updated 12/03/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

At a Los Angeles press conference, Shirley MacLaine fielded questions about her career. One voice in the crowd, citing a report that Shirley went through 19 secretaries in a short period of time, asked if, as a believer in reincarnation, she feared coming back in another life as her own assistant. "That information came from an old lover," said Shirley. "And I think he should come back as one of my secretaries." The actress went on to explain, "There was a difficulty two years ago when I was doing a lot of traveling and there were some people working for me who couldn't keep up. But it was four, not 19, which just shows you how much old lovers exaggerate."

While eating lunch at Manhattan's Great American Health Bar, Dustin Hoffman and his wife, Lisa, witnessed a 75th-birth-day celebration for the restaurant's part-time hostess, Helen Houghton. The staff sang "Hello, Helen!" to the tune of Hello, Dolly! and passed around a huge birthday card for her. Dustin grabbed the card, signed it and then told her: "You're a very sexy lady for your age. I hope you have lots of sex between now and the next time I'm here." Not to be outdone, Helen replied, "At my age I'll settle for a nude picture of you." Your move, Dustin.

In 1972 on a plane bound for Memphis, singer Rita Coolidge met Kris Kristofferson, fell in love, and married him. Now no longer Kris' leading lady, Rita says she met her current live-in love, drummer Thorn Mooney, while flying to South Africa in 1982. "Actually, I don't go on planes looking for love," says Rita, who figures she flies more than 100 times a year to keep up with her touring schedule. "I'm not kinky or anything. It's just a strange occurrence: Call it love at first flight."

Gerry Ferraro may develop even less love for Ronald Reagan when she hears a detail about the preelection visit to the White House by Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Peres says that Reagan jokingly gave credit to Ferraro for strengthening the Republican ticket. "I received enormous backing from a male organization for my reelection," Reagan told the Prime Minister. "A male organization?" asked Peres, intrigued. "Indeed," confirmed Reagan. "The Organization of Men Married to Italian Women."

Hollywood warned us more than once not to go near the water, but Robert Ginty—Mac Riley on ABC's Hawaiian Heat—just didn't listen. Swimming off Oahu as the cameras bobbed on nearby boats, Ginty came nose-to-nose with a six-foot shark. The crew splashed the water to scare away the intruder, but a few minutes later a second shark nosed into the scene. After that a cameraman in a helicopter radioed that he saw a school of finned extras milling around off-camera, possibly intent on breaking into showbiz. "They were more in the mood for tag than taking a bite out of me," said Ginty, who nonetheless decided to take a prolonged break. The sharks, having failed to land a part—of Ginty or in the episode—swam off, presumably to talk to their agent.

After Australian tennis ace Wendy Turn-bull received the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire from the Queen, she wanted to pose for a photo in front of Buckingham Palace. As she stood for the camera before one entrance, a guard came over to shoo her away. "That's Prince Charles' entrance," he said. Wendy moved to another door. Again the guard appeared. "Sorry, that's Prince Philip's entrance." Finally, Wendy discovered that each member of the royal family has a door designated as his or her own entrance, and that no one else will be granted permission to use or pose near those doors. Turnbull eventually gave up and posed without the palace.

Katharine Hepburn couldn't attend the USC film school tribute to the late director George Cukor, so she videotaped a message. During one segment, she recalled Cukor's dedication as well as his biting tongue. After 30 takes of a scene in 1933's Little Women, Hepburn says Cukor made her so tired and frustrated that she threw up. Not exactly sympathetic to her plight, Cukor commented, "Well, that's what I think of the scene too."

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