By Peter Castro
December 18, 1989 12:00 PM



PUNCH LINES: Singer DELLA REESE says EDDIE MURPHY, her director and co-star in Harlem Nights, was struck by her performance in his movie in more ways than one. In one scene Reese, playing a truculent ’30s nightclub madam, has to slug Murphy, who plays a cocky gangster. “I don’t know how to fight, I don’t know how to make fists,” says Reese. “Eddie had to fold my hand the right way and was laughing so hard he had tears rolling down his cheeks. He had to yell ‘Stop!’ a few times and show me how to do it right. I had my fingers balled up with my thumb sticking out, and when I drew my arm back, I’d poke myself in the eye.”

RELATIVELY SPEAKING: Having Growing Pains’s KIRK CAMERON for a brother led to some growing pains of her own for CANDACE CAMERON, the 13-year-old star of ABC’s Full House. “When I came to my new school last year, I had some problems,” says Cameron, an eighth grader. “Not many of the kids liked me. They were jealous. People would write bad things on my locker, or they’d pull my hair, or they’d give out my phone number to everyone.” Other adolescent anxieties include rules about dating. “I can’t date,” she says. “I can’t go out alone with a boy until I’m 16. I can have a boyfriend, but I can’t go out alone with him.”

DATE LINE: Hostess guru and K mart spokeswoman MARTHA STEWART, who is separated from her husband, ANDREW, says her Christmas bounty will be on the lighter side this year. “This is my third year without a gift giver,” says Stewart, 48, whose new book is titled Martha Stewart’s Christmas and who also plans to start an eponymous magazine next year. “The hardest adjustments are the holidays. I really believe in family celebrations, and my family has shrunk from three to two [referring to her daughter, Alexis, 24].” Singlehood has led her to consider writing a humorous book about dating. “I find this whole ‘afterlife’ extremely amusing. This dating thing has to be funny, otherwise, it’s absolutely horrifying.

AN UNHARRIED WOMAN: “It’s funny how dated that movie is,” says JILL CLAYBURGH, 45, recalling her role in An Unmarried Woman, the 1978 cinematic manifesto of female independence. “In the ’70s,” says Clayburgh, who appears in CBS’s Fear Stalk Dec. 17, “there was the woman who wanted to live her own life. Then we went to the women who could have it all. But having it all is a myth. You can’t. You just can’t be at work and take care of your children. The feminist movement held that up as a carrot—the Super Mom myth.” Clayburgh has been married since 1979 to playwright DAVID RABE, 49, with whom she has two children. “Women are [now] having children and staying home, if that’s what they want,” she says.

NO SWEATS: Hollywood designer BOB MACKIE says he’s disturbed by how American women dress today. “You get out in the boondocks, and you see the average woman in the mall, and she’s not taking care of herself very well,” says Mackie, whose latest spring collection includes his trademark glamour gowns and spangles. “And I think that’s sad because they don’t look like they’re happy about themselves. They walk around in big sweat-shirts and sweatpants or pour themselves into things that are a too tight and wear that wash-and-wear hair that really looks disgusting. Women in the ’50s and ’60s fixed themselves up and looked wonderful—now they look like they’ve come from an exercise class. There’s a new casualness that says it’s all right to look like that, but it just doesn’t look good.”