Heroes & Villains: a Postscript
Is There Life After Patty Hearst? Yes, but it’s a good deal less exciting. Steven Weed, Patty’s former fiancé, is married, has two boys and works in real estate. “That’s the beginning and the end,” he says. Wendy Yoshimura, who was arrested with Patty, also prefers not to dwell on the past or discuss the present. She works at a juice bar in Berkeley, lives in Oakland with an art historian who moonlights as a construction worker, and she is struggling to make it as an artist. In the critical opinion of one acquaintance, she will probably continue to struggle.
Bella Abzug: The former Congresswoman and Jimmy Carter’s appointee as co-leader of his National Advisory Committee for Women still lives to disagree. A practicing lawyer and an officer of Women USA Fund, which is involved in registering women voters, she has a book coming out this month called Gender Gap: Bella Abzug’s Guide to Political Power for American Women. In it she predicts Reagan’s defeat this year. Who’s going to beat him? “Read the book!”
Billy Jack: Tom Laughlin, who played the heroic enigma—half Dirty Harry, half Mahatma Gandhi—in three movies, forsook the silver screen for Carl Jung. For the past few years he has traveled the country, lecturing on and writing about the work of the controversial Swiss psychologist. But Hollywood beckons, and Laughlin, 52, is itchy to return. Call him the Jung and the Restless. “We thought people were done with Billy Jack,” he says. “But what everybody found out last summer was that the return of any major film character, no matter how bad or how old, will do $45 million at the box office in the first 30 days—as long as it has the original star. It can be 23 years old and as bad as the script for Psycho II and it doesn’t matter.” The Return of Billy Jack, anyone? Coincidentally, Laughlin has a script written and could be ready to shoot by spring.
Megan Marshack: The late Nelson Rockefeller’s friend is an associate producer for CBS Newsfeed, a news syndication service.
The Divine Comedy: Not even 1981, when he starred in Polyester with toothsome Tab Hunter, was as good to Divine as last year. In 1983, according to his manager, the one-seventh ton female impersonator sold more than 1.5 million singles. He also did 168 European nightclub performances and toured South Africa for four weeks. Moreover, the 10,000-copy first printing of The Simply Divine Cut-out Doll Book has nearly sold out. But the big shockeroo comes this year, when Divine plays a man in three different movies. In Beverly Hills, for example, he portrays sleazy businessman Melrose Cheap. Of course, Divine will also play Cheap’s mom.
The Former Mrs. Godunov: When Alexander Godunov defected to the U.S., his wife, ballerina Lyudmila Vlasova, sat aboard a grounded jet at JFK Airport for 72 hours, as the world waited to see whether she would join him. She finally decided not to. Last season, only recently remarried to Bolshoi Opera basso Yuri Statnik, she retired at 40 from the Bolshoi Ballet to work as a choreographer for a group of young gymnasts. Until last year she had stayed in regular contact with Sasha, for whom she still professes warm feelings.
Elizabeth Ray: The secretary whose clerical ineptitude derailed the career of Rep. Wayne Hays of Ohio has been studying acting in New York with Stella Adler. She would love to do an episode of Love Boat. Now 40, she still can’t type.
The Lovelorn Lobbyist: During her years of influencing legislators, Paula Parkinson’s operating credo was: The way to a man’s vote is not necessarily through his stomach. After confessing to 20 affairs with Congressmen, however, her career took a nosedive. Her dream of a high-level job in public relations (no pun intended) was replaced by more modest aspirations. She landed a job as cook and serving girl for Henry Beck, a Texas contractor and GOP fund raiser. Within months she was fired. Parkinson, 32, has since resurfaced as a columnist for Mole, a satirical magazine. Her column, “Dearest Paula,” gives advice on—what else?—Washington affairs.
Jaws, the Diet: It was 1974, and Debi Horn—23, 5’7″, 267 pounds—was desperate. She had tried every diet, and she was still fat. So she had her jaws wired. Eight months later, when the wires were removed, she had dropped 90 pounds and 8½ dress sizes (from 24½ to 16). Ten years later, now Debi Martineau, she still weighs 175. She’d like to drop 35 more. No wire this time. Yogurt.
