John and Yoko Lennon were celebrating his 36th birthday with an intime little party at their Central Park West apartment when in burst groupie-turned-poetess Cherry Vanilla to lay a little of her X-rated verse on the gathering. History's most expensive singing telegram was arranged, according to the placard around her neck, as "a present in poetry from Ringo and Nancy." Perpetrator Starr and his fiancée Andrews, who were in Amsterdam at the time, should know that Yoko "loved it" but that it made John "a little nervous."
"Before I got into this business, I thought only a nut would write a newspaper for help." That's what Eppie Friedman—better known as Ann Landers—confessed 21 years later in a lecture at Harvard Law School. Of course, now she's wondering anew. "Today you have to have nerves of steel just to be a neurotic," finds Landers. "One out of four people in this country is mentally imbalanced. Think of your three closest friends—if they seem okay, then you're the one."
The breakthrough TV series I Spy, in which Bill Cosby smashed the prime-time discrimination barrier (and won three Emmys), played for three seasons. Cosby's next show, a half-hour sitcom in which he was cast as a teacher, ran for two. His third effort, a CBS variety hour, hung in a year. Bill's new ABC variety hour, Cos, was at last Nielsen count in 62nd place (out of 62). "I've got a 13-segment commitment," noted Cosby as he awaited the pink slip, "but the way it's going, the next time around they'll sign me to a one-hour special and take a look at the ratings after 30 minutes to decide if they want to pick up the second half."
The Jimmy Carter campaign prides itself on its distance from the Washington establishment. The standard-bearer is a softball freak. Both of which might explain what happened when one of his Atlanta staffers tried to line up a celeb supporter in Boston. The aide rang up Red Sox slugger Carl Yastrzemski, who demurred, explaining that he was already committed to local pols like Tip O'Neill. "Is he a Republican or a Democrat?" asked the Atlantan. When an incredulous Yaz replied "Democrat—he's the Majority Leader of the House," the staffer advised, "Well, he'd better be nice to Mr. Carter 'cause he's going to be the next President." Snapped Yastrzemski before sending the Carterite to the showers: "Well, Carter better be good to him because he's going to be the next Speaker of the House."
"I was eager to take on the role of the maid Mrs. Naugatuck on Maude because I felt it would give me an exposure to American TV viewers that I could never hope to reach onstage," says Hermione Baddeley, once a top banana on London's West End. But Hermione, 67, feels that "my part seems to be getting smaller and smaller—now they bring me on with a cup of tea, muttering 'Yes, Mum' and 'No, Mum.' " So Baddeley is buttonholing producers to sweeten her role. "I'd be so embarrassed if Maude played in England," she explains, "because my friends there would be certain to say, 'Has she gone mad, doing those bit parts on American TV?' "
•To be sure, country queen Loretta Lynn's feminist message in songs like The Pill is heartfelt. But there's another reason, Lynn admits, why she writes lyrics "advising female fans to do what you want to do." It's her intuition that "men just put the quarters in the jukebox—women buy the records."
•At the Montreal Olympics, Nadia Comaneci, 14, was a lithe 86 pounds of gold. But now, back home in Rumania, she has blossomed—not from addiction to capitalist junk food but rather from puberty—to 112 pounds. As a result, her further pursuit of gymnastic perfection is imperiled.