April 02, 1984 12:00 PM

Manchild in the Promised Land

If we all were as charming as Paul Newman, we might never fear the tax man again. For an audit several years ago, Newman reports he had to account for some $32,000 in business expenses. While visiting his accountant, Paul happened to walk by the auditor, waiting in the next room. “You know, Mr. Newman,” said the IRS man after introducing himself, “you don’t keep very good records.” Responded Newman, “To be an actor, you have to be a child. I’m making a lot of money as an actor, so I must be a very good child. But you can’t have it both ways. If I kept good records, I wouldn’t be a good child. And then I wouldn’t be in the tax bracket I’m in now.” Paul says he had no ulterior motive, but the next day his accountant phoned and said, “I don’t know what you said to him, but it worked. He’s accepting the whole $32,000.”

Goodbye to All That

Those middle-aged slaves of fantasy who like to pant and moan for their idols must have cried with remorse when they met the new Engelbert Humperdinck. At a Toronto concert, the man who brought us the immortal hit Release Me in 1967 decided to upgrade his image. He wore a mustache, a new tux and interrupted his act after three songs to explain that he intended to create a classier stage show. But before he could introduce his 29 musicians and five female backup singers, one fan with love in her heart ran down the aisle and clambered up on stage, as was once the custom. The old Engelbert would have welcomed her with a pelvic thrust, a hug and a peck on the lips. The new Humperdinck made a rapid exit, stage left.

Sing Along With Pitch

Barbi Benton, Burt Reynolds, Lucille Ball and Clint Eastwood never sounded so good till they joined 10,000 other famous and not-so-famous people as owners of a Japanese singing machine. What’s that? Introduced in the U.S. about three years ago by Earl Glick of L.A.’s Hal Roach Studios, the machine works basically like a tape deck, except that it has a microphone for you to sing through and a control to adjust background music to match your pitch. When you croon, it mixes your voice with one of more than 600 music tapes, and you come out sounding as if you’re ready for Carnegie Hall. Prices range from $150 to $2,500. “It makes me sound like Sinatra,” crows Don Rickles. Red Buttons, who uses his machine to do an Al Jolson imitation (on one knee), pays the device a higher compliment: “It’s the greatest invention since Michael Jackson.”

Royal Flush

Every kid goes through a stage when he or she thinks the bathroom is about the best place on earth. Prince William reached that stage a bit early. Three months short of his second birthday, he has developed a knack for flushing the toilet after dropping in possessions such as his shoes. So far several pairs of booties have disappeared that way, though nanny Barbara Barnes, 41, tries to intercept any items she can. Not too long ago the Prince got more ambitious. He deposited a pair of Prince Charles’ handmade shoes in the bowl and tried to make them disappear too. No such luck. The shoes didn’t fit down the drain, and the soggy footgear were recovered somewhat the worse for wear.


•And speaking of precocious kids, Robert Urich, now starring in the space movie The Ice Pirates, says his daughter, Emily, 3, always finds a reason to go without pants. “One tiny bit of chocolate syrup on the knee of her jeans and it’s in the washer,” he says. “She’s the family nudist.”

•Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf really got the cook’s tour during last month’s visit to the West Coast. He and 17 Swedish industrialists stopped off at Zoecon Corp., a pest control company in Palo Alto, to watch how our scientists kill cockroaches.

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