September 05, 1977 12:00 PM

The Secret Word

As if to end the nastiness that flared before his recent death at 86, Groucho Marx left a will that should be duck soup for all concerned. With $2.7 million to divvy up, the document includes bequests ranging from $40,000 for a onetime family nurse to $850,000 plus substantial real estate to be divided among son Arthur and daughters Miriam and Melinda. Erin Fleming, Groucho’s controversial secretary-companion, will get $150,000—as well as control of Groucho Marx Productions, which owns syndication rights to TV’s The Best of Groucho. How to avoid more squabbles? Groucho knew the secret word. If his offspring challenge Fleming’s share, declares his will, they forfeit their own bequests to the United Jewish Appeal.

Denim & Gomorrah

The phone message plunged Washington’s Iranian Embassy into a mood as black as, say, Beluga caviar. His own father-in-law, the Shah of Iran, had passed over the country’s jet-setting ambassador, Ardeshir Zahedi, 48, in favor of a political rival as prime minister. While Zahedi’s soirees had dazzled such nabob noshers as Liz Taylor and Diana Vreeland, they seemed almost decadently discordant in these denim days in Jimmy Carter’s Washington or for Iran’s pleas of penury as an excuse for orbiting oil prices. “Zahedi is associated with Dom Perignon and caviar Matches,” figured a State Department official. “That’s not the image the Shah is much interested in continuing.”

Sagging Support

Renomination to the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild is usually as automatic as the members’ trips to the unemployment office. But SAG has just rejected a second-term bid by incumbent Kathy Nolan, 20 years ago the chirpy “Kate” of TV’s The Real McCoys, in favor of character actor Bert Freed. While Nolan, 43, the union’s first female prez, vows to run independently, why the unprecedented snub to a leader who recently won actors their best contract ever? Insiders are bugged by Nolan’s “imperial” presidency. Especially her personal expense account: foreign travel, office redecorating, special home phones and hairdressing tabs—amounting to some $20,000 a year.

Stand by Our Man

When Tammy Wynette, his sometime squeeze, turned up in L.A., it looked like the handle Burt Reynolds had given Sally Field in their CB epic, Smokey and the Bandit, might turn out to be connected to a rolling pin. After all, Burt’s fling with Sally had wound up in something like the family way—he hired her mother, sister, stepfather and cat to appear in The End, the flick he’s now directing and starring in with Field. Tammy—daughters in tow—not only visited the set at Reynolds’ invitation, the country music queen then spent time over the weekend with Burt. Everyone took it like a trouper, but Tammy’s welcome to L.A. did not include a guest gig on Dinah.

Inferior Redecorating

His once $1,000,000-a-year career sputtering of late with canceled bookings, Flip Wilson, 43, carried on one day this summer as if the devil made him do it. Irked inexplicably at his partner-manager, Monte Kay, Wilson stormed into his office and sloshed around five buckets of white paint, ruining carpeting, cabinets and the stereo system. Outcome of the Flip-out: $15,000 in damages; the end of a more than 10-year relationship; and limbo for their management firm’s clients, including Franklin Ajaye, Kay’s ex-wife Diahann Carroll, and George Carlin.


•That din in your ears of Fleetwood Mac (or of the cashbox) isn’t just you. By the accounting of the trade magazine Billboard, the Mac’s Rumours has been perched at No. 1 for 16 weeks—a fortnight longer than Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, a week beyond Carole King’s Tapestry—and is thus the chart-topping LP of all rock history.

•The Captain never lifts his lid (though he says he will at this year’s Grammys), but Tennille has flipped over wigs being made by Eva Gabor’s company. So the duo has sued to stop a mail order firm from advertising a knockoff hairpiece called the “Tennille,” seeking $80,000 damages and total depilation of any wigs bearing the name.

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