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People: May 18, 1962

7 minute read

Sheathed in a tight skirt, Princess Margaret, 31, showed a bit of thigh as she hopped behind Husband Tony for her first spin on a motorcycle in rural Somersetshire and was promptly knocked from pillion to post by London fashion editors who thought “chic and cheerful” trousers would have been more suitable. Nothing fazed, Meg cheerfully let herself in for more complaints about royal overexposure by showing up at a London theater in a one-strap evening gown that displayed a dazzling expanse of shoulder.

California Campaigner Richard M. Nixon, 49, was the host at a party for 75 newsmen at his new, $135,000 spread in Beverly Hills, but he might as well have tagged along with the guests on the guided tour that his daughters conducted through the white-carpeted rooms. Since moving into the four-bedroom, six-bathroom hilltop ranch house last month, the hard-running gubernatorial aspirant has spent only two nights there. Peppery Julie Nixon, 13, could understand, for she was doing some politicking herself—in the ninth-grade class at Marlborough School. Though she was home in bed on election day with a bump on her head from a wayward softball bat, Julie won. Her post? Vice president.

Back only 24 hours from a Grecian honeymoon with Director Tony Richardson, veteran Ban-the-Bomber Vanessa Redgrave, 25, mounted a Hyde Park soapbox and declared: “I would like to be home with my husband, but if the bomb is dropped and I have played no part in protesting against it, I would be as guilty as the man who pressed the button.” At the edge of the heckling crowd stood Actor Sir Michael Redgrave, 54, Vanessa’s father. “I believe in what she says in principle,” he said, “but I am against this civil disobedience. It could be dangerous if applied wrongly.”

On a four-hour tour of Gettysburg, Civil War Buff Karl Barth, 76, astonished his guides with a fusillade of little-known facts. Led to the spot where the first large body of Confederate troops had deployed, the Swiss theologian smiled knowingly, “Yes, that was [Major General Henry] Heth’s group.” Told that a Lutheran seminary in which he was lunching had been used as a Union observation post, he nonchalantly rattled off the name of Major General John Buford as the post’s commander. Moving south, Barth paused on a battlefield near Richmond. Va., raised a century-old Yankee musket to his shoulder, and proved himself the equal of an earlier Swiss marksman by scoring a bull’s-eye on a white handkerchief 100 ft. away. Cried he: “Like William Tell!”

Whirling from East Coast to West and back, Soviet Spaceman Gherman Titov, 27, found a lot not to like about the U.S.—traffic in San Francisco, cotton candy at the Seattle World’s Fair, martinis anywhere, photographers everywhere. At times sounding more like a parrot than a pilot, the capsule-sized (5 ft. 6 in.) Communist Cosmonaut informed a Sabbath news conference, “In my travels around the earth I saw no God or angels,” thumbed down the U.S. space program (“quite a lot of failures”), thumbed up the Soviets’ (“no failures whatever”), finally took his good will off to Scotland, where he stopped just long enough to say something else about the U.S. “You had to pay for walking along the street. Wherever you go, you have to pay money. You almost have to pay money to breathe the fresh air,” said Moscow’s man in space.

Slyly seasoning his similes with salt for an Oxford audience, Russia’s globe-trotting Evgeny Evtushenko, 28, said that for a poet, speaking the truth is not an act of heroism but “as natural as walking around with one’s fly done up.” The following day the irrepressible poet struck an unnatural pose. During tea at Novelist Kingsley (Lucky Jim) Amis’ Cambridge home, he noticed eight-year-old Sally Amis pressing dolls’ clothes with her mother’s iron, hustled Sally and her startled parents out of the room and stripped off his rain-rumpled pants. Ten minutes later, resplendent in trousers with a knife-sharp crease, Evtushenko invited everyone back in, with a bow returned the iron to Sally.

“English is dying from a surfeit of prose,” rumpled, roly-poly Lord Hailsham, 54, Britain’s Lord President of the Council and Minister for Science, told the Royal Academy. “Off the printing presses,” said he, adding a few thousand well-chosen words to the surfeit, “there rolls a steady stream of viscous verbiage couched in what purports to be the language of Shakespeare and the Authorized Version, but is in fact the hideous, flaccid, indigestible, swag-bellied offspring of decay.” His solution—”every educated man should write verse”—is one he has employed for years, jotting verses in a little black book, or penning a poetic apology to a secretary he had reduced to tears:

So, take me for your friend, and don’t forget,

If sometimes I seem like a prima donna.

Gentle Juanita, life’s a minuet,

With steps minutely marked for men of honor.

Having written two weighty tomes on marine biology that proved popular flops, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, 61, turned to amateur botany for his third book, and suddenly found himself the nation’s newest literary lion. A 5,000-copy first edition of his Flora of Nasn, describing 1,000 specimens from a mountain-ringed resort 90 miles from Tokyo, was sold out in advance. The Sanseido publishers, admitting to a “serious mistake,” hastily ordered up a face-saving second printing of 25,000. An added attraction in the 428-page, 750-yen ($2.09) manual is a dainty frontispiece of a bellflower done by a Sunday painter named Nagako, Hirohito’s 59-year-old Empress.

Beleaguered Roger Blough, 58, may never be sure whether it was Madame Defarge or Mrs. Malaprop who spoke to him at the end of Big Steel’s noisy stockholders’ meeting in Hoboken, N.J. After nearly four hours of often acrimonious exchange with 1,300 coupon clippers, some of whom suggested that he resign (or take a pay cut) because of his dust-up with the White House, the $300,000-a-year board chairman gave the floor to an unidentified lady stockholder whose hand was raised. She just wanted to thank him, she said “for the humiliation with which you have conducted this meeting.”

Amiable Actor Michael Wilding, 49, who once wistfully complained, “It’s the tyrants who seem to make a success of marriage,” was ready to write off his third try as a flop (his second was with Liz Taylor). Flying into London to begin divorce proceedings was onetime interior decorator Susan Nell Wilding, who has been wed four times herself. “The grounds will be adultery,” said she offhandedly. “I shall be naming someone, but right now I’ve forgotten whom.”

New York has lots of pretty girls with lots of pretty diamonds. But even the Daily News, which keeps a jeweler’s loupe on such things, was surprised by the smiling lass who turned up on its pages. She was Rhoda Gilbert, 28, a subsonic member of the Manhattan-French Riviera jet set, and she seemed to have more baubles than anyone else—$734,000 worth recently delivered by Cartier on approval. Now Cartier wanted them back because dear Rhoda was separating from her husband, a lumberman-financier, and he wasn’t even half trying to pony up. Rhoda pouted. Cartier rushed to court. Reluctantly, Rhoda returned two black pearls, 21 emeralds, 68 diamonds and said: “I’m issuing a statement through my lawyer saying that I’m shocked.”

Fèlix Houphouet-Boigny (pronounced Hoo-f’wet B’wa-nyee), 56, first President of the newly independent Ivory Coast republic, steamed into Manhattan for a big-day visit that will include aid-and-trade talks with President Kennedy. At his side aboard the France was one of the West African state’s major national assets: his wife of ten years, Marie-Thérèse, 31, a Junoesque, French-schooled fashion plate who was training for a career as a social worker when Houphouet-Boigny talked her into marrying him.

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