Life Swirls on for '82 Story Subjects

updated 12/27/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/27/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

The growling has intensified in the Massachusetts canine case (PEOPLE, March 8) in which warring couples were awarded joint custody of a collie-shepherd. The dog, now 14 (a mellow 66 in human terms), doesn't bark or bite and seems to yearn only for peace and quiet. The bickering started when he ran away from William and Susan Graham of Duxbury in 1978 and was taken in by Stanley and Kathleen Kroll of nearby Pembroke. After a lot of acrimony, Judge Augustus Wagner ruled that the Krolls could have the dog they called Ginger for a month, then the Grahams could have the same dog, which they called Teddy, for a month. And so on. But last May the Krolls refused to give up Ginger/Teddy, saying the Grahams had failed to answer their questions on Teddy/ Ginger's health. Judge Wagner, who attracted some attention himself when he threatened to have the dog destroyed in order to put everyone out of his misery, dismissed a contempt citation against the Krolls but ordered the Grahams to communicate forevermore on the hound's medical situation. The Grahams have complied with the order but will bark no more publicly. Teddy/Ginger is dozing (so is Ginger/Teddy, for that matter) and cannot be disturbed with questions. Kathleen Kroll, however, still moans: "There isn't a month that goes by that I don't think how ridiculous the judge's decision was. The dog is confused for the first few days after every exchange. I guess people feel one way or another about the case depending on whether they lost a dog or found one."

Conventional wisdom is that three is a crowd. But actor Richard Thomas and wife Alma (Jan. 11) are discovering what three really is: expensive. "Very expensive," sighs Alma, who gave birth in August 1981 to identical triplet girls. Biggest expense included in the $25,000 the girls have cost since birth was the $12,000 Volkswagen van, which includes room for a playpen, a three-seat stroller ($300, from Italy), two economy-size boxes of Pampers ($18) and, most important, space for the live-in helper. The custom-built swing set at their Hollywood Hills home was $1,000. Another $1,000 went for items such as cribs and mattresses ($200 each) and three walkers ($20 apiece). High chairs were $60 each. Alma shops the outlets ("You can't go around spending $40 for a shirt, the way they're growing"). And the folks still up on Waltons Mountain will be pleased to hear the girls—Gwyneth, Barbara and Pilar—generally wear overalls. Says Alma: "It's a fascinating, exhausting and incredible experience."

The Great Maine House Giveaway Essay Contest (May 17) has all happy endings. The house owner, Jane Pieriboni, sold essay chances for $50 each ("Why I want to win a 20-room house," in 125 words or less) and netted $41,600. Even better, the winners were Jim and Doris Woodward. She is from El Salvador, became a U.S. citizen in 1974, and has since brought in 14 of her relatives, most of whom were crammed into a seven-room Waterville home. The Woodwards' winning lines: "It is more than a desire. It is an urgent need." Hello, miracle.

Considering her foundering career, going to jail in Italy for tax evasion was the best thing that could have happened to Sophia Loren (June 7). Her last American movie, Brass Target (1979), was an abysmal failure. But now, thanks to all the publicity, she seems popular again. Loren is pitching perfume (Sophia) in a deal expected to earn her $5 million over the next 15 years; she is modeling for Black-glama; and she will star in two HBO flicks, a bio of Maria Callas and Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo. Finally, rumors about Loren's problems with husband Carlo Ponti are feverish again—which will engender even more headlines. Sophia grouses that the whispers "are baseless."

Gillian, 20-month-old daughter of Patty Hearst and Bernie Shaw, continues attending casting calls for TV commercials since making her debut as PEOPLE'S cover girl (Feb. 1), but she must improve her technique to land a job. In one call, she elected to chew on the building blocks instead of playing with them; in another, she was wanted for her crawl, but she insisted on her walk. Further, Shaw laments, "She's either too old or too young." But then he brightens: "Everyone loves her."

Jeff Ledbetter (June 7), the Florida State University ballplayer who became the greatest home run hitter in collegiate history (42 in one season), next became the first-round draft choice of the Boston Red Sox. He was assigned to Winston-Salem, N.C., where reality promptly set in. During one stretch of 65 at-bats last season, he produced three very weak hits. Everyone jumped on his case and he in turn showed them by going into an infantile sulk. "I wouldn't take batting practice," he says. "I was terrible." It was only a late-season Ledbetter rally at the plate that allowed him to lift his batting average to .238, with a sad seven homers. But he promises to be a new and improved model when he reports for spring training in March.