The Perfect Master: When Maharaji was 8, his mother said he was perfect. By the time he was 17, he had developed a few habits that even a mother couldn’t condone—eating meat, drinking liquor, nightclubbing and marrying his American secretary, just to name a few. For these and other transgressions against the holy Hindu path, his mother took away his leadership of the Divine Light Mission and gave it to her oldest son, Bal Bhagwanji. Maharaji fought it, but Mom knows best. Now 26, with four kids, he lives in Miami and Malibu, completely dependent on the kindness of strangers and friends. No problem. Though he does not call himself the leader of any official group, religious or otherwise, Maharaji has more than a million followers by one aide’s estimate. He still does as he wants, but his mother doesn’t seem to mind. A few years ago she visited him in Malibu. “We had a nice talk,” he says. “She said everything was A-OK.”
Marilyn Chambers: For the porn queen who once graced an Ivory Snow box, 1983 was a relatively clean year. Chambers finished off an R-rated comedy—The Immoral Minority Picture Show, scheduled for release this summer. Hard-core fans need not fret, however. The lady has also completed work on Insatiable II, the hotly awaited sequel to Insatiable I, one of the highest grossing X-rated videos of all time. “I think it’s the best of my five X-rated films,” says Chambers, who also put together 26 half-hour episodes of a syndicated soap opera called Love Ya, Florence Nightingale, in which she plays a sex therapist. “Most people think I’ve made 100 X-rated movies, but I’ve only made five, which is the reason for my success. I’m not over-exposed.”
William Calley: The ex-lieutenant who at My Lai ordered his troops to kill 22 Vietnamese—old men, women and children—is an unobtrusive figure in Columbus, Ga. Looking 30 pounds heavier than in his Army days and balding, “Rusty” Calley, 40, lives with his wife, Penny, and his preschool-age daughter, Rebecca, and works in the jewelry store of his parents-in-law—where he’s regarded as “a real good salesman.” He is sometimes seen drinking alone in local bars and never grants interviews.
The Man Who Trashed Elvis: When Albert Goldman got finished with the King—his 1981 bio, Elvis, vilified Presley for 598 best-selling pages as a weird pill-popping sex deviate—there wasn’t enough left to line a garbage pail. Next case: a bio of John Lennon, set for publication in the fall of 1985, for which Goldman is reportedly getting an $850,000 advance. Goldman claims to be a big fan of Lennon” because he was infinitely more intelligent than most rock stars. He was the opposite of Elvis, whom I found appalling.”
Claudine Longet: It is now eight years since Longet shot and killed her lover, Aspen, Colo. skier Spider Sabich. For her much-publicized crime she was convicted and required to serve a shockingly slight sentence—30 days in the Pitkin County Jail. Despite a lot of bad feeling on the part of locals, Longet, 42, still lives in the resort town and has melted nicely into the background. These days the ex-wife of Andy Williams lives with Ron Austin, the lawyer who defended her so ably.
We Fought the Law and the Law Seems to Be Winning: September 1975 was a long month for President Gerald Ford. On Sept. 5 onetime Manson girl Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme pulled a gun on him in Sacramento; then, just 17 days later, Sara Jane Moore, an ex-FBI informer turned radical, tried to shoot him down in San Francisco. Fromme and Moore now languish in federal prisons. Though both are eligible for parole hearings relatively soon—Fromme in September 1985, Moore in January 1986—neither expects to be on the streets in the near future, if ever. “I think I have a natural life sentence,” says the 35-year-old Fromme. Moore, a self-described “typical little old lady in her 50s,” admits her chances of parole “are zilch.” This may account for her two abortive escape attempts, including one from a West Virginia prison during winter. That time the police simply followed her tracks in the snow and picked her up at a hotel 25 miles away. Neither Fromme nor Moore particularly regrets her misdeeds. Fromme is too busy obsessing about the environment. Says Moore, “I wish I could say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ but it wouldn’t be honest.”
