Coast-to-Coast Blues

Swiss actress Marthe (Bobby Deerfield) Keller doesn’t seem to be cut out for la dolce vita. “Everyday life in Hollywood is impossible, boring, sometimes a nightmare,” broods Marthe. “I refused to go to parties. I found them so self-centered—people ask ‘How are you?’ and nobody waits for an answer. They don’t really give a damn.” She now lives in New York, and things are not looking up. “I raise my son [6-year-old Alexander, by French film director Philippe de Broca] by myself—no nanny, no nurse—and I’m up every morning at 7 to take him to school. When do I meet anyone new? My dentist is married, I don’t go to bars, and I can’t fall in love with a taxi driver.” It sounds as if Marthe’s longtime romance with Al Pacino may be in a wee bit of trouble.

Odd Couple

One of best-selling author Alex Haley’s best friends, and biggest fans, is—Phyllis Diller? Yep. Seems that years ago when he, a struggling free-lancer, tried to interview her, a beginning comedienne, she replied, “No, because I’m not big enough yet to be interviewed by a magazine big enough to do me any good—and if I was, you’re not big enough to write it. But someday, we’ll both make it. See me then.” “Seven years later she was playing the Persian Room,” Haley recalls, “and I got an assignment to do a profile on her for The Saturday Evening Post. When she saw me she threw her arms around me and said, “See? I told you so.” Concludes Haley, “There was no one more excited about my Roots success than Phyllis.”

Kotter Captive

One person who didn’t welcome Welcome Back, Kotter this fall was Marcia Strassman, who plays Gabe Kaplan’s wife in the series. “I’ve begged them to let me off the show,” sighs the actress, who wants to tackle other projects. “I’ve offered them my first-born son, everything, but they won’t let me go. When the writers got me pregnant I thought I’d found my way out: Over the summer I die in childbirth but the baby lives; Gabe hates it, so the Sweathogs raise it like a pack of wolves raising an infant in the wild. I thought it was a great idea, but they didn’t buy it.” She’s also unhappy with Kaplan. “I don’t talk to him. If you had to listen to his stale jokes, would you talk to him? I’ve gotten to the point where if I don’t think it’s funny I won’t laugh. I’ll just sit and look at him. I think he’s boring.”

Bill, Please

In her lawyer’s opinion, “She did a fantastic job, but you’d never know she was a major star in the film.” So Tuesday Weld, 35, has filed a $15 million suit against United Artists for not giving her equal billing with Nick Nolte in ads for Who’ll Stop the Rain. She says it was called for in her contract. A UA spokesperson disagrees: “We’re not liable.”

Norman Conquest?

As Norman (The Sitcom King) Lear rose to give a lecture on “Taboos in Television” in Edinburgh, the audience broke into expectant applause. That was sufficient for Lear, until he realized that the BBC was filming his talk for later viewing. So he good-naturedly cajoled his startled listeners into a second ovation—and let them know that stomping and whistling would of course not be taboo.


•Saturday Night Fever has spread to Venezuela—to the extent that locals have a new nickname for a flu-like disease currently making the rounds in their country. They call it “La Travolta.”

•According to Melissa (Little House on the Prairie) Gilbert, 14, who’s learned to tell fortunes with cards, her future husband will be 16-year-old Scott Baio, who plays the Fonz’s cousin on Happy Days. Little spouse on the prairie?

•Advice on love from eight times (and currently) married Mickey Rooney, 57: “If you say ‘I love you’ in the beginning, it’s like using your three best jokes at the start of your act. You have nowhere to go from there.”

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