Bob Hope’s Memorial Day TV special, taped on an aircraft carrier docked in New York, was almost scuttled when the Navy discovered that one of the star acts was to be the Village People, whose reputation and music have strong gay overtones. Their recent tongue-in-cheek hit In the Navy was also enough to tarnish anybody’s gold braid, but to make matters worse, one member of the group often performs in a naval officer’s tunic unbuttoned to the waist. When the Navy threatened to withdraw permission to use the carrier, Hope warned that he would call a press conference and embarrass the senior service. “Tell the Navy not to worry,” the comedian suggested. “They’re not going to stay the night.”
In Beverly Hills, lyricist Carol (Rocky) Connors and Merv Griffin Productions president Murray Schwartz were driving to a fete for designer Ted Lapidus when they spotted a stalled car, its hood up. Inside were Loretta Young and three friends, who coincidentally were going to the same party and accepted a ride. All went smoothly until Young got the idea that the Griffin show would be filming the party, at which point she immediately wanted out: not just out of the party, but out of the car. The publicity-shy Loretta eventually relented—but only after Schwartz convinced her he was just an ordinary guest.
On a Wing and a Mantra
En route from Miami to Barbados last month, the private twin-engine jet encountered turbulence and began to plummet from 41,000 feet. “What saved my life,” recalls passenger Peter Sellers (the pilot pulled out of the dive at 28,000 feet), “was Hindu prayer. You know how people react when they think they’re close to death? Well, I didn’t panic. The fear went and I became resigned. For some reason I felt this one wasn’t for me and that I wouldn’t die. I chanted a Hindu mantra 20 times out loud as I sat strapped in my seat.” Sellers claims a mantra also saved him when he was charged by an elephant while on safari in Africa. A couple of weeks ago he announced plans to divorce his wife of two years, Lynne Frederick, and then said he hoped to patch things up. Perhaps the mantra also works for foundering marriages.
Although the Soviets downplay reports of Leonid Brezhnev’s failing health, some White House staffers wonder how lively he’ll be when he meets President Carter at the Vienna summit conference in June. The macabre joke currently making the White House rounds is that the Russians have applied for clearance for the special train that will carry their delegation to Austria—and the documents indicate Brezhnev’s sleeper is a refrigeration car.
Woe is Woody
As does almost everything, success worries Manhattan’s Woody Allen. “Failure is a sure sign that you’re not playing it safe, that you’re still experimenting, still taking creative risks,” says Allen. “Ingmar Bergman once asked me, ‘Have you ever had a picture that simply nobody liked, a total disaster?’ I hadn’t. And it causes you to doubt yourself. If you’re succeeding too much, you’re doing something wrong.”
•Pearl Bailey, 61, who, among other things, is a sophomore at Georgetown University, explains why she may switch her studies from French to theology: “I found it’s a little easier to know the Lord than it is to know French.”
•Last February, 16-year-old Houstonite Shawn Galloway received national attention when HEW Secretary Joseph Califano promised her a trip to Washington if she’d quit smoking for six months. She agreed, but now those plans have turned to, well, ashes. “Rumors kept going around that I was smoking anyway,” says Shawn. “Besides, I didn’t have anything else to do.” She resumed the habit last month.
•Entertaining at an ABC affiliates banquet, Robin (Mork) Williams tossed out an uncomplimentary definition of “real hell—doing the Tonight show with John Davidson as host.”