Jean Harris: With all her appeals exhausted, the killer of Scarsdale Diet Doc Herman Tarnower has turned to yet another lawyer. Attorney Michael Kennedy will attempt to have the verdict set aside on the grounds she was under the influence of a heavy amphetamine during her trial and did not know what she was doing.
Sometimes the Best Deals Are the Ones You Didn’t Make: Rosie Ruiz, who was stripped of her 1980 Boston Marathon title for cheating (officials said she ran only the last two miles of the 26-mile event), is in real trouble this time. According to Miami police, Ruiz was part of an all-woman drug ring that last November tried to sell two kilos of cocaine to undercover cops at a bargain price of $52,000—real market value, $440,000. If convicted, Ruiz, who is free on $25,000 bail, faces a minimum 15-year prison term.
Nixon’s Groupie: Time has not yet diminished Rabbi Baruch Korff’s ardor for our only disgraced President. Now retired to work on his memoirs, the 69-year-old Korff believes this country continues to suffer from its rejection of Nixon, with whom he still occasionally speaks by phone. “Atonement for the lynching of Nixon is continuous,” he says. “The Iranian hostage incident would never have happened under Nixon. We’re atoning in Afghanistan and in Angola. We are atoning in having to build up a military empire.”
What Women’s Lib? In 1974 Marabel Morgan’s The Total Woman was the year’s best-selling nonfiction book. Its credo—”Let your husband be your master”—warmed men’s hearts, infuriated women’s libbers and intrigued enough readers to sell more than 500,000 hardcover copies. Morgan, now 46, spends most of her time doing volunteer work for the March of Dimes, a passion that developed after she lost her second child to birth defects. Not that Morgan’s forgotten her roots. She has a new book in the works, yet another in her continuing series “offering hope for women to survive.”
Lawn Chair to Tower, Lawn Chair to Tower, Do You Read Me? Everybody was kind of surprised, back on July 2, 1982, to see Larry Walters floating along in a $109 metal lawn chair 16,000 feet above San Pedro, Calif. The TWA and Delta pilots who first spotted him didn’t know what to make of it; Walters himself had planned to climb to only 10,000 feet, and the control tower at L.A. International Airport kept asking Walters’ ground crew, “From what airport did this lawn chair depart?” Well, actually, it was Carol Van Dusen’s lawn. Van Dusen, Walters’ girlfriend, also provided the money for $3,000 worth of helium-filled weather balloons and other expenses. When he landed, the FAA fined him $1,500. Nonetheless, he dreams of flying across the U.S. in an aircraft of his own design. Not a lawn chair, though. “Unfortunately,” says Walters, 34, who now earns a living giving inspirational lectures, “Sears no longer makes that model, so I might have to use a basket or something.”
Yesterday’s Hero: When Congressional Budget Office assistant Lenny Skutnik dove into the icy waters of the Potomac two years ago to rescue Priscilla Tirado from the Air Florida Flight 90 crash, he didn’t know what he was getting into. The media blitz was ferocious and often unpleasant. One radio reporter from Tennessee asked Skutnik whether he had performed his heroic act because of the TV cameras filming the scene. Skutnik, now 30, received a standing ovation from Congress when Ronald Reagan introduced him during the 1982 State of the Union message, and he has appeared on Real People and That’s Incredible! But nowadays few people recognize him on the street, which is fine with Skutnik. “You can put a picture of a rock on TV,” he says, “and people will say, ‘Gee, that was the rock that was on TV It’s embarrassing.”
The Human Fly: George Willig, who scaled New York’s 110-story World Trade Center in 1977, still climbs—rocks and mountains. He did some acting and stunt work on ABC’s now defunct Trauma Center and is currently obtaining footage for ABC’s Foulups, Bleeps and Blunders. In the spring of 1985, Willig, 34, will head for Pakistan to conquer the highest vertical face in the world, a 7,500-foot peak which is 6,190 feet higher than the Trade Center. Not that his life will lack for action until then. This May he will circle North and South America in the Amerathon, which at 39,000 miles is the world’s longest auto race.
