BETWEEN ROCK AND A MARRED PLACE: Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor were chums, but their friendship was sometimes trying. So says author Mark Bego, whose Rock Hudson: Public and Private comes out in March. According to Bego, when Taylor was performing The Little Foxes on Broadway in 1981, Hudson invited her to stay with him and his companion, Tom Clark, in his apartment overlooking Central Park. Unfortunately, Taylor made such a mess of the place that Hudson and Clark moved to a hotel until the play was over. "The bathroom had makeup everywhere," an acquaintance of Hudson reports. "Her dresses were everywhere. She'd get up in the middle of the night to eat and leave cheese on the couch. But Rock's attitude was 'Let her make the apartment a mess. I love her like a sister—I'll go stay somewhere else.' "

SIZE DOES COUNT: Political satirist Mark Russell thinks that he can account for Raisa Gorbachev's public appeal. "She's the first wife of a Russian leader to weigh less than he does."

AMONG OTHER PLACES: True, she named the Dollywood Theme Park after herself. But Dolly Parton assured the crowd at the park's ground-breaking ceremony in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., that she hasn't turned into a egotist. "People know that if I ain't got the big head by now, I never will. Success has gone to my hips."

IT KEPT HIM IN STITCHES: A visitor to John Schneider's Studio City, Calif, home might be surprised by the hundreds of little crocheted squares scattered around the house. "My grandmother taught me to crochet, and I've been doing it for years," says the former Dukes of Hazzard star, who's just released a new LP, A Memory Like You. "But she never taught me how to sew the squares together. When I learn, I'm going to have a whole bunch of afghans."

MARRIAGE ISN'T SOMETHING YOU JUST BACK INTO: At a party celebrating the 100,000th copy sold of Do It Debbie's Way, Debbie Reynolds joked that her next exercise video will address itself to "taking care of a bad back." Reynolds, 53, explained that her husband of 19 months, real estate developer Richard Hamlett, 50, is younger than she is, "and I was out of shape before I got married. I forgot what a toll all that activity takes on your back."

STUFFING THE BREADBASKET: Akeem Olajuwon, the Houston Rockets' 7' center, usually tips the scales at 250 pounds, but he weighed a bit more after filming a commercial for McDonald's. The script called for him to slamdunk Chicken McNuggets into various dips, then pop them into his mouth. The director explained that since the one-minute commercial might take hours to complete, it wasn't necessary to swallow the McNuggets. But Olajuwon replied that he liked McNuggets and would eat them anyway. He kept his word. The commercial took five hours to shoot, and his appetite held up through 20 takes.

DON'T TAKE HER AT FACE VALUE: Lesley-Anne Down feels that women understand her "because they know what you look like when you get up in the morning and what you can look like later with a great deal of help." Michael Crichton, who directed her and Sean Connery in The Great Train Robbery, evidently didn't share that knowledge. Down told a London reporter, "I was totally knackered [exhausted] when I got off the plane and Crichton met me. I told him I had to sleep, so he allowed me a couple of hours. Unknown to me, he instantly tried to recast the part because I was so unattractive. Luckily, after 12 hours' sleep, all was okay."