CLOWN WITHOUT PITY: At Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus in New York, not everyone’s attention was on the action in the three rings. Sitting in the bleachers applauding wildly were Larry Hagman and Maj, his wife of 30 years. “We travel all over the world going to circuses,” Hagman explained. “We collect ’em. During the last couple of years, we’ve attended circuses in Moscow, Leningrad, China, Switzerland—all over Europe, in fact.” If the nefarious J.R. could be any member of the big top, who would he be? “I’d definitely be a clown,” he said. “They have the most fun and are in the least amount of danger.” When a circus spokeswoman welcomed Hagman to The Greatest Show on Earth, he replied, “You mean the second greatest show. Dallas is the first.”
ODD BODKINS: Joan Rivers, in London, told the Sunday Times, “You know how Yoko Ono got her name? John Lennon saw her naked and said, ‘Oh, no!’ ”
THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY: In the Mickey Rooney-Ann Miller burlesque show Sugar Babies, Julie Miller performs with 12 white pigeons that are trained to perch on various parts of her body. When the touring musical moved from Grand Rapids to Cleveland recently, tragedy nearly struck. As airline workers were loading the crate containing the birds onto the plane, they dropped it. The birds escaped but were quickly retrieved and shipped. When the crate was unpacked in Cleveland, Little Harry, the star pigeon, was nowhere to be found. To the phone rushed Rooney, who called the airline, demanding that his co-star be found. After all, the show must go on, and who else could wing it? Amazingly Harry was located—and in the dark, too. Trained to fly to the nearest light, he was discovered hunkered down at the end of the runway. The airline immediately shipped Harry to Cleveland, not in a crate but in a box on a first-class seat (hope they showed a Walter Pidgeon film). Little Harry (named after the show’s late producer, Harry Rigby) was on time for the opening performance.
DON’T PLAY IT AGAIN, MA’AM: Shelley Winters is not happy about audience reaction to her recent show, two one-act plays, called Epiphany and the Snow Angel, which had an aborted run in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook Terrace. During one intermission a disgruntled patron passed around a petition that read, “If you think this is the worst play you ever saw in your life, please sign.” Sixty-one signatures appeared. “I don’t know what’s the matter with these people,” Winters says. “I think, first of all, they’re disappointed that I’m alive. They must have come here expecting to see me in a movie. I guess all they’re used to is sitcoms. Anyway what can you expect? There’s a Billy Graham center down the road from wherever the hell this is. Where am I?”
WHO ARE YOU NOW? Alan Arkin was musing on the various stages in one’s acting career. “First,” he said, “it’s ‘Who’s Alan Arkin?’ Then, ‘Get me Alan Arkin!’ Then, ‘He’s too expensive. Get me an Alan Arkin type.’ Just after that it’s, ‘Get me a young Alan Arkin,’ and then, finally, ‘Who’s Alan Arkin?’ ”
GRIN AND BEAR IT: For the first time in 40 years, Smokey the Bear has been yanked from the spotlight in the U.S. Forest Service’s ad campaign. Although he built an illustrious career reminding Americans that “Only you can prevent forest fires,” the benevolent big guy is being put into hibernation. The new public service spots are much more grizzly. They follow an average citizen through a jailhouse booking and into the slammer while Leonard Nimoy intones, “If you’re guilty of starting a forest fire—even accidentally—you’ll pay for it.” Smokey’s face appears momentarily at the end. Explains an exec at the Los Angeles advertising office of Foote, Cone & Belding: “Adults in this country no longer take a talking bear seriously.”