March 1978 was a month like any other for Bill Hersey, which meant attending several opening ceremonies by famous Western brands, National Day Receptions hosted by embassies, and plenty of dinner parties with Tokyo’s elite. Except March 1978 was special, indeed, as the first showing of Star Wars – A New Hope was shown in Japanese theaters for the first time – a piece of cinematic history. But please read Bill’s monthly report of fun, local gossip and entertainment in Tokyo’s High Society.
Moroccan National Day Celebration (17th anniversary)
The social scene’s been super-busy and I’d like to start this column’s coverage with the Moroccan National Day celebration on Friday, Mar. 3, the 17th anniversary of the accession to the throne of His Majesty King Hassan IL The reception was in the Ho-oh-no-ma Room at the New Otani.
Moroccan Ambassador and Mine Abdeslam Tadlaoui were kept very busy that evening greeting the over 700 guests who joined the celebration. The ambassador wore a beautifully tailored dark double-breasted suit; his wife Zoubida a chic black sequin long dress. Her accessories included a necklace of hundreds of perfectly matched pearls strung in an Arabic design and a wide gold Moroccan belt.
The spacious room had been beautifully decorated under Zoubida’s direction, and in addition to the wide variety of western foods, her staff had helped the hotel staff prepare huge plates of cous cous. The elevated ice carving in the center of the room was of Morocco’s national emblem and a photo of King Hassan H was displayed between the Japanese and the Moroccan flags.
The huge crowd was an interesting mix of top Japanese government officials, diplomats, the business world and friends the Tadlaouis have made from all walks of life. Prominent among the crowd were Mr. and Mrs. Zentaro Kosaka (he’s Japan’s former Foreign Minister), Koji Kobayashi (Chairman of the Board of Nippon Electric Company) and Shinzo and Masako Ohya (he’s President of Teijin).
Moving around the room we stopped and talked with many friends . . . some who, in turn introduced us to people we hadn’t met before. These included Iran Air’s Masoud Refghi who introduced us to Mr. and Mrs. Y. Mehrabian (he’s executive director of projects for Iran-Japan Petro-chemical Co, and Mrs. Wolfgang Ernst, who introduced us to Dr. Gundi Feliner, (Federal Republic of Germany’s only lady Ambassador. She’s posted in Singapore and was visiting here).
Special Showing of “The Turning Point” by Twentieth Century Fox
Through the kindness of Dino Trod of Twentieth Century Fox, I had set up a special showing of ‘The Turning Point” that evening for Masako Ohya and a group of friends. It’s a fabulous film with a story that centers around the world of ballet. As you know the film and its stars are candidates for all kinds of awards.
As I’ve said before, when there’s music, Masako Ohya has to sing, and she did sing through all the ballet numbers in the last part of the film. No one minded a bit. Others who enjoyed the film showing included Peruvian Ambassador Caesar Espejo Romero and his wife Wally, U.S. Minister-Counsellor William C. Sherman and his wife Mary, Charlie and Katie Hagedorn, Leslie Glatter, Tom Killough, Mrs. Saiga (head of Saiga Ballet School) with her son and students, Marita Pastuszynski and Mi-chaels von Habsburg.
The young star of “The Turning Point,” Leslie Brown will be visiting Tokyo the end of this month with her mother, and veteran dancer Nora Kaye who is executive producer of the film.
Star Wars – A New Hope (Episode IV) First Showing in Japan
Up very early the next morning, met Kay, Corky and Sandi Mori at the Hilton and we were at the Theatre Tokyo by 8:30 for the first official screening in Japan of the Lucasfilm Ltd. Production “Star Wars.” The place was absolutely packed and I didn’t hear one person say they didn’t really enjoy this spectacular SF fantasy. I had seen the film in the States last year. After that I had the chance to meet the star Mark Hamill and show him around Tokyo a bit. Consequently I enjoyed the film even more (if that’s possible) then I did the first time. It will open throughout Japan on July 1. Alan Ladd Jr., his wife Patty and the villain of the film, Darth Vader were all their for the premier.
Special reception for Fox President Alan Ladd Jr.
Thursday the 9th • and that evening Kay Dawson and I headed for the Hilton where Dino Troni, General Manager of 20th Century Fox, was hosting a reception to meet Fox President Alan Ladd Jr. and his wife Patty. Mr. Ladd had been in Japan for a week to get acquainted with the intricacies of the Japanese market.
