At a Washington press dinner last January, fun-loving Redskins running back John Riggins turned to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and jovially barked, “Lighten up, Sandy, you’re too tight!” Although Sandy, in fact, did not need lightening up, the phrase “Lighten up, Sandy!” became a favorite with our editors whenever any celebrities showed signs of taking themselves far too seriously.
From strange roots do stories grow. As 1985 drew to a close, it seemed only natural for the editors to offer their first (and perhaps last) annual Lighten Up, Sandy! Awards, presented to those celebrities who hurdled heroically over the boundaries of modesty, decorum or good taste.
To ex-heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes, whose fight record stands at 48-1, for saying that late heavyweight Rocky Marciano, 49-0, “couldn’t carry my jockstrap.”
To White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan, for remarking before the summit that most women don’t “understand what is happening in Afghanistan or what is happening in human rights.”
To Claus von Bülow, for calling his stepchildren, Ala von Auersperg Kneissl and Alexander von Auersperg, “brats.” After von Bülow was cleared in June of trying to murder their mother and his wife, Sunny von Bülow, he was able to enjoy increased access to her fortune. “That’s what the brats cannot tolerate,” said Claus. “I’m still the man in the driver’s seat.”
To Jerry Falwell, for falsely claiming that he had not labeled a national gay church organization a “vile and satanic system [that] will one day be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven.”
To the Soviet newspaper Pravda, for hinting that the plane crash in which Samantha Smith died may have been arranged by the CIA.
To Howard Cosell, whose book, I Never Played the Game, left anatomists wondering how such megalomania and pettiness could fit into one head, albeit swelled. One Howard-ism: “I was the key ingredient [to Monday Night Football]”—news, no doubt, to sports fans everywhere.
To Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, for, among other things, branding the U.S. a “stupid” country that doesn’t respect women, “especially tall and beautiful Filipino women who are smartly dressed. Just because you are a woman, they think you are frivolous. Just because you can sing a little, you are not to be taken seriously.”