For Jeanne White, the April 8 death of her son, Ryan, 18, didn’t end her involvement in the lives of those afflicted with AIDS. Given a years leave of absence from her factory job. she is on the road almost constantly, speaking at benefits and PTA meetings, testifying before Congress and accepting awards on Ryan’s behalf. “I’d rather be home,” says Jeanne, 43, “but as long as people will listen, I’ll keep talking. I think this is what Ryan would want.”
Back home in Cicero, Ind. (where she has kept Ryan’s room just as he left it), Jeanne still receives 20 to 30 letters a week, and her telephone rings constantly. She has kept up her friendships with the celebrities who rallied to Ryan’s side: “Michael Jackson, Phil Donahue. Marlo Thomas and Greg Louganis are always there for me.” she says. As for Elton John (who was with her when Ryan died), she says he wrote from the Chicago clinic where he had battled alcohol and drug addiction “to say he loves us all.”
Jeanne’s daughter, Andrea, 17, has experienced a difficult period of adjustment. A junior at Hamilton Heights High School, she wears Ryan’s gold watch and drives his red Mustang (a present from Jackson) but is unable to talk about her brother. “Me and Andrea have had some rough times,” says Jeanne. “She thought Ryan would never die. They used to fight a lot because she thought Ryan was spoiled. Then when he died, it was, ‘Ryan, I’m so sorry, why did you die?’ ”
Pilgrims come every day to Ryan’s grave in the Cicero Cemetery—and leave pennies, flowers, notes and candles. In September vandals tore out two trees Jeanne had planted nearby, ripped up sod and stole a statue of Ryan’s dog, Barney. When Jeanne put everything back, they did it again. Typically undaunted, she restored things for a third time. So far, the vandals haven’t returned. Jeanne visits the grave daily. “It must sound corny,” she confesses, “but I just go out to talk to Ryan, and I know he hears me.”
Last April, Kevin Deschene, a 19-year-old Lowell, Mass., resident, was fined $500 and given a six-month jail sentence after being photographed by neighbor Jim Molloy in the act of beating his own dog—a personable German shepherd mix named Champ. Taken by the Lowell Humane Society, Champ was placed in a new home, while the Deschenes went to court to regain custody and Molloy testified to what he had seen.
UPDATE: Champ has come out a winner. Placed with a Lowell couple who have two kids, he romps happily with everyone in the family. The local Humane Society has received about $3,500 in donations as a result of the PEOPLE story about Champ’s plight, and Executive Director Allan Davidson is pleased. “We can save other animals down the road,” he says. But the human players in this drama are again at odds. On Sept. 18, Molloy was found guilty of threatening Kevin’s mother, Barbara—a charge that stemmed from a confrontation between the two at the time of Kevin’s arrest. Molloy is appealing. And while Kevin Deschene is legally forbidden to have another dog, his mother and sister reportedly now have a golden retriever. The dog’s name is Champ II.
Last summer, Russell Hackler received one of the more unconventional sentences in the history of jurisprudence. A felon with a long record, he was convicted of petty larceny in Tulare County, Calif., after failing to pay for two six-packs of beer at a supermarket. He was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Howard R. Broadman to wear a T-shirt proclaiming his legal status. On the front it read, MY RECORD AND TWO SIX PACKS EQUAL FOUR YEARS—reference to the rap that he could have received. On the back it proclaimed. I AM ON FELONY PROBATION FOR THEFT. Hackler, 30, was happy with his deal, but after less than three months, he was again arrested and charged with burglary.
UPDATE: This time Judge Broadman decided on a more traditional punishment. On Oct. 26, Hackler pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree burglary and petty theft, and Broadman sentenced him to four years and eight months in prison. Now bitter, Hackler claims the police were out to get him. T-shirt justice is a good idea, he says, “but not if it’s a failure before it was begun.” For his part. Broadman continues to hand out unconventional sentences and says he’s committed to the approach.
