Comedian Jerry Lester, 85, host of the first successful late-night TV talk and variety show, Broadway Open House, in 1950-51, died on March 23 in Miami of complications from Alzheimer's disease. On Open House, Lester introduced the now familiar late-night mix of celebrity chat, comedy, music and regulars—like Dagmar, a voluptuous blonde who read poetry while her chest heaved heavily....
Actor Paul Brinegar, 77, who dished out the grub as Wishbone, the surly chuckwagon cook on Rawhide (1959-66), died in Los Angeles on March 27 of emphysema. He was also a regular on the TV westerns The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1956-58) and Lancer (1969-70). Last year he played a stagecoach driver in the movie Maverick....
Jailed British gangster Ronnie Kray, 61, died on March 17 at a hospital in Slough, England, after a heart attack. Before they were imprisoned for murder in 1969, the thuggish Ronnie and his twin brother, Reggie, ran swindles and extorted payoffs from nightclubs and pubs, causing them to be crowned Kings of Crime by the British press. A movie depicting their brutal rise, The Krays, was released in 1990. Reggie remains in prison and is serving a life sentence.
British MP Winston Churchill, 54, grandson of Sir Winston and son of U.S. Ambassador to France Pamela Harriman and the late journalist Randolph Churchill, has separated from his wife of 30 years, Minnie, 54. Minnie stood by him when Fleet Street trumpeted news of his alleged affairs—in the late '70s with Soraya Khashoggi, ex-wife of Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, and in '92 with American socialite Jan Cushing. The Churchills have four grown children....
Tough guy actor James Caan, 55, has filed for divorce from Ingrid, 34, his wife of four years, in L.A. superior court on March 28. The couple have one son, Alexander, 4. Caan has been married twice previously and has two other children.
Attorneys for Willie Nelson, 61, succeeded on March 23 in persuading a judge in Waco, Texas, to dismiss drug-possession charges that had been filed against the singer last May when police in Hewitt, Texas, discovered less than an ounce of marijuana in Nelson's Mercedes. Nelson had pulled over to the side of the road to nap following a long night of poker. County court Judge Michael Gassaway ruled that the search of Nelson's car by cops had been illegal because they failed to establish probable cause.
Chanteuse and occasional actress Pia Zadora, 38, is showing off the diamond engagement ring she received recently from writer-director Jonathan Kaufer, 40. The two met at a film screening nine months ago. "We've been inseparable ever since," says Zadora. "We're like two teenagers caught in a time warp—we've found that someone we were looking for 20 years ago." The two are hoping to tie the knot by summer's end. Zadora has two children, daughter Kady, 10, and son Kristofer, 8, from her previous marriage to financier Meshulam Riklis, 71.
Neo-folkie Suzanne Vega, 35, wed music producer and keyboardist Mitchell Froom, 31, on March 17 at City Hall in New York City and then headed to Paris for a weeklong honeymoon. "We slept mostly. I hadn't slept in a year," says Vega, who, with Froom, has a 10-month-old daughter, Ruby. The couple met in December 1991 when the singer-songwriter hired Froom to produce her last album, 1992's 99.9 Degrees F. It is her first marriage, his second. Froom has a daughter from his first marriage.
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