PERSONALITIES: Martha Was Right

Sleekly coiffed, teased and sprayed, she glittered in the drab Nixonian setting, where to glow was considered a nono. She had an unbridled tongue and an addiction to nocturnal phone calls that converted her into a national celebrity. When she died last week, abandoned and alone, Martha Mitchell strangely seemed more of a figure from the distant past than one on whom the spotlights shone a scant two years ago.

Up from Pine Bluff, Ark., blonde, dimpled Martha made the scene first in New York. Her first marriage failed but her second, to...