Until last summer, financial wizard Peter Lynch, 46, was at the helm of Fidelity Magellan, the nation’s biggest and richest stock fund. With a salary estimated to be as much as $10 million a year, he worked 80-hour weeks and visited at least 40 companies each month—a grueling schedule that made him a virtual stranger to wife Carolyn and their three daughters. On March 28, however, he shocked the financial community by announcing that he was quitting his job after 13 years in order to spend more time with his family.
UPDATE: While the jury is still out on Fidelity Magellan, Lynch is thriving. Since leaving his high-stakes job on May 31, the Boston-based Lynch has journeyed to Germany, India and Greece with his wife and family. At home, instead of working on Saturday mornings he now makes breakfast for the kids and watches cartoons with them. “I’m enjoying being Mr. Mom,” he says, adding that he’d rather spend time cataloging the family’s home movies than talking about himself. “I guess my first goal now is to be forgotten, not gone,” he says.
It was June 4 when the so-called suicide machine invented by retired pathologist Dr. Jack Kevorkian was put to its first test by Janet Adkins, a 54-year-old Portland, Oreg., woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In the back of a van in a park outside Detroit, Adkins pushed the button on an apparatus that would release a lethal dose of potassium chloride into her arm. Both the device and the van were confiscated by police; four days later a Michigan judge forbade Kevorkian to make the machine available to others.
UPDATE: After a six-month investigation, Kevorkian, 62, was charged on Dec. 3 with first-degree murder. But at a preliminary hearing on Dec. 13, a district court judge thew out the charges, saying that Adkins was responsible for her own death. Kevorkian still vows never to abandon his quest to make his machine available to those who want to die. He says he has been deluged with letters from supporters. “I won’t stop. This is a legitimate medical service Hippocrates would have endorsed,” he says.
Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, alleging that ex-husband Dr. Eric Foretich had molested their daughter. Hilary, sent the 5-year-old into hiding in August 1987 and spent 25 months in the Washington. D.C., jail rather than produce her for court-ordered unsupervised visits. Last February detectives hired by Foretich tracked Hilary to Christ-church, New Zealand, where she had been taken by Morgan’s parents.
UPDATE: On Nov. 21 a family court judge in Christchurch awarded custody to Morgan and barred Foretich from visiting Hilary “in the immediate future.” By court decree, Hilary must remain in New Zealand, where Morgan is studying for a degree in clinical psychology. Since Paul Michel, the federal judge Morgan married a year ago, is required by law to live in the Washington area, the two have a commuter marriage. Meanwhile, a Fairfax County court has forbidden Foretich visitation rights with his other daughter until she asks to see him.
The tiny town of Sheridan, Ark., was rocked last spring by the suicides, over a frightening five-week period, of four local high school students. In the wake of the seemingly inexplicable tragedies, parents and community leaders in Sheridan tried to devise ways to help the victims’ schoolmates deal with their grief—and to prevent other teens from taking their lives.
UPDATE: During the summer, the town organized Youth for Youth, a program designed to “keep kids’ minds occupied,” as Police Chief David Hooks put it. Including sports activities and field trips, the program attracted about 50 kids a night. Clarence Perkins, administrator of the Southeast Arkansas Menial Health Center, has worked with other counselors in treating at least 15 troubled students. Local churches have formed youth groups to discuss the subject of suicide, and school officials have crafted a prevention program that involves sending high-risk students to daily counseling. Sheridan School District Superintendent David Robinson still refuses to talk to the press—saying that he wants to put the tragedies in the past—but the sense of unease persists. According to Perkins, five suicide notes have been written by students since the school year began. “Two notes were written the same morning,” says Perkins. “They were left to be found. I think if one hadn’t been found, she would have taken her life.” The fifth youth wasn’t so lucky. He left a note on Dec. 1, took an overdose of pills that same day and is now hospitalized. (The other four were hospitalized briefly for observation.) “I think there’s still some apprehension that this thing could crank up again,” says the Reverend Harold Epperson, a local minister. “I’m hoping it doesn’t start up again, but I’m realizing it could.”
