One balmy evening
during their late and much-chronicled marriage, His Highness, The Prince Aly
Khan and Actress Rita Hayworth accompanied a party of friends to a Cairo
nightclub. The feature attraction was a renowned belly dancer. When she wove
into the spotlight, clothed only in a few yards of gold fringe and heavy,
half-lowered eyelids, Aly stared so fixedly at her gyrating half-naked torso
that one of the women guests, with a sidelong glance at Rita, cattily commented
on it. Rita smiled sweetly. "You don't understand. What interests Aly is
the revolutions per minute. It's all the same to him whether it's the RPM of an
engine, a race horse—or a woman's stomach."
wifely observation sounds remarkably improbable, friends who know Aly best
claim it was remarkably sagacious. "Speed is a drug to Aly," said a
woman friend. "I think he needs it to keep up his confidence."
"He's always either restless or reckless," said an aide.
years, a thickening waistline and a bothersome leg injury have almost halted
Aly's participation in sports, but otherwise there is no evidence that his pace
is slowing. At the United Nations, where he holds forth as Ambassador
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative from Pakistan, he
maintains an overcrowded schedule which leaves his secretaries exhausted, his
aides nettled and onlookers astounded. "The poor guy's throttle must be
stuck," commented a newsman.
There is no sign,
either, that Aly has lost his appreciative eye for women, a characteristic
which has made his name a familiar word from Bangkok to Broken Bow. Although
many people find it both tiresome and distasteful, it is almost impossible to
discuss Aly without mentioning his love life. Just recently a distinguished and
highly placed gentleman whose pronouncements usually concern world affairs was
asked what he thought of Aly's work at the U.N. "The trouble with Aly,"
he said bluntly, "is that he is grossly oversexed. If he would stop chasing
women he would probably be all right. But the man must have three or four of
them at a time. He doesn't chase tarts. He runs after lots of decent,
respectable women. And he has made many enemies doing it."
When he finally
got down to Aly's U.N. work the gentleman's tone changed. "He has won
respect as a sincere fellow," he said. "He has lots of money and
entertains lavishly. This is important because it gives him a chance to meet
many people. I give him a good mark. He has efficient help and they keep him on
the ball. He is no exhibitionist. His standing with nine or 10 Moslem countries
is excellent. They think a great deal of him."
Most people at
the U.N. feel Aly is doing a good job, though he has not yet faced the test of
a give-and-take debate on the floor or weathered an ordeal inevitably awaiting
every Pakistani Ambassador, a verbal brawl with his country's implacable,
long-winded and unpredictable enemy, India's Krishna Menon. It is to Aly's
credit that he has gained as much acceptance at the U.N. as he has. There was a
notable lack of enthusiasm among delegates when he was appointed, and in
Pakistan there were some outraged cries that he was not even a Pakistani. This
objection was highly technical, to say the least, since nobody has been a
Pakistani for more than 11 years.
Aly's ties with
Pakistan have been closer than most people realize. The late Aga was born in
Karachi and was a friend and adviser of the founders of the new country and
reputedly once declined the post of governor-general. Aly has been in and out
of the country constantly, deputizing for his father on business with the rich
and influential Ismaili community there. He is a close personal friend of most
of the officers in the military junta ruling Pakistan and was, in fact, made a
full colonel in the Pakistan army before his appointment to the U.N. His
father's esteemed reputation in Pakistan certainly was an advantage, but Aly
got his U.N. job on his own through his military and Ismaili connections.
Aly's U.N. career
did not get off to a rousing start, largely because his first big party at
Pakistan House was zealously promoted by his old and stubbornly gregarious
friend Elsa Maxwell, and liberally sprinkled with a caf� society crowd. This
caused some delegates to wonder if he intended using his U.N. post as an excuse
for more playboying. It was only after they saw how seriously he was taking his
U.N. duties that they accepted him, and his splendiferous parties have now
become the rage of the U.N.
probably has only himself to blame, it is a lamentable fact that Aly's playing
and romancing almost invariably overshadow or obscure some of his soldierly
accomplishments and many good qualities. People who know him only by reputation
are generally surprised to find he has considerable charm and an impressive
knowledge of world affairs. A well-known diplomat voiced a familiar complaint:
"Most of my friends don't understand why I like Aly until I introduce them
to him. The truth is, he's a highly likable fellow." Not boastfully, but
almost sorrowfully, the old Aga commented, "My son Aly is an extremely
warmhearted person who loves entertaining, who loves to be surrounded by
friends to whom he gives hospitality with both hands."
But Aly's lavish
hospitality also has brought him considerable censure. One critic trenchantly
remarked that the underlying theme of all his costly parties seems to be,
"I want to be happy, but I can't be happy until you are happy, too."
Even Aly's admirers usually concede he was guilty of exquisite bad taste when
he paid for and carefully stage-managed his eye-popping extravaganza of a
wedding to Rita Hayworth in the summer of 1949.