Robby Benson, 25, who will start his 13th picture after leaving Broadway's The Pirates of Penzance in January, can afford to joke about the ups and downs of his profession. "There are five stages to an actor's career," he says. "First, 'Who's Robby Benson?' Then, 'Get me Robby Benson.' 'Get me a Robby Benson type': That's three. 'Get me a young Robby Benson,' four. And five? 'Who's Robby Benson?' "
Sakowitz may have outdone itself (and competitor Neiman-Marcus) with its latest list of Christmas goodies. For $1.25 million, the Houston department store is offering a chance to co-produce Robert (Love Story) Evans' next picture. For $115,000, romance novelist Janet Dailey will write a 125-page manuscript "with you as the hero or heroine." (She guarantees a happy ending.) And for a cool $1 million, there's a custom fireworks display mounted by the famous Grucci family and narrated by George Plimpton. No takers yet, but sales promotion VP Betsy Parish isn't having second thoughts about the prices. Of that last gift, she says, "If we could have gotten the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing along, it would have been more than a million."
Speaking at a Heart Association benefit in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Alexander Haig said that his sometimes cantankerous behavior is good for his circulation. Haig, who had a bypass operation in 1980, explained: "Some years ago, when one was plagued with a heart problem his physician told him to slow down. Now they want you to be active and busy, at times even notorious and naughty. I just want you to know I've been following the orders of my physician."
Time to Serve
Ellesse, which manufactures tennis togs for Chris Evert Lloyd, Guillermo Vilas and Vince Van Patten, will now be showing off its products on the courts at the Arizona State Prison. "My problem," wrote inmate David Villemeyer to the company, "is I'm doing time, with three years left to go, and though I work my 40 per, I'm a little short on dough." After poetically praising Ellesse's styles, Villemeyer, who was in for attempted burglary, ordered three outfits, which he proposed to pay for from his $16-a-month prison earnings. Impressed, the Italian sportswear company sent Villemeyer three outfits for free, but omitted its latest warm-up suit because it comes in stripes with a big number on the front. The company feared he might be offended. Wrote back the nonplussed con, "Prisons don't contribute to one's sensitivity: I'd love to have the warm-ups."
Grace under Pressure
Rank has its privileges, of course, but even royal parents are not spared the trials and tribulations of raising adolescents. The Rainiers of Monaco have hardly recovered from Princess Caroline's decision to marry, then divorce playboy Philippe Junot. Now Princess Stephanie, 16, is discovering boys—and her grades at school are suffering while she spends more and more time motorcycling with her beaux. Fortunately, mother Grace, 52, hasn't lost her sense of humor. "Premature graying of the hair," she says, "is hereditary. Parents inherit it from their children."
•Los Angeles dotes on skewering New York for its crime, dirt, bad manners, etc. The latest jab is a variation on the old light-bulb joke. Question: "How many New Yorkers does it take to screw in a light bulb?" Answer (snarled): "None of your goddam business."
•Bill Giles, the head of the investors group that recently bought the Philadelphia Phillies for $30 million—the most ever paid for a baseball team—held a press conference in that city to announce the purchase. A short while after it began, Giles excused himself to take a phone call from his Mrs. "She told me," he blushed, "that I forgot my wallet."
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