updated 03/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 03/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
First Michael Jordan fell, then Larry Bird. The latest casualty among pro basketball's superstar bachelors is the wizard of the L.A. Lakers backcourt, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, below. Magic, 30, has become engaged to his college sweetheart from Michigan State, fashion rep Cookie Kelly, 31. They were headed down the aisle once before, in 1985, but called it off. "He was a rebel without a cause, and now he's hooked," says Johnson's spokesman. No wedding date has been set.
Joe Sewed, above, the baseball Hall of Famer whose sharp eyes at the plate enabled him to strike out just 114 times over a 14-year career with the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees, died at 91 in Mobile, Ala., of heart failure. Swinging "Black Betsy," his 35-inch, 40-ounce Louisville Slugger bat, Sewell had a career batting average of .312 and chalked up 2,226 hits. (Betsy was the only bat Sewell ever used, and he made a ritual of treating its wood with chewing tobacco and stroking it with a Coke bottle.) His record of 115 consecutive games without whiffing in 1929 still stands. He retired in 1936 and didn't have much respect for today's superstars. "They use these batting gloves and have valets," Sewell, who stayed in baseball as a pro scout and a college coach, said recently. "No wonder they can't hit."
Gary Merrill, above, whose acting-Jcareer spanned almost 50 years but was overshadowed by his more prominent 10-year role as Bette Davis's husband, died of lung cancer at age 74 in Falmouth, Maine. Merrill met Davis in 1950, when he played the part for which he is best known, that of Bill Simpson, the hotshot young director in love with Davis's Margo Channing in the movie All About Eve. The two fell in love off-camera, married later that year and adopted two children, Michael and Margot. After his divorce from Davis in 1960, Merrill conducted a globe-trotting romance with Rita Hayworth from 1961 to 1964 and later became involved in politics, running unsuccessfully in 1968 for Congress in Maine as an antiwar environmentalist. In the past few decades, Merrill led a quiet life in Maine, occasionally returning to the Broadway stage (1980's Morning's at Seven), doing voice-overs for commercials and publishing his autobiography, Bette, Rita and the Rest of My Life, in 1988. "He was proud of the fact that he avoided the Hollywood scene," says his son, Michael. "He was concerned about his country and the world. I think Dad will be remembered for the things he did outside the movie industry."