Dumpling, 58-year-old Elsa Maxwell, professional party-thrower and No. 1 U.S. hedonist, will "do anything for a laugh—with me or at me." (Once, hard-pressed for a laugh, Elsa threw a banana peel on the stairs, laughed and laughed as she bounced black & blue to the bottom.) But one thing she drew the line at was writing a gossip column. So last week she turned columnist.

The fabulous Elsa signed a five-year contract to write a six-day-a-week syndicated column, Elsa Maxwell's Particles. Her reason: a laughter shortage in national defense. "It is a matter of...

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