The only porch-sitting Henry Fonda is doing at 75 is a marvelous bittersweet turn in Showdown at the Adobe Motel, a limited run in Stamford, Conn. that he is squeezing in while awaiting fall release of his just-wrapped movie On Golden Pond (with daughter Jane and Katharine Hepburn), a taped play for TV, Summer Solstice, and—deep breath—his autobiography. In Showdown he plays a cantankerous retired Hollywood stunt man who sits outside his motel chewing a plug of tobacco and taking potshots at passing cars with his cane.
De Vito's mom
Stumped to find an actress to play the feisty mom of Louie, the imperious dispatcher, on a segment of ABC's Taxi, the producers were inspired to hire Louie's (that is, actor Danny De Vito's) real mom, Julia De Vito. Up from Asbury Park, N.J., where she lives with husband Dan Sr., she easily sailed through an episode, to be aired March 26, in which Louie packs her off (suitcase and all) to a nursing home. "She's hysterical," raved the producers. "Look at me," Julia chirped. "A star at 77. If I die tomorrow, I die happy."
Nancy is embraced
For her first official outing without her husband, First Lady Nancy Reagan chose to visit D.C.'s Rock Creek Park Horse Center to look into its riding program for disabled youngsters. Mrs. Reagan was escorted by the program's founder, Robert Douglas, and welcomed by little Sammy Klein, 10, who yelped, "Are you President Reagan?" Nancy then happily pitched in, walking Donnell Chase on his piebald around the ring. Fingers and forelocks were crossed, but one gathered the program's $36,000 federal grant was at least temporarily safe from the President's budget cutters.
It wasn't the sunshine on John Denver's shoulder that made him happy but the whisk of peacock feathers wielded by Swami Muktananda. The yoga master was presiding over 2,500 arts and showbiz folk who gathered in Santa Monica to hear him deplore "a marketplace filled with desires." Among the assembled were actresses Joyce De Witt, Eileen (Private Benjamin) Brennan and emcee Marsha Mason (seated, center). Denver has known Muktananda for years (and credits him with "getting rid of drugs in my life"), but became an even more ardent admirer after a recent week at the swami's California ashram. "The thing he offers doesn't pass," says Denver, who is putting it all to music in a new LP entitled Perhaps Love.
Howe to go
Hockey great Gordie Howe, 52, who retired (for the second time) last June after setting records for longevity in pro contact sports (32 seasons), most goals scored (1,071), most assists (1,518) and total points (2,589), was moved to tears while making yet another comeback. This time Gordie wore his jersey for just one night as his former Hartford Whalers teammates hoisted his number, a huge 9, to the rafters of the Civic Center. With wife Colleen at his side, the old goal-blitzer murmured: "It's great to be human, isn't it?"
Twiggy, Britain's skinny symbol in Beat-le days, is now a 31-year-old mum living in L.A. with her actor husband, Michael Whitney, and their 2-year-old daughter, Carly. The trio spent a Sunday afternoon at a Malibu patio party for Hiroshi Itsuki, one of Japan's top singers and a fan of Twiggy's, who remains a major star in Japan. The Twig, though, let Carly upstage her, atop a massive Jake Horton sculpture.
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