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VALLEY OF THE DOLLIES: Although her current ABC variety show may be foundering, Dolly Parton always manages to leave a lasting impression. Last month, the country music star placed her hand and footprints on the Star Walk in Nashville’s Fountain Square. When a rude reporter asked her why she didn’t make imprints with her more famous attributes, the well-endowed Dolly shot back, “I wouldn’t want to do that. I’m afraid a little kid might fall in and get hurt.”

THICKE-SKINNED: Alan Thicke is no stranger to rejection. His Thicke of the Night was canceled after one season in 1984, and though he later found happiness on ABC’s Growing Pains, he’s now being snubbed by his ex-wife, singer Gloria Loring, who’s marrying again. “She said she’s not inviting me or her ex-boyfriend Don Diamont to the wedding,” says Alan, who didn’t really expect an invite. “I can understand her not inviting us. How many exes would you want at a party? You might have to get a bigger hall.” Will he send a gift? “I’ll make some civil acknowledgment,” says Thicke. “But I’ll have to consult an etiquette book on sending an appropriate gift.”

A TEXTBOOK CASE: Once and future anchorwoman Linda Ellerbee has an alternative to the tedious question-and-answer sessions that have marked some of this year’s televised candidates’ debates. “The next time there’s a debate,” says Ellerbee, “I think the candidates should be questioned by a panel of high school students asking questions from their civics textbooks. Questions like: What are the three branches of government? Before the candidates start thwarting the Constitution,” she adds, “I would at least like them to know what it is.”

ZERO GUARANTEE: Josh Mostel, one of the stars of off-Broadway’s The Boys Next Door, couldn’t help hearing the distant bellow of his late father, Zero, when Josh learned that Norman Jewison, the Oscar-nominated director of Moonstruck, had optioned the film rights to the play. Jewison, after all, took the Tevye role Zero created on Broadway and handed it to Israeli actor Topol in the 1971 screen version of Fiddler on the Roof. A short while later, Josh recalls, “I got a call about playing King Herod in Jewison’s movie of Jesus Christ Superstar. From another room, I heard my father yell, ‘Tell him to give it to Topol’s son!’ ”

THE ARDOR YOU TRY: Tonight Show producer Fred de Cordova may have an occasional flare-up with Johnny Carson, but nothing to match the one he once had with screen legend Marlene Dietrich. In his memoir, Johnny Came Lately, due out this month, de Cordova recalls an evening in the late ’40s when he desperately tried to romance the German actress. “I made every possible effort to enchant her,” he writes. “I even spoke German to her. Nothing worked!” But Freddy never quit. “I saw that Miss Dietrich was about to smoke a cigarette. Quickly I struck a match, turned to the lovely lady, and lit the cigarette. Only it wasn’t a cigarette; it was a marabou powder puff—which flared wildly, scorched her nose and sent her flying from the room. In a sense, I had managed to get her attention.”

TRAINED ACTRESS: Elizabeth McGovern, familiar of late from She’s Having a Baby, has discovered that the best way to avoid being recognized by eager autograph hounds is to go underground. McGovern rides the Manhattan subway every day to the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater, where she’s playing Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “People seem to recognize me,” she says of her fellow riders, “but they hardly ever say anything because they’re not entirely sure it’s me. I think they figure that if they’ve seen me on the screen, I really shouldn’t be riding on the subway.”