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Boob Tube

Pray TV, a made-for-TV drama broadcast on ABC earlier this month, set out to expose electronic evangelists who raise money over the air. In one scene, for instance, Ned Beatty as the prime-time preacher tells his disciples to pick up the phone and pledge their dollars. Apparently, some people didn’t understand this wasn’t for real—22,000 people, to be exact, which is how many tried to donate money to Beatty by calling the 800 number he had announced. It turned out that viewers were dialing an extension in Wisconsin set up for ABC by the telephone company.

Say It With Flowers

“When words alone aren’t enough,” says David K. Mullen, “express yourself with flowers delivered dead on arrival.” Mullen does just that through his new Virginia-based venture, Flowers of Extinction. “I think it’s a good harmless way to vent frustrations,” he says, adding that business is blooming. For $15, Mullen will send a former loved one, erstwhile friend or ex-boss a box of dead roses, lilies, daisies—you name it. He also offers a special “dump-a-date” service guaranteed to nip any budding romance. Each box contains an appropriate poem—just in case the putrescent posies don’t get the message across. For example: Roses are red, but now they’re brown. When we’re together you make me frown. You never seem able to take the hint. That’s why these flowers without the tint.

Defense Build-up

At a recent congressional dinner, Sen. Ted Stevens’ wife, Catherine, told President Reagan that he had once played football with her father—in the 1940 movie Knute Rockne—All-American. Reagan of course portrayed the legendary Notre Dame running back George Gipp; Senator Stevens’ father-in-law, Arizona cattleman Bill Bittner, had a bit part as one of Reagan’s teammates. The President said he hoped Mrs. Stevens could solve a mystery for him. In one scene, the director told Reagan to put his head down and break through the other team’s defense. “That sounds easy enough,” the then 29-year-old actor figured. But it wasn’t. Take after take, Reagan barreled into the line but couldn’t find a hole. It had puzzled the President for years. Catherine asked her father, and it turns out the extras playing Fighting Irishmen were actually USC fraternity men, while the opposing extras were from archrival UCLA. The Bruins were not about to make it easy for the Trojans, even if they roughed up the future President in the process. Stevens assured Reagan in a note that “it was nothing personal.”

Color Him Rich

Businessman George Gradow wanted to buy a surprise 32nd-birthday present for his wife, Barbi Benton. George had decided to get his bride a little something to drive around town in and had discovered that her favorite color was brown. Ah, but what shade of brown? Rather than spoil his surprise by grilling Barbi more closely, generous George decided to play it safe. He bought Barbi a two-tone (tan and maroon) Rolls-Royce Corniche and a chocolate-brown Mercedes 380 SL coupe. The total tab was a shade over $200,000.


•For the man who has everything comes a unique gift suggestion—a lock of George Washington’s hair. Originally given to an aide de camp, the Father of Our Country’s follicles have been in the family of George’s cousin Dr. James A. Washington since 1843. Preserved in a locket all these years, the precious strands have been on sale since mid-February. No takers so far, but that may be a function of the asking price—$1 million.

•Welsh actor-playwright-director Emlyn Williams, 76, has learned that the reference book Author Biographies Master Index listed him as having died in 1974. Williams (best known for playing Charles Dickens in a one-man show) reacted stoically. “I’ve racked my brain,” he says, “but can’t recollect anything untoward happening to me that year.”