Michael Small
February 13, 1984 12:00 PM

Backhanded Compliment

Len Zelick, who promotes the Volvo International Tennis Tournament in North Conway, N.H., needed to do a little extra editing on the tapes he prepared to advertise the tourney on TV. When the camera focused on John McEnroe playing a practice game, that cool, calm and collected player missed a shot and threw his racket on the court so hard that it smashed into five pieces. John lost some of that natural reserve when he missed a second shot. This time, he jumped on his racket till he broke all the strings. Zelick decided to cut those moments, charming as they were, out of the commercials. “It doesn’t show tennis in the right light,” he explains. However, he bears no hard feelings toward the bad boy of the net set. Says Zelick, “John’s pretty decent once you sit him down and he has his lunch.”

Parental Discretion Unnecessary

Lisa Whelchel stars on a show called The Facts of Life. Lisa Whelchel plays a character named Blair. Lisa Whelchel’s writers suggested that Blair might lose her virginity. Lisa Whelchel didn’t approve. “Parental guidance is so loose these days. A lot of young girls get their lessons on life and discipline from TV,” she says. “I don’t believe in premarital sex and I don’t want to condone it to any young person who’s watching.” Lisa Whelchel got her way; Blair remains pure.

First Family Second

“When his schedule allows, Grandpa Reagan comes out to see his grandchildren, but his schedule hasn’t allowed,” says Michael Reagan, 38. Mike seems a little hurt that Ronald has not yet visited his son’s Sherman Oaks, Calif. home to meet the first Reagan granddaughter, Ashley Marie, 9 months. Asked if he took the baby to see Grandpa, Mike replied with a laugh, “When my schedule allows, I get to the White House to visit; it’s just that my schedule has not allowed that.” Sounds as though Mike means he doesn’t get many invites. Well, no hard feelings. The younger Reagan approves of his dad’s decision to run for President again even if it means the family will still come second to politics. “I’m very happy he’s running,” Michael says. “It keeps him off the unemployment line.”

Riding High

What a difference a job makes. One star in the parade of afternoon hunks, Todd Curtis, used to drive a limo in L.A. three years ago, before he landed on CBS’s Capitol. Now he owns not one but two 1984 Lincolns, valued at approximately $50,000 each, and leases them out at $38 an hour. “A limo is almost like a drug,” he says. “People get in one and they feel rich and they’ll try anything.” Though Todd doesn’t drive anymore, he does help keep the show on the road. Says he, “If I ever need a limo, of course I call one of my own.”


•Marlene Dietrich always loved a snack of hot dogs and champagne, sometimes sharing the delicacy with Ernest Hemingway or producer Mike Todd. No more, reports her grandson, photo agent Peter Riva, 33. “She still savors champagne, and often,” he says of Grandma, who lives in Paris. “But no more franks. She says you just can’t get tasty franks in Paris these days.”

•John Hillerman, otherwise known as the thoroughly British Higgins on Magnum, P.I., supports a fittingly genteel hobby with his weekly paycheck: collecting fine art. Hillerman is possessive about his pastime and says he cannot bear the more common avenues of art appreciation such as museums. “I go home and sulk because I can’t own the paintings,” he admits. “I remember my first Rembrandt. I’m still sulking.”

•In L.A. to open his new restaurant, filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis gave a good reason for switching some of his efforts to food production. “Food is more important than anything in life,” he said. “To make love one must eat.”

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