updated 04/19/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/19/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Multimillionaire Meshulam Riklis may have gone too far this time in promoting his wife's show business career. Riklis has festooned billboards in 16 cities with 18-foot-high likenesses of a nearly naked Mrs. Riklis, a/k/a Pia Zadora. In Dallas, Times Herald columnist Skip Hollandsworth had had enough. "The next time you drive by the billboard," he wrote, "look at the litter on the side of the highway—bashed-in guardrails, knocked-over signs, abandoned hubcaps." Actually, jokes helicopter traffic reporter Dick Siegel, "I think more wrecks were caused by the Calvin Klein guy." But Hollandsworth remains unmoved. "Put some clothes on," he begged the 25-year-old starlet. "We're trying to drive to your latest movie."

You Win Some, You Lose Some
During his stay in Lake Tahoe for last month's John Denver Celebrity Ski Race, George Hamilton took a turn at the baccarat table, where before very long he had managed to drop $26,000. Hamilton tried to win it all back on one hand which, if luck hadn't been a lady, would have brought his losses to $52,000. As it turned out, he eventually got up from the table a $41,000 winner. Upon returning to L.A., George stopped for dinner at a Marina del Rey restaurant, stashing the cash in the trunk of his car. When he emerged from the restaurant, the car was gone, and neither the Mercedes nor the loot has been recovered. Says George philosophically, "The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away."

Excuses, Excuses
If you can't trust anyone nowadays, Dallas entrepreneurs Mason Zelazny, 31, and Larry Welch, 34, are at least partially to blame. Their honesty-squelching invention is a customized phone booth that enables callers to choose from 14 tapes featuring recorded background noises designed to lend an air of authenticity to some traditional excuses. The sounds range from clacking typewriters ("Sorry, honey, I have to work late at the office") to cars whizzing by on a highway ("I won't be home for hours; I've got a flat"). For particularly brazen liars, there's even a tape of church noises. Soundproof "excuse booths" in five cities have been taking in hundreds of dollars a week—at a buck a call—and the $4,750 product could go national later this year. Of course the booth doesn't always do the trick. One recent caller paid his $1 for a tape of cattle noises, attempting to con his dad into thinking he was in the Fort Worth stockyards. But father knew best. Said Pop, "I happen to know there's no phone anywhere near there." And then there was the guy, Zelazny reports, who emerged from the booth, where he had called his mother-in-law to tell her he'd be late for dinner, only to run into his Mrs., who was about to do the same thing.

At a Friars Club roast to belatedly welcome Marvin Davis to Tinseltown, the Denver oilman who bought 20th Century-Fox last year proved as witty as the celebs who came to cut him up. Following the likes of Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, Eva Gabor and George Burns to the mike, Davis said, "This was quite an evening. I even found oil in my salad. People always ask me," he continued, " 'Why did you buy Fox?' The truth is that no one told me Don Ameche and Shirley Temple weren't there anymore. When I told my wife, Barbara, 'But I'm not a moviemaker,' she said, 'Maybe someone there is.' " Then Davis took a long, long pause. "Barbara was wrong."

Phyllis Schlafly and ex-NOW President Karen DeCrow squared off at Brown University—as they have been doing for the past five years—over the Equal Rights Amendment. Schlafly was the object of vociferous opposition, which didn't seem to faze her. "Another sexist difference between men and women," she observed to the crowd, "is that women hiss."

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