"She'd be a great gift sent to my home at two in the morning, but not on a movie stage with everyone waiting for my reaction!" blurted a deep-crimson Nick Nolte. A belly dancer had just sinuously surfaced to bid him a surprise happy 40th birthday smack in the middle of shooting Cannery Row on the MGM set in Hollywood. A turbaned swami also materialized to lead cast and crew (who presented the star with a three-foot, 10-pound foil-covered chocolate kiss) in the inevitable refrain, which only deepened his rubescence. Aw, shucks. "To have people sing 'Happy Birthday' is just as embarrassing at 40 as it was at age 4," sighed Nolte.
A Grade for Imelda
British showbiz titan Lord Lew Grade (The Muppet Movie, Raise the Titanic) went to the Philippines to help kick up support for next year's Manila International Film Festival—and wound up cutting a rug with First Lady Imelda Marcos on the presidential yacht. Later, in a possibly unrelated gesture, Imelda's Mr., President Ferdinand Marcos, bestowed on the ex-vaudeville hoofer the Golden Eagle Award for achievements "beyond the reach of mortal men."
Gregory on 'Edge'
Turnabout was fair plié" when Cynthia Gregory, principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, made her acting debut, taping a cameo for The Edge of Night intended to help celebrate the soap's 25th anniversary next week. In the episode, the 34-year-old ballerina, playing herself on a visit to a dance studio in Edge's fictional Monticello, dazzles dancer Jody Travis (Lori Loughlin) with a half-minute solo and then proceeds to give her some professional and personal advice. "I'd love to do it again—I think I'd relax a little more," says the famously unflappable prima. "It's especially hard when you're playing yourself." Onlookers didn't notice. "She could move her little finger," said one, "and it would be incredible."
Mrs. Schroder's itchy earthling
There was no generation gap, only a slight height differential as 4'7" Earthling star Ricky Schroder and his 5'6" mother, Diane, boogied at Erik Estrada's 32nd-birthday party at Manhattan's new disco, Underground. When a scantily clad party crasher waltzed by, busy Ricky—starring most recently in two classic remakes, CBS' TV movie Little Lord Fauntleroy and Mel Ferrer's forthcoming Peter Pan—reacted with obvious appreciation. This drew murmurs of reproval from Mom, who is in no hurry to see her little champ grow up (he turns 11 on April 13). "How come you're so wholesome?" snapped Ricky, but then hastily added: "That's all right. I'd rather you be the way you are." Awww.
This year, as last, he was thinking .400—but now that was all he could do. George Brett, 27, the KC Royals' .390-hitting 1980 Series hero, was frustratingly sidelined last week, recuperating from a hemorrhoidectomy, while his teammates barely fought off the Texas Rangers (6-5) in an exhibition game. The $300,000-plus-a-year third baseman also sat out a possible six-figure job pitching Preparation H, but less for his posterior than posterity: "I didn't want to be remembered as the guy who had the hemorrhoids."
Melissa's other Mike
The honeymoon was barely over for Melissa Gilbert's Little House marriage when there she was in white again—for her real-life debutante bow at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Escort Michael Lawrence, 18, son of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, is a "family friend," says Gilbert's mom. At sweet 16 (17 in May), Melissa's "best friend" is still 17-year-old Michael Landon Jr.