By People Staff
December 27, 1993 12:00 PM

That tittering you hear is from Santa’s workshop, where one of the elves has laid his hands on a printout of the naughty list and is sharing it with his coworkers. “The Fat Guy has Shannen Doherly down for a couple lumps o’ coal,” he giggles. The other elves nod knowingly.

Surely this comes as no surprise to those of us who follow such things, nor, perhaps, to Doherty herself. Shannen, already known for feuding with her 90210 costars and for late-night partying at L.A. clubs, slam-danced her way through ’93 with a recklessness usually associated with self-destructive politicians and Shakespeare’s characters but certainly not with 22-year-old actresses who play teenagers on TV Why our fascination? Probably because Shannen’s TV character, Brenda Walsh, is so normal compared with her hell-bent portrayer.

Whatever the reasons, you couldn’t miss the hydra-headlines. Cosmetics heir Dean Factor, Shannen’s ex-fiancé, claims that during their engagement last spring, Shannen tried to run him over with her car, menaced him with a gun and threatened to hire thugs to beat him up and sodomize him. He filed for a protection order, but they settled out of court. That brief if tumultuous relationship gave way to a short but action-packed fling with Judd Nelson. She also wrote $31,628.16 in bad checks and owed $14,000 in back rent. Then in September—hell’s bells!—she impulsively married George Hamilton’s 19-year-old son, Ashley, an acquaintance of a few weeks and recently out of drug rehab. It was days before her publicist was able to confirm that Shannen, who celebrated her impromptu nuptials in the backyard of her Santa Monica Mountain home, actually had married, license and all. Then she went on Saturday Night Live and, in a mock wedding video, pushed Ashley into the cake.

Anyone at this point care to venture an explanation? (1) Carol Potter, Shannen’s TV mom: “She has a knack for keeping her face out there, for being just outrageous enough.” (2) A former pal: “She gets this power surge going where she feels she can do anything to anyone at any time and get away with it.” (3) New mother-in-law Alana Stewart: “She’s so high-profile, everything gets blown out of proportion. I like her. She’s spunky.” (4) Chicago Realtor Chris Foufas, who preceded Factor as her fiancé: “Shannen wants a normal life, to love and be loved, to live happily ever after. She just doesn’t know how to get it.”

Let’s hope she finds some answers in ’94. But Santa, keep the coal coming anyway. On or off the small screen, Shannen is at her most entertaining when she’s naughty.