10/01/1979 at 01:00 AM EDT
It's Ebenezer Fonz
The old gray man in the baggy suit is Henry Winkler transformed by makeup into—could it be—Scrooge? That's right. In An American Christmas Carol, an ABC version of the Dickens classic (to be aired in December), the Fonz plays the skinflint as the president of a finance company in the Depression. Winkler modeled his curmudgeon partly on the late millionaire J. Paul Getty. Despite the makeup, which took five hours to apply (and meant Winkler had to report to the set at 3:30 a.m.), visiting kids knew all along who was under that wig. But several times off the set, adults offered to help the old gent in and out of elevators.
Meyers' net gain
Signed by the Indiana Pacers to a one-year contract at a reported $50,000, former UCLA All-American Ann Meyers, 24, hoped to be the first woman to play in the NBA. But in the tryouts the 5'9", 140-pounder was elbowed out by burlier operatives (like 190-pound guard John Kuester) and eliminated at the first cut. Ignoring jibes that it was all a PR stunt for the Pacers' front office, which is considering her for color commentary on radio and TV, Meyers insists she is disappointed. "Who wouldn't be?" She hopes to work out with the team occasionally and would "suit up in a minute" if the need or opportunity arose.
Who needs a Fantasy Island? The dream come true for Hervé "Tattoo" Villechaize, 36, is the San Fernando Valley ranch he calls "Menehunes"—Hawaiian for "tiny people who work hard." That aptly describes French-born Villechaize, who hopes to make the modest spread—which has ponies, ducks, chickens, goats, pigeons, rabbits and a vegetable garden—self-sustaining. As he shows his brother Patrick, a film director, around the ranch, Hervé totes a .22 pistol. It's not just for rustlers. "There are a lot of sick people," the 3'10" actor complains, "who pull my hair or lift me up."
Peyton Place émigré Barbara Parkins has traveled to Russia, Africa and Peru since she left the celebrated series in 1969, but she knows she is never far from her small-town TV roots. Recently, after filming Bear Island in Alaska, she visited Paris to shoot layouts for a French magazine and, while doing her barre exercises in a hotel room, turned on the telly. There in black-and-white was vintage Parkins herself as Peyton Place's Betty Anderson. The déjà view didn't make Barbara, now 34, feel bad, though. "It was like watching an older relative," she exclaims. "Those three-inch eyelashes, that bouffant hairdo, that Natalie Wood makeup!"
Under Elton's hat
Behind those blinders lurks Elton John, preparing in London to wing himself to Phoenix, Ariz. and the first stop in his "Back in the U.S.S.A." tour. The singer, who hasn't visited these parts for two and a half years, has something new planned besides the sight of his new thatch (transplanted painfully from the back of his head). It's the new act—more intimate, less flamboyant—that won over Israeli, European and Russian audiences in the past year. As the former Captain Fantastic puts it, "I don't have to do handstands on the piano anymore. I can concentrate on the music."