He’s a very soft-spoken man who’s gone from Vice President, Creative Affairs when he joined Fox is 1973 to president in 1976, and in the film world that’s really something. His wife Patty is as full of energy and as out-going as a person can be, and it was really a privilege to meet both of them. This was their first trip to Japan and they en-joyed every minute of it. Mr. Ladd even took time out of his work schedule to go to Kyoto where they stayed in a Japanese inn. Jean-Louis Rubin, who used to be with Fox here and is now Vice-President International Sales came to Japan with the Ladds.
The guests that evening included everybody who is anybody in the Japanese movie business. Jake Shapiro of Columbia Films was there and happily reported “Close Encounters” is doing a fantastic business. I enjoyed talking with Toho President Matsuoka san about some of the co-productions his company is involved in. A friend of mine Kunihiko Mural (a young composer) just put up half the money for “The Firebird” and Toho’s working with Mitsukoshi Ltd. on a romantic film that will be shot on location in Iran. Toho’s also doing some work with Rev. Moon . . . I think it’s a war film being shot in Korea. Imagine the messages that it will carry! Araki, president of C.I.C., was there and told us he’s expecting big things from “Saturday Night Fever.” It’s been a great vehicle for John Travolta and the Bee Gees .
Reception at the Swedish Embassy
Wednesday the 15th was a very special day, too. We started out the evening at the Swedish Embassy where Swedish Ambassador and Mrs. Bengt Odevall were hosting a reception in honor of Mrs. Birgit Nilsson, the world renown opera singer from Sweden.
Luckily, the weather was mild, as it seemed everyone had come to meet Mrs. Nils-son, and the spacious residence was so crowded. People moved out into the patio and garden. It was a wonderful mixture of people, too. There were diplomats and their wives, government officials, business people and well-known faces from the arts and entertainment world. We couldn’t stay as long as we would have liked, but did have time to circulate through the crowd and say hello to friends. A sure sign of spring was evident: some of the ladies have new, shorter hairstyles. These included very chic new looks on Fanny Brie, wife of the German Democratic Republic Ambassador; and Stanislava Houskova, wife of the Czechoslovakian Ambassador. I’d also like to compliment Mrs. Odevall on her beautiful jewelery. She told me it came from Brazil.
On the way out we had the opportunity to stop and talk with Mrs. Nilsson. She told us this was her second visit to Japan and she’s really enjoying it. On the way here she stopped in Teheran for a week. While there she gave performances in that city’s “fabulous new opera house.”
Hosting ‘The Turning Point’ star Leslie Browne
I’ve been happily busy since I got back showing three super ladies our town. They’re the legendary Nora Kaye, known as the greatest “actor-dancer” ever; Leslie Browne, the young star-ballerina of “The Turning Point” (she’s an Academy Award nominee for best sup-porting actress), and Leslie’s mom Isabel Browne who, among other things, ran a ballet school.
The ladies are here on a promotional trip for the Twentieth Century Fox Film, and are really attracting a lot of attention from all forms of Japanese media. For me, it’s more fun than work, and am seeing places and things in Tokyo I haven’t seen for a long time.
On Friday the 31st and I sincerely believe we added a bit of beauty to the Foreign Correspondent’s Club (FCCJ) thanks to our special guests. Our table for 12 included Leslie Browne, Isabel Browne, Nora Kaye, Michaela von Habsburg, Monica von Habs-burg, Judy Ong and Anne Mansfield. The lucky men included Dino Troni (20th Century Fox), Aid Mori (Mori Hanae’s son who runs Studio V) and Masoud Refghi. Nora Kaye—who’s been around and seen the best—really raved about the Club. “I love it,” she commented, “it’s so organized and professional.”
Louis Vuitton Paris Special Reception in Tokyo
On Mar. 15 and over to the Okura Hotel where K. Hatta, Japan rep for LOUIS VUITTON Paris was holding a reception in honor of Monsieur and Mme Henry Louis Vuitton who were in Tokyo for five days to take part in the opening of five Louis Vuitton boutiques in Tokyo and Osaka. The Vuittons were accompanied by their Directeur General Yves P. Ragougneau.
