"Dear Liz ... Thank you for your great article on Magna Carta (July 9). You capture the spirit exactly right and tell the story so well.
"Here, in the Salisbury Cathedral, England, we are delighted to host Jay-Z's new album alongside our Magna Carta. Ours is the best of the four remaining documents.
"But the whole point is that as well as being a UNESCO 'Memory of the World' document, we treasure the legacy of Magna Carta as the first ever Peace Treaty between a king and his people to define the limits of state power and to promote the rule of law. It is as relevant now as it was in 1215.
"How many of your readers know that Clause 38 of our 798-year-old charter proclaims for the first time in human history the 'right to silence' when charged, to prevent conviction without evidence?
We call this a police caution -- you call it the Miranda warning!
"Yours very sincerely, Robert Key, chair, Salisbury Cathedral Magna Carta 800th Project."
I MUST say I am as proud of this letter from the chair of the Salisbury Cathedral as of any response to anything I have ever written.
FROM the sublime to the ridiculous, I'd say. Our little stories here about the temperament of the great Lauren Bacall, elicited the following from one Laurence Chrysler. I just loved his story and I love Miss Bacall, too.
Here's Laurence: "Years ago, Bobby Short and I were in Paris at the Cafe Flore for an afternoon drink. We were asked to join Betty Bacall, who was seated alone at the Number One table, whereby she commanded; 'Sit down and have a drink!'
"As she was about to light a cigarette I asked if I might have one too, saying I had quit and I only smoked in Paris...
"'Yes,' she drawled. 'It's like a movie, isn't it?' It's a wonderful memory."
For her (impossible!) 80th birthday, the fabled performer Chita Rivera will celebrate at the August Wilson Theatre -- 245 W. 52nd Street -- on Oct. 7 and has insisted she'll also perform, instead of just sitting there accepting tributes. (Chita's actual natal day fell in January.)
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will benefit and I'd advise you to get your tickets now. Call 212-840-0770 ext. 268. Tickets start at $75.
And here's a memory by Arline Kolber of Hartsdale, N.Y. "In 1975 we were at The Dorchester Hotel in London. The elevator doors open, out comes Elizabeth Taylor with Henry Wynberg, her then boyfriend.
"On the wall of the lobby was a cabinet of watches. Ms. Taylor saw one she liked so the concierge called the jeweler. He came over to show her the watch. She asked me to stay and give her my opinion on the watch, which was a Piaget with a Pave diamond face and a leather band. She said to the jeweler, 'If I make you an offer you can't refuse, will you give me a good price?' We all had a good laugh.
"The elevator opens and out comes my husband and sees me with Ms. Liz. He can't believe what he's seeing. So we got to talking and she recommended a great Chinese restaurant to us. We went and it was terrific. She was very regular and fun. It's a nice memory of a great trip."
My aide, Denis Ferrara thought he had a juicy P.S. to this tale -- "Ah, a Chinese restaurant! Henry Wynberg! I think I remember that night!" "You were in London in 1974?" I said. "Oh, London, d--n, no." Well what was his story?
"Elizabeth and Henry were leaving this fancy Chinese place in New York. She was wearing a blue linen caftan, cut open to the waist. When she bent to get in the limo, it was abundantly clear she wasn't wearing a bra. Nobody expected it. And nobody got the picture, which would have been worth a fortune! Several paparazzi literally fell to the sidewalk and tore their hair out."
HAD a delightful lunch at Michael's with the super rep to the biggest stars -- one Leslee Dart. We didn't dish the dirt, but she did say that Woody Allen is planning a blockbuster Broadway musical based on "Bullets Over Broadway" and that Meryl Streep leaves for London in three weeks to make a movie of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods," under the direction of Rob Marshall.
The incredible Ms. Streep has spent some of her summer in Connecticut because her downtown Manhattan home still suffers from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.
So, you see, even the super successful have problems like the rest of us.
My own motto for 2013 so far is "But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"
It seems as if everybody one speaks to has a terrible disastrous tale to tell.
LEAVE IT TO Carole Stuart's Barricade Books to always be ahead of the curve. Back in 2007 the publishing house put out "Honor Betrayed: Sexual Abuse in America's Military" by Dr. Mic Hunter. Carole says: "The response was, to put it mildly, underwhelming. Dr. Hunter had counseled veterans, both men and women, who described their experiences of being sexually assaulted while serving. We expected headlines, interviews. The reality was ... complete silence. Even after the author sent copies of the book to Congress.
"I'm not sure what has changed in the years since, but finally men and women are telling their stories, which are still occurring. I did take some kind of unhappy satisfaction that back in May the New York Times had three major pieces about military sexual abuse." The author has also produced an upcoming documentary on the ongoing crisis.
"Honor Betrayed..." is available on Amazon.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)