Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 41 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- KUWTK Recap: Kris Jenner Plans a Surprise Graduation Party for Kendall and Kylie
- Read the Cover Story: Adele’s Triumphant Return: How Love Changed Her Life
- Kobe Bryant Announces This Season Will Be His Last: Read His Emotional Good-Bye
- Caitlyn Jenner Gets Bangs! – See Her New Look
- John Legend Throws Chrissy Teigen a Birthday Bash at a Comedy Club – and Dave Chappelle Was There!
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- June 13, 1977
- Vol. 7
- No. 23
There Are 110 Stories in the Naked City's Tallest Building—and George Willig Knows Them All
"I guess it's okay being called 'the human fly,' " he allowed later, after sober reflection, "but it would have ruined the idea of the climb if I had realized what a big deal this would be. I might not have done it if I had known."
But fame at first was a delight and a dividend. For one thing, it helped persuade New York's city fathers to settle a $250,000 suit against him for $1.10—"a penny a floor," said Mayor (and mayoral candidate) Abraham Beame at a news conference the next day with the hero. By then Willig had appeared on Today and ABC's Good Morning America—and New York's Daily News had paid him $500 for a first-person account of his feat. "What George needs is an agent," his lawyer, Richard Reiben, concluded. "We've had offers for everything from quickie novels to documentaries, but we're not going to go P.T. Barnum. There's probably going to be a comic strip, and there are two or three proposals for screenplays and one offer from a major publisher that would include film rights." Also, of course, there is the matter of Johnny Carson's Tonight show. "We'll call them or they'll call us," vows Reiben, "but we'll get George a trip to the Coast."
Willig seems hardly the sort to go showbiz. The eldest son of a working-class Queens family, he grew up favoring solitary pursuits over team sports, and his current passions—apart from climbing—are hot-air ballooning, white-water canoeing and cross-country skiing. He holds a degree in environmental studies from St. John's University and for the past seven months has worked as a designer for the Ideal Toy Corp. There he has turned his talents to such sophisticated playthings as Electro Man and Zog the Terrible (both battery-powered dolls). It was in the Ideal machine shop, in fact, that he designed and built the gear for his climb: two metal blocks that locked into a track that guides the Trade Center window washers' platform. Willig prepared for the attempt for more than a year. "It was such an appealing wall," he says, "and I'm not afraid of heights, as long as I feel secure."
His dizzying ascent to celebrity, of course, may provide a more rigorous test of his balance. "My head is spinning," Willig admits. "I'm beside myself with all the attention." He still plans to climb in England this summer with girlfriend Randy Zeidberg, but beyond that, his future seems up in the air. "I intend to live up to my ideals," he says. "I'm not discounting anything that might happen, but I don't want to do a McDonald's commercial or anything that might cheapen me. People just get excited when a common guy does something uncommon."
November 26, 2015
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!