The arrangements for guests were made by Roy Sanada of Japan Counsellors and included some of Japan’s best-known faces in the business, entertainment and social world. Prominent among the interesting crowd were Mr. and Mrs. Chick Igaya (AIU); Tadao Aoi, president of Marui Department Store; Kazuo Iwama, president of Sony; fashion designer Jun Ashida; film stars Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Mihashi, Mr. and Mrs. Kenzo Tange (architect), Keizo chairman of Takashimaya, and Yoshiaki Sakakura, president of Seibu. Polaroid’s Dick Otomo was there, and we enjoyed seeing Bobby Hirai again.
The foreign community was well represented with Thomas and Irene Kwok (the popular Daihanten Chinese restaurant in Shinjuku) and Paul and Barbara Penrose. Bruno Galardi-Este and his beautiful wife Radika (Nanda) were in from Hong Kong and she looks more beautiful than ever. Walter and Natalie Ermakoff had told me they ran into Radika in the lobby of the Hong Kong Hilton, and she started unpacking a bag of her latest business venture samples . . . men’s briefs. She was quite excited about them and from all reports, people in the lobby showed considerable interest as well. The reception and the guests at the reception were certainly top class and of the kind that the prestigious LOUIS VUITTON luggage line is made for.
Nina Ricci Paris Show
On the afternoon of Thursday the 16th I was able to attend Nina Ricci Paris Collection show. Guests were greeted at the door by Jacques E. Berger, Nina Ricci representative for Japan, and Matsuzakaya executive. Princess Michaela von Habsburg, public relations director for Nina Ricci, was circulating through the crowd greeting her many friends from the Super Set here. These included Assia Ghafa, Fannie Brie, Perla Nakasone, Rita Baumgartner, Che-Chan Plessner, Katie Hagedorn, Terry Van Der Sloot, Nilufer Eyiceoglu and Jane Scolinos.
The show started and the audience oohed and aahed through the entire collection of 21 pret-a-porter and 16 boutique creations. After the show they moved to the back of the room to browse through an exhibition of the latest Nina Ricci dresses and accessories that had just arrived from Paris. We talked with Mansoureh Majd, wife of the Iranian Ambassador, who introduced us to Mimi Dehennin, wife of the new Belgium Ambassador. She’s a charming woman full of energy and will certainly be a welcome addition to Tokyo’s social scene.
Bee Kaltenthaler was here from Hong Kong with her sister Tena from Manila. Bee likes the Crown Colony, especially for shopping, but was really happy to be able to come back to Tokyo to see her many friends here. Kimi Matsuyama introduced us to Mrs. Susasuburo Ito, wife of the president of Matsuzakaya, and we complimented her on the collection and the show. Amy Sung and her daughter Mary invited us downstairs for coffee so we joined them and their friends Princess Takeda and Akiko Kaga. Princess Takeda’s daughter Motoko who had been shopping with a friend from San Francisco stopped by and I really enjoyed talking with her about her experiences in school in the U.S. I would have liked to have stayed longer, but didn’t want to get caught during rush hour and miss my plane, so headed for Haneda.
Greece National Day in Tokyo 1978
Friday the 24th. I was happy to be back for the reception Greek Ambassador and Mme Jean C. Cambiotis held at the New Otani that evening to celebrate Greece’s National Day. This was the third year I’ve attended their celebration and it’s always something to look forward to. The reception is always packed and there’s always a lot of interesting people I haven’t met before or don’t see often enough. This year was no exception. First I was really happy to see Mrs. Hidesaburo Sboda . . . she’s the mother of Crown Princess Michiko and one of Japan’s most elegant and gracious ladies. She was talking with Maureen Mansfield and her daughter Anne, visiting here for a month or so. Moved over to say hello to a nice bunch of gals that included Virginia Johnson who introduced me to Rim Osborn. She first came to Japan with her parents (U.S. Embassy) and is back on her own now studying and teaching. She’s a cute girl with tons of personality.
