October 28, 1996 12:00 PM

Brett Butler, 38, tarttongued star of the ABC sitcom Grace Under Fire, has started rehabilitation on an outpatient basis, acknowledging that an old back injury has left her dependent upon painkillers. Tapings of Grace will not be affected….

Hotel and casino magnate Merv Griffin, 71, is receiving radiation treatments for prostate cancer, which was diagnosed last spring. Griffin, a former TV talk show host, has been told his prognosis for recovery is good….

Actress Lucy Lawless, 28, the New Zealander who stars in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, was in stable condition after fracturing her pelvis on Oct. 8 while taping a skit for NBC’s Tonight Show. Working in the parking lot of the show’s Burbank studio, Lawless tumbled to the pavement when the horse she was sitting on lost its footing and fell.

Former French tennis champion René Lacoste, 92, nicknamed Le Crocodile, died of chronic bronchitis and cancer at home in St. Jean-de-Luz, France, on Oct. 12. After retiring, Lacoste, who won 10 major international titles between 1924 and 1929, started a clothing company to produce the famous Lacoste tennis shirts, each emblazoned with his trademark, an embroidered crocodile….

Folk musician Bob Gibson, 64, best known for cowriting “Abilene,” a No. 1 country hit for George Hamilton IV in 1963, died of complications from degenerative brain disease on Sept. 28 at his home in Portland, Ore….

French culinary authority Pierre Franey, 75, a onetime Paris pot scrubber who went on to become a New York Times food columnist and an author of cookbooks, died on Oct. 15 in Southampton, England, three days after suffering a stroke aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2.

Spin City Mayor Barry Bostwick, 51, and his wife, Sherri Ellen Bostwick (age unavailable), are the parents of a 7-lb., 10-oz. girl, Chelsea, born Oct. 14 in New York City. The couple have a 16-month-old son, Brian.

Frasier’s Kelsey Grammer, 41, was charged Oct. 15 with driving with an expired license in connection with a Sept. 21 incident in which he flipped his $60,000 Dodge Viper near his Agoura Hills, Calif., home. According to the L.A. district attorney, the actor, who checked into the Betty Ford Center days after the accident, was not charged with driving under the influence, due to lack of evidence….

A Los Angeles superior court judge ruled Oct. 15 that freelance journalist Victor Gutierrez must pay damages, not yet specified, to pop star Michael Jackson. Gutierrez appeared on the syndicated TV show Hard Copy last year claiming to have witnessed a video of Jackson molesting a 13-year-old boy, but he failed to comply with the judge’s order to produce the alleged tape.

Country singer Travis Tritt, 33, and model Teresa Nelson (age unavailable) are engaged to marry in April at his farm near Atlanta. It will be Tritt’s third marriage and Nelson’s first.

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