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Two years ago, Kristy McNichol, battling manic depression, dropped out of the sitcom Empty Nest. Friend Giuseppe Franco says McNichol worked briefly in his Beverly Hills hair salon ("It was just for fun; she was bored"), and her health has rebounded now that she's away from the pressures of series television. An avid tennis player, McNichol, 32, sometimes surfaces at events like last spring's Foster Brooks Pro Celebrity Golf and Tennis tournament in Louisville, Ky.... Ventriloquist Paul Winchell, 72, left Metromedia speechless in 1986 by winning $17.8 million in a lawsuit prompted by the media conglomerate's destruction of tapes of his TV show, which ran from 1965 to 1968. Winchell, no dummy, is living splendidly off the proceeds in L.A. and appears at charity functions with his sidekick Jerry Mahoney.... After five years as Michael Jackson's chimpanzee protege, Bubbles, 11, outgrew his youthful cuddliness and was retired to trainer Bob Dunn's ranch in Sylmar, Calif., in 1988. Living the good life with the Gloved One served Bubbles well, says Dunn. "He's smarter than the other chimps. He outfoxes them and gets the best food." The faithful Jackson still visits Bubbles and pays for his upkeep.... In 1968 child star Mark Lester sang the orphan's plaintive "Where Is Love?" in the movie Oliver! Now he's more likely to ask, "Where does it hurt?" Lester, 36, and wife Jane, 38, are osteopaths, seeing patients with joint and muscle complaints in the basement of their three-story Georgian house in Cheltenham, England. They have two children.... Kim Richards, 30, starred in 17 Disney movies (including Escape to Witch Mountain) and plenty of TV shows before retiring at 18. She now lives in Calabasas, Calif., with boyfriend John Jackson, 30, who owns an aviation company, and her three children from an early marriage.... David Hartman, 59, walked away from Good Morning America in 1987, after 11 years on the job, to spend more time with his wife, Maureen, and four children. He now runs his own Fair Lawn, N.J., documentary production company, Rodman-Downs Inc., and serves as host on the Discovery Channel of the historical series Rediscovering America.