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- December 26, 1983
- Vol. 20
- No. 26
Sex, Drugs and Pelicans—Take II
What Happened Next: a Year-End Update on the Fates of the Famous
Not surprisingly, Jahan, a French-born actress now living in Los Angeles, was frustrated at being ignored initially, which the movie's producers ascribed to an oversight. "The critics were saying all this great stuff about the dancing, and no one knew I had done it," she says. Now she believes the delayed recognition may have been a blessing. "It gave me mystique," she explains.
It also brought her steady employment. Since the film's premiere Jahan has flashdanced her way through commercials for shoes, milk and a Japanese health club, and traveled to Europe to promote the movie. She has also landed her first speaking part—three words—as a stripper in an upcoming Universal movie, Streets of Fire. When an amorous patron paws her, Jahan looks him in the eye and barks, "Back up, scumbag!"
Almost a year after Roxanne Pulitzer's divorce from newspaper heir Peter Pulitzer (Jan. 24)—she accused him of drug abuse and incest, he charged her with lesbianism and sleeping with a trumpet—Roxanne is still unhappy with her settlement, which netted her an estimated $115,000. Her lawyer, Marvin Mitchelson, hopes to hear in January concerning an appeal of the ruling that gave Peter custody of the couple's 6-year-old twins, Mack and Zack. Meanwhile, Roxanne has moved from the couple's Palm Beach mansion to a nearby two-bedroom apartment. She spends her time visiting with the kids and taking exercise classes. Interested in showbiz, Roxanne got a small break in November when Burt Reynolds hired her as an extra in his upcoming movie, Stick. The pay? A reported $40 a day.
Things seem to have quieted down in the tumultuous O'Neal clan (Aug. 15). In May daddy Ryan reportedly knocked out two of son Griffin's teeth during a family fracas. Not long afterward, a troubled Griffin, then 18, entered a private drug and delinquency rehabilitation center in Hawaii. Now, seven months later, Griffin has returned to Los Angeles, where he is reportedly under a doctor's care. He celebrated Thanksgiving with his father and sister Tatum, 20, at Ryan's Malibu beachhouse. "He's gained 10 or 15 pounds and his outlook is much more mature," says a friend. "He is doing splendidly," adds Griffin's uncle, Kevin O'Neal. "He's healthy and strong and that's what counts. He and his father are getting along wonderfully. They are extremely close. We are proud of him."
A year ago the Cambridge Diet (Nov. 15, 1982) was living off the fat of the land. The radical regimen, which requires those who observe it to chow down a supposedly nutritious, low-calorie food supplement that sells for $18 a can, added millions to the bank accounts of the diet's promoters, the Feather family of Monterey, Calif.: dad Jack, mom Eileen and son Vaughan. Said Eileen, 57: "Cambridge is the answer to my prayers."
Additional prayers may soon be in order. Last September Cambridge Plan International filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy laws. The company sold off its spiffy Monterey headquarters and now operates out of a warehouse. According to the Feathers, copycat competition caused the fiscal fiasco.
But a dozen former Cambridge executives aren't buying that line. On the same day Cambridge was filing for bankruptcy, the 12 filed an $80 million lawsuit accusing the Feathers of fraud, deceit and breach of contract. Because of another suit brought by a group of former salespeople claiming restraint of trade, Eileen and Jack Feather have been barred from leaving the country.
Last February masked gunmen invaded an Irish stud farm and drove off with Shergar, one of the world's most valuable thoroughbreds and the prize possession of the Aga Khan (Feb. 28). The next morning the Aga, vacationing in St. Moritz, received and bluntly refused a ransom demand for $2.7 million. The horse, which had been syndicated for $18 million, has not been seen since and is presumed dead. Although a $500,000 reward is still being offered for his safe return, some insurers have already paid part of a $6.7 million policy on Shergar. Yet the stallion has not vanished without a trace: Before his disappearance, he had impregnated 42 mares. The first of his line to reach the auction block, a still-unnamed yearling colt (above), fetched $480,000 at a County Kildare auction this fall.
For Samantha Smith, 11, life is "pretty much back to normal" after the media blitz surrounding her exchange of letters with Soviet Communist Party chief Yuri Andropov (May 16) and a subsequent trip to Russia last summer. "It was kind of hectic, but I sort of miss the limelight," says the Manchester, Maine sixth grader. "I liked rushing around and hearing the cameras go click, click."
In retrospect, what did she learn? "That it's a lot harder to get people to think about peace than I thought, even young people," says Samantha. She also discovered that celebrity has its downside. After the Russians shot down the Korean jetliner ("It just shows what can happen when things get out of hand," she says), she watched television coverage of a protest outside the Soviet embassy in Washington. "Someone had a sign saying 'What do you think now, Samantha?' or something like that. I thought that was mean."
