Isaac Bashevis Singer, 87, the Nobel-prize-winning writer whose mystical yarns about life in Poland’s Jewish shtetls spoke to the whims and sufferings of Everyman, died of a stroke on July 24 in Florida. Raised for the rabbinate in Warsaw, Singer fled from Nazi Europe in 1935 and settled on New York City’s Upper West Side. His eyes and ears unerringly recorded the sights and sounds of other immigrants who passed the hours in city parks and pastry shops, haunts soon to become familiar territory to his readers. Singer, who wrote in Yiddish, published more than 30 novels and short-story collections and saw two of his works, Yentl and Enemies, A Love Story, become movies. (Of the former, which starred Barbra Streisand, he said, “There was too much singing, much too much.”) Three years ago, in failing health, he retired to Surf-side, Fla., forsaking his old Manhattan hangouts, including the Famous Dairy Restaurant, a coffee shop where Singer daily ordered the $5.50 lunch plate of ground-up vegetables (billed on the menu as “vegetarian chopped liver”). “He was nice, smart and joyful to talk to,” says Sam Orenstein, the Famous waiter who served Singer for 20 years.
Actor James (Dynasty) Farentino, 53, was arrested in Vancouver on July 23 after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police intercepted a package containing 3.2 grams of cocaine sent to his hotel room. Farentino, on location filming a TV movie called Miles from Nowhere, was charged with cocaine possession and released on bail.
Schwarzenegger 2: For those still waiting to address their gift cards, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver have named their new baby girl, born July 23, Christina Aurelia Shriver Schwarzenegger. The power duo won’t say why they chose Christina, but Aurelia is the name of Arnold’s own mutter….
Ex-Manhattan nightlife diva Dianne Brill, 30, known for her highly curvaceous figure, had a whopping 9-lb.-plus baby boy named Keenan Hugo Brill-Voelkle on July 24 in Munich. The father is Brill’s fiancé, German animated-film producer Peter Voelkle, 31. “The baby was so big in my stomach that I was calling him Huge-O,” kidded the ebullient mother from her hospital bed. “That’s why we gave him the middle name Hugo.”
Ann Jillian, 40, the platinum blond actress-singer, and her husband, policeman turned manager Andy Murcia, are expecting their first child in February. Jillian, who starred in the sitcom Jennifer Slept Here (1983-84) and the film Mr. Mom (1983), and Murcia have been married for 15 years. Six years ago Jillian was diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently had a double mastectomy.