By Tim Allis
May 18, 1987 12:00 PM

TO SIR, WITH PLUCK: Laurence Olivier turns 80 this month, so British journalist Garry O’Connor used the occasion to gather reminiscences from some of Olivier’s colleagues. In Olivier, In Celebration, just published in England, nearly all the thespians agreed that the prospect of working with Olivier was daunting. Michael Caine, for example, says he worried for weeks how he would address Olivier, whom he had never met, when they arrived to film 1972’s Sleuth. “I can’t call him Sir Laurence because he’s Lord Olivier,” Caine remembers thinking. “Basically you’re supposed to call him ‘My Lord,’ I suppose.” An unexpected letter solved his problem. “Dear Mr. Caine,” it read, “It suddenly occured to me that you might be wondering how to address me as I have a title; well, I think we should introduce us by our own titles which would be Mr. Caine and I would be Lord Olivier the first time we meet. Forever after that I hope it will be Larry and Michael.” It was.

IS THIS THE WAY SHE ALWAYS HEARD IT SHOULD BE? Her liberated lyrics have helped to define modern womanhood, but Carly Simon can strike some decidedly old-fashioned chords. “I think I like being married almost more than any other state,” Simon told the Chicago Tribune. Carly, who has not altared her state since her 1983 divorce from singer James Taylor, added, “I like having someone I can serve, in a way. I guess you could say that means that I don’t have enough self-love or something, but I think it comes with the territory of being a woman. I don’t want to be the giver all the time, but I would rather nurture than be nurtured.”

NO BUSINESS LIKE VOTE BUSINESS: Actor Matt (The Flamingo Kid) Dillon, whiling away the days until his next movie, The Big Town, comes out in August, made a surprise visit to North Bergen, N.J. last month. Dillon is friendly with the daughter of an active member of a local political group called “United for Good Government,” which is challenging the town’s current mayor and commissioners in an election this week. As a favor Dillon campaigned—or at least he hung around the organization’s headquarters—drawing squeals from teenage girls too young to vote. But Dillon, who grew up in Mamaroneck, N.Y., told a reporter for the Bergen Record that he really wasn’t very familiar with North Bergen’s political issues: “I can’t know everything,” he said. “I’m busy with other things.” He did describe the “United for Good Government” candidates as “decent, sincere people,” but also said, “I personally don’t trust any president or mayor.”

THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ONSTAGE: At the encore of his one-man show, Ian McKellen Acting Shakespeare, the British actor, who won a Tony award for Amadeus, usually invites members of the audience up onstage to perform alongside him. At McKellen’s opening night at L.A.’s Westwood Playhouse, Richard (The Waltons) Thomas jumped at the offer. Since McKellen is revered among his peers, Thomas dramatically told his wife, Alma, “I’ve got to go.” Only in L.A. might the horde onstage include such a weird hodgepodge: Eva Marie Saint, songster Billy (At This Moment) Vera and Kim (Mannequin) Cattrall. Their parts weren’t exactly taxing. After McKellen whispered instructions, they all dropped dead on cue to play mortally wounded soldiers while the star recited a speech from Henry V. That’s the downside of serious theater.

PARENTAL GUIDANCE REJECTED: Painted as a less-than-ideal mom by her writer-daughter, B.D. Hyman, Bette Davis, 79, says maternal instincts never were her strongest suit. In an interview this week on TV’s syndicated Hour Magazine, Bette, who is plugging her newly published This ‘n That, says, “I would just like to be remembered as being a good actress, certainly not that I was a good mother. I have proven in at least one case that I must have been an absolute horror. For me, being a mother is very variable.”