The 25 Most Intriguing People of 1981
In this, our eighth year-end extravaganza, we found ourselves relying as always on some old-fashioned virtues of our staff. The list includes enterprise, persistence, integrity and humor. No grouches need apply. Those ingredients, plus indispensable good luck, went into the making of this issue.
Take Correspondent Karen Jackovich's experience with Dodger pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. We had asked the young man to go into an empty Dodger Stadium for a picture session. Just as the stadium lights were coming up, somebody yelled from above: "You're a winner, Fernando." In that way he learned that he had been named Rookie of the Year. The good-natured grin on Fernando's face as he juggles baseballs on page 91 is as genuine as his talent.
Writer Carl Arrington's interview with Mick Jagger on page 74 is mostly, and surprisingly, about business. But by sticking to Jagger's side during portions of his U.S. tour, Arrington caught some interesting glimpses of the personal man. At a Chinese restaurant in Louisville, Jagger opened a fortune cookie and read: "You are deeply devoted to your home and family." Arrington reports the scene: "Mick smiled at the absurdity of that description of himself—and yet in some basic way, it is true. Then he tossed his head back in laughter, and the lamplight caught a glisten of the tiny diamond embedded in a front tooth."
Although TV actor Tom Selleck was not chosen as one of our Intriguing 25 until a few weeks ago, our pursuit of him began in February. Los Angeles Bureau Chief Lois Armstrong was in Hawaii interviewing Richard Pryor and wanted to sandwich Selleck in too. No chance. He was working too hard. In July Correspondent David Gritten managed three hours with Selleck when the actor visited L.A. But it wasn't enough. Armstrong finally bearded "the gorgeous hunk" (her description) on the set of Magnum P.I. in late November (page 72). Assignment completed, 10 months later.
At the end of the White House interview with President and Mrs. Reagan (page 22), Managing Editor Richard B. Stolley mentioned that he had recently visited Pekin, Ill., his hometown. It is not far from Tampico, Ill., where Reagan was born, and Dixon, where he grew up, and is even closer to Eureka, where he went to college. "Pekin, Illinois," the President exclaimed, "I'll tell you something about Pekin, Illinois that I bet even you don't know." Some years ago, he said, the Pekin High School basketball team made sports headlines with a strategy called "the slow break." "They would keep possession of the ball for so long," Reagan explained, "that there would be only 12 or 14 points made in the entire game. They would only shoot when it was a sure shot"—the President is on his feet at this point, arms in the air, demonstrating a hook shot—"and then they'd get the ball again. That finally resulted in the rule that you've got only so many seconds to get past the middle line." President Reagan was right: Stolley did not know about the slow break in Pekin, Ill.
Sonny Weicker, age 3, is not on our list of Intriguers, but he has a secure place in our hearts. He is the son of Senator and Mrs. Lowell Weicker Jr. and he has Down's syndrome. Washington Correspondent Clare Crawford-Mason reported on him and his family in the Dec. 1, 1980 issue. The story brought an enormous response. "It reached a lot of parents who felt they had something to hide," says Camille Weicker. "It gave encouragement to parents who had not been so supportive." After the story ran, Weicker was appointed to the chairmanship of the Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped. And Sonny began to think of himself as a celebrity. People applauded him at school and at the doctor's office and lovingly called him a star. For six months after that Sonny would point to himself, grin and pronounce the word "star."
Senator Weicker has the framed article hanging on his office wall. Camille says she rereads it from time to time "to tell myself where I've come from and where I'm going. It's almost like somebody else's story, and that gives me some encouragement."
Last month the Association for Retarded Citizens gave PEOPLE its "ARC of Excellence" award for "outstanding effort to create better public understanding about mental retardation and acceptance of mentally retarded people." The award sits in our offices now and makes all the turmoil of putting out 51 issues a year worthwhile.