Fred A. Bernstein
September 01, 1986 12:00 PM

“People imagine we’re fanatics,” says Beate Klarsfeld’s husband, Serge, of their life spent bringing Nazi war criminals to justice. “People don’t imagine us coming home and jumping into the arms of children and dogs. But that’s the way it is.”

People don’t imagine Farrah Fawcett playing Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld either, but that’s the way television is. In November Farrah will star in The Beate Klarsfeld Story, a two-hour ABC movie about the woman who helped capture Klaus Barbie, notorious as the Butcher of Lyon. Beate, 47, was delighted when Farrah was chosen for the role (“She’s very attractive; it’s flattering”) and not at all perturbed that the actress once was one of Charlie’s Angels. That, after all, was then. Now, since her 1984 TV triumph in The Burning Bed, Farrah, according to a spokesman, “Feels a responsibility to play significant parts.”

She found one in Klarsfeld. To bring Barbie back to France (where he now awaits trial), Beate spent 12 years on his trail. To draw attention to the fact that Barbie was living in Bolivia, she chained herself to a park bench outside his office in La Paz. After Bolivia failed to cooperate with France’s extradition, she later plotted to kidnap Barbie. When that plan fell through, she had him kept under surveillance for 10 years.

Fawcett had read about Beate but didn’t meet her until filming began in Paris last May. According to one observer, “Farrah might have played Beate as more frightened, but when she met her, she discovered Beate was a strong person who did what she had to do.” Beate answered technical questions but didn’t spend time on the set. “It wouldn’t have been much fun for Farrah if Beate had been sitting there staring,” says Serge, who is portrayed by Tom Conti in the movie. Observes Beate, “It’s my life, but it isn’t my life. It’s condensed, of course, and the events aren’t always in chronological order. But my husband and I only made historical corrections.”

Beate, a Protestant, was born in Germany in 1939. It wasn’t until she met her husband, a Jew, in Paris that she found her life’s work. She says, “We just decided that there would be more room for morality, and less for material things, in our lives.” Not that the couple are ascetics; Beate thoroughly enjoyed a jaunt to Hollywood from her home in Paris to discuss the movie: “I thought I was dreaming,” she says. Her fee for her life story went to further the couple’s Nazi-hunting, nonprofit Beate Klarsfeld Foundation. Says Serge, “We’re very proud. Usually they only make films about people who are dead.”


Lone stars

“He was this image on television that I grew up with, who gave these very stilted speeches,” says Randy (Saturday Night Live) Quaid of the fellow Texan he portrays in NBC’s three-hour movie LBJ. Patti (Evita) Lu-Pone plays Lady Bird, a role that unlike Quaid’s, didn’t require ear-enlarging prostheses. According to Randy, the producers’ first-choice to play LBJ was Larry Hagman. Says Quaid: “I’m glad he turned it down.”

The grapes of froth

“There’s lust, greed, murder and raisins—all kinds of goodies,” says Carol Burnett of Fresno, a CBS mini-series send-up of nighttime soaps in which she plays a California dried-fruit matriarch. Carol tries to squash raisin rival Dabney Coleman and outrun the “shirtless stranger,” played by Gregory Harrison. “My clothes on Fresno,” promises Carol (above, with series’ son Charles Grodin), “make the clothes on Dynasty look subtle.”

Alien corn

“I have dandruff older than your country,” says the 3’2″, 229-year-old fur ball that crashes into Max (Buffalo Bill) Wright’s garage on NBC’s Alf(the name of the series—and its star—is an abbreviation for Alien Life Form). “We had this guy,” admits co-producer Paul Fusco, “so we figured, ‘Let’s work out a show around him.’ ” But, he says, “It’s not an artificial Mork.”

Shirley you jest

“She’s got the MacLaine character down pat,” says producer Stan (The Thorn Birds) Margulies of the star who plays herself in ABC’s Out on a Limb, about her experiences with reincarnation and the occult. “There’s not one car chase in the whole thing, no one gets killed,” says Margulies. “It deals with subjects that never get discussed.” Indeed, actor John Heard, who plays Shirley’s guru, walked off the set for a few days, reportedly because he felt the film conflicted with his religious beliefs. But he returned to give what Margulies calls “an extraordinary performance.”

Talk me a Rivers

Joan’s won’t be the only talk show. Her pal David Brenner will host his own half-hour huddle, Nightlife, beginning Sept. 8. And on ABC, Dick Cavett and Jimmy Breslin will take turns holding forth after Nightline.