The foreign press was well-represented by John Roderick, Jean Pearce, Barbara Adachl, Holii Ferretti, and Sheilagh Lebovich. The Shigeo Hories were there, and 1 really enjoyed hearing about some of their wonderful travel experiences in South Africa. Moved across the room to talk with Jordanian Ambassador Amer Shammout who’s been traveling a great deal on official business, and has been very busy in Tokyo with a group of businessmen who recently opened the new Arab United Trading Company office here. Singapore Ambassador Mon-Chong Wee joined us and told us about the new six-story Singapore Embassy building in Roppongi he and his staff were in the process of moving into. Juanita Reed (Isetan) was there with Mrs. Blanca Olegario, wife of the Mexican Cultural Attache. Mrs. Olegario just arrived in Japan a few weeks ago and is in the getting acquainted stage. Burmese Ambassador and Mine. U Thatmg Lwin were there with their lovely daughter Thuzar and, as always, enjoyed talking with them. Ghanian Ambassador Victor Wood (just back from five weeks in Ghana) introduced us to Jack Chawanin, First Secretary of the Embassy of Papua New Guinea. He’s just been here a few months.
Opening Reception hosted by the Jordanian Embassy
There were three parties that evening, and we ended up making it to just one of them. We were invited to a wine tasting and dinner at the residence of German Ambassador and Mrs. Gunter Diehl. We had called the ambassador and told him we wouldn’t be able to stay for dinner, but had hoped to get there for the wine tasting. He jokingly told us after we tasted the nine wines they were serving we wouldn’t be able to leave.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to get there even for that. I should know by now when you’re working with showbiz people, never plan a tight schedule. Leslie Browne’s interviews ran late, and by the time she was finished, it was just too late to go .. . we would have walked in right in the middle of the dinner. We did bump into Jane Rees (welcome back!) who was on her way to the German Embassy, and she told us later, it was really a nice evening. I was sure it would be.
We did finally get into the cars and down to the Imperial Hotel where Jordanian Ambassador and Mrs. Shammont were hosting a buffet dinner on the occasion of the opening of the new office of the Arab United Trading Company in Tokyo. The company has offices worldwide and is one of the biggest and best known in the Middle East and Gulf area. The large crowd was an interesting mix of the diplomatic and business world.
Guests included Mrs. Mike Mansfield and her daughter Anne, Iran Air’s Masoud Refghi, Kuni Yokoi and Rev. Ian and Barbara McLeod. Singapore Ambassador Mon Cheng Wee was there with his daughter Annie. She told us she’s been busy helping more into the new chancery. I was also happy to see Saudi Arabian Ambassador Zein A. Dabbagh who’s been traveling a great deal lately. Ambassador Shammout introduced us to Mr. T. Tabba, chairman of the Arab United Trading Company, who told us they were doing a tremendous amount of business with Japan.
In and Around Tokyo
On the 16th Mrs. Mike Mansfield held a reception at the U.S. Embassy residence to introduce the American Counselors stationed throughout Japan. From all reports it was a very interesting evening. On the 17th many friends of Noriko Ohno, president of Kokusai Ikebana, joined her at a dinner party to celebrate her birthday. Among the guests were Singapore’s Ambassador Wee Mon-Cheng; Zsofla Kos, wife of the Hungarian Ambassador; Stanislava Houska, wife of the Czechoslovakian Ambassador, and Kazuko Ochi, the personable daughter of Prime Minister Fukuda.
Farewell to Talat Al-Ghoussein, former Kuwaiti Ambassador to Japan. He’s now living in Sanaa and is Kuwaiti Ambassador to Yemen. It was a marvelous letter and mentioned the many things (including The Weekender) and people he missed here in Tokyo. It ended with an open invitation to stay “his place” whenever we visit Yemen.
Late, but sincere, congratulations to Pakistani Ambassador and Begum Jamsheed Marker and the people of Pakistan on their National Day which fell on Mar. 23. On. that day the Ambassador held a mid-day reception to- honor the occasion. The celebration also gave guests the opportunity to see the new Pakistani Chancery which had opened just a week earlier. Time flies . . . it seems like it was just a short time I ago I joined the Barkers and their friends at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Chancery.
Thursday the 30th was one of those non-stop days. First I headed over to the Tokyo Hilton where The Transportation Club was holding the monthly luncheon. From there we drove over to the Penthouse in Akasaka where Estee Lauder was holding a promotion to introduce their new Aramis 900 grooming system for men. The ultra modern packaged line includes shampoo, hair conditioner, clear skin pack, absolute com-fort shave cream, shave foam, herbal soap and herbal after shave. The products come in several sizes and many are ideal for traveling.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender.