12/22/1986 at 01:00 AM EST
It's the Hollywood dream. Your very first film cleans up at the box office, then spins off a series—guaranteeing steady work while you weigh other offers. So it came to pass for Mike, the 8-year-old Scottish Border collie who made a smashing debut as the neurotic pet in Down and Out in Beverly Hills (PEOPLE, Feb. 24) and will now re-create the role in a Fox network TV series. Mike, of course, is the Hollywood agent's dream—a client with plenty of animal magnetism but no ego problems, no special wardrobe needs and no troublesome romantic entanglements. Nina Blanchard, the West Coast representative for Ford Models, who signed the top dog in February, is delighted to report that even with two "very big projects pending," Mike—who still lives with his trainer, Clint Rowe, on a farm near Acton, Calif.—is "very unassuming, very well-behaved." That presumably is more than she can say for some of her other clients.
When her 11-year-old son Nicholas was beaten up by a group of kids at a Salvation Army shelter in Chicago in November 1985, homeless mother Tanya Young (Jan. 27) took the family to sleep in Chicago's Union Station. Then space opened up for her and her children, Nicholas, Tracy, now 9, and James, 3, at St. Martin de Porres House, a church-run shelter on Chicago's South Side. It proved to be more than a temporary refuge: Young now has a full-time job there paying $500 a month.
"I feel like I've come home," says Young, 36, who was raised in comfortable, upper-middle-class circumstances but has long been estranged from her adoptive parents. When she was evicted from her two-bedroom apartment in Detroit in October 1985 because the new owner didn't allow children, the twice-divorced Young, who was just scraping by on waitressing money, welfare and food stamps, didn't have the credit to secure another apartment. She found it "too emotionally painful" to appeal to her mother in affluent Grosse Pointe, Mich., so she decided to try her luck in Chicago. "I never imagined I'd be homeless," she says. "You feel so hopeless." Still, Sister Connie Driscoll, director of St. Martin's, was impressed by Young's resilience. "She came to terms with what happened to her and she blossomed," says Driscoll, who began training Young as her administrative assistant. The children are thriving also, the older two earning straight A's in school. "Now I'm able to help people in the same situation I was," says Young. "Things are falling into place."
With corn prices down, the family farm on the ropes and the Reagan Administration taking the heat, the last thing Iowa seemed to need was a Gopher, particularly if he was running for Congress as a Republican. After nine years on The Love Boat, candidate Fred Grandy (Sept. 1), 38, had all the name recognition he needed, but hardly a surplus of down-home credibility. Sixteen months of campaigning changed that, and the erstwhile TV star (above), a Sioux City native, won his office on Capitol Hill last month with 50.7 percent of the vote.
The fates also smiled on former pro basketball player Tom McMillen (March 17), 34, a Democrat who started campaigning for a Maryland congressional seat while doubling as a sharp-elbowed forward and center for the NBA's Washington Bullets. McMillen won a down-to-the-wire race over Republican Bobby Neall by fewer than 500 votes.
Less fortunate was Missouri Democrat Wayne Cryts (April 21), 40, whose answer to his own family's farm crisis was to get out of farming and into politics. Cryts failed to unseat incumbent Republican Congressman Bill Emerson, but remains optimistic. "I've lost my farm," he says, "but I know this political system of ours works. We came so close to winning and we had to come so far."
For Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs (June 16), the year brought both triumph and tragedy. Vowing last spring to dedicate his season to his sister, Ann, who had been stricken with multiple sclerosis, Boggs, 28, was batting .380 last June 17 when he received a pregame phone call telling him that his mother, Susan (with Wade and Ann, below), had been killed by a driver who had run a red light. For a time afterward, Ann too seemed to be dying, and Boggs, devastated, lost the uncanny concentration that has made him baseball's most consistent hitter. Then, courageously, Ann battled back—her illness is now in remission—and Boggs shut himself off to distractions, winning his third American League batting championship and leading the Red Sox to their first pennant since 1975.
Following the team's loss in the World Series, he wept in the Red Sox dugout. But his tears were not for baseball. "It seemed that everything came to a head in that one moment," he says. "My show of emotion wasn't so much for the loss of the Series as for the personal loss with my mother and sister. My mother lived for baseball and for the day I might get into the World Series. I wanted so much for her to be a part of it, but now she never would. And now there was nothing more to keep me going. No more baseball to keep it off my mind. Now I realized, 'Hey, I'm going home and it'll never be the same.' "
When his girlfriend, Odette Henderson, was declared brain dead from a tumor in the second trimester of her pregnancy with the child he had fathered, Derrick Poole, 32, was determined to save the baby (Aug. 18). He went to court to keep Henderson on life-support systems long enough for his daughter, Michele, to be born, six weeks premature, on July 30. Though he was awkward with the infant at first, and haunted by her resemblance to her mother, Poole has developed all the domestic instincts that single parenthood calls for. Michele spends weekends with her father and weekdays with his sister's family while Daddy attends to his job as an environmental technician. "I'm real proud of her," says Poole.