Teddy bares

No journalist will ever enjoy the kind of access to the Kennedy family bestowed upon the makers of The Teddy Kennedy Jr. Story. Interviewed by the scriptwriters, Teddy’s father, the Senator, said, “I’m not a saint. Don’t make me out to be one.” Joan told the writers not to ignore her alcoholism: “You’re being honest about everyone else. Be honest about me.” The two-hour NBC movie focuses on the childhood bout with cancer that caused Teddy (played by newcomer Kimber Shoop, pictured with Ted Sr.) to lose his right leg.

All this and Heaven II

Robert L. Joseph wrote the miniseries sequel Rage of Angels: The Story Continues with Jaclyn Smith in mind. So let Jaclyn (who co-stars with Ken Howard, above) tell you about it: “Jennifer is more mature this time. When the movie starts, you see her with her emotions shut off. She’s been through so much. Then you watch her come alive. Finally, she has to survive knowing the man she thought she was in love with didn’t exist. She was in love with a dream.” Any questions?

Honorable Mention

“People at home are ready to see something besides screeching brakes and machine guns,” says Lucille Ball, 75. Something like a vibrating chair, perhaps? That’s one of the gizmos Lucy uses in her new ABC series, Life with Lucy, in an effort to re-create the kind of physical comedy that was her specialty in the ’50s. It’s not easy. Reached on the set, Lucy gasped, “This really gets out of control. I’m glad you called today—I may not live to tell about it tomorrow.”…When ABC decided to air the cop-show spoof Sledge Hammer on Friday nights opposite Miami Vice, the producer of the upstart series didn’t panic. “We have ways of competing,” says Alan Spencer, 26. “We’ll just make our music louder.”…Bobby (Patrick Duffy) will be back on Dallas—as anyone who isn’t addicted to public television already knows. But that isn’t the only strange happening on prime-time TV this season. Michelle Phillips, formerly of the Mamas and the Papas, will play Hotel’s new concierge….Kate & Allie’s producers will hide star Susan Saint James’ real-life pregnancy by putting her character in traction….On Family Ties, the Keatons’ youngest, an infant just last spring, will be a 3-year-old this season….The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ‘s Robert Vaughn will join The A-Team as the havoc crew’s government supervisor….After seven seasons, Charlotte Rae is leaving Facts of Life. She’ll be replaced by Cloris (Phyllis) Leachman….Strangest of all: On Miami Vice, pastels are out.

Tunes, Tomes & Trivia

What’s been going on?

Fans have waited nearly two years for Cyndi Lauper to show her True Colors. That’s the title of her follow-up to 1984’s She’s So Unusual, which has sold 14 million copies worldwide and yielded four Top 5 singles, including the hit-cum-cliché Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Now that Lauper’s back—the new album’s due Sept. 18—fans are wondering if she’s still the same rainbow-haired pot o’ gold from Queens. If her cover of the Marvin Gaye classic What’s Going On? doesn’t provide answers, the album art might: Lauper models a skirt made entirely of newspaper clippings. And that strange backing vocal on a cut titled 911 is delivered by comic Pee Wee Herman.

Taking a flyer

Expect to see more chickens crossing the road this fall. Birds that are allowed to roam, dubbed free-range chickens, are supposed to taste better than their cooped-up cousins. They’re popping up on menus faster than goat cheese; one L.A. meat market manager says he has peddled peripatetic fowl to Barbra Streisand, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kenny Rogers, among others.


“I find myself instinctively drawn toward women in adversity,” says Princess Michael of Kent. While dodging revelations of both her father’s Nazi past and her alleged affair with a rich Texan, Princess Michael (left, with Sarah Ferguson) wrote Crowned in a Far Country, about eight royal women pressured as children into political marriages to rulers of foreign countries. Among the topics discussed are parentage and philandering.

There’s the Rubik

“You expected a lot from him after the Cube, and he delivered,” said a toy maven who previewed the newest brainchild from Hungarian professor Erno Rubik. The new gizmo, Rubik’s Magic Puzzle, costs $10 and consists of eight clear plastic panels printed with rainbow-colored rings. All you have to do is link the rings. Call us when you’re done.

Platinum Blondie?

Debbie Harry, the former Playboy Bunny who brought glamour to New York’s seedy New Wave music scene as lead singer of the group Blondie, will have a solo album out Oct. 20. Harry is attempting a comeback after spending much of the past three years nursing lover-bandleader Chris Stein, who had been hospitalized with a rare, and serious, skin disease, pemphigus.

