updated 11/23/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/23/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

Richard Simmons
Thank you for your cover story on Richard Simmons (PEOPLE, Nov. 2). As a veteran dieter, I can speak from experience when I say that Richard is just what overweight people need: someone encouraging, a successful dieter who helps to mend badly injured egos. Richard gives hope to the seemingly hopeless.
Cindy Stinnett
Shreveport, La.

Those who find Richard Simmons more purposeful and stimulating than Phil Donahue are suffering from a sort of intellectual atrophy that the American people are, regrettably, becoming infamous for.
Danny E. Stottlemyre
Warrensburg, Mo.

I am so glad Richard Simmons has faults and insecurities like the rest of us. That still doesn't make me want to be like him. I would rather be fat, happy and healthy. New research is proving that it is better for people who were born fat to stay that way rather than destroy their health with dieting. We have been Richarded into believing we are failures because we choose not to accept the exploitive gimmicks devised by a manipulative skinny society.
June M. Bailey
Fairview Park, Ohio

Kristy McNichol
I'm glad Kristy McNichol is breaking out of her tomboy image. She is now definitely a sex symbol, and I think she puts Brooke to shame. As for talent, she has more in her little finger than Brooke has in her whole body.
Mark Kujawinski
Macedonia, Ohio

Although Kristy McNichol isn't a sex goddess like Brooke Shields, she has matured into a young woman and an extraordinary performer. Miss McNichol insists on calling herself a "cute wimpette." How long will it take her and everyone else to realize that she is one of the most gifted actresses of our time? It didn't take me very long.
Barry Silver
Knoxville, Tenn.

Nicholas Nickleby
Absolutely wonderful! Your article on Dickens was an unusual treat for a Dickens fan. I cut it out and put it with my set of Dickens.
Barbara Harris
Orinda, Calif.

Air Traffic Controllers' Strike
In "Chatter," you make light of the use of CB language by the controllers still on the job. In an industry where hundreds of lives often depend on split-second response to instructions, this use of nonstandard phraseology is both dangerous and possibly illegal. As an air traffic controller, I believe that a truly professional pilot or controller would never use it. The bottom line still remains, as it has since the strike started on Aug. 3, not "Fly now" but "Don't fly now" because it is very unsafe to do so.
Timothy L. Hudak
Battle Creek, Mich.

American Bandstand Birthday
How wonderful to see Bob and Justine again. I feel as if I've just discovered the whereabouts of two long-lost friends. Thanks for making my day.
Sandra Roberts.
Lawton, Okla.

Bryan Brown
It's about time that Australia's best actor, Bryan Brown, receives some attention. The new wave of Australian films is satisfying the thirst of moviegoers like myself for beauty, realism and truth. Keep them coming.
Gwen Melnick
Rochester, N.Y.

Tom Wolfe
When I was studying architecture in college, I had Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier pushed down my throat to the point that I quit. If I'm not allowed my own imagination, what am I allowed?
Sue Ann Allison
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Picks & Pans
Your reviewer claims that Kitty Kelly's new biography of Elizabeth Taylor "dishes it all out," but in fact the book is little more than an overheated rehash of press clippings. Rather than feeling "disgust" for Liz, one should pity Miss Kelly, a sad woman who has achieved a murky fame by attempting to destroy the reputations of women far more beautiful, famous and talented than herself.
Denis Ferrara
Hoboken, N.J.

Kent Waldrep
Thank you for Kent Waldrep's article. I was paralyzed nearly two years ago in a car accident at the age of 22. My doctors gave me no hope of recovery. I was told very coldly to forget about ever walking again, to accept and work with what I had left or to spend the rest of my life as a near vegetable in a nursing home. This "terrific bedside manner" made me work hard to get my life back into some kind of sane order, but I credit my survival to the love and devotion of my family and friends. I've learned to deal with what's happened, but it is still a day-to-day struggle against a prejudiced society, my own self-doubts and a part of me I try to keep hidden. This part tells me that they're all wrong, that someday all the physical and emotional pain will disappear as quickly as it started. This part tells me that someday I will walk again.

Kent Waldrep is right. This country looks away, not willing to spend more money on research to put many Americans on their feet again. Instead, the medical community seems content to deal with them in wheelchairs, getting rich on outrageous health care fees and equipment costs. America, please don't condemn us so readily to life in a wheelchair. It's no fun, really. Would some of you like to try it for an hour, a day, or a lifetime? If Russia is working hard to find a cure, why can't we put aside our differences and work together on this very human cause?
Carol E. Van Heeswyk
Kaukauna, Wis.

It has been a long time since Texas Christian University has been able to boast of a winning football season, but it can certainly boast of a winner in Kent Waldrep.
Beverly Kelsey
Austin, Texas

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