Race car driver Danny Sullivan, 39, and his companion of eight years, interior decorator Julie Nini, 35, expect their first child, a boy, in March. Nini has a daughter, Sacha, 12, from her marriage to Robert Lamm, the keyboardist for the rock band Chicago. Sullivan’s rep says the two have no plans for marriage and will divide their time between his place in Aspen and hers in Los Angeles.
NBC anchor Mary Alice Williams, 40, and husband Mark Haefeli, 34, a CNN correspondent, had their first baby, Alice Ann, in New York City on Jan. 6. The baby weighed in at 8 lbs. 9 oz. Williams returns to the air in the spring.
Ron Kovic, above, 43, the paraplegic Vietnam vet whose memoir inspired the new film Born on the Fourth of July (see story, page 96), says he is “seriously considering” running for Congress. A Democrat, Kovic would compete in California’s 38th district against Robert Dornan, the conservative Republican incumbent. “He appeals to people’s fears, while I would appeal to their hopes and dreams for a better America,” says Kovic. Dornan says, “I’m convinced it is probably media hype for the film,” but promised a “two-fisted fight.”
Art Buchwald and producer Alain Bernheim won their case against Paramount when a judge ruled that the 1988 Eddie Murphy movie, Coming to America, was based on a story Buchwald optioned to the studio in 1983. Paramount paid Buchwald $17,500 for the treatment but later dropped the option. Murphy didn’t testify, but co-star Arsenio Hall did, saying the script was based on his and Murphy’s “real-life experiences.” A second trial will determine Buchwald’s share of Comings $300 million gross.
Susan Eisenhower, 38, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, plans to marry Soviet rocket scientist Roald Z. Sagdeyev, 58, an outspoken reformer and supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev’s, on Feb. 9 in Moscow. The couple met two years ago at a conference on U.S.-Soviet relations, then collaborated on Sagdeyev’s memoirs, which are due late next year. This will be Eisenhower’s third marriage, Sagdeyev’s second. He has two grown children, and she’s the mother of three, ages 8 to 17. The couple will spend the school year in Washington, D.C., and summers in Moscow.
The Robert Taylor building, located on the Lorimar—formerly MGM—lot in Los Angeles, was renamed the George Cukor building after Lorimar producers Stan Zimmerman and James Berg began circulating a petition asking for a name change. “We felt uncomfortable working in a building named after a man who was responsible for blacklisting other writers and actors,” says Berg. Taylor, left, a leading man of’30s, ’40s and ’50s films who died in 1969, named those he said were communists or communist sympathizers when he testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947. Before naming the building after director George Cukor, Lorimar executives considered naming the place after actress Joan Blondell. “But some people didn’t think it would be very inspirational to work in the Joan Blondell Building,” says Zimmerman.
Tom Hanks, 33, and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, 30ish, below, expect their first baby in August. He has a son and a daughter from a previous marriage to actress Samantha Lewes. Hanks and Wilson met while making Volunteers in 1985 and wed in 1988.
Harold K. “Doc” Edgerton, 86, inventor of the electronic stroboscope, died Jan. 4 of a heart attack at the faculty club at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a professor emeritus. In 1931, Edgerton built an electronic flash tube containing mercury that emitted stroboscopic light, which enabled photographers to “freeze” objects in motion. After World War II, Edgerton co-founded EG&G, a successful electronics company that in 1988 had annual sales of $1.4 billion.
Actor Arthur Kennedy, 75, who won a Tony Award for creating the role of Biff in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman on Broadway in 1949 and who made more than 70 Hollywood films, died Jan. 5 of a brain tumor in Branford, Conn. A “regular Joe” type who could also play neurotic bad guys, Kennedy’s movies included Rancho Notorious, Bright Victory, Lawrence of Arabia and Elmer Gantry. On Broadway, in addition to Salesman, he appeared in Miller’s All My Sons, The Crucible and The Price.
Ian Charleson, left, 40, the Scottish born actor who starred in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, died on Jan. 6 of AIDS in London. Charleson played the part of 1924 Olympic gold medal runner and Scottish missionary Eric Liddell, who refused to compete on the Sabbath. Just nine weeks ago, Charleson finished a highly praised stint as Hamlet at London’s prestigious National Theatre.
Bronko Nagurski, above, 81, the only football player to be named a college All-American at two positions (defensive tackle and fullback) in the same season and a star fullback with the Chicago Bears in the 1930s, died Jan. 7 of natural causes in International Falls, Minn. Nagurski was said to have been discovered in 1925 when the University of Minnesota’s coach drove past a farm and spotted the 6’2″, 235-lb. Nagurski plowing a field—minus a horse. After football, Bronko was a pro wrestler.
British comic actor Terry-Thomas, 78, famous for his gap-toothed leer, died of Parkinson’s disease in a nursing home near Godalming, England, on Jan. 8. He had been ill since 1971 and died nearly penniless. His 40-plus films included It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.
The oldest cowboy in Texas, Thomas Blasingame, left, 91, died Dec. 27 of natural causes. Fittingly, just before dying, he got off his horse and lay down on a flat grassy patch near Claude, Texas, the same range he had ridden for 55 years. He had lived alone in a small ranch house without electricity or a telephone and credited his continued vigor to his daily diet of cereal, beef and beans.