August 01, 1988 12:00 PM

LET’S GET MATERNAL: Since her aerobic anthem, (Let’s Get)Physical, coaxed Americans out of their seats and into their leotards in 1981, Olivia Newton-John has dropped her dumbbells for diapers. “I really haven’t had time to go to a gym and do those things since my daughter, Chloe, was born,” Olivia told the Houston Post. So how does the 39-year-old Australian singer keep her frame so fit? “It’s called motherhood. It’s called running around after a 2½-year-old. I play a lot with her, and that’s what I do to stay in shape.”

NUN BUT THE BRAVE: Cackling comic Phyllis Diller is performing in the musical Nunsense at San Francisco’s Marines Memorial Theatre now but says for the past decade she has been dressing as a nun—her habit was designed (minus rhinestones) by Bob Mackie—to avoid being recognized. “Darling, when you hit the mid-part of our country where they never see stars, and you’re a celebrity who wants to get some shopping done, you better forget going out as you are,” says Diller. “People tend to leave nuns alone, so I’m able to do my shopping dressed that way. It prevents people from asking me for my autograph. My assistant does all the talking because my voice is so easy to recognize. I’m able to buy all the crazy things I like to wear because I pretend to be the nun in charge of the drama department at Marymount College, so they think it’s for our little play.”

UNREQUITED LOVE SONGS: His song-writing abilities may have propelled singer Richard Marx, 24, to the top of the pop charts (his single Hold on to the Nights is No. 1), but they did him no good during his lovesick high school days. “I try not to think about the first years of writing when I was about 16,” says Marx, who grew up in Chicago. “They were all songs about girls in high school that wouldn’t go out with me. There was one in particular, a girl named Sarah Blackwell, that I was madly in love with, but she was a little older. Because I didn’t know how to talk or act around her, I would write songs and give them to her, but she didn’t get it. I thought when I gave her these songs it would be like an Elvis Presley movie and she would fall in love with me. Not the case.”

CRY ME A RIVERA: Talk show host Dick Cavett may lack a TV program of his own, but he has plenty of choice comments to make about the people who have them. Cavett, who recently made his Broadway musical debut playing the narrator in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, says of Phil Donahue, Oprah Winfrey and Geraldo Rivera, “Their subject matter seems to be so limited. It’s like they whip up their staffs and say, ‘There must be a deviation or a perversion we haven’t done.’ It’s as if they have a huge deck of cards printed ‘unfaithful wives,’ ‘unfaithful husbands,’ ‘homosexual parents.’ I’m bored stiff with that type of approach.” About Rivera, the newest of the talk show hosts, Cavett adds, “Geraldo has proved that what we thought were the depths of sleaze was a false bottom.”

A TOUCH OF CLASH: Although ABC canceled The Colbys, the show’s resident vixen, Stephanie Beacham, will be moving her Sable character over to Dynasty, where she inevitably will engage in dueling décolletages with Joan Collins next season. “I know for a fact Joan didn’t want me on Dynasty,” Beacham told London’s Daily Express. “She felt they had enough cast already without taking the leftovers from The Colbys, but she had to accept that Dynasty’s ratings are dropping and they need Sable.” Beacham is putting Collins on notice: “I hope Joan will want to talk in terms of how we can get the best out of both characters. But if she decides to play Alexis with me offscreen, I’ll keep my Sable glove puppet on and kill her.”

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