Love Me Tender
Elvis Presley put the bite on mutts in 1956’s Hound Dog, but his pet chow, give or take a girl or two or the man himself, is Elvis’ best friend. Boston’s Angell Memorial Hospital, a diagnostic veterinary center, recently got an emergency long-distance call from Memphis at 1:30 a.m. The Big E’s pet chow was indisposed, and at 5 a.m. the dog, a doctor and Elvis’ personal psychiatrist winged into Boston and then right back on a chartered plane. The report turned Elvis’ Graceland mansion into Heartbreak Hotel. Boston’s specialist confirmed that the chow did indeed suffer from a congenital kidney ailment.
Raquel Welch’s on-again, off-again flick Chu Chu and the Philly Flash is off again. Her man, dress designer Ron Talsky, is supposed to make his debut as a film producer on it—and Columbia is acting nervously, especially since Talsky, as Raquel’s wardrobe warden, has managed to land her on Mr. Blackwell’s “Ten Worst Dressed Women” list. While studio brass rethink the project, Welch will film Mother, Jugs and Speed with Bill Cosby. Of the three title characters, she’ll play neither Mother nor Speed.
New York may be the Big Apple, but to Godfather filmmaker and local city-mag publisher Francis Ford Coppola, San Francisco is Eden. “All the trends start here,” he proclaims, “the beatniks, the hippies, the self-awareness shows like E.S.P. and Esalen, much of the rock music and student unrest.” It takes six months, according to Coppola, for all these benefactions to reach the rest of the states. Then, New York, says Coppola, “merchandises the trends we start.” Nor does San Francisco’s attraction for fringe folks diminish Coppola’s ardor. “We traditionally get the nuts,” he says, “but nuts have a way of changing our lives.”
Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow
In Broadway hits like Jesus Christ, Superstar and Pippin, Ben Vereen proved himself a pyrotechnic performer distinguished by a neatly trimmed beard and an earring in his left lobe. But when NBC decided to test him out as a host on a summer mini series, the network persuaded Vereen that his Mephistophelian fuzz and ear hoop would alienate Middle America. Though the entertainer gained warm personal notices, the dismal Nielsens of Ben Vereen—Comin’ At Ya indicated that NBC’s judgment was less than piercing.
Leap of Faith
For his multimillion, multination TV spectacle, The Life of Jesus, Italian director Franco Zeffirelli has plausibly set Sir Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus, Peter O’Toole as John the Baptist and, for Mary Magdalen, is casting after Elizabeth Taylor. But in the title role, Zeffirelli has signed little-known English actor Robert Powell, 30, a self-styled “lapsed Christian” who hasn’t graced a church in 20 years. “I didn’t have to be a conductor,” Powell notes, to star in Ken Russell’s Mahler. And the fact that Powell lives with dancer Babs Lord, he adds, is “totally irrelevant.” His Christ, says Powell, “will be strong, vigorous, and human—not the priestly, wistful, doe-eyed man that has been portrayed before.”
Whip Inflation Someday
When Treasury Secretary William Simon went house-hunting near Washington back in 1973, he settled on a two-story stone rambler with a pool that cost him $350,000. Now Simon has put the place back on the real estate market, though he’s not actually moving out until the end of President Ford’s term in 1976. Of course, it might take a year to find a buyer since, even though he’s made no major improvements, the man trying to control U.S. inflation is asking a price he thinks is right: $600,000.
•The basement vault in the late Jack Benny’s routine contained more than old chestnuts. The inventory of his estate established its worth at $5,852,025, from which his widow, Mary Livingstone, will draw $10,000 a month.
•Lucie Arnaz popped a surpriser for her mum at an L.A. restaurant. About 25 couples, all intimates or kin, no flashbulbs. The occasion was a birthday: Lucy Ball’s 65th.