Toyota car officials were on a 100-octane high after persuading Clint Eastwood, James Brolin, Bruce Jenner, Don Prudhomme, Kitty O'Neil and Jayne Kennedy to take a test lap in a Toyota in preparation for a celebrity race before this week's Long Beach Grand Prix. When the glamor drivers arrived and spotted the souped-up Celicas, CBS sports commentator Kennedy, clearly no A.J. Foyt, called out: "Which one has the automatic transmission? I can't drive a stick shift." She sat out the run—and started a crash course in clutching.
Between sitcoms—his latest is ABC's 13 Queens Blvd.—comedian Jerry Van Dyke runs a San Fernando Valley nightclub. But one act he can't get to perform there—or at any cabaret, for that matter—is his big brother. "I couldn't even get Dick to play Vegas to save my ass," reports Jerry. "I ask him all the time. I've offered to write his act. But he just tells me he hates nightclubs." The phobia, Jerry figures, stems from Dick's wearisome early '50s roadwork with Phil Erickson in a duo they called the Merry Mutes. "They did well, but five years on the road and that did it. I guess the experience is still on Dick's mind." Obviously, because Jerry claims, "I could get him enough money to retire in a year."
Taxi's curvaceous hackie, Marilu Henner, recalls one of her first major roles—in the 1973 touring troupe of the Broadway musical Grease. She and the other cast members would "all tell each other how we were going to be stars someday." Among those onetime Grease-rs: fellow Taxi driver Jeff Conaway, Broadway's On the Twentieth Century star Judy Kaye, Movie Movie's Barry Bostwick and one John Travolta. Says Marilu, "It still amazes me."
Missing a Beat
Twenty-year-old teen heartthrob Shaun Cassidy may be further out of step with his own generation than he knows. "What do all the kids my age like doing?" Shaun asks rhetorically. "Disco. I'm sorry, but I hate it. I feel like those parents who hated Elvis and asked, 'Where are the Four Freshmen?' That's how I feel. Where are they—and the Beatles and the Beach Boys?" Well, for Shaun's information, the Four Freshmen have indeed faded. But the Beach Boys and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney are still in the limelight—and have just released disco singles.
Towheaded Ricky Schroder, the 8-year-old star(with help from Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway) of the MGM remake of The Champ, can tell a sad story in real life too. "Faye wanted me to come up to her house in Connecticut one day," says Ricky. "The next Sunday she hurt her back, so I didn't go. Then the second Sunday she broke her toe. She was carrying a TV set and dropped it. Then the next Sunday," says Ricky in puzzlement, "she didn't call at all." Phone that boy, Faye!
•Chief inflation fighter Alfred Kahn, himself no stranger to poor ratings, showed little sympathy for. the network underdog during a talk with White House press. Cracked Kahn, "I understand there are representatives in the audience of all the major networks—and NBC."
•When the tune He's the Greatest Dancer blared from Studio 54's sound system the other night, Liza Minnelli boogied with a partner to match the title: Rudi Nureyev.
•Henry Fonda says that, contrary to reports, he doesn't plan to retire after completing his 100th picture. The just-released The Greatest Battle is his "85th or 86th"—he isn't sure. Explains the 73-year-old Fonda, "Acting comes a lot easier to me these days because I don't always have the key role in a movie and I don't have to carry it. That problem is on younger shoulders and better-looking faces. I just show up and look wise."
•Speaking before the National Press Club, presidential adviser Hamilton Jordan put the kibosh on talk that Jimmy Carter isn't tough. "Jimmy is so tough," averred Jordan, recalling a case in point, "that he turned to me and said, 'You fire Bella Abzug.' "