"Money is good for buying airplane tickets, dangerous drugs, fast cars and hiring a limo," or so Elizabeth Ashley discovered after fleeing her broken Baton Rouge family at 18. She scored on Broadway at 21 and ever since has lived the over-analyzed gilt trip on both Coasts, shedding hubbies James Farentino and George Peppard and boyfriends like writer Thomas McGuane along the way. "If you're a rich girl and want to be an adventuress, you buy a ticket to Europe," philosophizes Ashley, 36. "If you're a poor girl and want to be an adventuress, you become an actress."
Winging over Afghanistan on his recent trip to Africa, Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny decided to radio a fraternal message to that country's head of state. Since there was no Afghan translator aboard, the greeting was dispatched in English, to wit: "I have confidence that the relations between our two countries will continue to be fruitful." Come again? asked the radio operator, unfamiliar with the word "fruitful." "You know," the Soviet replied, "like fruit, like bananas." "Oh, now I've got it," came back the Afghan: "I have confidence that the relations between our two countries will continue to be bananas."
Not everyone would accuse Scoop Jackson, Strom Thurmond or even Frank Sinatra of being ahead of their time. But all three underwent cosmetic surgery (Jackson an eyelift, the others hair transplants) prior to the landmark decision of last September finally declaring such operations tax deductible. Among those qualifying for unauditable writeoffs on their returns this week: Roy Clark (hair transplant) and Phyllis Diller (eyelift and breast reduction).
Not for Me to Play
The internal alarm jangled in the security center of Houston's Royal Coach Inn, signaling that another TV set was being heisted. The house dick burst in, and there was singer Johnny Mathis and his sound man hunkered over the tube. Turned out, though, that Mathis had no designs on it. He and his sidekick had disconnected what they thought was the antenna lead in order to plug in the "Pong" video game that Math-is had bought for entertainment on a rainy night.
Chief Justice Warren Burger's outburst in a recent criminal rights case was a benchmark of his eight-year tenure. Calling the majority view "weird," "bizarre" and "intolerable," Burger spoke in court for a good 10 minutes, violating his own personal rule against reading opinions, especially dissents, on decision day. An indication of how deeply Burger felt about the prospect of criminals going scot-free? Maybe so, but one observer noted that Mrs. Warren Burger had brought 60 lady friends to the Court that day before a luncheon, perhaps prompting her husband to play to the gallery.
Though it sounds like a skit for a 1950s Your Show of Shows, comedienne Imogene Coca really has been tearing up the Pebble Beach (Calif.) golf course, combining her 20-stroke-a-hole form with bird watching. "People get very apprehensive when they see me from the green because I'm so close," Imogene reports. "Then they see the ball only goes four feet." Coca concedes her linksmanship "is more like croquet," but her husband, actor-director King Donovan, counters: "No, it's more like polo—she hits the ball before it stops."
•The art may be short, but the hours are like 17 a day shooting a TV series. Robert Stack has a 6 p.m. cut-off clause in his contract for ABC's Most Wanted, "but I've never even been close. It's like David Janssen told me," he laughs. "Doing a TV show is like making love to a gorilla—it's not when you want to stop, it's when she wants to."
•Autograph hounds shouldn't allow themselves to be given the finger by Walter Matthau. That ominous looking cast he's sported on his index digit with the loop of bandage down to his wrist at public events is a ruse.