For Denise Wells, 33, entering the men’s rest room at the Summit sports arena in Houston was a desperate measure. During a concert last July by George Strait, Wells, a legal assistant, left her $125 seat two times, only to discover long lines outside the women’s facilities. In dire straits, she ducked into the nearest men’s room, where there was no line, and was collared as she was leaving by a Houston policeman. Cited under a 1972 city ordinance forbidding people from entering opposite-sex rest rooms “in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance,” Wells was both angry and humiliated.
UPDATE: Hailed as a heroine by women weary of waiting in line to go to the bathroom, the intrepid Wells told her side of the story on dozens of talk shows. Last November, “Pottysate” went to trial, and a six-person municipal court jury acquitted Wells, sparing her a $200 fine. Said jury foreman Freida Felton: “I was extremely honored to be involved in this important issue.” The defendant herself was, of course, relieved. “I’ve had a lot of fun with it, but it’s still just as embarrassing,” says Wells, who reportedly is talking to Hollywood. “I just hope all the attention will force some changes.” In fact, two men’s rooms at the 17,064-seat Summit have already been converted to women’s rooms.
As a drummer working with such hard-living legends as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, Dallas Taylor, 42, put in nearly 15 years in the fast lane. A drug addict, he made it through three shattered marriages, a suicide attempt and, ultimately, the destruction of his career. By last year, though, Taylor had kicked his habit, started work as a drug counselor and remarried. Then, in November 1989, he discovered that years of abuse had destroyed his liver and that he would die without a transplant. Last March a benefit by friends including Don Henley, David Crosby and Neil Young raised $120,000 toward the surgery, while Taylor waited for a liver.
UPDATE: On April 16 doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center performed the 12-hour transplant. Four months later Taylor joined friends for a 1,500-mile motorcycle ride from Los Angeles to Reno and back. Now he is planning an album and an autobiography. “I’ve never felt better.” he says. ‘The experts tell me that if you get to six months, you have a 75 percent chance of seeing a year. And if you live a year, you’ll more than likely make five years.”
Harvard Law School’s first black professor, Derrick A. Bell Jr., 60, announced last April that he was taking an unpaid leave of absence until the university has a tenured minority woman professor. Bell, who has been at Harvard since 1969, expressed impatience at the pace of minority hiring at the law school, which has 62 tenured professors, of whom only eight are black or female. Dean Robert C. Clark replied that Harvard “should make appointments on the merits, not because of protests.”
UPDATE: Bell is teaching-on-campus and not for credit; 22 Harvard law students are taking his seminar. Twelve students have filed suit against the law school, charging it with discriminatory hiring. Supporting himself with lecture fees and a book advance, Bell, whose wife, Jewel, died of cancer last August, says he plans to request a second leave if no suitable candidate is hired.
Inspired by the glut of fragrances being hawked by celebs, PEOPLE conducted a sniff-off last February. Seven discerning noses, including that of retired LAPD police dog Sgt. Joe Friday, were invited to give the whiff test to aromas hawked by Jaclyn Smith, Catherine Deneuve and others. The most popular: Spectacular, by Joan Collins, and Listen, by Herb Alpert. Tying for penultimate cellar were Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion and Cher’s Uninhibited, edging out Paloma Picasso.
UPDATE: Sergeant Joe knows parfum. He loved Passion, and it did best at the box office; it reportedly pulls in annual profits of $70 million. Says a Bloomingdale’s source: “Spectacular was the worst.” She also reported that sales of Paloma Picasso were “excellent.” Cher’s Uninhibited bombed and is currently unavailable. Julio Iglesias’ fragrance, Only, however, is a hit: A spokeswoman for J.C. Penney reports that the scent has “tremendous appeal” for Julio-philes.
