"THAT IS a very silly question!"

This was Diahann Carroll responding to the query: "What talent would you most like to have?" in Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire for February.

Perhaps the beauteous Miss Carroll feels she has all the talent she can possibly handle? More and she might explode!

Diahann also thinks virginity is the most overrated virtue. And as to the question dealing with "perfect happiness," the actress says she is "looking forward" to experiencing such a thing.

LAST WEEK seemed to end swiftly and we were all "awarded out." But here are some thoughts on several major Oscar "snubs."

One is Robert Redford failing to place for "All Is Lost," a tour de force performance in which virtually not a word is uttered. (Redford plays a man alone at sea.) The actor blamed the lack of a proper marketing campaign for his not getting an Oscar nomination, though he says he isn't bitter. That's not why he makes movies anyway. He was sufficiently moved to make that remark, so water is not rolling that freely off Redford's ducky back.

Then there was Emma Thompson for "Saving Mr. Banks." This was a triumph for Thompson, who plays it tough as the irascible P.L. Travers, creator of "Mary Poppins." I felt certain Emma would nab a nomination. Tom Hanks wasn't nominated for either "Mr. Banks" (he played Walt Disney) or "Captain Phillips," as a seaman captured by pirates. But we can't say Tom hasn't been given his due over the years; even recently on Broadway.

And then there's Oprah Winfrey. She was outstanding, in my opinion, in "Lee Daniels' The Butler." Although her role is set in the 1950s/'60s, this is the first time -- in a not-extensive film career -- Winfrey has played a modern woman with all the issues and complexities of same. (Her other characters were rooted in even more repressive time -- "The Color Purple," "Beloved." Even her TV effort, "The Women of Brewster Place," had her deglamorized and stereotypically put-upon.) I found her powerful and compelling in "The Butler."

Awards are not strictly given out for "the best" -- often it is simply a popularity contest. Or, as Marlene Dietrich used to say, "a deathbed award -- give them one before they die or their careers end!" So with that in mind, how about opening up the acting side to fit in a few more great performers, just as they have with the films? I wouldn't go so far as 10, but seven nominations wouldn't be bad.

END THINGS -- I have to thank the incredibly funny, dauntingly profane gossip site, DListed (http://www.dlisted.com) for bringing Sarah Palin's tasteless, American-flag-themed, high-heeled footwear to my attention. Imagine if, say, Hillary Clinton had worn such shoes?! (Dlisted is not for the faint of heart, but it can be hilarious -- no prisoners taken! Beware, however, the language is super-bawdy.)

...After finishing up my recent column on all the still-living people who could contribute to an Elizabeth Taylor biography, dozens more popped into my head. But I decided not to torment my editors any further. However, I do want to mention just three more -- Linda Yellen, who was the producer on La Liz's TV movie, "Sweet Bird of Youth" (Linda had met and traveled with Elizabeth and her entourage as a young girl, back in the day, so Linda has plenty to recall); Tim Mendelson, Elizabeth's devoted personal assistant for the last 18 years of the star's life. (Elizabeth brought Tim's mother into her home to die -- that's where the woman wanted to be and it was more than fine with Elizabeth. She stood with Tim at his mother's deathbed.) And Bill Goulding, super-fan and super-photographer. Bill has one of the world's most ravishing and important collections of candid photos of the star.

...Oh, and for those who are looking for fascinating, funny, often outre online reading about vintage movies, TV shows and stars, try the blog, "Poseidon's Underground." You'll find everything from detailed and witty biographies to posts on how stars wore their clothes -- or didn't -- as each show biz decade constricted or loosened up. It's heavily illustrated and highly informative.

This from our reader Susan Neal: "I am reading the Vicky Wilson book on Barbara Stanwyck ... Soooooo good! No, whining from that generation of stars. The amount of work and movies they made is amazing."

(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)