Out of the Racket
Tennis ace Jim Courier, who earned four Grand Slam titles, more than $14 million in prize money and a No. 1 ranking for 58 weeks, announced on May 8 that he is retiring from the game at the ripe old age of 29. “When you wake up and don’t want to get better at tennis,” Courier told USA Today, “it’s time to stop.”
Making his first public appearance since a near-fatal accident last year when he was hit by a van while walking on a Maine highway, novelist Stephen King, 52, read a short story at a literary festival in Manhattan on May 5. “It’s nice to be here,” the author told the crowd. “Actually, it’s nice to be anywhere.”
Helen Beardsley, whose true-life tale of raising a brood of 20 kids became the bestselling 1964 book Who Gets the Drumstick? (and the basis of the 1968 hit film Yours, Mine and Ours, in which Lucille Ball played the author), died of complications from Parkinson’s disease on April 26 in Healdsburg, Calif. She was 70….
Henry J. Nicols, a hemophiliac who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion in 1984 and, as an Eagle Scout, launched an AIDS-education crusade that drew worldwide attention, died on May 8 in Cooperstown, N.Y., from injuries sustained in a car crash last month. He was 26.
First-time parents Amber Valletta, 26, the Oklahoma-born stunner who models for Elizabeth Arden, among others, and her boyfriend, Christian McCaw, 27, an Olympic volleyball hopeful, are expecting a child.
Amy Grossberg, 21, the New Jersey teenager who with her boyfriend Brian Peterson disposed of their newborn infant behind a motel in 1996, was at press time scheduled to be released from a Delaware prison on May 10 after serving less than two years of her 2½-year sentence for manslaughter. Officials cited good behavior as the reason for her early release. Peterson left prison earlier this year after serving 17 months of a two-year sentence.
Cajun cook Emeril Lagasse, 40, and Alden Lovelace, 33, a real estate broker, plan to tie the knot this month….
Ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, 56, is betrothed to Callista Bisek, 33, a congressional aide and the woman named in divorce proceedings last year by Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne. The nuptials are set for Aug. 18.
Actress Estelle Getty, 76, who played smart-mouthed Sophia Petrillo for seven years on the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls, revealed she has Parkinson’s disease….
Actress Susan Tyrrell, about 54, whose 50-some film credits include 1972’s Fat City (for which she was nominated for an Academy Award), recently underwent surgery in L.A. to have the lower half of both her legs removed. She was suffering from a blood-related disease.
Songstress Annie Lennox, 45, and her husband of 12 years, Uri Fruchtmann, 47, a film producer, have separated. The couple have two children—Lola, 9, and Tali, 7.
Actor Ben Affleck, 27, has reportedly purchased a three-bedroom colonial-style house for his 57-year-old mom, Chris, on Cape Cod, Mass.