It was the longest and costliest court battle over a will in U.S. history—and one of the messiest. Finally, after 17 weeks and an estimated $24 million had been spent disputing the true intentions of J. Seward Johnson (May 26)—whose share of the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical empire came to about $500 million—both sides claimed victory. Under the terms of an 11th-hour settlement, Johnson's third and last wife, Barbara Piasecka (above), the Polish-born chambermaid he had married at 76, held on to the bulk of the estate. But Johnson's six children by two earlier marriages did manage to salvage $20 million for the oceanographic institute Johnson had founded in Florida. The children, who already had huge trust funds, will each receive about $6 million more but maintain their court fight was on a matter of principle. "We're just happy that it's over and the truth has been told," says producer Martin Richards, husband of Johnson's oldest daughter, Mary Lea.
There were no sore losers in the Get Your Hands on a Buick contest (Nov. 17) sponsored by Tyler's Jefferson Motors in Mount Vernon, Ill. But the sponsor was by no means enchanted when the finalists, Kim Hulbert, 23, and Brad Meador, 24, decided to settle the thing on their own. For 139 days the two of them had spent 14 hours a day clinging to a 1986 Buick Skyhawk as 51 other contestants gave up and went home. Then one bone-chilling day in November, Hulbert and Meador began talking compromise. The temperature had dropped to 8°, and the wind chill made it 20° below. Both were equipped with battery-powered socks and other foul-weather gear, and each had been hopeful the other would quit. When neither did, says Meador, "that kinda scared us." So they decided to split the prize. Hulbert, who needed a car, would take the Skyhawk and pay Meador half the $9,173 sticker price. When Jefferson Motors' Paul Tyler balked, offended by the idea of two winners, Hulbert and Meador flipped a coin. Meador won the toss and Hulbert symbolically took her hand off the car. Tyler didn't like it and said so. "We had a lot of stuff in the mill for them. Letterman was interested, even Johnny Carson. But they pulled the plug," he observed dolefully. "It really wasn't a contest to the end."
Despite public outrage and a legal appeal, Mary Clark, now 85, was evicted last spring from her home of 34 years (March 3). Her baby-sitting for little Jessica Patterson (below) had violated a new adults-only policy at Fillmore Gardens Apartments in Arlington, Va. Though caring for Jessica, now 4, was both an emotional and financial lifeline for Clark, who could not meet expenses on her Social Security check, landlord Elliott Burka was adamant. "Her age doesn't give her a special dispensation," he said. Clark is now resettled in a nearby apartment complex with a pool and plenty of kids, but will be hard-pressed to pay the higher rent, especially when Jessica begins school next fall. "She still needs financial help," says Jessica's mother, Connie Patterson, who has put Clark on a waiting list for subsidized housing. "God will punish the landlord. One day he'll be 85 and need help."
Since her son, Army Sgt. Kenneth Ford, 21, died in the bombing of a Berlin discotheque (April 28), Alice Beecham has received nearly a hundred supportive letters, but no call from President Reagan, who ordered an air strike against Libya to retaliate for the terrorist attack. "You would think he could have picked up the phone," says Beecham. "Losing a child leaves a big hole in your life."
"The biggest change in my life," says University of Georgia English professor Jan Kemp (March 3), "is that I have my professional and personal freedom." Last spring Kemp was the victor in a bitter legal battle against university officials who had harassed and then fired her for protesting an academic double standard that was allowing athletes to stay in school without doing their course work. Now in the process of a divorce, and resettled with her two children in a spacious new home, she is beginning to enjoy her $1.08 million legal award. She has also donated 10 percent of the settlement to the Living Faith Fellowship, a religious group she credits with helping her through hard times, which included two suicide attempts. Kemp has also reclaimed her old $30, 356-a-year job at a campus much changed by her suit: University President Fred Davison is out, and two vice-presidents have been relieved of their administrative duties.
Winemaker Sam Sebastian! says "family relations have improved 180 degrees" since he was fired early this year—by his mother, no less—as president of the hugely successful Sebastiani winery (May 12). For a time bad blood was flowing like cabernet after Sylvia Sebastiani, 70, widow of patriarch August Sebastiani, lowered the boom on Sam, 46, and named his younger brother, Don, 33, to run the company. Sylvia, it seemed, was irritated by what she perceived as Sam's high-handed management style, including his public wrist slapping of Don, an ultra-conservative California assemblyman whose outspoken views had threatened to provoke a consumer boycott. Subsequently Sam struck out on his own. His Sam J. Sebastiani vineyard has already brought out three new, well-reviewed wines. But all is not quite forgiven. Sam and Vicki (above), his wife of six years, won't be spending the holidays with his mother and brother. "That," says Sam, "would be pushing it."