Last July the Central Park Jogger made a dramatic appearance in New York State Supreme Court to testify against three of the six teenagers accused of beating, raping and sodomizing her in April 1989. The 30-year-old investment banker asked that her name not be used by the media and obtained a court order barring artists from depicting her scarred face, but she bravely answered a prosecutor’s queries about events preceding the near-fatal attack. The beating, she said, had left her with double vision and balance problems, destroyed her sense of smell and left her without a memory of the assault. On Aug. 18 the defendants were found guilty of rape and first-degree assault; each is now serving five to 10 years in a state youth correctional facility.
UPDATE: When two more defendants, Kevin Richardson, 16, and Kharey Wise, 18, went to trial in November, the Jogger again took the stand. Although defense lawyers at the first trial had chosen not to subject her to cross-examination, she faced pointed questions from Wise’s attorney, Colin Moore, about her romantic life. On Dec. 11 Richardson was found guilty of attempted murder, rape and sodomy, while Wise was convicted on three lesser counts. They will be sentenced Jan. 9, and the final defendant will be tried early next year.
When American University President Richard Berendzen, 52, suddenly stepped down from his post last April, rumors flew. While the university would say only that the move had been prompted by accusations about his “personal actions,” it was soon revealed that police believed Berendzen had made a series of obscene phone calls to a Fairfax, Va., woman. After the victim leaked the story, at least a dozen other women contacted police saying that they had received similar calls. Issuing a statement that he was embarking on a “painful” course of counseling, Berendzcn checked into the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.
UPDATE: On May 23 Berendzen pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of making obscene phone calls and was sentenced to two 30-day suspended jail terms, provided that he continue psychiatric counseling for a year. He also admitted to Ted Koppel that he had been sexually abused as a child. Over the summer, he and his wife, Gail, left their university-owned house in D.C. and moved to a modest apartment in Arlington, Va. In August the Fairfax woman who taped two weeks of his obscene calls filed a $15 million lawsuit against Berendzen and the university. On Dec. 6, AU ;trustees withdrew a controversial $1 million severance offer made to Berendzen but agreed that he could return in 1992 as a physics professor.
New Yorkers were outraged when they heard the news about Brian Watkins. On Sept. 2, the 22-year-old motivational instructor from Provo. Utah, was stabbed to death in a Manhattan subway station while attempting to defend his parents against a gang of youths who were trying to rob them. Devout Mormons, the Watkins family refused afterward to express bitterness about the murder.
UPDATE: In October new trouble visited the Watkinses when Brian’s father, Sherwin, 46, lost his job as marketing manager for a brick manufacturer. Says mom Karen. 45: “Everything about the past few months has been hard.” She and her husband say they arc touched by the thousands of letters they have received since Brian’s death. To keep his memory alive, his parents have set up a fund in his name to provide tennis scholarships for poor kids. Eight attackers have been indicted, and the Watkinses have said that they plan to sue New York City and the Transit Authority for $100 million.
Born last April at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, the three offspring of a 9-year-old Siberian tiger named Nicole were the world’s first test-tube tiger cubs—the product of 15 years of research. One—a white male—died shortly after birth, but the survivors did well for the next few days. Nicole never bonded with the two, and they were bottle-fed five times a day.
UPDATE: Two weeks after the cubs were delivered, a second male died. The remaining cub—a female named Mary Alice—was transferred from the nursery to the cat complex in September and now lodges with two other cubs. At 75 lbs., “She’s extremely healthy,” says zoo director Dr. Lee Simmons.
During an interview in the New England Patriots locker room on Sept. 11. Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson, 26, was sexually taunted by at least one naked player egged on by others. Suggesting that the paper had “asked for trouble” by sending a female reporter, Patriots owner Victor Kiam II reportedly called Olson a “classic bitch,” but later apologized (and denied the slur) after NOW threatened to boycott his Remington razor company products.