It was a forbidding evening indeed when San Jose State University professor Scott Rice (April 18) announced the winner of his second annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, whose 10,000 entrants had vied to submit the worst possible opening sentence for a novel. (Honorary Hall of Famer Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the Victorian novelist, began The Last Days of Pompeii with the all-too-memorable "It was a dark and stormy night...")The winning entry, submitted by Gail Cain of San Francisco, a technical writer for Bank of America (dark and stormy drumroll, please): "The camel died quite suddenly on the second day, as Selina fretted sulkily, and, buffing her already impeccable nails—not for the first time since the journey began—pondered snidely if this would dissolve into a vignette of minor inconveniences like all the other holidays spent with Basil."
Last December MGM/UA halted production of the film I Won't Dance because its star, Kristy McNichol (May 9), was suffering from what they mysteriously labeled a "chemical imbalance." Gossip vultures whispered of drugs, but that, according to Kristy's friends, wasn't the problem. McNichol, they said, was an emotional wreck after being whipsawed by sudden, early success (including two Emmys for her role in TV's Family) followed by failure in her most recent films (The Pirate Movie and White Dog). After a year of rest, says her agent, Kristy "feels and looks good. She's full of energy." One positive sign: In mid-January, she'll resume filming I Won't Dance.
After five years of camping out in the sanctuary of the American Embassy in Moscow, Soviet Pentecostal Pyotr Vashchenko (July 18) couldn't believe it when the Soviet bureaucracy finally allowed him—together with his wife and 14 children, ranging in age from 9 to 32—to emigrate to Israel last year. "It is difficult to believe that we are really here, where Jesus was," said Pyotr in Jerusalem. "We have prayed and hoped to come here, but somehow it does not seem real. It is so sudden."
Then, unexpectedly, his life changed again. Only two weeks after arriving, the Vashchenkos learned that though Israel would readily grant them resident status, the road to full citizenship was long and uncertain. Almost overnight the clan packed their bags and headed for the U.S., where church groups and human-rights activists helped some family members settle near Seattle and others to find homes in Idaho. Of the 16, some have found employment, and all are learning English. "By doing my best," says daughter Lyuba, 30, now taking courses at the College of Idaho in Caldwell, with an eye toward going to law school, "I will be able to show my appreciation of the people who have helped me."
It started as a simple promotional gambit: Allen-town, Pa. radio-station owner Harold Fulmer (March 18) offered an $18,000 mobile home to whichever of three contestants—selected at random from an estimated half-million entries—could camp out the longest on a billboard advertising his station. Mike MacKay, 31, Ron Kistler, 26, and Dalton Young III, 23, were each provided with a tent, a chemical toilet, a telephone and a summerweight sleeping bag, and happily took their places on Sept. 20, 1982. All went swimmingly for the first few months, but as the winter wore on, sitter sympathizers began to accuse multimillionaire Fulmer of cruelty. The era of good feeling was definitely over when police, acting on an anonymous tip, arrested Young for possession of marijuana, leaving him with nothing to show for his 184 days aloft except a possible jail sentence. (Young was found guilty last August, but is appealing his conviction.) Finally, after 261 days, Fulmer called it a draw and awarded each remaining sitter a car, a mobile home and a job. "I don't think I'd want to spend another nine months up there on a billboard, but it was worth it," says Kistler. MacKay, who now runs a Fulmer-owned recreational-vehicles park in the Poconos, is jubilant. "I can sit here and watch otters and beavers and bears," he says. "It's been a happy ending."
College basketball star Kevin Ross (Feb. 21) was on full athletic scholarship at Nebraska's Creighton University when he dropped out of school in 1982, complaining that he had been allowed to pass through the educational system without ever learning to read. Hoping to make up for lost time, he enrolled in July 1982 in a private elementary school operated by Chicago's renowned Marva Collins. Being photographed as a 6'9" second-grader made him a national symbol of the hypocrisy of many college athletic programs. Ten months later Ross, who now makes a living lecturing about his experience, completed his high school studies. He plans to enter Chicago's Roosevelt University in January. "I'm really looking forward to college this time," says Ross, 25, who intends to study education. "I'm not going to use any of my bonehead credits from Creighton. I'm going to start all over—even if it takes me 10 or 15 years to get that degree."
Richard and Deborah Jahnke, the Cheyenne, Wyo. teenagers who collaborated in the shotgun killing of their deranged, abusive father (March 7), were both sentenced to prison but remain free while their convictions are appealed. Richard is living in a foster home and attending high school in Cheyenne; Deborah is enrolled at a boarding school that specializes in helping troubled children.
"Sometimes I think I could have committed an ax murder on the village green and it would not have stirred up as much excitement," says Patricia Hope (Jan. 17), the East Hampton, N.Y. high school teacher who became the focus of a much-publicized town squabble when she became pregnant out of wedlock. Nineteen townspeople, claiming that Hope, 42, presented a deplorable example to the community's youth, signed a petition demanding the school board sack her. A counterpetition, signed by 469 supporters, demanded she be kept on. The board eventually sided with Hope and authorized a paid six-month leave. Her baby, Penelope Leigh Hope, was born on Feb. 5.