Texas’ Rip Van Winkle: Gene Tipps is 38, physically well and working as a custodian for the Wichita Falls, Texas school district. Big deal, you say? Considering that he was in a coma for eight years following a car accident in 1967…well, as his mother, Gladys, says, “It’s still a miracle.” His doctors, who were certain he would never regain consciousness, can offer no better explanation.
Mother Teresa: The wooden nameplate on the unpolished wooden door in the front of an ordinary building on a narrow lane in Calcutta reads simply, “Mother Teresa, M.C.” (for Missionaries of Charity). She is too busy to meet with the press, because the needs of the poor and hungry are endless. She did take a moment, though, to pass along through an aide her message for 1984: “Keep the joy of loving God in one another, especially the Poor, and share this joy with all you meet—for works of love are works of peace. God bless you. M. Teresa.”
From Russia, Without Love: In 1974, when Mikhail Baryshnikov decided to defect, he called American socialite Christina Berlin—with whom he had commenced a passionate love affair during a London tour in 1970—and told her he would not make a move until she was at his side. Christina, then working for Cosmopolitan magazine in London, abruptly took an indefinite leave and flew to Toronto to be with Misha. The couple hid out for two weeks with friends, on a farm and then an island in Ontario, while arrangements were made to bring Baryshnikov to New York. In Manhattan, Misha suddenly turned cold to Christina, who discovered that he was having an affair with a Canadian ballerina. “To say I was hurt is a real understatement,” says Christina. “Here I think I’m going to marry the guy, and he cut me out without ever telling me it was over. It’s kind of sad to be remembered for the one seriously devastating romance of your whole life. The truth of the matter is that I was the first of many.” Christina, now the New York editor of the London magazine Harpers & Queen, married financier Michael James Pahk last October. She cannot even remember the last time she saw Baryshnikov. “I wish him well,” she says, “but I think there are a whole legion of girls who applaud Jessica Lange for going off with Sam Shepard.”
Col. Tom Parker: Elvis died seven years ago—but it wasn’t until last year that the man who guided him to fame and fortune really felt the pain. The executors of Presley’s estate—spurred by privately commissioned studies indicating the King is still better known “than Johnny Carson, John Lennon and Jell-O”—plan to have an exhibition of Elvis memorabilia (costumes, cars, instruments) on the road by 1986. There’s also an animated TV feature show in the works. Unfortunately, all this is of little moment to The Colonel, who was cut out of the fiduciary reincarnation of his late client in an out-of-court settlement with Presley’s heirs in 1983. Parker, 74, still has his office in the RCA Building (Elvis sold a lot of records for RCA), out of whose windows he spends a lot of time staring. Despite rumors to the contrary, he appears to be far from broke. When Presley died, The Colonel—a compulsive gambler—owed the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas $30 million. The tab has been paid in full.
The Hard Rocker and the Big Bobber: Everybody ought to get stoned once in his life the way Gary Dahl did in 1975, when his Pet Rock made him an instant millionaire. His next project was to spirit dirt out of China to sell here. “The idea was to steal their country one square inch at a time,” he says, “so they wouldn’t have any place to put missiles or hold those big parades.” That scheme never really got off the ground. When Dahl’s Sand Breeding Kit also turned out to be financially barren, he tried a few traditional businesses—a bar, a boat dealership—before returning to his advertising roots, as creative director and partner of a San Jose agency. Stephen Askin, whose Deely Bobbers were the Pet Rocks of 1982, is still in the novelty racket as chairman of L.A.-based What’s New, still looking “for ideas that will retail.” What’s New will be heavy into neon in ’84—neon pillows and the like. “For me,” says Askin, “neon’s not a noun, it’s an attitude.”
