Bruce Jenner was covering a stock car race in Charlotte, N.C. for NBC, and his wife, Linda Thompson, was visiting family in Tennessee when a brush fire in Malibu threatened their four-bedroom home. One of Bruce's friends, stuntman Jack Gill, saw reports of the fire on television, motorcycled to Malibu and reached the Jenner place in time to hose it down. One side of the building was singed, but he saved the house. "Linda called to tell me about the fire," relates the 1976 Olympic decathlon winner. "She said she told Jack to save the pictures. Jeez, I wanted to make sure he got the medal."
Alda and Wiser
Writer and photographer Arlene Alda, Alan's wife, is at work on a series of "documentary" children's books about real families. The first book, called Sonya's Mommy Works, focuses on a 6-year-old Californian and her parents. Before she found Sonya, Arlene was turned down by a family with two children because, she says, "They were worried it would add to the sibling rivalry." Another family declined to be in a planned book about a very shy boy because "the child might have grown up with the stigma of being that person." Alda took the rejections in stride. After all, she confesses, if someone had approached her about doing a book on her own three kids, "I probably would have said, 'No, thank you; life is too complicated already.' "
Apparently, more than a few stars will go out of their way for ordinary folk, as Jean and George McGuire (he's a rake manufacturer) of Scotch Plains, N.J. learned. To mark their parents' golden wedding anniversary, the couple's two children wrote 75 celebrities asking them to send congratulatory notes. Surprisingly, 63 replied. Among them: Carol Burnett, Julia Child, Ed McMahon, Barbara Walters, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason and three former Presidents (Nixon, Ford and Carter). Cary Grant answered in impeccable prose: "Two people who are about to celebrate living together for 50 years, more than the sum total of all my marriages, are to be congratulated and, by me certainly, envied." Then there was George Burns' response, which read, "Congratulations on your 50th; I think it's time you started cheating on each other."
Gary Kurtz may rue the day he agreed to co-produce Muppeteer Jim Hen-son's film The Dark Crystal, cast largely with complicated puppets, some of which required six humans to perform the simplest action. The film took five years from inception and cost some $20 million. Says he: "I could have made the movie cheaper with Streisand, Redford and Newman—and they would have been a lot less temperamental."
•Jane Fonda has topped not one, but two Billboard magazine charts recently. Last month her Workout videocassette was the No. 1 seller, and On Golden Pond, which stars Fonda, was ranked first on the cassette rentals chart. Says Billboard: "The lady may wind up as the Lucille Ball of the new technology."
•Brian Kerwin, the 33-year-old Sheriff Lobo alumnus, has discovered an eternal verity: "When you're the star of a hit series they send limos to your house, and you can really get the impression that you're hot stuff. Then, when your show gets canceled, you can't even get tickets for the Johnny Carson show," he laments, "and it's free."
•Robert Redford is planning to star in a movie about a right-wing fund raiser who falls in love with a (gasp!) liberal Congress-woman. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau is writing the screenplay. Explained Bob: "The New Right is worth a comedy."
•Frank Sinatra, who was absent from a recent Friars Club roast of comedian Dick Shawn, sent a telegram making his excuses. "President Reagan," he explained, "doesn't like me and George Shultz to be absent from the White House at the same time."
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