"My life has turned around 180 degrees since then," says Hope, who had been living in a rooming house but now rents a cozy cottage from the parents of one of her students. "I wrote an article for Ladies' Home Journal which ran in October, and that helped a lot of people to understand far better than any attempt on my part to talk to them," she says. "I get stonewalled sometimes when I go into town, and I hear I'm the main subject of conversation at certain bridge tables. But no one has said anything to my face." On school days, Penelope is cared for by a friend while Mom teaches. Hope also keeps busy managing her lingering celebrity. Although she says she has repeatedly turned down invitations to appear on the Phil Donahue Show, she is selling the TV rights to her story for an NBC-TV movie.
There is good and bad news for pelican lovers. In Southern California, where a sicko cut off the upper beaks of 19 brown pelicans (Feb. 28), attempts have failed to fit the birds with prosthetic replacements. Vets have abandoned plans to return the animals to the wild and hope to find homes for the survivors. Further up the coast, in Monterey, another 27 pelicans were found maimed this fall. The only good news: After Monterey bird lovers posted a $10,000 reward, tips helped police nab a suspect, a 15-year-old boy.
With the voluntary manslaughter conviction of ex-boyfriend John Sweeney, 28, the book seemed closed on the strangling death of actress Dominique (Poltergeist) Dunne (Oct. 10). Then came a brief, bitter epilogue. During Sweeney's sentencing hearing, defense attorney Michael Adelson pleaded for leniency, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Burton Katz cut him off sharply. "This is a case of murder, pure and simple," said Katz. "I was appalled at the verdict [manslaughter instead of murder]. I don't understand it for the life of me." Some courtroom observers, including Dunne's family, considered the judge's outburst a hypocritical response to criticism that his mishandling of the case had led to conviction on the lesser charge. "The judge turned completely around," said a disgusted Eleanor Dunne, the victim's mother. "He stepped on the prosecuting attorney and anything he tried to put forth during the entire trial." Sweeney was sentenced to six and a half years in prison, but under California law, with time off for good behavior and credit for time already served, he could be released in only two and a half.
Bernard Epton (Feb. 21) entered Chicago's mayoral race as a political Don Quixote: a Republican candidate in an overwhelmingly Democratic town. Then black Congressman Harold Washington upset Mayor Jane Byrne in the Democratic primary, and Epton suddenly found himself with a real chance to win. That's when his troubles began. The press, claims Epton, unfairly portrayed him as a racist during the ensuing bitter campaign. (Among other alleged offenses, one of his campaign buttons read EPTON BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE, a slogan he says was devised before Washington's nomination.) By the time Washington won by 44,700 votes, says Epton, "I was in a rage. There had been smears by the media and betrayal by friends. I'm sorry I ran because of the friendships I lost." Still smarting, Epton, a millionaire lawyer, says he may never seek public elective office again, though he probably would accept an appointment. In fact, he has one in mind. "I heard there's a vacancy on the Federal Communications Commission," he says with a vengeful gleam. "There's nothing the media would hate worse than to have me on the FCC."
Life has changed little for rocker David Crosby (Aug. 29), 42, since he was sentenced to five years in prison on cocaine and gun-possession charges stemming from a 1982 arrest in a Dallas nightclub. Friends say he is broke, strung out and living in his last asset, a house in Mill Valley, Calif., while his case is on appeal. At one point he checked into a California drug rehabilitation center but walked out two days later, reportedly when a nurse refused to give him a Valium. Deluged with offers of moral and medical support after the PEOPLE article described his plight ("Some people even turned up on his doorstep," says a source close to the singer), Crosby insists he doesn't have any problem that he can't solve himself, if only people would be good enough to give him some cash. Says a friend, "One day David said that if he had money he would sail away on his boat and make himself quit drugs." Adds the friend, "We had to point out to him that he no longer has a boat."
Mary Ellen Pinkham (March 28), whose Mary Ellen's Help Yourself Diet Plan has been a best-seller since its publication last December, almost let success go to her hips. While touting the book in Europe, she backslid egregiously. "I'm no dope," says Pinkham, 37. "I was eatin', I'll tell ya. The best. In Italy, pasta. And in France, of course, all the pastries." And, of course, she gained 15 pounds, necessitating a big second helping of her own advice. Now in fighting trim once again, she is at work on an exercise book, as well as overseeing the marketing of an out-of-the-ordinary breakfast product. "It's called Mary Ellen's Toastamp," says Pinkham. "It's like a branding iron. What you do is brand bread, and it pops out of the toaster with a message on it, like 'Good Morning' or 'Smile.' "
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