For helping the cause of the handicapped (by featuring a blind character), Little House on the Prairie was honored by the Governor's Committee for Employment of the Handicapped at the Third Annual Media Awards in L.A. Accepting the plaque was star Melissa Gilbert, who arrived with an all-in-the-family escort, Michael Landon Jr. He's the son of her TV dad. The teenagers, both 16, have been "best friends" since they were toddlers; now, with Michael eager to shed his braces and enter USC, they are dating. But not, insists a flack, "going steady."
Jackie's in harmony
A National Arts Club salute to I.M. Pei for "creating a harmony between architecture, the most public art, and modern culture" was the occasion for a Manhattan reunion of the China-born architect, Doubleday book editor Jackie Onassis and painter William Walton, all of whom had collaborated on the JFK Library in Boston. Pei's next challenge will be in his homeland. He will design the U.S. embassy in Peking.
A boy named who?
Johnny Cash has never been a loquacious talk-show guest. During a Los Angeles taping of a Mike Douglas show slated to air next month, the singer crooned a new tune, Old Chunk of Coal, and plugged his upcoming television movie, Pride of Jesse Hallam. But the host kept prodding Cash to be more revealing. "Isn't there anything you've always wanted to do on TV?" Douglas asked. Yes, replied the C&W star, and with that he suddenly made an about-face and mugged for Mike.
When former First Lady Patricia Nixon, 68, and daughter Tricia Cox, 35, took the Nixon grandchildren to a Sesame Street taping in New York, they were welcomed by Big Bird. Jennie Eisenhower, 2½, was awed by the eight-foot host, but she and cousin Chris Cox, 23 months, accepted Bird's invitation to "climb into my nest." When the tots knocked on Oscar's trash can, though, that grump snarled, "Go away. I don't like kids."
Reggie belts Chopin
Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson hit the right keys at close to his batting average—about three for 10. But no matter. "He did well," said virtuoso Byron Janis after the two finished a duet of Chopin's Grande Valse Brillante. Jackson was promoting the pianist's upcoming Carnegie Hall concert benefiting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research (Lou Gehrig's disease). As honorary chairman of the ALS Foundation, Reggie is entitled to the best box seat, but eyeing the first row orchestra, he cracked to Janis, "I want to sit there—in the dugout."
Burt's mystery pal
After the success of the Smokey films, Burt Reynolds figured to keep on truck-in'. In The Cannonball Run, due out in June, he drives an ambulance (to fool cops) in a madcap cross-country race. Dom DeLuise plays Burt's "paramedic" partner, and their fake patient is Farrah Fawcett. But how well is the plot? Along the way DeLuise dons the mask and cape of an alter ego called Captain Chaos. Crazy? Of course, but Reynolds is already considering a sequel.