Heir Today, Prawn Tomorrow: Since Howard Hughes’ “Mormon Will” made him famous—but, sadly, not wealthy—Melvin Dummar has: closed down a Willard, Utah gas station; worked 3½ years driving a beer truck; formed a musical group, with himself as lead singer; and reported that film rights to his story (Melvin and Howard) fetched $100,000, of which $90,000 went to lawyers. He is now struggling to keep his Sunset, Utah frozen fish and seafood business alive through the slow winter months.
When Joe Granville Talked, People Used to Listen: On Jan. 7, 1981, Joe Granville, publisher of the 13,000-circulation Granville Market Letter, flashed a warning to 3,000 of his best customers: “Sell everything. Market top has been reached.” A stampede ensued, during which the Dow Jones fell from a four-year peak of 1,004 to 980 in one day. Sadly, the man who once bragged, “Everyone I touch I make rich,” has also fallen—from grace. According to The Hulbert Financial Digest, which rates market newsletters, Granville’s followers would have lost 25.6 percent on their investments in 1982 and 25.2 percent in 1983. The circulation of Granville’s $250-a-year newsletter has also fallen—to 3,400.
Ireland’s Nobel Women: After 10 frustrating years of trying to stop the killing in her homeland, Betty Williams—co-founder with Mairead Corrigan of the Community of the Peace People (Williams and Corrigan shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977)—came to the U.S. for a rest. Now living in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. with second husband James T. Perkins, whom she married in 1982, and 12-year-old daughter Debbie, Betty, 40, travels the state lecturing eloquently for a nuclear freeze and against the death penalty. She also has completed a book of children’s fiction. Now publishers are clamoring for a book on the children of Ireland. She is anxious to comply, she says, because “they’re burned in my soul, the wee tykes.” Mairead, 39, still lives near Belfast and is married to Jackie Maguire, the widower of her sister Anne. Anne committed suicide in 1980, four years after three of her children were victims of the violence in Northern Ireland.
Mark Fidrych: In 1976, as a 21-year-old rookie righthander for the Detroit Tigers, The Bird (so nicknamed for his resemblance to Sesame Street’s Big Bird)yelled at the baseball, patted the mound between innings and shook hands with his fielders after a good play. He was talented, too, leading the American League with a 2.34 ERA and compiling a 19-9 record. Then, as suddenly as he had soared, The Bird crashed. Chronic arm troubles sent him on a six-year odyssey of frustration which ended with his retirement last year after a 2-5 record and 9.68 ERA with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Now 29, he lives with his mother and father in Northboro, Mass. on a 100-acre farm he bought five years ago. He’d like to do some broadcast work, but nobody has asked. “If nothing comes up,” he says, “I’ll just fart around the farm.”
Less Than Dyn-O-MITE: Just out of the hospital after a bout with kidney stones, Jimmie Walker, one-time star of Good Times, has fallen on hard times. One problem is a tiff with producer Aaron Spelling, once Walker’s primary source of work in TV. The other is a perceived lack of business acumen. “I’d like to be a producer,” says the longtime stand-up comic, “but the industry doesn’t think I have the ability.”
The Hansen Twins: In 1979, Lisa and Elisa were among the first Siamese twins with severe craniopagus (joined heads) to survive surgical separation. Now 6, the girls face the remarkable prospect of a relatively normal life. The bad news: Lisa is still unable to walk because of water on the brain, and bone-graft surgery to replace the missing portion of Elisa’s skull will have to be performed again. The good news: Both girls talk normally and are only slightly behind other kids their age in mental development. Though they are in separate kindergarten classes because of Lisa’s physical handicap, they still share a special bond. “A lot of nights,” reports their father, David, “Elisa will crawl in bed with Lisa and they will spend the night hugging each other.”
At some moment during the past 10 years, each person on this page had an intense religious conversion, often—though not always—accompanied by much publicity. Sometimes the experience didn’t take. Consider the case of Unborn-Again Larry Flynt. But it was sweet while it lasted. Say Amen, somebody.