He has starred opposite Clint Eastwood (in Any Which Way You Can), Robin Williams (in Mork and Mindy) and Bo Derek (in Tarzan, the Ape Man)—making him, at age 11, one of Hollywood’s biggest animal stars. But now C.J., a four-foot-tall, 162-pound orangutan, has proved he’s more than just another pretty face, picking up some extra cash as a consultant. Before last week’s opening of a new $3 million bird-and-primate enclosure, the keepers of the San Diego Zoo needed to test the habitat (which was built sans bars) to make sure it’s escapeproof. That’s where C.J. came in; if the zoo keepers had used an untrained ape and it escaped, they would have had a problem. Following his handlers’ instructions, C.J. spent three and a half days trying to win his freedom. As it turns out, the moat that surrounds the enclosure was too easy to cross (it’s been redone) and there were some climbing poles from which C.J. could come within an arm’s length of humans (they’ve been shortened). In return, the zoo keepers made a mold of C.J.’s footprint for a display near the enclosure and paid his owners $600 a day.
E.T., Phone Harmony
Two weeks ago Harmony Lucas of Brentwood, Calif. was hit by a car and hospitalized in serious condition. Like a lot of 7-year-old kids, Harmony is crazy about E.T., and nothing would have cheered him up more than a get-well call from his favorite extraterrestrial’s creator. Luckily, Harmony’s mom, Susan Saint James, is married to Saturday Night Live producer Dick Ebersol; through an SNL connection director Steven Spielberg heard about the accident and called from New York. Buoyed by that Extra Terrific attention, Lucas will soon be able to go home.
Time of the Sign
For the past six years an L.A. firm called the Art Merchant has been marketing autographed posters of Hollywood legends. The posters are produced in limited editions of 2,000, and dozens of celebs so far have agreed to risk writer’s cramp to give every copy an authentic John Hancock. (The posters sell for $100 each; the celebs earn only a small fee, and sign as a favor to the company’s owner, record mogul Snuff Garrett.) According to Earl Blair, VP of the outfit, some stars can produce 2,000 autographs in as little as four hours; others require months. Roy Rogers, he said, insisted on writing “Happy Trails, Roy Rogers and Trigger” every time, but he still finished in 8½ hours. Another poster was co-signed by Roy and wife Dale Evans—and they had a contest to see who could finish first. (Dale won by 15 minutes.) Slowpoke Burt Reynolds, who signed his on a pool table at home, stretched the job out over three weeks. “When we went to pick them up,” remembers Blair, “Burt said, ‘Take these out of my sight, and don’t ever let me see them again.’ ”
Flamboyant fashion designer Zandra Rhodes was arrested in London after a bobby, investigating a robbery at a nearby flat, spotted a marijuana plant growing in her window. After appearing in court, Rhodes, 41, was fined $125, a light sentence considering she was arrested on another pot charge only last December. What was her defense? Zandra’s lawyer, Anthony Burton, told the judge, “Her main interest was in the unusual quality of the plant and the way it blended in with the many other plants she had in her flat. Her judgment just seems to have been impaired by her interest in gardening.” Or something.
What is Dolly Parton really like? Don’t ask her sister Stella. Four years Dolly’s junior, Stella, 32, recalls that as teenagers, “I went to school looking like a tomboy and she went like a glamour queen. To this day no one—not even family on camping trips—gets to see Dolly without her wig and makeup,” continues Stella. “I think whatever makes you feel comfortable is what you should do, and Dolly feels comfortable that way.”