Mama tried

In the book Pat Nixon, the Untold Story, Julie Nixon Eisenhower (right, with Pat and Tricia in 1952) fights to bring her mother to life against the back drop of Richard Nixon’s rise and fall. It’s not easy. As Pat admits at one point, “I can’t buy anything just because I like it. I have to think, ‘Will it pack? Is it conservative enough?’ I don’t go overboard anymore.”

Misha culpa

Swan Lake is alive with piranhas, or so says ballet star Gelsey Kirkland in her tell-all autobiography, Dancing on My Grave. From the account of her affair with Mikhail Baryshnikov to details of her bouts with bulimia and cocaine addiction, her revelations are tutu much.

I am Joe’s wife

Writer Roger Kahn remembers meeting her in a mirrored room: “Everywhere you looked you saw Marilyn.” His reflections on the star, Joe and Marilyn, chronicles her years with DiMaggio. “It’s about two things Americans care about,” he says. “Sex and baseball.”

Some feet

They left California in March amid controversy and confusion. “It took us two-thirds of the way across the country, but things are going a lot smoother now,” says Janine Brannigan, a 22-year-old student from Washington State. Indeed, the excitement is just beginning for the 600 or so well-weathered men, women and children on the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament. The marchers, who have been sleeping out and eating camp food for months, are looking forward to the big cities they’ll traverse en route to a Nov. 14 finish in Washington, D.C. Says one walker, “You get tired of tofu after a while.”


In the three years since Huey Lewis and the News released their multiplatinum Sports album, the Bay Area rockers have had plenty of radio play, most notably from the Grammy-nominated single The Power of Love, which was featured in the movie Back to the Future. Now the News boys are back with their fourth LP, Fore!, whose title was inspired by golfer Huey’s love for the links.


Don’t pooh-pooh him for not having a Saturday morning TV show or even one measly theme park. This October Christopher Robin’s lovable ursine pal, the creation of author A.A. Milne, turns 60—two years older than Mickey Mouse.

Stretching credibility

Thousands of Americans will be pumping rubber this fall if the Today show’s Dr. Art Ulene has his way. Fitness instructor Tamilee Webb developed a 30-minute home-exercise program that uses heavy-duty rubber bands instead of weights. “The resistance is just as real,” says Ulene, who produced an instructional video, Bodyband Workouts. Ulene adds that bands (demonstrated above by Solid Gold dancer Jamilah Lucas) are lightweight, safe, portable and just plain “fun.”

Honorable Mention

While their wives are lounging at home, Hollywood Husbands spend their days “slaving over a hot secretary.” So says Jackie Collins, who promises that her sequel to Hollywood Wives” will make that book look like a church social. Everyone thinks they can write a book like this,” she adds, “but they can’t…You set characters in motion. Suddenly they start doing things, and you report what you see,” says James Clavell, whose novel for fall, Whirlwind, is set in Iran in 1975. His protagonists, British helicopter pilots, get caught up in the revolution. This is by no means the end of Clavell’s series on Anglo-Saxons in Asia. Says he: “The last book may be science fiction”…Rock’s Tina hopes to become a page Turner with, Tina, an authorized bio that charts her traumatic journey from tiny Nutbush, Tenn. to international stardom. Nonreaders and others may simply want to pick up Tina’s second Ike-less LP, Break Every Rule, due next week…Harvard University will celebrate its 350th birthday this fall with an extravaganza featuring Prince Charles and a bevy of famous grads, including George Plimpton, John Lithgow, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan and Caspar Weinberger…Barbra Streisand, who hasn’t sung in public since 1980, will give an outdoor concert on Sept. 6—only it won’t be anything like her 1967 Central Park performance before a crowd of 135,000. This time Barbra will vocalize in the backyard of her Malibu ranch, and the 400 invitation-only tickets cost $5,000 per pair. The proceeds will help support the campaigns of California Sen. Alan Cranston and other candidates. Declared Barbra: “I could never imagine myself wanting to sing in public again, but then I could never imagine Star Wars, contras, apartheid or nuclear winters.”

Trading Places

“We were declared dead after Geraldine Ferraro lost,” says Irene Natividad of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Now women are back on ballots in big numbers. Twelve are running for Governor, including the six pictured here who analysts say have a chance of winning. Vermonters may return a woman to the Governor’s mansion, while Nebraskans are virtually assured of having a woman leader: Both serious contenders for the seat Bob Kerrey is vacating are female.


