By People Staff
December 28, 1987 12:00 PM

It was a fantasy come true: Motorists driving on U.S. 71 near Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 28 saw money—$20, $50 and $100 bills—flying all around them. An armored truck’s rear doors had flown open; bags of money fell out and were torn open as cars ran over them. In the ensuing scramble, passersby scavenged about $1.5 million. Authorities announced they would prosecute anyone caught with the money, but by the end of November, only about $100,000 had been returned.

What price virginity? Philanthropist John Napoleon LaCorte, 78, of Brooklyn, offered $1,000 to any girl who would remain a virgin until she was 19 and take medical tests to prove it. He was besieged with volunteers from around the country, and the resulting furor led him to drop the offer. He later announced a plan to finance seminars to “prepare a young person to be a good wife, mother and homemaker.”

A Tallahassee, Fla., restaurateur baked history’s largest pizza in an outdoor amphitheater. Lorenzo Amato and 200 cooks produced a pie 100 feet across, weighing about 29,000 pounds. Its more than 94,000 slices were sold for charity. The anchovies were held.

Dancer-actress Juliet Prowse disproved the adage “Once bitten, twice shy.” Sheila, an 80-lb. trained leopard, nipped Prowse badly during rehearsals for a TV show in September, but trouper Juliet said the animal was just “overly affectionate.” After her wounds had healed, Prowse returned to work with the leopard two months later for a Tonight Show appearance. This time, Sheila sent her to the hospital with bites on her jaw, ear and neck.

The Dodger-Giant rivalry, perhaps the most bitter in baseball history, has seen brawls, beanballs and bitterness on both coasts. Something new was added, however, when Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Pedro Guerrero asked to be removed from a game against the San Francisco Giants because an L.A. crowd had booed him. “They hurt my feelings,” he explained. “That’s the only reason I came out of the game. I was ready to cry.”

Customs officials at Heathrow Airport in London searched an arriving passenger and found he had smuggled a live snake into the country—in his briefs. Rosario Tropea, 23, an Italian, said he had picked up the 21-inch sand boa in India and was planning to take it home as a pet. Instead he was fined the equivalent of $530 for illegally importing the nonpoisonous reptile.

He didn’t accomplish a whole lot, but the all-time reclusive author, J. D. Salinger, who hasn’t written for publication in 22 years, “broke radio silence,” as one New Yorker stall member put it. First, Salinger’s signature appeared on a petition by nearly 200 New Yorker writers who were seeking, unsuccessfully, to block the appointment of outsider Robert Gottlieb as editor of the clique-heavy magazine. In addition, according to a report in Spy magazine, Salinger, pursuing a long-distance courtship of television actress Catherine Oxenberg, had once traveled as far as Los Angeles in hopes of visiting her on the set of Dynasty. History does not record the outcome.

There’s a fair amount of transient combat taking place along the roads these days. So some people probably weren’t all that surprised when they saw a self-propelled 155-mm howitzer tooling down the highway from Fort Carson, Colo., to Denver. The 27-ton artillery piece had been stolen by two men—one of whom said later that he wanted “to go to war.” A woman who lives near where the howitzer ended up when it finally ran out of gas marveled, “I always thought we had security in these United States. But anything can happen. You go to sleep, you wake up in the morning and find this thing right in front of your doorstep.”