December 12, 1994 12:00 PM

Correspondents were incensed by the merest suggestion that cover subject Ricki Lake (PEOPLE, Nov. 21) poses any threat to Oprah Winfrey’s dominance of talk show nation. “Comparing Ricki to Oprah,” declaimed one outraged fan, “is like comparing Spam to filet mignon.” On another subject, readers continue to vent their fury at Susan Smith, the confessed killer of her two small sons. Several suggested possible means of execution, and a few indicated they would be pleased to take part.


Give me a break! There is no comparison between Oprah and Ricki Lake. Lake cannot control her audiences, her topics of discussion are trash, and where does she find the morons for guests? Even my liberal, 20-year-old daughter finds the show stomach-wrenching.

C. JACKSON, Saranac, Mich.

Ricki Lake’s show is like a car accident. All the wreckage, however, is human. Respectful passersby will avert their eyes; the rest will gawk. Oprah, keep looking the other way.

SHERRIE DAVIDSON, Kensington, Prince Edward Island

I’ve come to the conclusion that although Ricki Lake has lost 125 pounds, her ego is still way overweight. To imply that she is personally responsible for others becoming talk show hosts is ludicrous. Talk show hosts are a dime a dozen these days, as are the people willing to air dirty laundry in public.

LONNIE CHRESTENSEN, Traverse City, Mich.

Ricki Lake is the female Geraldo. H. GOFF, Lynchburg, Va.

How wonderful to finally find Ricki Lake on your cover. I still remember seeing her the first time, in the TV movie Babycakes. I thought, “Wow, a heavy girl in a movie!” Well, she’s not heavy anymore. I hope she knows how much fans love and admire her—not because she has a talk show but because she is an inspiration.



I have no biological children of my own, but I have two stepchildren that I know I would throw myself in front of a train to protect. I am truly sickened knowing not only that Susan Smith killed the children God gave her to protect but that their last word was probably “Mama.” Execute her at dawn, and I volunteer to be first on the committee.

SHERI NEY, Chesterfield Township, Mich.

To steal a quote from your issue about the old adage “The nicest thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother,” David Smith committed the first crime against his children when he took up with another woman and humiliated their mother. The crime Susan committed was awful. They should tie her up and throw her in the lake, and David should be right behind her.



Your article about Mr. Reagan’s Alzheimer’s disease is the most understanding one I have read. The memory lapses in public, the personality changes and the seemingly normal times (with people saying, “I don’t see anything wrong, we had a fine talk”)—I’ve lived through them all with my husband, who is now hospitalized with the condition. Thanks to Mr. Reagan, people will be more aware of the need for further research.

MARY FORTMANN, Pasadena, Calif.

While I feel for the Reagans and their devastating news of his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, I am annoyed that you say he “may help banish much of the stigma long associated with Alzheimer’s” and then explain that although the disease is often viewed as a psychiatric disorder, it is in fact a neurological disease. You seem to imply that it is better to have a neurological illness. We need to get rid of the stigma attached to mental illness as much as Alzheimer’s.



So this is the “new” GOP: A thrice-divorced musical has-been who admits he’s unqualified and a Watergate “hero” who wants Congress to get part-time jobs on the side. As a lifelong Democrat, I’m beginning to feel much better about the recent elections.

CATHY NELSON PRICE, Cape Elizabeth, Maine


Your article on David Crosby saddened me—but it also enraged me. My family is going through the same thing with my mother, a recovered alcoholic who is also dying of liver disease. Only we were told earlier this year that people with “self-inflicted” liver disease could not be candidates for a liver transplant.

WENDY BLAIR, Valdosta, Ga.

According to Debra Blakely, Ethics Chair with the North American Transplant Coordinators Organization, “Each transplant center sets its own criteria for organ recipients. However, since a large percentage of liver transplants do involve organs damaged by alcohol, if one center can’t help, try another.”—ED.

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