Elizabeth Ashley has a strict regimen while acting in Agnes of God, the hit Broadway show she stars in eight times a week. "When I'm in a play," says Liz, who is living alone, "I can't do anything else. It's like the guys during football season—they don't mess around. Any man who tries to live with me will feel like he's naked and walking into a chain saw." Ouch!
The rolling eyes and frequent ad-libs of big-name Oscar presenters seemed to add up to one giant complaint about the script of last month's ceremony. But according to the show's writers, Hal Kanter, 65, and Jack Rose, 72, whose combined Oscar-writing experience exceeds 50 years, many of the evening's pitfalls came from the stars themselves. "A joke becomes corny as a rule when it is told poorly," says Kanter, who praised the comedic timing of the emcees but also complained about mispronounced names and "young actors who haven't the confidence to read the material as it is prepared." Hearing such blunders obviously pained the writing duo. Jokes Rose, "The show was not one of the worst experiences of my life." Pause. "I've had triple bypass surgery."
Longtime As the World Turns star Eileen Fulton has made an unusual discovery: You don't need children to celebrate Mother's Day. Last month a New York City home for the aged nominated Fulton for its Mother of the Year award, an honor previously bestowed on the likes of Rose Kennedy and Lillian Carter. Eileen was chosen largely because of her work for the March of Dimes and UNICEF. Only thing is, except for two dogs, a Shih Tzu named Sir Laurence Olivier and a Pekingese named Sarah Bernhardt, Fulton hasn't a single ward. By the way, this isn't the first time she served as surrogate mother. A few years back in Aurora, III., when Eileen traveled with her Pekingese, Amelia Earhart, a newspaper reported that she arrived with an adopted daughter from Peking named Amelia Ear-hart. Fulton reports that in both cases, "My dogs were thrilled because they consider me their mother." However, she declined the recent honor, which the group bestowed on actress—and, not coincidentally, mother of five—Patricia Neal.
It's been 16 years since Gilligan's Island went off the air. Alan ("The Skipper") Hale Jr. now struts his nautical stuff at the Lobster Barrel, an L.A. seafood restaurant he owns and manages. Greeting guests in his boating duds next to a large photo of himself from the show, Hale, 65, recently welcomed a diner who looked at the portrait, then at the host, and commented, "Oh, your son was wonderful in that part."
•Robert DeNiro bought an embroidered pillow on Manhattan's pricey Madison Avenue that bore the following slogan: "To be rich is no longer a sin—it's a miracle." He paid $95 for the pillow. Sinful.
•Eli Wallach, who recently appeared with his wife, Anne Jackson, in Once Around the Park at Broadway's Cort Theatre, feels a somewhat stronger allegiance to another playhouse on the Great White Way. While acting at the Martin Beck Theatre, he married Anne. Later on, while he was treading the boards of the same stage, all three Wallach children were born. "After that," he reports, "Anne told me to stay the hell away from there."
•Sure, actress Cynthia (St. Elsewhere) Sikes was nervous playing her first love scene with Burt Reynolds in their upcoming film, The Man Who Loved Women. But that old Reynolds magic and a strong dose of patriotism helped calm her down. Reports Sikes, "Finally I said, 'Cynthia, just relax and enjoy this on behalf of all the women in America.' "