April 11, 1977 12:00 PM

Once in Love with Amy

Miz Lillian Carter, 79, friends say, is deep in the blues down in Plains. Her hospitalization for arthritis last December was also for a severe letdown following the attainment of her dream—seeing her son win the Presidency. Now she’s better but bored. She feels trapped indoors in Plains by the plague of tourists but left out in Washington. “The White House is like a museum,” she finds. “I hate it there. Jimmy will say, ‘Well, I’ll see you later, Mama. I’ve got a lot to do.’ ” Yet the worst ache is loneliness for granddaughter Amy, whom she tended during the campaign. “Oh, don’t ask me about that,” begs a misty-eyed Miz Lillian. “I miss her so much, so very, very much.”

Kotter Cornered

“At 31 I’ve decided I need a family, even though I never wanted a monogamous situation.” That might not be the most romantic sentiment, but it was enough to hook Lee Walsh, 20, a former Miss Florida, for Gabe (Welcome Back, Kotter) Kaplan. They’ll marry in June, so while touring with his comedy act, he escapes groupies by booking a hotel room and putting his secretary in it. Gabe then checks in at a nearby lodging under the name “A. W. Baker,” thereby finding privacy for Lee and the acting lessons he’s giving her.

Panther at Bay

Peter Sellers, 51, said it was just bad oysters that felled him while jetting home from his honeymoon with fourth wife Lynne Frederick, 22. But followers, recalling the massive coronary he suffered 13 years ago after his honeymoon with Britt Ekland, thought only Inspector Clouseau would really believe the mollusk did it. During his hospitalization, Peter went out of his way publicly to reassure doubters (“It wasn’t a heart attack,” he proclaimed) and then spelled Lynne at the wheel during their spin back to St.-Tropez. But Sellers was, in fact, secretly implanted with a pacemaker because of a slow heartbeat and won’t return to work at least until fall.

Slave Trade

Hoping to sink his own roots in the San Fernando Valley a few years back, actor John Amos came up against discrimination that a Mandinka warrior never had to face: A couple refused to sell him a house because he was black. Since then, of course, he’s appeared before the largest TV audience in history as the rebellious Kunta Kinte. “If I tried to buy the house now, they’d probably up the price. That’s what I’m getting these days—you know, ‘that doughnut will be $8.’ ” Whether doughnuts or adobe haciendas, Amos should swing it. He’s prepping a one-man campus-circuit show this spring. “I intend frankly to capitalize on Roots,” he vows, “rather than wait around. How many slave movies are there to make?”

Et tu, Brut

The maiden kiss in his 33-picture career was bestowed on a lady whose nose he later broke. He was the first man to kill John Wayne onscreen. Such credits (not even mentioning Two-Headed Transplant) have made Bruce Dern Hollywood’s most persuasive psycho. But at casting time for his latest picture, John Frankenheimer’s new super-thriller Black Sunday, Dern found competition from an unlikely quarter—or rather quarterback. “I wasn’t the first choice for this movie,” Dern himself admits. “You’ll never believe who the studio wanted!” Luckily shrewder heads prevailed: Dern nailed the part, and Joe Namath’s Brut-ish side will be saved for selling cologne.

Furthermore

•Neighbor Robert Stack has one. Gene Hackman is Popeyed about his. Likewise, producer Robert Evans, but presumably only the A-list can play there. Buddy Hackett, Conrad Hilton and Dinah Shore all live in the hoity-toity environs, and each has a nice one. So why, James Caan wanted to know, couldn’t he have his own tennis court too? Because, Jimmy, the Beverly Hills city council snorted, you want to build yours in your front yard, that’s why.

•Memoirist Betty Ford was just free associating for the collaborator on her book—”Back in the days of double dating, I was always glad if my date was driving because that meant I wouldn’t have to fight him off in the back seat…” —when suddenly her eavesdropping husband interrupted. “You’re not going to write about stuff like that, are you?” he gasped, horrified. “Sure,” Betty told the ex-Prez. “I write mine and you write yours.”

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