good organizer. He says, "She was always great trouble. But when she walked out onstage -- magic!"