Take One

updated 12/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Mark David Chapman, 28, who gunned down John Lennon three years ago, has broken the silence he has maintained with the media since his trial, at which he pleaded guilty at "God's directive." Early last month Chapman received a letter from a Portland, Oreg. TV reporter named Dalton Tanonaka requesting an interview. Though Chapman never answered a similar letter from Tanonaka two years ago, he responded this time with an outpouring of Christian testimony. "I've found in prison, after many years of running from God, someone who can love and forgive me despite what I've done," Chapman wrote. "Through believing in His death for me, I have found not only complete forgiveness for an act of murder, but also the assurance of a life beyond this one....

I know that if there is hope for me, there is hope for anyone in Jesus Christ. I once asked everyone to read Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Although I was sincere, I couldn't see the hopelessness in this. Now I can't see recommending any book other than the Bible. This contains hope, the hope we need to live on this earth." Tanonaka, who at the time of the shooting was a reporter in Honolulu, where Chapman had lived, says the letter was forwarded by Chapman's wife, Gloria. "Frankly, I don't know why he answered," Tanonaka says. "I think the Hawaiian connection helped." Tanonaka verified the signature on the one-page typewritten letter with Gloria, herself a born-again Christian who last year moved to Buffalo, N.Y. to help her husband publish a Christian newsletter for fellow inmates. Chapman has been at the Attica (N.Y.) Correctional Facility since September 1981. Gloria has since returned to work at a hospital in Oahu, where she's now living with her parents, but, says Tanonaka, "She made it plain to me that she hasn't divorced herself from the situation or her husband."

With all the fuss two years ago over Nancy Reagan's $209,508 purchase of Lenox china for state dinners, the folks at the White House have been reticent about the recent arrival of 215 place settings of Fitz and Floyd china for everyday use at the White House (primarily in the "mess"), Camp David and aboard Air Force One. Though the First Lady's press secretary, Sheila Tate, claims, "Nancy Reagan knows nothing about the china," the President himself sent a thank-you letter to Robert Floyd, chairman of the Dallas-based firm. Floyd, who earlier said he had been working with Nancy during the past two years, now says his contact was someone else in the White House. The pattern, called Starburst, is a patriotic red, white and cobalt blue with a gold band, and its retail value is $110 a place setting. So as not to stir up a tempest in one of his elegant teapots, Floyd donated the tableware (a foundation paid for Nancy's 220 place settings of the Lenox). Despite the Administration's partiality to import quotas, the latest White House service was actually made in Japan. Not only that: The Presidential seal was applied in England because, according to F & F, that's one area in which Japanese high-tech scores low. Presumably the crockery completes the Reagans' two-china policy.

Joe Namath, who plays a football coach in the upcoming flick Chattanooga Choo Choo, utilized his vast locker-room expertise during a pep-talk scene. When asked to come up with one new line, Namath wrote a whole page of coachspeak such as "Think of your mommas. Think of your poppas." Then Joe came to the rescue again when he "married" co-star Barbara Eden. The prop people forgot to get a wedding ring, so Joe improvised and gave Barbara his own Super Bowl ring instead. Don't worry: She gave it back right after the ceremony.

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