No joy reigns among the old guard in Antelope, Oreg. (April 19) now that the beleaguered hamlet has been taken over by a cult group led by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Democracy made it all possible: The 69 Rajneeshies simply outvoted the 27 Antelopians in the November elections. "Basically, they took control of the city," says ousted Mayor Margaret Hill. "Antelope hasn't even had a marshal in 50 years, and I find it a little scary that now we have a Rajneesh marshal." Meanwhile the cult says it has invested $30 million in the town, and that it now owns 22 Rolls-Royces, seven homes, two office buildings and the general store, which has been renamed "Zorba the Buddha." As for the ex-Mayor, 62, she plans a lot of travel in her trailer. "At my age," she says, "it's not worth ruining my health to stick around and fight these jerks."

On Dec. 3, four months after the death of her husband, Henry, Shirlee Fonda (April 12) awakened at 1 a.m. from a restless sleep and then realized that this day would have been her 17th wedding anniversary. Yet, despite the occasional "down days," Henry Fonda's devoted fifth wife, 50, is now getting on with her life. Shortly after Fonda died of a heart ailment, Shirlee was buoyed by a three-week visit from his daughter, Jane, her husband, Tom Hayden (now a California Assemblyman), and their two children. Then last fall Shirlee joined good friends James and Lois Garner in London, where Garner played in a Bob Hope-sponsored golf tourney. In November she flew to Japan to promote Jane's exercise book in a five-city tour. (Trim Shirlee was one of the leotard-clad models in the best-seller.) Since that time relatives and friends have visited the Fondas' Bel Air home continuously. Pals aren't worried about Shirlee's future. Says Henny Backus, actress wife of Jim (Gilligan's Island) Backus: "No matter what happens, she always puts a positive face on things."

With a 3-0 knockout fight record, Lee John Canalito, 29, might have become a contender. But knee surgery temporarily KO'd Sylvester Stallone's 6'4", 244-pound protégé (June 21), preventing him from pulling a real-life Rocky IV. Stallone has been guiding Canalito's career (with an eye to a heavyweight title bid) since 1978, when the two played brothers in Paradise Alley. Stallone has even hired champion Larry Holmes' ex-manager, Richie Giachetti, to coach Canalito. Now healthy again, Lee is due back in the ring next month in a Stallone-promoted bout. "He has unlimited potential," crows Sly. However, not everyone is convinced that life will imitate art. Says Bert Randolph Sugar, a boxing magazine editor: "As a boxer, Canalito is a good actor. As an actor, he's a good boxer."

Author Joseph Heller, struck by the disabling paralysis of the Guillain-Barré syndrome (Aug. 23), is making giant strides: "The wheelchair is gone," he reports. Indeed, Heller now walks three miles a day, carrying a portable telephone so that he can summon help in an emergency. He also has progressed to where he can whistle, snap his fingers, count money (his financial concerns have been eased with a "nice, unexpected royalty check" for a new edition of Catch-22), drive a car, grocery-shop and generally take care of himself. "With the muscles I have now, I'm able to do two sets of five sit-ups, but I'm not exactly ready yet for the Jane Fonda workout." His fingers still shake when he tries to roll a new piece of paper into the typewriter ("It's almost embarrassing for me to watch them"). But work is continuing apace on his novel—he's already finished "50 good pages"—with the first draft expected by summer. "What I can't do," he says, "is what I couldn't do before." Cook, for example.

Robbie Knievel (June 14), the 20-year-old son of Evel, was doing just another ho-hum routine in Fremont, Calif. last August when his bike—traveling at 90 mph—struck a guardrail. Hitting the ground more than 50 feet down the road, Robbie cracked a wrist and tore a knee cartilage. A week later he was doing wheelies on That's Incredible! Next, Robbie landed a shot on CHiPs, where all he did was jump his bike over an airplane in flight. Reports Robbie: "Acting is what I've always wanted to do. I haven't mashed up my face yet, so I'm not ugly."

Charlie Osborne, the hiccup king (March 29) who has been hiccupping since 1922, is now approaching 500 million hics and 4,000 letters offering sympathy and/or remedy. After appearing in PEOPLE, he got scads of suggestions but, alas, no new ones. Osborne's favorite expression is "Already tried it." The only thing that has ever helped, he says, is three teaspoons daily of damson plum preserves, which were sent to him by a Louisiana lady. "They're tarty," reports Charlie, "and I think that's what slows 'em down"—from 40 hics a minute to 20. This seems to be a favored hiccup treatment in the South. But Charlie is down to only one quart of the smoothest thing in his life and is plum concerned. He lives in Anthon, Iowa. Hic.