Art & life

In Children of a Lesser God, based on the successful Broadway play, Oscar winner William Hurt portrays a speech therapist and newcomer Marlee Matlin a deaf student who, to his frustration, refuses to adapt to the hearing world. As the pair argue their separate philosophies, they slowly fall in love. In real life romance also blossomed on the Lesser God set: Hurt, 36, and Matlin, 21, who is deaf, became an item during filming last year and eventually moved in together. “All the ups and downs of their real-life situation entered into the process,” says director Randa Haines, who adds that the resulting onscreen romance is unusually believable. (September)

Novel attempt

Although actor Victor Love is making his screen debut in a low-budget film, he got to act alongside some high-budget names. In a $2 million version of Richard Wright’s novel Native Son, Love stars as a black Chicago man accused of murdering a white woman (Elizabeth McGovern). Matt Dillon plays McGovern’s boyfriend and Oscar winner Geraldine Page, her maid. Actress and talk show host Oprah Winfrey (left, with Love)—who, like the rest of the cast, agreed to work for Screen Actors Guild scale wages of $1,256 per week—plays Love’s mother. (December)

Medieval hoods

In The Name of the Rose, monk Sean Connery, probing a series of monastic murders, butts tonsured heads with Grand Inquisitor F. Murray Abraham. (September)

Bank shot

Fast Eddie Felson is back and director Martin Scorsese’s got him. Fast Eddie, of course, is the pool shark played by Paul Newman in 1961’s The Hustler. Jackie Gleason played his adipose rival Minnesota Fats. In The Color of Money, Newman is the old pro, reliving his glory days by teaching newcomer Tom Cruise how to corrupt his talent. Newman did all of his own pool shots. (October)

Muchos machos

In the comedy Three Amigos, a trio of bumbling silent screen stars heads south of the border to film an epic Western and winds up fighting to save a small town from real banditos. Martin Short, Steve Martin and Chevy Chase play the sartorially splendid hombres; Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels produced, and John (Animal House) Landis directed, from a script by Martin, Michaels and a promising novice screenwriter: singer Randy (Short People) Newman. (December)

Reel it up, Scottie

For those who are counting, this is Star Trek IV. Leonard Nimoy returns as Spock and as the director of the movie, in which he and Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) backtrack from the 23rd century to the present day “to find and bring back something that has become extinct because of carelessness and is a necessity,” says Nimoy. That this would be the Enterprise’s last voyage seems highly illogical, Captain. In fact, word has it Shatner wants to direct No. 5. (December)

Back to the future

You know how it is. You go back home for your 25th high school reunion and—WHAMBO!—you get sent back in time to 12th grade. That’s what happens to Kathleen Turner in Francis Ford Coppola’s Peggy Sue Got Married. The plot and laughs revolve around how Turner, who retains the mind and memories of a 40ish housewife, adjusts to finding herself back in high school in the body of the 18-year-old cheerleader. she used to be. Nicolas A. (Birdy) Cage, Coppola’s nephew, plays Turner’s sweet heart. (October)

How’s bayou?

Richard Gere, as a tough Chicago cop with No Mercy, sets out to avenge the death of his partner, murdered by a Southern crime-lord. While prowling New Orleans streets and Louisiana swamps, Gere falls for Cajun beauty Kim (9½ Weeks) Basinger, who is the only witness to the killing—and is also the villain’s beloved. Gere prepped for the role by donning sunglasses and going on drug buys and surveillance trips with Chicago narcotics detectives. (November)

Honorable Mention

As a private investigator in The Golden Child (December), Eddie Murphy gives up Beverly Hills for the Himalayas. The adventure kicks off in L.A. when Murphy is hired to find a mystical child from the East who’s been kidnapped….Another comedy/adventure/love story, Jumpin’ Jack Flash (October), gives Whoopi Goldberg a chance to strut her funny stuff as a bank computer technician who gets an SOS from a CIA agent trapped behind the Iron Curtain….Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty play a singing duo so inept they can only land gigs in Ishtar, a mythical Mideast country whose principal entertainment alternative is sand. Had Hope and Crosby made the film, it would have been called The Road to Ishtar (November)….Steve Martin plays a sadistic dentist (“Call me doctor!”) in the musical spoof Little Shop of Horrors (December), about a man-eating plant on a binge….Three big-gun actresses with a reputation for earnestness—Jessica Lange, Sissy Spacek and Diane Keaton—will appear in the funny-but-earnest movie version of the Broadway play Crimes of the Heart (December). Spacek will cut a darker figure in ‘night, Mother(September) as Anne Bancroft’s suicidal daughter….In Soul Man, Caucasian actor C. Thomas (The Hitcher) Howell poses as a black student to get a scholarship to Harvard. The movie is due Oct. 24; look for a press release from Jesse Jackson on Oct. 25.

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