Ava Gardner says people rarely recognize her in public, but if by chance it should ever happen, she's got a response all worked out. "The right way is the way Bette Davis does it," says Ava. "I saw her in the Hilton in Madrid once and went up to her and said: 'Miss Davis, I'm Ava Gardner and I'm a great fan of yours.' And you know, she behaved exactly as I wanted her to behave. 'Of course you are, my dear,' she said, 'of course you are.' And she swept on."
Puck's Bad Boy
Colorado Rockies' general manager Ray Miron is a wee bit discouraged that his hockey team is still last in the league. In 1977 team owners nixed his plan to write to Soviet ice hockey chairman Andrei Starovoitov with an offer to rent the entire Soviet team for one million dollars plus expenses. This year Miron lowered his sights and was allowed to send an appeal. "I feel the addition of one or two or even three players of high technique and ability would help us fulfill this difficult task of improving," Miron wrote. And he named his favorites. The Russians' reply was a sporting nyet. But why rent-a-Russian? "To try to get them to defect," Miron explains, "is almost impossible."
Though philanthropist Armand Hammer keeps giving away bits of his art collection to museums, the walls of his Los Angeles home never get bare. His wife, Frances, painstakingly copies the old masters and hangs the replicas around the house. Right now she is doing a Van Gogh and a Renoir for Hammer's private plane. But the diligent Mrs. H. has too much conscience to make it as a forger. One night a visiting art expert mistook one of her "Modiglianis" for the real thing. She sneaked back downstairs later and signed the Modigliani with a large "F.H.," recounts hubby Hammer proudly, "so there would be no confusion in the years to come."
Being a sex object is fine with Baltimore Oriole Jim Palmer, 35, who's finding, after 16 years in the major leagues, that modeling Jockey shorts has made him more famous than pitching. Jim's still calling himself "shy" about the whole thing. Still, he admits, "It makes you feel good to hear you look good in your underwear. Secretarial pools hang them [the posters] up. It's something to get them through the day."
After he topped the charts with Alone Again (Naturally)'m 1972, Gilbert O'Sullivan was "distraught" trying to come up with another hit. Worse, Gilbert says, "I had no friends." Or maybe that was better. "It was being a loner that saved me," he finally decided. How? "I wasn't aware of my failure," O'Sullivan explains, "because there was no one around to remind me."
•Roberta Flack is telling friends she wants to become a mother in 1981, but the last thing she needs is a wedding ceremony. "I have several potential fathers in mind," she says, "but haven't picked anyone out yet." The important thing, she says, is "not missing out on the birth-giving experience."
•Klinton Spilsbury, who plays the title role in the upcoming movie The Legend of the Lone Ranger, proves to be less inscrutable than the last masked man. Asked how he keeps his cowboy hat from falling off while his horse is galloping, Spilsbury sassed, "I think about how great I am and my head swells."