UPDATE: After investigating, the NFL slapped the Patriots with a $50,000 penalty and fined three players. Zeke Mowatt, Robert Perryman and Michael Timpson, a total of $22,500. Olson, whose current assignment is covering Boston’s Bruins and Celtics, says she feels “optimistic about the future of every female sportswriter.”
Hollywood Police Blotter
A lineup of the rich and famous who tangled with the law in L.A.
Lyle Menendez (left), 22, and his brother, Erik, 19, were charged in March with the 1989 slaying of their parents, entertainment executive Jose Menendez and his wife. Kitty, The case has not gone to trial, and the brothers, who stood to inherit about $14 million, remain in custody awaiting a California State Superior Court ruling as to whether statements they allegedly made to their psychiatrist may be used against them.
Convicted last year of slapping a cop who pulled her over in traffic, Zsa Zsa Gabor, 70-ish, broke probation and was sentenced to a weekend in El Segundo jail near L.A. She complained loudly about the accommodations there, but later signed a lucrative contract with Delacorte for a book about her travails. She also did 180 hours of community service for a group that aids the homeless and threw a dinner-auction at the Beverly Hills Hotel that raised over $50,000 for the charity. Gabor plans to make a comeback with a New Year’s Vegas act featuring chorus boys dressed as Beverly Hills cops.
After a 1987 arrest for driving under the influence and a 1988 arrest for cocaine possession, Cheers star Kelsey Grammer, 35, failed to prove that he had completed a court-ordered rehab program, didn’t show up for arraignment hearings and missed a probation hearing. Last May he was sent to county jail for 30 days on the drunk-driving charge and sentenced to pick up trash along the L.A. County freeways. On the drug charge, he received three years’ probation and 90 days’ house arrest—meaning he could leave home only to go to work on the Cheers set.
Charged with shooting half-sister Cheyenne’s lover, Dag Drollet, 26, at father Marlon’s house in Los Angeles last May 16, Christian Brando, 32, spent three months in jail before being released on a $2 million bond. After telling police the killing was intentional—not an accident, as Christian claimed—Cheyenne, 20, flew to Tahiti to give birth June 30 to son Tuki. Charged as an accomplice in Drollet’s murder when she arrived in the French-governed islands. Cheyenne took a drug overdose Nov. 1 and slipped into a coma; she recovered but attempted to hang herself 10 days later. She is on the mend, while Christian awaits trial in L.A.
Todd Bridges, 25, last seen playing Gary Coleman’s older brother on Diff’rent Strokes, logged more time in court this year than Alan Dershowitz. On May 5, he was arrested in North Hollywood for cocaine possession, spent two nights in jail and was released after police determined that the drugs belonged to a companion. In August, he was retried on charges stemming from a 1989 incident in which an accused drug dealer was shot in an L.A. crack house; this time, the jury found him not guilty of assault with a deadly weapon. This month, his wife, Rebecca, whom he married last year, weighed in by suing for divorce. Now trying to get his career back on track, Bridges says, “If I stay clean, the Lord will see that I prosper.”
Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose, 28, mixed it up Oct. 30 with West Hollywood neighbor Gabriella Kantor, 37, who told police he hit her with a bottle after she complained he was playing loud rock. Rose posted $5,000 bail, though the D.A.’s office declined to file charges. On Dec. 5 both parties entered into an agreement to keep away from each other—presumably by the length of a bottle.
Actor Corey (Stand by Me) Feldman, 19, was arrested on traffic warrants Sept. 20 by L.A. police, who later found two balloons of heroin on him. Already awaiting trial on drug charges following his arrest March 9 (when he was charged with possession of more than nine grams of cocaine and heroin with intent to sell), Feldman was sent to a California drug rehab center, where he must complete a seven-month program. On Dec. 10 he pleaded no contest to the drug-possession charges and was given four years’ probation in addition to a $5,000 fine.