A year after she was plucked from the icy Potomac following the Air Florida jet crash that killed 78 (Feb. 1), flight attendant Kelly Duncan, 23, is back at her old job. Except for a bad scar on one leg, Duncan, one of five survivors, is "physically and mentally" fit and "getting on with her life," according to her mother, Diane Kleinschmidt. Though she suffered from shock, lacerations and a broken wrist and leg, Duncan struggled to help a fellow victim. Publicity-shy, she now insists on deflecting praise onto her rescuers. "So many people lost their lives," explains her mother, "that she doesn't feel there should be public concern for her." Meanwhile Mother isn't fretting over her daughter's decision. "I guess I'm a fatalist," she says. "When your time is up, it's up."

During a recent visit to Houston's M.D. Anderson cancer hospital, Joan Karafotas, 38, of Chicago was told that her tumors (lymphomas) have shrunk slightly after treatment with the rare and still unproved drug interferon (March 29). Karafotas was the first cancer patient in the nation to try the synthetic form of the substance. "I'm in limbo," she says. "I'm not cured." Still, she plans to return to the work force in January to become an apprentice monetary broker and says, "If I let the fear take over, I'd be a basket case."

Lisa Sliwa, co-leader with husband Curtis of the Guardian Angels (Feb. 8), is traveling the country setting up new chapters of the volunteer urban vigilantes. Curtis, meanwhile, proudly laments that he is stuck in New York "alone with my pizza boxes while she gets her picture in every paper. I've created a monster." Still, the Angels are moving West (roller-skate patrols in San Diego, horseback in Sacramento), and Sliwa sees Lisa and himself as "the new Lewis and Clark." True, their efforts to create shelters for the homeless in New York City were rebuffed by Mayor Ed Koch. Replies Sliwa, "We get the least support in cities where we're needed most." Lisa has had her share of problems too. While in Toronto, she signed up a record 196 members in one afternoon—and was promptly arrested for soliciting and trespassing. She also teaches street survival to inner-city women; Curtis poses as a mugger while Lisa attacks. In January, a month after they were married, she broke his foot, and in March she dislocated his kneecap.

When eight members of the Mousehole Penlee Lifeboat Station, an English volunteer sea rescue unit, were killed while trying to help a stricken merchant ship (March 1), one of the victims was Nigel Brockman. Illustrating how the human spirit soars in such matters, Nigel's son, Neil (below), volunteered to be a member of the newly organized team. But coxswain Ken Thomas says Neil will serve just on the backup squad: "He is only 17, and at least three of the new crew have 15 years' lifeboat service behind them. He'll get a chance if one of the regular lads can't make it." Meanwhile a fund-raising drive for survivors of the crew raised more than $5 million, which was divided equally among the families. That news (sometimes the human spirit doesn't soar) has attracted fortune hunters, who have descended on the survivors with unseemly haste. One of the widows, Mary Greenhaugh, who is still landlady at Mouse-hole's Ship Inn, told a London newspaper, "I've been around long enough to know what it's all about. I haven't turned into a sex siren overnight. I'm still overweight and over 40, so their flattery is wasted on me."

Few people could lay claim to a lousier 1982 than Sir Freddie Laker (Feb. 22). It started when his Laker Airways went belly up with debts of about $500 million. In March British Airways revoked his free travel pass, and his attempt at starting another airline failed when the Civil Aviation Authority found his financing plan inadequate. In June third wife Patricia divorced him on grounds of adultery. And his beloved 100-acre Woodcote stud farm near Epsom is up for sale at $1 million. Meanwhile, to help make ends meet while he prepares to open a new package tour business before Christmas, Freddie has done a Bell Telephone commercial in the U.S.

Oklahoma-born preacher James Ragland, who was forced to close the Beirut Baptist school he has run for 27 years (July 5), got back in business on Nov. 11. The school, with an enrollment of 800, was the first to reopen after hostilities ceased. Located in a particularly troubled area of West Beirut, it was left standing despite three direct rocket hits. Over the summer it was converted into a first-aid station for the wounded and a shelter for desperate refugees. Says Ragland, 58: "I believe God has something special for Lebanon in his plan for the world. The people could not have gone through so much if there wasn't a purpose."

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